One of the most thoughtful blog posts I’ve read in a while comes from Ezra Goldman at http://onourowntwowheels.com. I set to writing a lengthy response in his comments section. Before I pressed the submit button, I took a look back at the comment and decided to be a little greedy instead and post it to waterloobikes.ca instead. Hopefully he comes by and reads it here.
The Environment is not a big factor in my decision to bike. I don’t usually bring it up when I talk to people about biking either because it’s too low on people’s list of priorities. People like to save the environment on weekends, but not if it turns their lives upside down. Except Graham. He’s fairly green I’d say.
You get a bit more mileage out of talking up the health benefits. It appeals to people’s ego. Can’t go wrong there.
He’s hit the nail on the head when categorizes cars as shackles though. Payments, insurance, parking, traffic, fuel, maintenance, it plain sucks. But why is it so hard for the public to view them that light?
I read that Ford has a 1 billion dollar advertising budget. I would say that the great majority of it is spent on making the car appear to be the opposite of a shackle. That’s probably a major reason that cars have the reputation of personal freedom machines. And that’s just one manufacturer.
But check this out: were it not for the office water cooler, I’d have no idea how much fuel costs. I’ve zipped past countless traffic snarls. I usually get better parking than even the disabled. I pay nothing for insurance. My bikes cost me nothing and yet are still very reliable.
Coworkers, family members, friends are normally puzzled by these observations. They furrow their brows and look at me like I’m some kind of kook, or worse. As if to say, ‘Haven’t you seen those commercials on TV*? Cars are great.’
Why is it such a hard sell? Even in the summer. My conclusion is that you can’t actually convince people. But you can enjoy your freedom.
*Disclaimer: I’m prejudiced against TV’s too.