So, gas prices are rising. People are freaking out. And secretly (not so secretly now, I guess), I love to see them climb.
Kent of Kent’s Bike Blog wrote recently about gas prices (The High Cost of Cheap Gas), and his thoughts really resonated with mine. His point is that our sprawling suburbias and car-dependent culture was created by the fact that we’ve never had to pay what gas is really worth:
I welcome higher gas prices because the artificially low prices we’ve had created the dismal landscape Jennifer describes. The true cost of cheap gas is seen in the poor quality of life we’ve built for too many Americans.
Here in the Seattle area we are “lucky” because we have light rail running from downtown to the airport. It took us years to get that “luck” and we would have been luckier, sooner, if gas prices had been higher.
If we’d always had to pay unsubsudized prices for gasoline, we would have come up with better solutions for commuting than spending 3 hours of every day stuck in traffic. We wouldn’t think it was smart to build huge sprawls of single-family homes in neighborhoods without sidewalks and basic amenities.
The artificially low price of gas has caused us to make certain short-sighted choices in the development of our infrastructure over the past century or so, but that doesn’t mean cheap gas is our birthright as Americans. It’s pretty plain that the time has come to reevaluate the way we live our lives.
I’m not saying anything revolutionary here. I’ve had this conversation dozens of times, and although I want to make steps in that direction, it doesn’t change the fact that I drive to work when the weather’s shitty or if I didn’t sleep well. Rob and I make trips out to Eastern Washington with some regularity (our families are both out there), and it’s both more expensive and a much greater pain in the ass to try to make those trips via public transportation (the Greyhound leaves for Yakima at 8am and 8pm only, last time I checked. Really. Who do those times ever work for?). Car camping is one of my great life pleasures (although I’m dying to try some bike camping this summer).
But a couple days ago (while carpooling to work), we had this conversation again, and I said I’d love to cut down on our car trips. Wouldn’t it be great to have a cargo bike so we could go grocery shopping and the like without having to rely on the good old Merc?
When Rob came to pick me up from work that night, our a giant cardboard box was stuffed into our back seat. A very long, tall, and narrow box. “Wait. Is that a cargo bike?” I asked.
Apparently, the consensus at the office was that if I had given wifely approval that morning then Rob should buy the bike quickly before I changed my mind. Probably a good tactic, really, since if I’d started looking at our budget I probably would have talked myself out of it.
So may I present the newest addition to our little family, the Torker Cargo T. It’s burly, it’s stupid heavy, and it’s a rather excellent shade of green. Rob put it together and took it for a spin to work the next day, looking oh so adorable. Stay tuned to this very channel for further reports of its adventures. We’ll see. Maybe it can take us camping, too.