Friday, January 02, 2009


While reading Bowling Alone, by Robert D. Putnam, I came across a statement about people dependent upon television for their primary form of entertainment: "People who are social isolates to begin with gravitate toward the tube as the line of leisurely least resistance."

I'm not sure why, but it got me thinking about why I started commuting by bike back in early 2006. I don't think I've ever explained my switch from car to bicycle in this blog ... I had in my first blog at work (which I'd never backed up and was flushed from the servers after the sale to Google).

I'd ridden my bike to work sporadically before that, mostly in the mid to late 80's.

In March 2006, I had taken Trevor, our oldest, back to K-State and was stopped and waiting at a red light behind another minivan when a catering truck driven by a 19-year old (who was more interested in checking out the co-ed walking on the sidewalk than paying attention to the road) hit me from behind at ~35 MPH.

My beloved minivan was totaled and when I went to the doctor the next day I learned that I had been compressed from 6' 6" to 6' 4.75". Don't worry, no other ill effects and I'm back up to 6' 5" now. Anyway, after the time the insurance company alloted for a rental car had expired I was faced with dealing with one less vehicle for our family's use until the caterer's insurance company paid up.

We had moved to our current house in the summer of 1999 and I had always wanted to get out on the bike trail which was close at hand ... but had never taken the time to check it out. Now sounded like the time, after all, I used to ride my bike further than that to work in traffic and here was a nice bike trail which ran almost up to my office door.

I saddled up my 1977 Yama 10 speed and rode it to work April, May and June 2006, even after I'd replaced the minivan. The Yama's 29 year old cables finally protested in July and my wife suggested I check out a new bike at the local bike shop. The rest, as they say, is history.

So, to circle back, driving a car to work was my path of least resistance until car problems forced me to try cycling. Once tried, I couldn't give it up. I know the same is true for Noah and others. This last summer, gas prices seemed to be a factor in getting some new bike commuters past their path of least resistance. What about you?

1 comment:

karen said...

Wow, Warren what a story! First of all, I'm sure glad you were o.k.
I rode some at K-State, in the late 70's until graduation in 1981. Then, I took a job in Lincoln, Nebraska (KFOR-AM). I rode the 13 blocks to work, rather than pay for a parking space downtown. I guess you could say I rode because I didn't want to spend the (I think it was) $10 a month to park.
Then, I kind of fell away from cycling to work until four years ago. (I've always ridden weekends for fun.)
As you may recall, in the winter of 2004-05, gas got near to $2 a gallon for the first time. I simply decided I wouldn't pay $2 to drive the 4 miles a day I commute. So, my husband got on the internet to look for "alternatives", and he found a website selling conversion kits to make an existing bike a "hybrid electric." Since I live at the top of a painfully steep hill, cycling at any temperature above 60 degrees was too much. So I converted my old Diamond Back Topanga to electric, and, the rest, they say, is history. 843 rides later, here I am. I just replaced my original battery pack this fall, 3 12 volt, 7 amp batteries. Of course, I only use the motor for help on the steepest part of the hill to keep me moving forward. I still get lots of exercise, since the hub motor and batteries weigh 45 pounds.
While searching for "alternatives", we came across the local electric car club, and changed our lives by replacing two of our cars with electric vehicles, a Solectria Force, and a Zap Xebra. So everything in our garage plugs in. My electric bike costs me 2 cents per week to charge, and the electric vehicles cost $5 per month each. (We measure our electricity usage with a kilowatt hour meter.)
To complete our green transportation needs, my husband converted a free bike given us by a neighbor, so he can commute also.
Our neighbors think we're nuts. I guess we are. I wouldn't want to be any other way.