Yesterday on my commute home from work, I crashed on the bicycle shown here on an icy patch going downhill at about 20mph. I'm okay, just a wee bit sore, and I knarfed the bar tape, but otherwise, everything is fine.
Why is all of the above important to this discussion? Because 95% of Americans (a) couldn't ride to work on a bicycle, (b) and even if they could, they wouldn't unless the weather was "perfect", and (c) if they did and crashed, most would give up cycling forever. (Assuming they weren't injured for life anyway.)
Why is that true? Well, all you have to do is go out to your garage, driveway, or street, peek inside a vehicle, and see that the creature comforts and opulent luxury we all can have at our disposal is head and shoulders above the suffering one must accept and become accustomed to in order to ride a bicycle. It is much more enticing and serves our sensual natures to simply give over to the siren call of the automobile. Cultural heroin, it is, and you have to be outta yer tree if you think "America" is giving up on that drug easily. No sirree!
Many years ago I was invited to go see the Swedish Royal Treasures at a museum in Minneapolis. It was the first time any of these artifacts had ever been seen outside of Sweden's borders. It was an amazing experience. I saw the actual battle mask of Gustavus Vasa, replete with notches and scars, presumably from enemy swords and spears wielded at close quarters. There was also a Royal Carriage. Now mind you, this was a country that at one time was considered one of the richest in the world, and certainly in Europe. This was no ordinary carriage.
Be that as it may, it pales in comparison to the coddling a driver gets in a modern F-150 pick-up. The King bounded down unpaved roads, or rough cobbles in a cabin not sealed against the elements, and certainly not with his own personal symphony, communication devices, and cup holders. Heck, the King had to scour the countryside for a worthy cup holder he could trust, while the F-150 has several of them. (Another job lost to "high technology", alas!)
Yes- we are rich beyond measure, and our chariots prove as much, not to mention the rest of our accouterments. Why, if your 3G phone fails you almost would think the whole world was going to crumble. Can't download that You Tube video? Feeling frustrated? Really?
I've been reading a lot about how the predicted gas price increases are going to "force people out of their cars and on to bicycles, mass transit, and other forms of alternative transportation".
Ahh................no. Not without a big, huge fight. People will throw hissy fits, asking the government to "fix" the problem, and will claim that their "rights" are being infringed upon. Just wait and see. If oil runs out, gets scarcer, or is limited in supply, America is going to whine, and if you think we're "soft" now, you ain't seen nuthin' yet. It'll get ugly before anybody takes to a bicycle by "the forces of price", as some suggest.
I mean really, how many non-cycling Americans are going to ride to work on a bicycle in 33 degree temperatures with mist, sleet, and snow blowing in their faces in late February? (Besides me) I'm betting most would rather die first, and the sad thing is, many have, and perhaps many will, just to insure our "right" to be little kings and queens addicted to 10W/30.