Today, Slate Magazine is running not one, but two, articles on the kooky idea of living without a car. The editors even filed one under the heading, The Conventional Wisdom Debunked. Since the cost of gas nearly approached European pricing this summer, it seems like every daily editor is looking to run one of these. Slate must really be competitive to run two on the same day.
These are easy, money-in-the bag articles, and every one of them goes exactly like this:
- Set the scene with your visit to Amsterdam. If you’ve never been, imagine it though the eyes of your friends, your co-workers or just overhearing a conversation in a bar. You must set up the idea that 60 year old people bike everywhere! And you mention it.
- Find a bicycle already in your house (!) and in perfect riding shape. It’s fine to admit that you like to ride for fun because it sets up that you are carefree and the bike merely a toy.
- Complain about cars, grime, and sweat, but toss in some new found cred among your coworkers who think you’ve gone daft.
- Throw in a funny, not-quite life threatening story about the near miss with a taxi driver or suddenly bad weather.
- Write one sentence on your new liberation and appreciation for the simpler things in life. It can be short, but make it meaningful.
- End with a joke about using your car or the car you are now considering.
Perhaps today’s just a fluff day in the news cycle with Canadian government about to collapse, bombings in Iraq, and a crooked Republican crying on TV about taking bribes, but I’d like to read something a bit more serious and honest about the state of car-free living.
I’m not one to get too political about bike riding. I just like it. I wish it were easier and safer to do, but I’m nearly apathetic on bicycle advocacy beyond just being out there.
Here’s the deal that Slate and the other dailies aren’t running: day in and day out, people who’ve never stepped foot in Amsterdam are in our cities bicycling, and a good number of them are doing it because affording a car is not something they can actually do. Those are the people I am want to read about. You know any?
Bill Gifford is a fine writer, but someone who has four bicycles and a Volvo is not to be trusted.