Monday, September 26, 2016

World Bicycle Relief

Some of the proceeds from the bicycle ride I did Saturday will be going to World Bicycle Relief. They provide bicycles to African nations to help those in need of cheap, reliable transportation.

They're a heavy duty rig that costs $147.00. They're assembled by trained mechanics once they get to their final destination. Their website has a spot to donate if you're flush and want to do a good deed. Typing in your credit card number is easier than riding 36 miles. If not, at least get out and put a few miles in on your own bike. Do you good.  

It's interesting that both motorcycles and bicycles are rarely used as primary sources of transportation in this country. Around here, other than a few young Mexican-Americans and heavy drinkers who have lost their drivers license, rarely do you see people actually commuting on a bike/scooter and if they are it's probably not their sole source of transportation. We've got designated motorcycle parking at the college and the most I've ever seen at one time in that lot is four bikes. Usually one or two, tops. I had a student who rode a bicycle to class most days, but he carried it part way in his truck, parked at his aunt's house and rode the rest of the way on the bike, mostly for training purposes. Other than him, a bicycle on campus is a pretty rare event. I used to ride back and forth to the high school on a regular basis, but again, that was by choice not by necessity. Back in the 70's before I started teaching, I used to ride my old Elgin back and forth to work at the welding shop. For a while we only had one vehicle, so I could ride the bike to work and the wife would have the car.

 As cheap and efficient as a bicycle is, it's surprising that there aren't more of them out on the streets. Motorcycles, however, aren't much of a bargain price-wise, so at least here in the Mid-West, they'll probably remain more of a toy than a utility vehicle. It would be good to get more cars off the road and replaced with two wheeled machines. It would also be nice if the State of Indiana would put a decent berm on the state highways. We had to ride for a couple of miles on a state road the other day and the berm was unusually wide for Indiana, close to 24". Unfortunately, much of the berm was broken up which made it unrideable, so we had to ride the white stripe which made things a little dicey when one jackass couldn't wait for oncoming traffic to go by before passing us with only about 18" to spare. All done at 40 - 50 mph. That may go a long way to explain why people don't ride but the fact that many bicycles aren't very comfortable might have a lot to do with it as well.  Then throw in the fact that the majority of Americans are just too damn lazy to exercise or invest a little time in their personal well being, and you end up with a lot more autos on the road and way fewer two wheelers. 

Just something to think about.


Surly said...

I appreciate everything you say. That said, the last damn thing I need is something else to think about. But I'm probably in the minority in that respect.

Shop Teacher Bob said...

Let it just be a passing thought, then. I just find it very interesting how much a bicycle can change people's lives in other countries but have almost no effect on the lives of those in this country other than a few racers, die-hard commuters and those like myself who use a bike as their main source of exercise and to run errands.

Traveling Pirate said...

I don't know if you saw but a week or two ago, Chicago was named the most bike friendly city in the US. The have a lot of protected bike lanes now. During the CTU strike of '12, I whizzed to and around downtown with my friend and it was great. I was surprised how not scared I was of the cars even though we were never in protected lanes. That could be because, like you, I've had too many close encounters with vehicles going the speed limit and not giving a wide birth. Barely moving downtown traffic seemed practically serene compared to State Road 10.

Shop Teacher Bob said...

The only bad thing about most bike lanes is they were added as an after thought rather than designed in. While that's better than nothing, certainly, they often don't go where you want to go and you end up having to ride in traffic anyway.

Good hearing from you. We should get together for breakfast one of these days. Maybe plan a trip.