A disturbing thing happened to me early in the summer. For a number of reasons too boring to go into, I had to drive to work. It’s a rarity. I drive to work, depending on the severity of weather, etc., maybe a dozen times a year.
So I was driving in my neighborhood, cursing my fate that I was in a car instead of on my bike, when I spied ahead my friend Dante. He was standing on a street corner with a young boy beside him.
They were taking a walk, I surmised, and kept pressing ahead, and as I passed them I saw between the two a rabbit on a leash. That’s right, Dante and his young companion were walking a rabbit.
It was a good-sized rabbit, mostly white, with black spots here and there, and that red leash … wow, what an impressive scene! You do not witness that every day! So what did I do?
Just kept driving.
It really wasn’t until that night that I even thought about this. I wasn’t particularly in a hurry that morning. I wasn’t late for a meeting. I could have stopped. Stopped and pet the bunny. Found out what they were all doing there.
That fly-on-by-mentality never happens on a bike. In fact, my life can be quite Mayberry-like, riding to and from my work errands — some days I can barely get to where I’m going; other days I can’t get home, depending on how many people are out and about on foot or on their own bikes.
Bikes, you see, build community.
Cars … well, cars destroy it.
We have a lot of problems. We reached the 400 parts per million level of CO2 in the atmosphere; our air, water and soil are polluted; we have massive dead zones and islands of floating plastic; we draw over 90 percent of our energy from coal; and we have pollution from cars.
Transportation is probably the easiest to solve of all those problems. With the right incentives, we could get half the cars off the road tomorrow. I know we can do better. As I’ve said in these pages before, I sit at stoplights and watch folks drive by and 90 percent of the cars I see have one occupant. And that occupant is usually talking on the phone or texting.
I can only imagine that there are plenty of you coming from the same general area, and going to the same general area, and there is a service in Indianapolis where you can actually exploit that for carpooling and bike buddies. It’s called Commuter Connect (formerly known as the Central Indiana Commuter Service) and the larger their database, the more people they can match up for transportation.
Worried about needing that sudden ride? Your kid is sick at school or whatever? Commuter Connect gives out taxi vouchers when you have an emergency.
But I’m getting too specific here, because ultimately, it’s a mindset. In the book, Cooler Smarter, the Union of Concerned Scientists says you can greatly reduce the amount of CO2 you produce by purchasing a fuel efficient vehicle.
What about driving less? A lot less?
Carpooling would do it. But the problem is that over the past 40 years, carpooling has fallen from 20 percent to 11 percent (in 2008). We should be moving the other way, doubling, not halving, our rideshares.
So it’s a mindset, an attitude. A commitment. Carpool, vanpool, bicycle, bus … hey, telecommute, I am right now as I write this! There are so many options that aren’t you getting into your car alone and driving to work.
Make some friends; build community; when possible, stop and smell the roses; stop and pet the bunny.