September 27, 2008

Another week in the books

This week presented two challenges which had me retreat to the car.  That stinks, as I had a REALLY good streak running - but I feel I sohuld at least be honest about things.  This completely car-free thing is more difficult than I gave it credit for, not like I assumed it was going to be a cake-walk or anything.  But, the curious thing about plans is the fact that there is a lot that is out of our control, ultimately.  Granted, I suppose if I'd had no car to retreat to, the game would have continued -- but I can't pretend in these scenarios that I don't have one.  I do, it's pretty darn fuel efficient and clean - and it's hard to NOT feel semi-okay about starting it up once in a while.  Episode one, the doctor's visit.  I've been up against some challenges health-wise lately that I won't get into here, but things that require my base-line not get messed with:  therefore instead of taking chances with screwing up blood pressure readings and such I elected to keep the bike at home.  Also, the hospital was far enough away from work that a brisk walk in the afternoon heat Tuesday would not have been a wise idea either.  I either case, I suppose I was rather un-imaginative in my choices:  I could have used the bus, I could have figured out some sort of wacky car-pool schedule with the wife - but being an educator, she can't exactly just ditch the class and come get her husband.  It's not that kind of hospital visit, thankfully.  So, I grabbed the keys and drove, alone.  Ugh.  Nothing I can do to change it, but I still feel a little bummed.  Thursday, a similar scheduling thing happened with the kids football practice, and the need to immediately after work drive about 25 miles up into north-western Shawnee to drop off a piece of amateur radio gear I'd sold in the past week.  Again, up against the clock, and the promise of cash on the other end of the transaction, I didn't want to risk being late, messing up the delicate cargo by stuffing it all into my panniers, and then being late for football practice. 

 Again, there were probably options that I didn't think about - but the nice, small, economical car was the all-to-easy choice.  This makes sense to me, and I know more and more people are making smarter choices like this:  I've noticed on these two most recent drives around town that there seem to be more Toyota Prius', more Honda Fits, more Smart ForTwos, and more hybrid small-SUVs around.  On the flip side of that, I've noticed more ridiculous SUVs with lift kits and big tires - what I refer to as the male-compensation kits - roving around.  This trend will likely die off, I'm hoping - but it's prevalent in the young, stupid sector of the market right now because they're becoming so darn cheap!  SUVs that stickered for nearly $40,000 two years ago are hitting the used market around a fourth that cost, and any jack-hole with a part time job can seem to get one.  Anyone with a brain doesn't want one anymore.  This is pretty unfortunate that these can't go directly to the recycling heap to be decommisioned like so many retired battleships - because what that means in the short term for cyclists and sensible drivers alike is that we have an entire generation of NEW DRIVERS that are being armed with 6,000 pound tanks.  Not that an irresponsible and inexperienced teen driver behind the wheel of a 2400 lb. econo-car is any less likely to kill me if I'm hit, it's just a matter of inertia.  I don't really want MY kids learning how to drive in something that could take out a small susburban HOUSE if they screw up.  Of course, I suppose it makes them all better parkers... I know for certain that I became a very good small car driver because I grew up driving a '76 Buick -- I'd still feel a little trepidation driving something the size of a Peterbilt.  The margin of error just gets a little smaller.  Do we really need generation-Y driving these cast-off monster trucks?  Yeesh.... my socio-political comentary is a little random, so I'll quit while I'm ahead.  I personally think that these oversized glutton-box SUVs of an embarrassingly consumerist age should be scrap-heaped and turned into motorcycles.  We'll all be better off.  

Anyways, the goal for this next week is to reattach my thinking to what got me thinking car-free in the first place - and pretend that car just isn't in the driveway at all.  On option I have is long term parking at the workplace.  All I need is a little sticker and to file a form with the security office, and I can leave my car in a specific parking lot for months on end.  This forces me to drive when I'm leaving from home -- but if an emergency arises while I'm at work, I have options that can get me to my wife and/or kids and/or mom in a hurry.  That might be a good way to run things for a while.  Fall is here, and it's time to get the resolve back in gear.  

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