One Less Prius

Discussion in 'In the News' started by Chuck, Jul 8, 2009.

  1. Chuck

    Chuck just the messenger

    [​IMG] To a cyclist, a prius is just a small hummer.

    [fimg=LEFT][/fimg]Matt - BLOGSPOT - July 7, 2009

    Strange coming from this quarter --Ed.

    Just got these stickers back from the printer, after a long while in the making. Stoked! A rip-off of the ubiquitous, One Less Car sticker from Microcosm. The bottom says, 'Fewer Smug Emissions'.

    Most people, at least here in Los Angeles, 'get it', but I want to clarify more on the meaning of this and I'll do so in my all-time favorite format, FAQ's.

    What's wrong with driving a prius? They get great gas mileage!
    Yes, they do. When I need to rent a car for a trip (PA/VA MTB adventure!) I always try to get one. But buying a prius and making no other changes in how one travels every day in a city is not a paradigm shift. Cars are environmentally and socially damaging in many ways beyond fuel use. The energy and resources required to build and ship them, the destruction the space created for automobiles does, the separation of being in a 2,000 pound box, etc. And many hybrids drivers use it as an excuse to just drive more often!... [rm][/rm]
  2. psyshack

    psyshack He who posts articles

    Poor P drivers. :(
  3. drimportracing

    drimportracing Pizza driver: 61,000+ deliveries

    He is extreme but every bike is a step toward reducing oil dependency. It's a point to consider but not viable for everyone. If I could move pizzas on a moped I would do it when the weather permitted. That would be my most ideal concession to reduce my fuel usage, it's still not exercise or pollution free like a bike though. - Dale
  4. jhu

    jhu Well-Known Member

    The guy's a little extreme, but he does have a point: biking is cleaner than any car can possibly be. I bike most of the time too - it reduces miles on my car!
  5. fuzzy

    fuzzy Mild hypermiler

    The Onion piece referenced in this blog seems to focus too much on forcing Those Who Control The World make all the changes, that our individual consumption is so small that we don't have to do anything except be politically active.

    As for the Prius vs. bicycle, I wore out and replaced an old bike before replacing an old car with a half-as-brown (not green) Prius. The targets of the Climate Bill will require at least another halving of that remaining brownness.
  6. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    I like bikes-I've ridden bikes-to actually get places, and for fun-since 1968.However, bikes are only practical for youngish folks who live in urban areas that aren't extremely hot.

    Once these smug bike riders get to be 50-60-they won't be riding their bike 20 miles to work.When you are 15-35-a 10 or 15 mile ride-one way- to work is no big deal-just a bit over 30-45 minutes. When you are 45 or 50-maybe knee, hip, neck degeneration- the story changes. Yes,the Chinese do/did it, but now their roads are crowded with cars/buses/motorcycles and when you look at pictures of urban China, there are very, very few 50 year old riders.

    Adults in the USA AREN'T GOING TO TURN TO BIKES IN HUGE NUMBERS-They are too dangerous because they can't safely share the road with cars. Yes, you can say"it is the cars fault" but you are just as dead. A 15 mph vehicle can't safely share the road with a 35 mph vehicle. We do, but it isn't safe. Blame the cars, but the cars aren't going to leave.Cars are just too useful-too safe, and too practical to be supplanted by bicycles.We are an aging country, bikes are a little bit of the solution but not for folks over 40 or under 15 years old.

    Just another Smug bike rider.Besides,I bought the Prius to save $$-not to save the planet-no one pats me on the back-that must be a CA thing!
  7. SentraSE-R

    SentraSE-R Pishtaco

    $5/gallon gas will do wonders for FE vehicles. It's the one common factor that will get Americans off their fat *sses (uh, I meant car seats, of course), and thinking about FE and alternate transportation. Until that sea change occurs, the vast majority are like our uncaring family members. We who bicycle and hypermile are weird freaks, to be tolerated for our eccentricities.
  8. WriConsult

    WriConsult Super Moderator

    Charlie, I agree with you that bikes are only part of the solution and the majority of Americans will always make most of their trips by car. That's true even in Denmark and the Netherlands, places whose capitals have year-round bike commute rates around 30%. I don't share the sentiments of extremists who want to get everyone out of their cars. That attitude is polarizing, unnecessary and wrong.

    There are plenty of reasons why not everyone is going to get on a bike, but I disagree vehemently with your assertion that bikes and cars can't share the road safely. It can be done, even in America. Come to Portland sometime and see it in action: 8% of all Portlanders commute primarily by bike, and an additional 10% do secondarily. What's been amazing as bike usage has exploded at least 4x over the past 15 years is the actual number of fatal and injurious accidents has actually declined slightly, making the actual accident rate about 4x lower than it used to be. The more people bike, the safer it gets, and a handful of European cities have shown that trend to continue to be true even as cycling expands far beyond Portland's level. And by the way, we have done nothing to make driving less convenient, more expensive or more dangerous. If anything, the changes have benefited the remaining drivers by reducing traffic congestion and marginally improving safety for cars.

    Even in America as a whole -- NOT a bike friendly place in general -- per-mile death rates for cycling are already about the same as for driving. (Now maybe that's nothing to brag about; to some extent it illustrates just how incredibly dangerous driving is). In any event, the fact that cycling is no more dangerous may seem counterintuitive to those who focus solely on the weight difference, but remember also that bicycles travel much more slowly, are far more maneuverable than cars and are out in the open air making their operators much more aware of their surroundings. The ability of cyclists to avoid accidents is many times greater than drivers', and the crashes that do occur are typically at much lower speeds, effectively cancelling out cars' weight advantage in real world conditions.
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2009
  9. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member

    Older and younger folks just aren't going to use human powered transportation.They are too young and too old to use it-and it is much more dangerous per mile than a car or a bus or a light rail.
    What we need is alternative energy to let us use much more efficient electric powered vehicles. Wind,solar,hydro, thermal, nuclear sources are out there, they just have to be developed. Yes, they will be MUCH MUCH more expensive than $20,$70 oil e have become used to.So what-are choices are-too drive less, yes we can do that, or to use human powered vehicles as sole transportation(fine for young urban folks who don't mind the risk ) but not practical for the rest of us.

    People in the USA used to ride bikes because they liked/loved to ride bikes.Now there is a new class of riders who ride"because it is good for humanity"-I guess some the mass riders/lawbreakers in CA fall into this category.

    It is fine to ride because "it is good for humanity"and it is fine to proselytize that, but the holier than thou anti car crap is just annoying.
    Bikes just aren't practical for most folks.Here in NOLA we have lots of younger folks riding their bikes.According to what I've read over 10% of those folks have 1 bike ripped off per year of regular riding. The list of why it is so hard to ride a bike for transportation in a city-especially a violent city- is long. The 10% number might be right, might be wrong-doubt the study it came from is any great shakes.The number 10%-seems plausible.
    When I was buying/fixing/selling bikes post Katrina I would throw in a free bike lock with each sale(not really free of course, but the 5 foot 12mm cables were better than nothing and allowed the front wheel and frame to be secured). Bike theft is a HUGE deal in most cities(bike hijacking-more dangerous- is even more dangerous-and it is a rising threat)

  10. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member


    I wrote the above before reading your last note.
    I'm maybe being a bit too negative.Here in NOLA folks aren't bike friendly despite that fact that we have fair numbers of folks who bike. We also have a horrendous summer climate-hot and humid-. This probably makes me a lot more negative than I should be.

    When we have the $$ we drive to Flagstaff AZ (3000 miles) in the summer and spend 6 days in the La Quinta(they are pet friendly- we had 4 cats and 2 dogs with us for the 31 days post Katerina we spent there).Well, Flagstaff is a tourist/University city, and it is bike friendly!! It is like some sort of Twilight zone when I ride there-bike lanes, courteous drivers-beyond belief!
    One time I was slowly (flatlander) climbing a hill, and someone pulled into the exit from an apartment complex. I was at least 5 seconds from them, but they just waited and let me pedal by before crossing. I ACTUALLY THOUGHT THEY WERE SETTING ME UP TO ROB OR STRAFE ME. I couldn't believe they were just being polite, since it was completely foreign to me to have a car wait like that(it was night also-hence the rob suspicion).

    Yes, cars and bikes can share the road, but bikes will always be more dangerous. We do need driver education, but in typical big urban areas with lots of crime it will take a long long time. ( I view Portland as kinda like CA but without the Californians (with their self centered,center of the universe, cosmetic surgery botox attitudes) and with more rain of course).

    Bikes are fun, and useful, but in many cities they are pretty dangerous.

    Don't mean to be so negative. I love bikes. I see them as maybe 0.1 TO 1% of total man miles someday-short rides to store/drugstore etc.Still subtract 1/1000 miles could be about 50,000,000 gallons fewer per year used-in the USA- OR 500,000,00 GALLONS IF IT IS 1%.
  11. Shiba3420

    Shiba3420 Well-Known Member

    Personally I blame the bike/car problem on the roads and general lack of sidewalks (assuming bikes on sidewalks pemitted).
    New roads in communities seem to be much narrower. They are plenty big enough for 2 normal vehicles or even 2 large pickup trucks to pass, but too narrow for for 2 cars and 1 bike to all be next to each other safely.

    Wider roads would help, espeically if they had true bike lanes, but with government finances tight, I don't think its going to happen. When we rebound, people will forget about bikes and even if the government can afford bike lanes, people won't want their money spent on them. Its the downside of a democracy ruled by public mood and perception, limited long term planning.
  12. Trick

    Trick Active Member

    Indeed, more bike lanes and sidewalks, please. We need to be less reactionary for this to happen, however. I agree that once the economy picks up, we will forget about bikes and bike lanes, etc, but hopefully not altogether.

    The hills in my area are ridiculous (I live at the bottom of one) so I hardly ever ride my bike. However, I decided a long time ago that I would always try to live close enough to where I work that I can walk. I've walked to work for almost 4 years. That doesn't mean I'm going to wear a jacket that says "one less bike being manufactured/painted/shipped/causing accidents." That is silly. If it works for you, do it. If you want to get crazy on people that do NOTHING responsible concerning the environment, great. Start there. I respect whatever measures people take, based on their situation, to reduce our environmental impact.

  13. saturnsc2

    saturnsc2 Well-Known Member

    Some good points made. I own several bikes and would love to bike to work, but people around here drive like idiots, and there are no shoulders on the roads whatsoever. I disagree that you are more aware of your surroundings on a bike. This simply isn't true. It may be true for seeing small items in the road or something to the side, but I don't see many cyclists constantly looking behind them while they ride. You are completely at the mercy of the cars behind you, and the situation gets even worse when there is traffic in the other lane, where the car behind you cannot move over very far. I'd love to bike more and it would be great excersise, but I had rather burn some fossil fuel than to die, or be crippled where I cannot walk. It's pretty short cited to say everyone should do it. Aside from the elderly or very young, plenty of people in the rural areas of this country have no safe bike lanes or sidewalks and would have a pretty rough trek to work every day if they even made it there. On roads like mine where cars are doing 50-60 mph it's tough instead of like in a big city setting, where there are wide roads and tons of intersections and the cars are going much slower.
  14. Chuck

    Chuck just the messenger


    Agreed - a 10-speed is more vulnerable than even a Harley.

    We just have a dearth of walkable communities
  15. phoebeisis

    phoebeisis Well-Known Member


    Yes, I know exactly what you mean.One of my biggest fears is when I hear a diesel pickup rumbling up behind me while at the same time I can see that there is a car coming in the oncoming lane.This means he can't swing out much to pass me. I also know that he most certainly has HUGE WIDE TOWING MIRRORS and one day one of those mirrors is going to centerpunch me. Yeah, I could try to "take control of the whole lane" but them I would just get hit with a beer can, run over, or shot(or all three).
    Many areas of the country aren't bike friendly, and they won't be for a long, long time. Riding a bicycle is dangerous-just look at the numbers. Heck, it is probably more dangerous than motorcycling-and that is saying something since you rarely get over 20-25 mph.

  16. fuzzy

    fuzzy Mild hypermiler

    The upper age threshold around Seattle is much higher than you seem to expect. Our cycling rate is second only that of Portland.

    Many of us have no experience with violence on the scale of NOLA. And if bike hijacking were to start becoming more than an aberration around here, it would soon collide with our long history of having one of the highest rates of concealed weapons permits in the country.
  17. lightfoot

    lightfoot Reformed speeder

    I used to commute by bicycle when I lived in the San Diego area (15 miles each way ?? I think), and then when I lived in CT (probably about 20 miles?). Not necessarily every day of the week; other days I would use a bus.

    CT was scary because there was a "tough" area (East Haven) where the route I was on (CT rte 80) had no shoulders.

    But recently with the increased use of bicycles things appear to have improved. I visited LA (Pasadena area) a year ago and noticed much more use of bicycle paths. When I lived there we never used them because they were always covered with broken glass, but increased usage by bicycles seems to have helped keep them cleaner.

    Heavy bicycle usage in the Boston area these days, also in the Palo Alto, CA vicinity. Which has helped make other traffic much more considerate of bikes, at least in those areas.
  18. JusBringIt

    JusBringIt Be Inspired

    In upstate NY, 6+ months out of there is too unsafe to ride a bike to work. With snow, slick roads and inattentive drivers, it compounds the effect. I can't count how many cars and SUV's I've seen run off the road this past winter.

    So far, it's rained 8 out of 10 days here since spring. With lightning and thunderstorms forecasted for almost never know when it's safe to ride as bad weather further reduces visibility. Getting soaked riding to work is NOT an option..I really think it would be counter productive to have to put my work clothse in a dryer after riding in the rain...Did I mention how much visibility is reduced in a thunderstorm?

    I love my bike..I actually would prefer to ride my bike instead of driving my car on my 7 mile commute. There are tons of benefits that I could list...but if riding compromises my will I live to reap those benefits?
  19. GrnHrnt

    GrnHrnt Well-Known Member

    Ha I just bought a bike today!! Anyway he makes a good overall point that the first step to saving gas is by reducing how much you drive. (Walking, combining trips, carpooling etc) then working on driving habits etc. Judging by the amount of Priuses (Priusii?) that pass me on the road many owners could be doing much better. Many people think that our efforts to increase fe are extreme but for me I see it as a few people who are devoted to reducing their impact on the environment, independence on foreign oil, and impact on the pocket book.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2009
  20. WriConsult

    WriConsult Super Moderator

    Which numbers are you looking at? The most complete statistics I've seen indicate a per-hour death rate lower than that of cars, and a per-mile death rate about 2.5 times higher than cars. It is certainly safer than motorcycling, which has a stratospheric death rate! (So does walking, by the way, at least per mile). The per-mile stats should also be put into the perspective that cycling trips tend to be shorter -- I might drive 15,000 miles per year, but if I had no car there is NO way I would bike 15,000 miles per year, and I'd almost certainly be safer if I didn't have a car simply because I'd travel far fewer miles overall. This is partly because driving is really freaking dangerous, killing 35,000 Americans in cars every year and an additional 10,000 pedestrians. If you really want to be safe, minimize the number miles you travel, regardless of whether by car or bike.

    And even the above statistics include those riding at night without lights (which alone accounts for over half the fatalities), those riding without helmets (which also does), those riding the wrong way / on the left side of the road, and young children -- each of these factors alone accounts for a huge swath of cycling danger, and is something the operators either wouldn't or couldn't do in a car. Another way in which the numbers overstate the dangers of cycling is that a much higher proportion of cycling deaths involve operator use of alcohol than driving deaths. If you obey traffic laws, wear a helmet, either use lighting or abstain from riding at night, are over 16, and ride sober you are probably SAFER on a bike than you are in a car -- even obeying traffic laws, wearing your seatbelt and driving sober.

    Obviously there are places where it is patently much more dangerous to be on a bike than in a car, as many have chimed in on this thread, but the statistics I quote are for US cyclists as a whole. There are places where it is much more dangerous than the overall statistics would indicate -- and there are many places, particularly many of our cities where a revolution is underway -- where it is much safer.

    It seems terribly counterintuitive, but safety often is. The big-truck-behind-me fear you cited is a prime example. Being hit from behind is usually the most frequently cited fear among newbie cyclists and those who cite safety as a reason for not riding. Yet hit-from-behind crashes account for only 3% of cycling fatalities. Getting right-hooked, left-hooked by oncoming traffic, or t-boned by side traffic overwhelmingly account for most of the danger. In fairness, the 3% figure is again for cyclists as a whole -- the rate is much, much higher on rural roads, and if your route includes busy rural roads you probably are safer driving.

    Another factor not covered by the statistics above is the increase in life expectancy due to the exercise obtained by cycling. Sorry I don't have any links handy on this one, but I've seen a number of studies showing that the increase in life expectancy from the exercise outweighs any decrease in life expectancy due to crashes by a factor of several times.

    Don't get me wrong. I'm not taking issue with your perspective that cycling isn't for you, just with the assertion that it is terribly more dangerous than driving overall or everywhere. There are plenty of reasons for many if most people not to ride: weather, distance, need to transport kids, work clothing, bad roads, a-hole drivers, and all of these reasons are valid. There are a lot of places and times where it would be insane to ride a bike regularly, and I'm not avocating that you do so if that describes your conditions. Don't feel guilty and please don't take this as an assertion that YOU should ride. I have nothing but disdain for jerks that impose their morality on others, telling us all to get out of our cars. But tens of millions of Americans DO live in places where it is reasonably safe to ride, and many more of them might well do so, at least some of the time, if we cleared up some of the safety myths about cycling.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2009

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