I think about a future without cars. Mainly I think about it as I’m being squeezed into the narrowest, graveliest part of the shoulder by some four-wheeled behemoth whose pilot is happily chirping away on the phone. My desire for fewer (or zero) cars is selfish, about my own safety and convenience, and it disregards the great conveniences that come to me by automobile. For example, I always take the car grocery shopping.
Wanting cars to go away is just my infantile reaction to hating pollution and crowding and the constant threat to my safety. Too many folks need to move their families around. Too many folks live in decentralized living situations. The car is too useful to go away. I am not sure I really want to live in a world without them, but I think about it.
Obviously, the car is going to change, as it has already started doing, as the bike continues to change. Perhaps it (again, like the bike) will become increasingly electric. Perhaps solar electric. I see cargo bikes in the city now, some two-wheeled, some three. I have seen them with electric assist. I see more and more people dropping their kids off at school with trailers and other multi-person pedal craft. Are cars and bikes already converging?
We are mainly road cyclists here. Many of us commute by bike. Many of us use the bike for errands. Regardless we are cyclists. We have talked a little lately about the soft edge of the cycling population, those who might not feel all the way comfortable in lycra and tippy-tappy shoes, and I tend to think this is precisely where the future lies for both car and bike. These are the people who will be driving/riding future vehicles.
With oil going away and the atmosphere warming, the cycling population has to grow. It has to, right?
This week’s Group Ride asks, what does the future look like? Are there really more people on bikes? How many more, orders of magnitude, or just a few? How does it change how we cyclists get around? Will things get better or worse? Does anyone even have a clue?
Image: The Big Dog