A recent study relates that in Holland, and typically for most european countries, 30% of all trips out of the home are done on bicycles. In the US, that figure is less than 1%.
I saw that last week, and then was kicking myself for not remembering where it was so I could look it up and read more about it. Then I realized where it was: sitting on the back of my toilet at home in the most recent issue of Men's Journal. And yes, most men do their best thinking/reading in that room. They don't call it the "throne room" for nothing. I noticed it again last night as I was serving an eviction notice on some of my "resident evil." But that's another story for another day...
It seems that the veritible inventor of the mountain-biking phenomenon in the early 80's, Gary Fisher, has been hanging out in Holland, studying the reasons for this disparity. His conclusions are many, but the bottom line is that gas at $3.00 per gallon here in the US is not nearly painful enough for us lazy bastards to change our habits.
I saw a dude riding a Gary Fisher bike the other day - it was just a basic bike, no shocks, no nothin special, and noted that the guy riding it probably paid a pretty penny for it back in the day, and further, that it is probably worth a large bundle today - Gary Fisher sold his bike company to Trek a long time ago, and his original bikes are not all over the place today. Fisher still has a bike company, but it's now a relatively small player in the overall marketplace.
Anyway, back to my point. Fisher noted that Holland in particular underwent a transformation some time ago, because its citizens were not coping well with "benzine" prices, and instead of finding a way to make/buy it cheaper, the government went the other route, and instead implimented an agressive program to make the cities more bike-friendly, and the people have embraced the "new normal." Essentially, they looked at the big oil companies, and said, "F.O.A.D." (Holland has gained a bit of a reputation for this - they said the same thing to any and all illegal immigrants to their country a while ago, rounding them up and driving them back to the border, and kicking them off the (proverbial) bus.)
From this, two things are brutally obvious:
1. Our gas prices here in the US are not yet painful enough for us as consumers to be motivated to do anything besides what we've been doing for the last 40 years: putting more, bigger cars on the roads every year.
2. Our government is too intertwined with Big Automakers to be able to embrace an alternative transportation solution from a legislative/infrastructure standpoint here. There's too much money at stake. Lobby money is too attractive, elections are too easily purchased.
So let's get on the phone to our legislators this week and ask them to release more oil reserves and get our gas prices down again..... because that's the answer for sure.
I'm just sayin'.