I’m gonna ride my bicycle, I’m gonna ride my bike…

The city needs a car like a fish needs a bicycle.
~Dean Kamen

I can always tell when I’ve been listening to Adam Curry too much because I start feeling like I do at the end of “V for Vendetta.” Like I want to get rid of everything I own and just spend the rest of my life backpacking around and avoiding all contact with any system more complicated than a cash transaction.

It also has a tendency to make me hate my car. I feel trapped by it. The amount of money I spend paying for it, the gas I have to feed it to keep it running, the crapload I spend on insurance and maintaining it. Not to mention the constant worry that something will happen to it…my sister just wrecked her own car. If I wreck it, or if someone else wrecks it…I still owe on that thing. I have full coverage, yes, but still. I’d have to get another vehicle. I’d have to start all over again with the payments. I don’t think I could handle that.

It doesn’t feel like freedom to me. It feels more like a ball and chain. A very big, very unstable ball and chain that depreciates in value every day.

On the other hand, my bicycle was obtained for almost nothing. I bought it a chain and two new tire tubes. It costs me nothing to run but calories and a few extra minutes.

And this town is small enough that with a little training, I should be able to just park the car at my apartment and literally bicycle everywhere I want to go. I shouldn’t have to drive here.

So I’m going to start riding my bike to work once a week. Granted, I have to make a trial run this weekend (I have to return some books to the university library, anyway, and that’s already halfway there, so I might as well.) But I want to start doing this. There’s no reason why I should have to spend the money on gas.

I should instead, be spending that money on a breakfast that isn’t toast. I’ll need something more substantial if I’m going to bike to work.

I think my wallet is a pretty good symptom of the car, too. I have a trifold wallet. It’s almost empty. Most of what I keep in it is “just in case” shit. A frequent buyer card. The library card. Two omamori, a general one from Kashima Jingu and a traveler’s protection from Fushimi Inari. My debit card, just in case I’m out of cash for some reason and there’s something I have to buy (usually gas or food). My credit card, just in case I have to pay for something that my bank account cannot afford (has not happened in the seven years I have owned that card.) A spare key for the car for when I lock myself out of it. My student ID because it gets me into movies cheap. My driver’s license.

None of this I NEED in my back pocket, except the license. The omamori can go in my front pocket with the cash. Everything else I generally know when I’ll need. The credit card should probably go in a drawer in my apartment…I never use it and keeping it on me is more of a liability than an asset. Other people get along just fine without $5K in emergency credit. And should I hurt myself or the car get wrecked, I’ll probably need someone to come to me, anyway, so they can always fetch the card for me. I doubt I’ll run into an occasion where I’ll need it immediately.

So my goal is to go car-lite. To train up my legs and mind so I can bicycle everywhere in town. (Unless I have to go straight from one job to another…that’s not possible on a bicycle.)

Yes, some people see a car as freedom. To me, however, it’s a curse. It’s something that I can be deprived of. All too easily, as my sister has demonstrated time and time again.

So fuck you, oil cabal. Kick those gas prices up and watch me bicycle my way out of your grasp.


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