I spent this past weekend on the road. I drove to Philadelphia, PA to pick up my new form of transportation, a 1988 BMW K100 motorcycle purchased online. I couldn’t help but realize that the money saved by shopping at the national flea market that is eBay will soon disappear as shipping costs increase along with fuel prices. I was happy though to stretch my legs and see some of the country and anxious to secure my new vehicle. I have relied on a motorcycle as a means of transportation before, but that was in college where the ability to park next to the front door when running late for class was more important than the increase in fuel efficiency. This time the purchase was planned in order to decrease my personal dependence on big oil companies and overseas supplies. On my drive northward I couldn’t help but think that I see more and more alternatives to the standard 4-wheeled automobile cruising the roads these days.
I thought about my good friend Jared Paulsen. As a wedding present this past May, he received an electric scooter his wife had been excited about for some time. At first, the scooter was relegated to play toy. But being from Nebraska, Jared quickly began tinkering and added enough additional battery power to make round trips to his place of employment. The flat topography of his new costal hometown, Mt Pleasant, SC and his close proximity to work, grocery stores and pubs made his new form of transportation quite practical. Jared and his brother Mat run a kayak touring company called Barefoot Island Sports. They have now added an additional component to their business and have become the local representatives of a website that sells similar forms of 2-wheeled transportation. To date they’ve sold 5 scooters using only word-of-mouth advertising.
I find another example in my good friend Keith Cummings. Keith is a medical student at Duke University and an interesting mix of intelligence, stubbornness and spirituality who will make an excellent doctor if not a wonderful shaman someday. Recent discussions concerning resource depletion show Keith strongly aligned with the technophile group who think human ingenuity spurred to action by the invisible hand of the market will step in with a sword to save us from the beast of supply exhaustion at the very last moment. He is however a very smart guy and I was not surprised to learn that he too has recently acquired an alternative form of transportation of the 2-wheeled variety. He describes his new bike thus:
Displacement - 49cc
Vmax - 42mph (43 downhill)
Efficiency - 87 mpg
Fun Level - 6.5
Off the line - 3-toed-sloth-esque.
Chickmagnitude - 3.1
I couldn’t help but think that the trend is here, that those with the vision to understand the greater context of fuel resources and our coming energy crisis have already begun to react. They are investing in unconventional transportation as the convention itself is distorted by decreasing fuel supplies. Perhaps “The Long Emergency” is already here and we have begun to take steps to transition into a world where energy is not cheap and plentiful. Or maybe bikes are just more fun.