Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Planetary Patriot

I got this piece from a friend and reader last night.

The Unassuming Patriot

He was squinting as he looked into the late afternoon sun. Traffic was heavy and mean as he pushed off into the intersection at 1st and Oltorf choosing to live or die based on his skill with the pedal bike he was riding.

At that moment I realized that I had just seen a real hero and real patriot , but one that probably would be utterly astonished to be so named merely because he was riding a bicycle.

Consider however, that he was doing his part to thwart terrorism by helping to free his country of the use of foreign oil. Freeing his country of the need to meddle in mid-eastern affairs and the need to trade blood for oil. He was not being complicit in exporting his country's wealth to the sheiks of the oil producing nations that will take that money and buy huge hunks of the American infrastructure including our largest banks.

No one was going to die as the end product of his patriotism, no enemy soldier would meet their death by the actions of this unassuming hero, yet he is helping to keep us all safe from killer weather patterns that are resulting from too many people going too many miles on too much oil.
He is not contributing the nations debt, deficit or trade imbalance and is doing his part to maintain a healthy body that will not require public funds for his medical care. Nor is he endangering the life or limb of anyone else that otherwise might get injured and end up burdening society in so many ways.

He is not burdening the infrastructure that is in existence nor implicitly making demand for more roads, more cement and less trees, grass and farm land.

And last he is not starving anyone who can no longer afford sustenance because the food they used to eat is now being used to run cars.

I really hope he made it home alive in that traffic

and I wish he knew that he was appreciated." D.C.

Dc's piece does a nice job of highlighting the obvious.

Bikes are a relatively simple, elegant response to the complex issues of our day. And in our town, as in many others, we have a Yellow Bike Project. (one of the best)

The Austin Yellow Bike Project (YBP) is a community supported ALL-VOLUNTEER 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing human-powered transportation for the people of Austin, running a community bike shop, and educating kids and adults.

People-power is a way to limit the traffic congestion of a rapidly growing city. It also provides a sane, inexpensive, and sustainable alternative to the reliance on motor vehicles. Our project promotes cleaner air, land, and water, while encouraging people to meet their transportation needs through an active lifestyle and community participation."

Austin's Yellow Bike Project is very simple. You find a yellow bike, you ride it to where you need to go, you park it outside for the next person who needs a bike. No locks. A Yellow Bike Liberation Crew prowls around for "incarcerated" bicycles and liberates them.

Starting with just 24 bicycles in 1997, the Yellow Bike Project now has more than 600 bicycles in circulation around Austin. The program, run by the Yellow Bike Collective, has grown solely through donations -- from bike shops but mainly through individuals. Volunteers repair the bikes to safe operating condition, paint them yellow, and put them on the street.

Across the City of Lights, 750 bicycle "stations" have been set up where 10,648 three-speed bicycles, all equipped with electronic locks, can be rented as part of an ambitious scheme designed to draw urbanites from their vehicles.

By January, more than 20,000 bicycles will be available at 1,400 stations.

"The idea for now is really to reduce traffic and also pollution by getting people to use a bicycle," said Celine Lepault, head of the project launched by Mayor Bertrand Delanoe. "A long way down the line the idea might be to close off Paris to cars, and this may be a first step."

Of course, the bicycle is a already a major form of transportation in Amsterdam. The bikeways there are an important part of the transportation infrastructure.

Perhaps riding a bicycle is one of the best strategies

we can employ for becoming a Planetary Patriot.

I haven't been on my trusty red cruiser
since it slipped away in the dark one night.

But I've been eyeing that black three speed for half a year now.

And the "season for giving" is upon us.

Now all I need,

is some Patriotic Fervor.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Loved the piece.

I have a friend that, although he owns a car, can be seen riding at all hours to and from.

He has always been an inspiration.

Like hearing about the bike projects around the globe.

9:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear OZ,
I hope Santa brings you that bike you've "been eyeing". You deserve it!

And thanks for another year of thought -- and action! -- provoking writing. I also appreciate SB's wonderful poetry contributions.

daily blog reader (and poet)
Neosho, MO

1:21 PM  

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