"No single raindrop ever feels like it is responsible for the flood."
Speaking of raindrops, one of my favorite movies of all time is Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. The bicycle scene with Butch and Etta is unforgettable. Like many, I grew up riding a bike. I learned at a young age how to fix a flat and put on the chain. I loved the freedom of riding around town. My first stitches, five in the chin, were earned in a bike wreck that was caused by me. Consequences are such a powerful thing.
Sadly, kids these days tend to text their friends, or chat virtually inside an x-box game, rather than ride over to each other's home.
The bicycle is an amazing piece of technology that is capable of solving at least a few of our modern day health, financial, and energy problems. Consider that in many parts of the world where bicycles are the norm there is usually far less obesity, debt, and reliance on imported oil and the offensive war machine that is required to invade nations and murder people so that we may take their oil.
Bicycles are elegant...
Bicycles are efficient...
Bicycles are effective...
When widely adopted, bicycles can have a big effect on a population.
In the Netherlands 27% of all trips and 25% of trips to work are made by bike. The average distance cycled per person per day is 2.5 km. Holland and bicycles go together like bread and jam. Despite the recession the cycle-happy Dutch are still spending a lot of money on their bicycles – nearly 1 billion euros’ worth a year. About 1.3 million bicycles were sold in the Netherlands in 2009, at an average price of 713 euros ($1,008) each. Amsterdam (the capital and largest city of the Netherlands) is one of the most bicycle-friendly large cities in the world. It has 400 km of bike lanes and nearly 40% of all commutes in Amsterdam are done on bike.
In the USA only 0.9% of all trips are made by bike. The average distance cycled per person is 0.1 km.
Minneapolis, San Francisco, Portland, Denver, and Boston are consistently ranked among the top bicycle cities in the USA. You will not find one of these five cities among the 25 fattest cities in the USA. Houston is the fattest city in the USA, is also probably the very worst for bicycles, and was ranked second by county for gasoline consumption, just behind Los Angeles.
The economics are obvious:
- The estimated average transaction price of a new car or truck sold in the U.S. in April was $33,560.
- Annual Cost to Own and Operate a Vehicle in 2015 is $8,698, according to AAA.
- According to Social Security data, the median net wage for a working individual in the US is $28,031.
How do average people afford a $33,560 car when they make $28,031 in a year? Debt, of course!
Through early September, Wall Street firms issued nearly $70 billion in securities backed by auto loans, up 9% from the same period a year ago, according to J.P. Morgan. About $21 billion of those were backed by subprime loans to relatively risky borrowers.
Subprime car-loan originations have taken off in recent years as lenders have loosened underwriting criteria in this sector, allowing for borrowers with low, and often no, credit scores to get access to financing. During the first half of 2015, lenders gave out $56.4 billion in subprime auto loans, up 13% from the same period a year ago and up 181% from the first half of 2009, when the market for these loans bottomed out, according to credit-reporting firm Equifax Inc.
In contrast, I recently bought this folding bike for less than $300. It was made in China, which I now regret, but if you are willing to spend more than $1,000, then you can get one made in the USA. They easily fold up in about 10 seconds to put it in the back of a car, carry it on a train, throw it in the storage under a bus, or take it up the elevator to an apartment or office. No gasoline expense. No insurance expense. No parking expense.
So, if you are are sick from being overweight, tired of bombing brown people to steal their oil, and want to know something you can do about it, TODAY , that will also improve your personal financial situation, then ditch the car and ride a bike. You will feel better, and better about yourself, and remember, no single raindrop ever feels like it is responsible for the flood.