Being car free helps us to be free from tar sands impacts. In the meantime, we are becoming more and more dependent on dirtier and more expensive fossil fuel sources — including Alberta’s tar sands. Relative to conventional oil, tar sands crude has far more intense climate impacts, and the extraction of tar sands drains and pollutes immense amounts of fresh water. There are many terrible impacts.
At the zombie walk, we used a “Turtle Island” tailings pond to catch our oily run-off, before and after the walk.
Across the street we taped up a banner that calls for a better world, where banks don’t invest in tar sands operations. We had this banner up in front of a TD – Canada Trust building.
In addition to photos in the set shown below, more photos from the zombie walk are posted here.
For April 20th, activists in London, Ontario, Canada gathered for a bike rally; and many of us joined a “public participation” event at city hall, immediately afterwards. The critical mass bike rally was held to join the Day of Action Against Extraction, and the municipal meeting afterwards was about Wal-Mart plans for a “SmartCentre” around an environmentally sensitive area known as the Meadowlily Woods.
During our bike rally, we returned to a Shell station where we had a protest in October, 2010. Those October and April gas station protests were about the worldwide impacts of extractive industries.
The ride was our first local critical mass rally this year. Climate Justice London called the bike rally, with support from the People for Peace (London), and other local activists.
Here‘s a video from our latest rally against extraction.
“If you walk instead of drive, you use more calories.
Walking and cycling is healthier for people than driving. Walking and cycling is also healthier for the planet than driving. Use cars less and you get to reduce global warming and be less fat. What an amazingly wonderful synergy.”
Andy Rowell on the Oil Change blog -
“Electric Vehicles May Increase CO2”
(I think it’s too much of a stretch to say that electric vehicles are “all the rage”; but some people definitely are looking toward them as ‘solutions.’)
Brad Aaron on the Streetsblog New York City site -
“Do Your Part: Buy an Audi, Drive Fast” (in October)
(Evidently the author is using the word “transit” to refer to mass transit — such as buses.)
“In the United States, with the exception of a handful of cities … car-centric transportation policies and suburban sprawl continue to make bicycle commuting rare, arduous and relatively dangerous. Although millions of Americans recreate on bikes, they ride them for just 0.4 percent of their trips to work, according to the U.S. Census.”
“In recent months, bike shops across much of the United States have been flooded with new customers fed up with high gasoline prices.”
“Yet without major changes in U.S. transportation policy and infrastructure, an earnest desire to save money on gas is not enough to turn American bike owners into everyday cyclists who ride to work, according to [some] urban planners, transportation experts and bicycle company executives.”
Some relevant statistics -
- According to a 2009 survey, 88% of Americans consider cars necessities (source)
- “Canadians and Americans use bikes for fewer than one in a hundred trips – although in Vancouver … it’s a bit higher, at about 2.3 per cent. Compare that to the 20 to 35 per cent of trips taken by bike in the European Union and 50 per cent in China. (Unfortunately, the trend is reversing in China as the country embraces car culture.)” (from a 2008 source)
- “Germans are 10 times more likely than Americans to ride a bike and three times less likely to get hurt while doing so.” (from the same 2008 article quoted above)
Of course, cycling is just one transportation alternative. Although I’m focusing on cycling in this post (as I have in other blog entries here, in the past), I also think that rail and bus systems are two more important alternatives to cars, trucks, and vans. I’m not going to try to summarize all of the constructive alternative transportation possibilities (right now, anyway); basically I’m just questioning the entrenchment of automobiles — while looking at cycling, as one positive alternative.
Michael Glotz-Richter (in this post) -
“Studies have shown that, on average, most cars are parked for 23 hours a day. Do we really want to use so much valuable space for storing vehicles?”
The start of that post conveys how parked cars are like elephants in our rooms (so to speak); that is, the post elaborates on how we refuse to acknowledge and re-assess how much space we are devoting to automobile parking.
Matthew Blackett on the Spacing Toronto blog -
“42 Folding Bikes vs. One Car”
( “Sometimes it takes a visual illustration to make the strongest argument.” …)
(Here is a larger version of the second image shown there.)
“Instead of making more room on the street for idle cars, we should be making room for more people. We should [claim] space to stroll, shop, sit and socialize.”
“Our unrelenting fixation on cheap and easy driving has blinded us from recognizing this simple fact: More than five decades spent adding capacity is proof that increasing the parking supply will not solve the problem. We have to decrease demand.”
“Unfortunately we’ve come to regard suburban retail [complexes], with their acres of parking lots, as the norm. As a result, we insist that a convenient parking place should be waiting for us at the end of every car trip. How much longer will we try to satisfy such an unrealistic expectation? How much are we willing to sacrifice to perpetuate this fantasy? When will we realize how much we’ve already lost in this foolish pursuit?”
(As I occasionally do, I have replaced a couple of the words there with slightly different ones that fit better with my own point of view.)
John Bennett (in this blog post) -
“How can simply placing our hands on the steering wheel impair our judgement, turn us against our fellow citizens and cause us to engage in risky behavior that we know will yield only small, fleeting rewards (if any).”
I’m going to start to explore those issues here –
without focusing so much on car equipment (such as steering wheels).
“It’s almost as if there’s something about being inside a vehicle of any kind, removed from the normal pace and experience of walking — the only thing we were actually born to do, after all — that evokes its own special behaviors, its own convulsive social physics, and problems — traffic fatalities, it should be noted, were ranked as the leading cause of fatalities in London in the early 18th century.”
“Drivers are confused, at best, with bicyclists on ‘their’ streets (angry at their interference, at worst), and bicyclists are summarily fearful of drivers.”
“Status-quo … design is not going to get more bikes on the road than there are brave messenger jobs and aggressive enthusiasts. The average person is just not that daring. After decades of our industry designing roadways for the [most] efficient throughput of cars, bicycling has been all but marginalized.”
“In every city there are thousands of closet cyclists, people who would love to ride their bikes but don’t dare. They see cycling in the city as something for bike couriers, for the fiendishly fit, for neighbours with nerves of steel.”
Our cities are just bursting with pedaling potential, and it’s time to set it loose on the streets.”
(I have posted another exerpt from that blog post here.)