I made a decision years ago not to drive. I have never needed to drive. I have never regretted not driving. I do not have a driver’s license. People find this mysterious. “Were you in an accident?”
I don’t overexplain, because they will not get it anyway. “No, it’s because fossil fuel emissions pollute the air.”
According to the EPA, “the transportation sector generates the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions (27% of 2020 greenhouse gas emissions). Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation primarily come from burning fossil fuel for our cars, trucks, ships, trains, and planes.”
Bicycling, walking, and mass transit are viable alternatives to driving in a city or large town. Americans, however, regard their cars as giant purses, mechanical nomad tents, or, in the case of the pathological, as weapons. Raise the price of gas and there will be rioting and weaponizing.
Today I took a bike ride.It was not exactly a beautiful day, but it was below 90 degrees, and there was a breeze. Good weather for bicycling after what we’ve seen this summer. I rode along shady, tree-lined streets, and lush green bicycle trails.
And then on the trip home a car tried to kill me.
At an intersection I looked to the right: no cars. I looked to the left: no cars. “Head on a swivel,” as a friend says. I was about to cross when in my peripheral vision I saw a low-slung dark gray car racing down a short slope. When the driver saw me, he or she accelerated. I slammed on the brakes and barely had time to yank the bike out of the intersection. I seem to have escaped an attempted hit-and-run in a peaceful park-like neighborhood where there is little traffic, hence no traffic security cameras.
I leaned against my bike and drank most of a bottle of water before continuing. Perhaps I will write a letter to the state’s bicycling organization. There have been incidents where drivers have deliberately run bicyclists off the road. And every year bicyclists are killed by drivers.
Here is a heart-rending example of one of the bicycling obits:
“Lorna Moss, age 69, of Sioux Center, was killed when hit from behind on September 3, at 5:53 p.m., on Hickory Avenue, two miles north of Hull, IA. Moss was traveling northbound on a bicycle in the northbound lane on Hickory Avenue. Seth De Jong, age 27, of Doon, IA was driving a 2006 Dodge Grand Caravan northbound on Hickory Avenue behind Moss when he struck the bicycle. Upon further investigation, deputies suspected that De Jong was under the influence of alcohol. De Jong was transported to the Sioux County Jail where he was charged with homicide by vehicle caused by operating while intoxicated and homicide by vehicle caused by reckless driving.”
Aggressive drivers are also dangerous to pedestrians. The other day a friend almost got killed crossing the street. When the light turned green and the walk sign was on, she stepped into the street. Suddenly an old beater car turned right almost on top of her, barely missing her, and then broke another law by veering across a traffic lane, narrowly missing another car.
According to Outside magazine, almost 47,000 bicyclists a year are hit by cars in the U.S. The article informs us, “Cyclist fatalities have been on the rise since 2010 and are now at 30-year highs. Pedestrian crash rates show an almost identical pattern. (Vehicle-occupant deaths, meanwhile, have dropped around 25 percent since peaking in the early 2000s.) According to a 2018 report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the rate of pedestrian involvement in crashes rose 13 percent from 2009 to 2016, accounting for population change. But the percentage of pedestrians killed rose at more than twice that rate.”
If the weaponization of cars is the new road rage, a syndrome which apparently is on the rise since the pandemic began, I can only speculate that insanity is the primary symptom of American aggression.