Thursday, September 16, 2010

Changing the world one bike at a time...

Kristof has a honest and poignant column in the New York Times about World Bicycle Relief that is an organization dedicated to disseminating bicycles to regions where access to easy, affordable transportation can open new doors in the lives of people residing there. I am really impressed by the thoroughness of the organization in thinking about how to make sustainable bicycles that will survive the elements. In our highly optimized and specialized lives we create societies that function only on the "happy path". They also think not only about distributing bicycles, but creating infrastructure to service the bikes as well. This is truly about building to last.

It's great that some of the supporters of this project are SRAM, and American manufacturer of bicycle components. I'll be honest, I'm mostly a Shimano guy because that's what came with my bike, but it's good to see that we are still trying to build in this country.

What can we do in our own country to build things and systems that are built to last. How do we build systems that not only live on the happy path. As I clean up my place, I have a hard time throwing things away because I know they have utility. I curse myself for picking it up in the first place, but in many cases I salvaged it from the garbage. I have a very good Just In case kind of life, but it's overwhelming. What is the sum waste of our lives that we leave behind. How much to make a buck. I have an air freshener system from two years ago that I got in my goodie bag at the Rock 'N Roll Half, it's still sealed. It didn't make my happy path, and they probably knew it. But the utility of the air freshener was not in the dispenser, but in the refills. Without the refills, it's just junk. It's a terrible dependency.

But I digress but not really, with bicycles the means of locomotion are there if the machine is working, no gas required. It's a truly humanitarian ideal. In the movie Mad Max, the fight was for gasoline, in a bicycle world it would just be Max. Max happiness.


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