Sunday, 18 August 2019

Travelling And Improving Your Health.

       It is heartening to see that more and more people are beginning to see the detrimental effects of that once much desired metal box with an internal combustion engine. They are becoming more aware of its gross inefficiency and the massive pollution it pours out, poisoning our lungs and destroying the planet's eco-system. We know there are answers, we just have to grasp them. As usual some simple words of wisdom from Not Buying Anything.
          Gas engine cars were never a very good idea. I can see them pulling a dinosaur act soon, dieing in our driveways and being fossilized over the coming eons. Why? Because they are notoriously energy inefficient and nature does not reward inefficiency.
       An internal combustion gas engine offers a pathetic 20 - 30% efficiency. The remaining 70 to 80% of the gas in the tank is wasted as exhaust heat, mechanical sound energy, and friction loss, rather than moving the car from point A to point B. An electric car does better, operating at between 50 and 85% efficiency, but that still does not make it anywhere as efficient as a bicycle. A bike is the most efficient method of travel in the known Universe. It can be up to 5 times more efficient than walking, and is impressively more efficient than a car. 100 calories of energy will power a bicycle 5 km, while those same calories will only take a car 85 meters. A car is a more efficient mechanism for wasting energy than it is as a method of transportation.
      A 2015 survey of 44 countries found that only 1/3 of total respondents reported owning a car. That's about the same fraction of Americans over the age of 3 that rode a bike at least once over the last year. As part of my experiment in joining that 65% segment of car-free respondents, I have been doing bike-supported grocery shopping trips since our van broke down.
      The distance to the store is 7.5 km. Along the way the route descends from 500 ft to sea level.
       On my first trip, I used my travel backpack that has about a 55 L capacity. I carried home 7 kg of food, which got us nicely stocked up. The entire trip took me 1.5 hours, and it was much more enjoyable than driving. I was freed from the metal cage of the car.
      On a bike you are out there, in there, immersed in the scene and part of it all. I saw things I have never seen before while driving, even though I have blasted up and down this road a few times over the past 5 years. As I pumped uphill I revelled in the essence of trees and flowers and grass and soil and a million other things organic. I listened to several species of birds singing their songs.
     People greeted me as I pedalled by.
 Getting ready for the trip home with my groceries.
      Home is up in the hills in the background. I was the only bike in the lot on this day. After shopping it felt good to go outside to a waiting bike instead of our van. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy driving cars and vans, trucks and tractors. I have also driven limousines, the most insane, idiotic and inefficient vehicles on the planet. Yes, for a short while I did personal research on the rich of Edmonton, Alberta while working as a chauffeur. Brushing shoulders with the upper crust was interesting and strange. I have always enjoyed motor vehicles. Thing is, I love bicycles, too. And when I ride, it is amazing. Just not as fast. Which is good.
       On my first grocery ride I was so excited about my hill climb back home with all my food that I rode off like a kid returning home after a visit to the candy store. So excited that I forgot my bike helmet outside where my bike was locked up. It's gone. Other than that, biking for food has been a success. So far it is a viable method that is efficient, effective, and a whole lot of fun.
       I am going to have to buy a new helmet. Safety first.
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