Cars Are Like Cigarettes; The New Pariah
Cars Are Like Cigarettes; The New Pariah
by Matthew Modine
Actor and Causecast Leader
Posted: May 26, 2009 06:29 PM
I am often asked, "Why do you love bicycles?" For a few reasons, but
mostly because I am in love with self-propulsion and self-motivation. I
love finding solutions to problems and I want to leave the world in
better condition than when I arrived. For too long we've behaved as if
the resources of our world are infinite. They are not. They are finite.
The disappearing species around the globe should be a canary in the coal
mine for all of us.
Have you ever been witness to a baby's first steps? The open mouth smile
and the parents, with arms outstretched, as the child wobbles into their
waiting arms. With each step the child builds confidence and ventures
further out into the world. I don't remember my first steps, but I
remember the first time I found my balance and pedaled away from my
father as he let go of the seat of my first bike. I remember. My heart
seemed to stop and I gasped for breath. Balance. More than just a word,
The bicycle provides a greater sense of self-propulsion because it can
carry us further and faster than our feet. At some point during the mid
19th century, during the height of the industrial revolution, the love
of two-wheeled transportation began to catch hold in different corners
of the world. Since that time there have been countless shapes and
forms. But each design provides the rider with the same freedom that the
first model gave its operator, the ability to get from one place to
another quickly and in style.
Sometimes I feel like I am flying when I ride my bike. It's exciting to
turn a corner and suddenly find myself in a sea of other bicyclists.
They seem to share this feeling of self-empowerment. In love with the
knowledge that, as they pass through the air that surrounds them, they
are not polluting what we all share and breathe. Bicyclists are free
from the petroleum products that have compromised our global
environment. They don't have to worry about paying for parking, tipping
valets, car insurance, car inspections or car maintenance. And this
makes them smile. And, as an added bonus, bicyclists are less tense than
the people belted into their metal, four-wheeled boxes.
The statistical truth is that 90% of trips made in cars are less than
five miles from our homes. A very comfortable journey made on a bicycle.
In addition to saving the aforementioned automobile expenses, riding a
bike--just a couple hours a week--will reduce a person's risk of heart
attack and stroke by 50%, not to mention reduce the risks of obesity and
diabetes, two of the biggest killers in the United States. The more
people that ride bikes, the safer it gets to share the road with
pedestrians and cars.
Perhaps the best part of choosing a bike instead of a car is what you
are saying by pedaling. You are saying to yourself, your friends, your
family, and the cars that clog our roads and highways, that you care
about the air we breathe and that you care about the environment. You're
saying you want to do something to reduce carbon emissions and that you
want to improve your health. This personal and environmental awareness
is the legacy that you want to share with your friends and family. You
are a person that wants to pose beside your new bicycle instead of a new
car. Not to mention how much fun it is to ride. The Zen of bicycling is
way cooler than the art of motorcycle maintenance.
Our country has had a long love affair with the automobile. Since its
invention, the automobile has provided us with the freedom and liberty
we yearned for since we took those first baby steps. The automobile took
us further and faster than we could have ever done by self-propulsion.
But that speed and distance has brought the world to the edge of
extinction. We must now look at the automobile with an understanding of
what it really is. We must look at the movies and songs that celebrated
the automobile with a new consciousness and awareness. We must look at
the automobile as a cigarette--a cancer stick--a nail in our collective
coffin. The sexy lifestyle that the tobacco industry sold to us contains
the same advertising lies and poison which the automobile industry sold
and continues to sell to the world. Look at the ads for automobiles and
you'll begin to recognize the lies. You'll see open roads with happy
smiling drivers. Ask yourself, When was the last time I was NOT stuck in
traffic? When was the last time I was not pissed off and stressed out
after just a few hours spent driving behind the wheel of a car? The
automobile ads always present cars in a setting that is free of traffic
and the drivers appear powerful, happy and liberated behind the wheel.
Yeah, like that ever happens in the modern world.
Just as tobacco has killed millions with different forms of cancer, the
automobile industry and the pollution that has spewed from exhaust pipes
ever since Henry Ford's Model 'A' rolled off the assembly line, must be
looked upon as a carton of cigarettes and a cancer to civilization. The
automobile industry should not be bailed out so it can continue to
manufacture the same product. The automobile industry should be
transformed into an industry that builds non-combustion engines. They
should be given contracts to build new light rail trains that can carry
passengers comfortably and safely. And the light rail cars should have
bike racks so passengers can get home from commutes too long to be made
by bicycle. Imagine how many jobs could be created if the US supported
light and heavy rail systems. The car is a mode of transportation that
cannot propel itself or our country into the future. The burning of
fossil fuels and the internal combustion engine is dead. Raise your
glass to self-propulsion! Long live the bicycle.
Matthew Modine <http://www.causecast.org/leader/matthew-modine> is a
Causecast leader, a dedicated and passionate individual who is an
enigmatic voice for change. Causecast leaders are a prestigious
collection of athletes, artists, students, actors, musicians,
politicians, teachers and more. These individuals have set themselves
apart from their contemporaries with a spirited dedication to their ideals.
He is also the founder of Bicycle for a Day <http://bicycleforaday.com>,
an organization which encourages expanded bicycle use and environmental
empowerment. On June 4th, BFAD is holding a fundraiser for SOLAR ONE
<http://www.causecast.org/events/201-bicycle-for-a-day-fundraiser-at-solar-one>, a New York based clean energy organization.