Bicycles are better

It’s not the curses, nor the quotidian near-misses, nor the lamentable condition of this town’s few “bike lanes” that trouble me about my daily commute to and from campus. What worries me lately is my arrival every morning at the FLB drenched in sweat – in late October! I expect to be a bit ripe after the morning ride in August, and always bring a towel in order to “freshen up” before presenting myself to my professors and students. But, it was disconcertingly unseasonal to have to do so last week. Global warming is such a buzz term these days. No one (not even certain hitherto skeptics in Washington) seems to doubt that we have largely contributed to it. It seems, however, that many of us are at a loss as to how we can help. These ruminations led me to conduct an experiment tonight. I rode my bike from eastern Urbana (University Avenue and Vine Street) to western Champaign (Springfield and Mattis avenues). The whole ordeal took me 19 minutes, 42 seconds – and that with two beers in me. Why, then, would any able-bodied citizen choose to subject himself or herself to the frustrations and costs (financial and ecological) of commuting by automobile? I’m not na’ve. Many of us need to travel farther than is feasible by bicycle. Often, we’ve got too much stuff to transport. Don’t get me wrong: I think the automobile is a blessing of the modern age. However, a blessing can be very easily abused; and then it becomes a curse. Can we please try to change our “car culture” for the better? Try riding that old Schwinn to work or to the store! I think you’ll find it easier, more rewarding and more fun than the car and oil industries would have us believe.

John Fraser

Graduate student