Driving Less

The following are links to various blog entries that relate to, among other things, our current state of addiction to oil, our addiction to motorized vehicles, our looming global warming problems… and some of what to do about it all. --Joe

 

***Read Joe’s position paper on: transportation


 

Multiple Joe blog entries on the following topics…

 

global warming gasses

motor vehicles

car accidents

bicycling


 

Sample blog entries…

 

oil addicts, Transition Towns…

April 5, 2012

 

The campaign rolls on… In the last week we appeared in the Northwest Signal Daily News, which is circulated throughout Northwest Florida. I was asked about offshore drilling in a newspaper office not far from the Gulf of Mexico. I said while the oil from the Deep Water Horizon spill (the worst accidental spill in U.S. history) was cleaned off the surface, it still floats in the water columns below the surface and is entrained in the sediment on the bottom as well. And speaking of ‘bottoms,’ I said that we have become a nation of addicts when it comes to oil and the Deep Water Horizon catastrophe should have been analogous to an alcoholic/addict “hitting bottom.” (Well, I call ’em like I see ’em — no matter who the local populace is.) Note:  There is a movement afoot called “Transition Towns.” It is comprised, in essence, of people in pseudo, self-help groups who are supporting each other in getting off the ‘oil habit’ to help a town ‘transition’ to alternative forms of energy use. I attended one of these meetings in Cleveland and heard people supporting each other in bicycling more, walking more, losing the air-conditioning, cutting the heat back… and doing all this, and a lot more, in a variety of creative ways.


 

Too many accidents, period

March 6, 2006

 

We’re in Tehachapi, California, some 4,000 ft above sea level in the Tehachapi Mountains. Today while out jogging on Hwy 202, I was stopped by the scene of a white cross and some flowers by the side of the road. On the cross it said: “Daddy.” Below was a stick-on heart with the words: “I had a good Valentine’s Day this year Dad. I’m thinking about you…” Apparently this girl comes here to where her Dad was killed on the road to leave him regular messages about the events of her life. How tragic that we’ve set up a transportation system in America that is so dangerous (33,000 deaths a year on American roads). I couldn’t help but wonder how many children are growing up without ‘Daddys,’ without ‘Mommys,’ to share the moments of their lives because we’ve, without a lot of prayerful thought or discernment, simply wanted to be more mobile. And we often drive by these roadside crosses with hardly a thought — unless of course it’s happened to one of our ‘Daddys,’ or relatives, or friends… Note: Interesting timing… a bicycling enthusiast from Louisville, Kentucky, had e-mailed me yesterday. He liked that we advocate for much more bicycling in the country and he wrote that for him personally bicycling was good for his health, good for the environment, a more responsible, and frugal, purchase… What’s more, with greenhouse gas and carcinogen emissions from cars, the potential for fatal accidents, and so on… this man wondered: W.W.J.D.? That is: “What Would Jesus Drive?”… And more interesting (and tragic) timing… The day after I wrote all this, the Tehachapi News carried a front page article reporting that not more than a quarter mile from the accident site I’d just written about, there had just been another auto accident that claimed two lives and left three others critically injured. Nancy Ramirez (according to the California Highway Patrol) drifted a bit right onto the road’s shoulder, then corrected too far to the left and struck a Caltrans truck head on. Mrs. Ramirez’s 10-year-old daughter was ejected from the car and a third car struck her. She died. The driver of the Caltrans truck, Jackie Ray Aldridge, 51, was pinned behind his steering wheel. He died. Mrs. Ramirez is in critical condition. And her other daughter, Roquel, 6, broke both her legs and suffered a spine injury… Soon, most likely, another cross with another “Daddy” will go up near the accident site. If Mrs. Ramirez doesn’t make it, there will be a cross that says “Mommy.” And yet another that says “Daughter”… Both these accidents happened near the intersection of Hwy 202 and Schout Road. And maybe it’s time we, collectively, ‘SHOUT’ to change the motor vehicle transportation system (to “Walkable Communities,” horse drawn buggies, bicycles, walking…) that is killing us — One Daddy, or Mommy, or daughter… at a time. Note 2: As I mentioned all this during an interview with Carol Holmes, editor of the Tehachapi News, she replied that several days after this last accident — there was yet another vehicular accident in that same location that had involved two children and left one adult, a grandmother, in critical condition.


 

March 2, 2007

Bluffton University Bus Crash

 

Before moving to the inner city of Cleveland, we lived in Bluffton, Ohio. I used to take the kids to watch the Bluffton University Baseball Team. Some of this year’s team members died today in a tremendously tragic bus accident in Atlanta. And it must be horrific for everyone involved. But as tragic as this one accident is, every 13 seconds someone is killed on American highways. That translates to 33,000 deaths a year. We’ve lost some 3,100 U.S. Service people in the last three years of the Iraq War. When you compare the figures, our highways are nothing less than a ‘war zone.’ We’d just never look at it that way — because we are so addicted to high-speed, motor vehicle transportation. Yet that doesn’t in anyway make it any less wrong? And like any addict, our society has come up with a series of rationalizations to justify our addiction… Driving through mid-Florida today, we noticed several roadside accident scene crosses, flowers, and small signs that read: Drive Carefully… Should we be driving carefully, or should we be driving at all? The Amish have chosen not to drive motor vehicles because they pollute, are detrimental to family and community building (because instead of being at home or in the neighborhood a lot, now we always seem to be ‘en route’), and they increase the chances of death or maiming exponentially. And the Amish believe to kill someone is a very serious thing, no matter how it happens. Moral theologians (who drive) would, for the most part, spiritually pass a traffic fatality off to “unintended consequences.” Yet objectively, if we know driving is helping cause global warming and also increases the chances of maiming or killing someone  in an accident, doesn’t  getting in  a car and strapping (or not) ourselves in, our children in — knowing there are other options (like staying home more,  walking  and shopping locally, et al.) — become an immoral act? Whether we have an accident, or not.  The mere fact that we’re being lazy in, say, not walking, or bicycling, would seem  a sin.   (Intent is 9/10ths — if not 10/10ths — of the ‘spiritual’ law.) And increasing the possibility of  taking  our life, or our children’s’ lives, or other drivers’ lives… in the face of knowing how dangerous driving is, could also well be considered sin. Note: How many more fatal highway tragedies is it going to take for us to wake up to this? And more, how much further along the global warming continuum will we go before we wake up to this? The key is nothing short of changing the whole transportation infra-structure in line with reverting back to a decentralized society — like in the old days, before motorized vehicles.