Toward a History of Needs (Economics of Cars vs Bikes)

Discussion in 'Recumbent bicycles' started by Geob, May 16, 2003.

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  1. Geob

    Geob Guest

    The following I ripped off of a site recently. Maybe you have all read it? I was struck by the fact
    that considering all of the time we work to support our car habit, and other time we have to spend
    on it, a bike will actually go farther/faster than a car! I feel like telling the masses!

    http://www.bicyclecommuter.com/RichardBrionesCommutingStory.pdf

    "The model American male devotes more than 1,600 hours a year to his car. He sits in it while it
    goes and while it stands idling. He parks it and searches for it. He earns the money to put down on
    it and to meet the monthly installments. He works to pay for gasoline, tolls, insurance, taxes and
    tickets. He spends four of his sixteen waking hours on the road or gathering resources for it. And
    this figure does not take into account the time consumed by other activities dictated by transport:
    time spent in hospitals, traffic courts and garages; time spent watching automobile
    commercials....the model American puts in 1,600 hours to get 7,500 miles: less than five miles per
    hour. In countries deprived of a transportation industry, people manage to do the same thing,
    walking wherever they want to go...What distinguishes the traffic in rich countries from the traffic
    in poor countries is not more mileage per hour of lifetime for the majority, but more hours of
    compulsory consumption of high doses of energy, packaged and unequally distributed by the
    transportation industry. Bicycles let people move with greater speed without taking up significant
    amounts of scarce space, energy or time. They can spend fewer hours on each mile and still travel
    more miles in a year. They can get the benefit of technological breakthroughs without putting undue
    claims on the schedules, energy or space of others. They become masters of their own movements
    without blocking those of their fellows. Their new tool creates only those demands which it can also
    satisfy. Every increase in motorized speed creates new demands on space and time. The use of the
    bicycle is self-limiting. It allows people to create a new relationship between their life-space and
    their life-time, between their territory and the pulse of their being, without destroying their
    inherited balance. The advantages of modern self-powered traffic are obvious, and ignored."

    Ivan Ilich, Toward a History of Needs (1973).
     
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  2. Baronn1

    Baronn1 Guest

    this is the silliest thing I've ever read...

    "GeoB" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > The following I ripped off of a site recently. Maybe you have all read it? I was struck by the
    > fact that considering all of the time we work to support our car habit, and other time we have to
    > spend on it, a bike will actually go farther/faster than a car! I feel like telling the masses!
    >
    > http://www.bicyclecommuter.com/RichardBrionesCommutingStory.pdf
    >
    >
    > "The model American male devotes more than 1,600 hours a year to his car. He sits in it while it
    > goes and while it stands idling. He parks it and searches for it. He earns the money to put down
    > on it and to meet the monthly installments. He works to pay for gasoline, tolls, insurance, taxes
    > and tickets. He spends four of his sixteen waking hours on the road or gathering resources for it.
    > And this figure does not take into account the time consumed by other activities dictated by
    > transport: time spent in hospitals, traffic courts and garages; time spent watching automobile
    > commercials....the model American puts in 1,600 hours to get 7,500 miles: less than five miles per
    > hour. In countries deprived of a transportation industry, people manage to do the same thing,
    > walking wherever they want to go...What distinguishes the traffic in rich countries from the
    > traffic in poor countries is not more mileage per hour of lifetime for the majority, but more
    > hours of compulsory consumption of high doses of energy, packaged and unequally distributed by the
    > transportation industry. Bicycles let people move with greater speed without taking up significant
    > amounts of scarce space, energy or time. They can spend fewer hours on each mile and still travel
    > more miles in a year. They can get the benefit of technological breakthroughs without putting
    > undue claims on the schedules, energy or space of others. They become masters of their own
    > movements without blocking those of their fellows. Their new tool creates only those demands which
    > it can also satisfy. Every increase in motorized speed creates new demands on space and time. The
    > use of the bicycle is self-limiting. It allows people to create a new relationship between their
    > life-space and their life-time, between their territory and the pulse of their being, without
    > destroying their inherited balance. The advantages of modern self-powered traffic are obvious, and
    > ignored."
    >
    > Ivan Ilich, Toward a History of Needs (1973).
     
  3. The short version of Illich's point is:

    Average take home pay: 25 cents per minute Average auto costs: 50 cents per mile

    Average miles gained per hour worked: 30.

    At 20% of our GNP, this is basically all day Monday at work.

    Now add the minutes behind the wheel, (typical commute 30-40 MPH) and time spent fuelling and
    otherwise caring for your car. You are down to 15 "true" MPH.

    Now add in the hours worked for all the thousands per urban motorist in subsidies lobbyists have
    talked out politicians into (unlike all of Europe with its $5 a gallon gas) "free" parking, oil
    defense, crossing guards, etc.

    At up to 10% of our GNP, this is half of Tuesday.

    Now factor in how much of your commute is driving past suburban sprawl caused by all those who want
    to drive to work solo. This doubles commute distances in many areas.

    Now add in all those extra "soccer mom" trips because we decided to neglect children, the elderly,
    the poor by eliminating transit and safe or convenient cycling.

    Now factor in all the time lost to being injured or dead compared to other vastly more safe modes
    of transit.

    Tally it all up, and the average solo urban commuter gets maybe 5 miles per every hour. If you are
    Bill Gates driving a beater, maybe you get close to the speed you see out the window. The silly part
    is if we made home ownership as cheap as car ownership, Bill would get to work quicker because
    instead of renters driving, lower class homeowners would be on the bus.

    Compare this to someone getting on an exercise machine for 20 minutes (like myself) when they get
    off, they are at work. Voila! Instant and free transportation.

    But don't expect to see anything like this between car commercials. Now there's your real answer.

    "baronn1" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > this is the silliest thing I've ever read...
    >
    > "GeoB" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > > The following I ripped off of a site recently. Maybe you have all read it? I was struck by the
    > > fact that considering all of the time we work to support our car habit, and other time we have
    > > to spend on it, a bike will actually go farther/faster than a car! I feel like telling the
    > > masses!
    > >
    > > http://www.bicyclecommuter.com/RichardBrionesCommutingStory.pdf
    > >
    > >
    > > "The model American male devotes more than 1,600 hours a year to his car. He sits in it while it
    > > goes and while it stands idling. He parks it and searches for it. He earns the money to put down
    > > on it and to meet the monthly installments. He works to pay for gasoline, tolls, insurance,
    > > taxes and tickets. He spends four of his sixteen waking hours on the road or gathering resources
    > > for it. And this figure does not take into account the time consumed by other activities
    > > dictated by transport: time spent in hospitals, traffic courts and garages; time spent watching
    > > automobile commercials....the model American puts in 1,600 hours to get 7,500 miles: less than
    > > five miles per hour. In countries deprived of a transportation industry, people manage to do the
    > > same thing, walking wherever they want to go...What distinguishes the traffic in rich countries
    > > from the traffic in poor countries is not more mileage per hour of lifetime for the majority,
    > > but more hours of compulsory consumption of high doses of energy, packaged and unequally
    > > distributed by the transportation industry. Bicycles let people move with greater speed without
    > > taking up significant amounts of scarce space, energy or time. They can spend fewer hours on
    > > each mile and still travel more miles in a year. They can get the benefit of technological
    > > breakthroughs without putting undue claims on the schedules, energy or space of others. They
    > > become masters of their own movements without blocking those of their fellows. Their new tool
    > > creates only those demands which it can also satisfy. Every increase in motorized speed creates
    > > new demands on space and time. The use of the bicycle is self-limiting. It allows people to
    > > create a new relationship between their life-space and their life-time, between their territory
    > > and the pulse of their being, without destroying their inherited balance. The advantages of
    > > modern self-powered traffic are obvious, and ignored."
    > >
    > > Ivan Ilich, Toward a History of Needs (1973).
     
  4. Keith

    Keith Guest

    "baronn1" <[email protected]> wrote ...

    > this is the silliest thing I've ever read...
    >
    > "GeoB" wrote ...
    > > The following I ripped off of a site recently. Maybe you have all read it? I was struck by the
    > > fact that considering all of the time we work to support our car habit, and other time we have
    > > to spend on it, a bike will actually go farther/faster than a car!

    <snip>

    > > Ivan Ilich, Toward a History of Needs (1973).

    "Silly"? Well, it depends where you are coming from and how closed your mind is to alternative
    perspectives and how imprisoned you are by the prevailing hegemony, going unthinkingly along with
    the flow of our lemming culture. I use a car as well as a bike, but Geez! I wish the balance was
    more in favour of the bike! I recognize the wisdom of Illich's analysis.

    I first read this quotation in the original back in the 1970s, possibly in Illich's Energy and
    Equity, but had since forgotten where I had come across it. Thanks VERY much GeoB for directing me
    to its source. Like you I am stunned by it - in the broadest sense: forget the minutiae of the
    arithmentic and the precise numbers; focus on the big picture. And thanks, Mikhael Seierup, for your
    direct re-presentation. It is JUST what I needed to get me onto the bike more often!

    There is more discussion along the same lines at:

    http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?CarAddiction

    and many other places.
     
  5. "Keith" skrev
    > And thanks, Mikhael Seierup, for your direct re-presentation. It is JUST what I needed to get me
    > onto the bike more often!

    How I wish people would spell my name right. I'm not friggin russian. :)

    Mikael, Denmark, 35 y.o. Car free since 1967.
     
  6. Comrade M.S.S. The 1st name was easy, I'm still having trouble with your middle name...is there an
    English translation for it ?
    ------------------
    "Mikael Seierup" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    >
    > "Keith" skrev
    > > And thanks, Mikhael Seierup, for your direct re-presentation. It is JUST what I needed to get me
    > > onto the bike more often!
    >
    > How I wish people would spell my name right. I'm not friggin russian. :)
    >
    > Mikael, Denmark, 35 y.o. Car free since 1967.
     
  7. x

    x Guest

    RE/
    >But don't expect to see anything like this between car commercials. Now there's your real answer.

    I know somebody who was at a engineering conferance in Shanghai some years back.

    The people present were civil engineers working for Shangai and visiting engineers from Australia.

    The topic was planning for infrastructure development to support China's continued economic
    development.

    One of the guys from Australia launched into this spiel about how great it was that so many of
    China's people biked to work and how this was a great strength of theirs and how future planning
    should support/expand/favor the cycling infrastructure and cut back on the automobile
    infrastructure.

    It was all being done through translators.

    The guy I know worked for Shanghai, but also understood English.

    He recalls sitting there listening to the Australian guy and simultaneously watching one of his
    Shanghai collegues (a fiftiesh, traffic engineer who had spent his entire career working in
    Shanghai) turn various stages of red and start muttering to himself as the transaltor relayed the
    Australian guy's comments.

    Finally the fiftiesh Shanghai guy couldn't maintain any more and just uhloaded at the
    Australian guy.

    The translator didn't want to translate it.

    What he said (translated from Manderin) was "You are sooooo full of shit!!!! Have you EVER actally
    tried living where you have to go EVERYWHERE by bicycle???"
    -----------------------
    PeteCresswell
     
  8. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Guest

    On Sun, 18 May 2003 14:24:02 GMT, "(Pete Cresswell)" <[email protected]> wrote:

    >RE/

    >The translator didn't want to translate it.
    >
    >What he said (translated from Manderin) was "You are sooooo full of shit!!!! Have you EVER actally
    >tried living where you have to go EVERYWHERE by bicycle???"
    >-----------------------
    >PeteCresswell

    LOL - as a guy who spends his days trying to convince geeks that software is NOT the ends but the
    means I understand !
     
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