Saturday, March 29, 2008

Riding to work in 2020

(Image from Edgewriter)

On the Tulsa Now forum, Patric started a thread about driving to work in 2020. It can be found under Forum Chat. I'm hoping to retire long before then, but I speculated about the commuting experience anyway.

It's another cloudy spring day. I open the garage door and push my bicycle up the driveway. The slight chill feels good against my face as I coast down the hill from the house. The coolness will be even more welcome once I'm warmed up.

Traffic is light this early. The sun is hiding behind the eastern horizon, but there's not enough light yet for the electric cars to run at full speed. They hum along at about 30 which is still twice my speed, but since they're smaller and lighter than the old gas-guzzling behemoths it's much easier to share the road.

But speaking of comes that ancient Chevy Tahoe again. I can hear the engine rattle from nearly a quarter of a mile away. It's a bio-deisel conversion, but the guy driving it must make his own fuel out in the garage. The neighbors must really love him. The exhaust has all the appeal of an open grease pit at a third-rate Chinese restaurant. At least the commercial stuff smells like french fries or donuts. The Tahoe just smells rancid. Adding to the irony is that chipped and peeling W04 sticker on the back bumper, still recognizable after all these years. The true diehards will never give up, even if their hero is confined to his prison cell.

A couple of young, skinny fast movers dart by, pedaling smoothly and making it look effortless to cruise above 20mph. They nod at the 'old guy' in acknowledgment, but never say a word. Then a middle aged matron passes not pedaling at all. She's on an electric bicycle - much like an old fashioned moped, but with an electric 'assist' motor. I pedal hard for a moment in order to draft behind her, knowing she'll slow down on the rise ahead. She smiles, because we've played this cat-and-mouse game many times. Some mornings she gets to the main gate first, other mornings I do. I'll pass on the uphill and try to open a big gap that she won't be able to cross before I reach that gate. The tailwind helps.

Soon enough, I'm in the parking lot locking up my bike. Compared to the old days, there are far more motorcycles and even the bike rack is full most days. But the astonishing thing is the difference in car parking. Where we had about 50 vehicles in the front lot, there are now twice that many in the same space. Sleek electric minis sit next to bulkier deisel-electric hybrids, and there are even a few old Smart Cars in the mix. Much of the backlot was no longer used, so the company built more offices and a small park for employee's breaks and lunches.

After work, I'll probably take a ride down along the River. I like the quiet trails and I want to enjoy them while I can. If the Pro-River Tax people get their way and the tax gets implemented, all the development will make going there a real pain-in-the-ass.

So, that's my story. Care to make one of your own?



Blogger Yokota Fritz said...

I missed this one the first time around. Nice vision.

9:39 PM  

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