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jrenaut
04-23-2015, 07:57 AM
In this morning's print edition of the NYT and online last night (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/23/style/families-ditch-cars-for-cargo-bikes.html?_r=0) is an article about parents ditching cars for cargo bikes with quotes from me.

So now I've been in the Washington Post and the New York Times this year. I just need a big West Coast paper for the trifecta.

jrenaut
04-23-2015, 10:19 AM
Frustrating that the NYT decided to cut all the quotes from women in the article. I'm seeing this feedback a lot on Twitter, and it's totally justified. The author (a woman who bikes her kids to school on a Yuba Mundo) definitely talked to women and included quotes from them in the original submission, but none made it to the final.

I'm very much against the idea that we always have to make sure to include a man and a woman and a minority and a this and a that, but the NYT can certainly do better than this.

dasgeh
04-23-2015, 10:48 AM
Frustrating that the NYT decided to cut all the quotes from women in the article. I'm seeing this feedback a lot on Twitter, and it's totally justified. The author (a woman who bikes her kids to school on a Yuba Mundo) definitely talked to women and included quotes from them in the original submission, but none made it to the final.

I'm very much against the idea that we always have to make sure to include a man and a woman and a minority and a this and a that, but the NYT can certainly do better than this.

That jumped out at me, too, especially since the numbers show that there are more women biking with kids than men. Anyway, way to go!

DismalScientist
04-24-2015, 12:40 PM
BikeSnobNYC did a number on this article.
http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com/2015/04/bsnyc-friday-fun-quiz_24.html

lordofthemark
04-24-2015, 12:53 PM
BikeSnobNYC did a number on this article.
http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com/2015/04/bsnyc-friday-fun-quiz_24.html

It would show me to be a completely humorless dork if I were to analyze the bikesnob piece in detail and show why, from an environmental POV, he is completely full of it? I guess it would. He is still full of it on this one though.


Would it suffice to point out that a parent choosing a preschool near the parent's place of work may not be motivated by disdain for the options in Williamsburg?

jrenaut
04-24-2015, 01:00 PM
BikeSnobNYC didn't have any problems with my paragraph. I win!

hozn
04-24-2015, 01:49 PM
I think BSNYC is right to levy some criticism over anyone driving a Q5 and claiming to use the cargo bike for the environment. It feels like a mockery when you consider the millions, no billions, of people living with ecological footprints that are a tiny, tiny fraction of the size. Sell the car. Move into high-density housing. Stop eating meat. Etc. Etc. Then start feeling smug about running errands on the bike. Or run the errands on the bike because you like riding your bike but recognize that it does nothing to offset your disproportionately and unsustainably huge ecological footprint.

jrenaut
04-24-2015, 01:56 PM
Yeah, that's definitely a fair criticism.

For the record, despite having two children, we still drive my 2006 Mazda 3 when we DO drive, though we will occasionally rent something larger for trips and such. Also, my primary reason for the cargo bike is that it's more convenient than the car and contributes A LOT to my mental and physical health and well-being. The environmental benefits are just a bonus.

lordofthemark
04-24-2015, 02:10 PM
I think BSNYC is right to levy some criticism over anyone driving a Q5 and claiming to use the cargo bike for the environment. It feels like a mockery when you consider the millions, no billions, of people living with ecological footprints that are a tiny, tiny fraction of the size. Sell the car. Move into high-density housing. Stop eating meat. Etc. Etc. Then start feeling smug about running errands on the bike. Or run the errands on the bike because you like riding your bike but recognize that it does nothing to offset your disproportionately and unsustainably huge ecological footprint.


If he bikes and thus drives the Q7 less, he is responsible for fewer GHGs than absent the cargo bike. Period. My household's car is a Honda Civic - I consider when I substitute the bike for driving that is a positive thing (and our car gets better gas mileage than the Audi, so actually I am avoiding less GHGs by not driving it) I live in high density housing, but we are not car free and do eat meat, though not a lot of red meat. That we have a larger carbon footprint than someone in Bangladesh is neither here nor there. The notion that people should not take steps to reduce their carbon footprint, unless they can make their carbon less than one percent of that of the average American, seems to me to serve no purpose whatsoever. It discourages people from taking the actions they could and would take. Actions which will contribute to reducing GHGs.

By the way the gentleman in question lives in Berkeley. Odds are he does live in higher density housing than people of the same income living further out in the Bay Area. Depending on whether his work takes him mostly to SF, or to Silicon Valley, he may have a shorter weekday commute. And he may consume less red meat than the average American. And the quote from him, in full is this “We do all sorts of errands on the bike,” Mr. Hoverman said. “We try not to get in the car all weekend.” which does not sound smug to me.

vvill
04-24-2015, 02:18 PM
I have to admit I had the same reaction when I first read the article (before seeing this BSNYC commentary).

"My other bike is an Audi Q7."

Not so much for the environmental footprint, but that it seems to imply you have to be a 38 year old "business strategy consultant" in Berkeley with an Audi to afford a cargo bike and/or make it practical to fit into your lifestyle.

hozn
04-24-2015, 02:33 PM
I guess the environmental impact it's a much larger topic. If it makes you feel like you're making a difference in the world to ride your bike more, go for it. I just think that if you look at the bigger picture, these actions have negligible direct ecological impact. If these actions create a larger movement and a trend away from using automobiles, then ok, maybe that's going to make a small difference. Rather than worry about getting more people in the suburban US biking to work, it would have exponentially more impact to convince people in India and China **that are already riding bicycles to work** that they should keep riding bicycles even when they can afford to buy a car. In most of the world, as we all know, riding a bicycle is something people do because they have to, not because it makes them feel good to leave the car parked in their garage.

There are a gazillion reasons to prefer riding a bicycle to driving a car. I'm not suggesting that those should be discounted. I ride my bike because it's fun. It's as simple as that. There are also a gazillion reasons to advocate for more cycling and less driving -- I think we'd all agree that bikes make the world a more pleasant place and that is a reason I wholeheartedly support bike advocacy. I'm just saying that a little honesty or perspective is probably a good thing when it comes to assessing the *ecological* impact of these decisions. But, again, if you feel good about doing it, then keep doing it -- because it makes you feel good. The ecological reality is far more depressing.

Anyway, we can all do the footprint calculators to see how many planets are needed to sustain our lifestyles. It's not a pretty picture; this isn't news to anyone. I'm going for a bike ride.

lordofthemark
04-24-2015, 02:44 PM
I guess the environmental impact it's a much larger topic. If it makes you feel like you're making a difference in the world to ride your bike more, go for it. I just think that if you look at the bigger picture, these actions have negligible direct ecological impact. If these actions create a larger movement and a trend away from using automobiles, then ok, maybe that's going to make a small difference. Rather than worry about getting more people in the suburban US biking to work, it would have exponentially more impact to convince people in India and China **that are already riding bicycles to work** that they should keep riding bicycles even when they can afford to buy a car. In most of the world, as we all know, riding a bicycle is something people do because they have to, not because it makes them feel good to leave the car parked in their garage.

There are a gazillion reasons to prefer riding a bicycle to driving a car. I'm not suggesting that those should be discounted. I ride my bike because it's fun. It's as simple as that. There are also a gazillion reasons to advocate for more cycling and less driving -- I think we'd all agree that bikes make the world a more pleasant place and that is a reason I wholeheartedly support bike advocacy. I'm just saying that a little honesty or perspective is probably a good thing when it comes to assessing the *ecological* impact of these decisions. But, again, if you feel good about doing it, then keep doing it -- because it makes you feel good. The ecological reality is far more depressing.

Anyway, we can all do the footprint calculators to see how many planets are needed to sustain our lifestyles. It's not a pretty picture; this isn't news to anyone. I'm going for a bike ride.


I just fundamentally do not buy the "X by itself will have a small impact, so X does not count" POV. All big changes are composed of lots of small changes. The "it won't matter" argument can be applied to any proposed change on GHGs, because to solve the problem will require improvement in so many different areas. If you can do something that reduces GHGs, and the benefit for you exceeds the cost, do it -but not only because it makes you feel good. Also because it actually helps.

And with climate change in particular we do not know that there is one level of improvement that will make the difference - the science is not clear on that - it may be that warming somewhat less, will avoid some of the impacts.

As for China and India (widely mentioned by folks trying to fight policies to address climate change, and will be more so now that denial is fading) changing our lifestyles in North America helps in two ways - 1 because those countries are less likely to accept emissions targets if they do not see progress from the developed world 2 - because at least some people there look to the developed world for models on how to live when they become "'rich"

I note that China now has one of the world's largest bike share systems - the new biking paradigm is taking root, even as the older biking paradigm (out of sheer poverty) fades. Doing more here to advance the new paradigm cannot hurt, over there.

I'm just saying that a little honesty or perspective is probably a good thing when it comes to assessing the *ecological* impact of these decisions.

Again, I don't see what there is in the NYT article that suggests either dishonesty of lack of perspective.

jabberwocky
04-24-2015, 02:47 PM
The secret is to not have kids, and therefore be perfectly fine with leaving a smoldering wasteland to the next generation. ;)

hozn
04-24-2015, 05:17 PM
I just fundamentally do not buy the "X by itself will have a small impact, so X does not count" POV. All big changes are composed of lots of small changes.


Sure, but to me this sounds like taking a rock out of the ocean in order to counteract the rising sea level. Does it help? Sure. Is it significant? No. Should people that do that feel like they are making a difference? Only if they rode their bike to the seaside. ;-)

But sure, if you effect cultural change that could have larger-scale impact. In that case, I would say the reason to choose the bicycle over the Q7 is to make a social statement. And when that statement is made with a little humility for the billions that could feed their family for years on the price of a cargo bike it leaves little for the BSNYCs of the world to critique.

Anyway, happy weekend, everyone!

lordofthemark
04-24-2015, 07:31 PM
If everyone who owned a motor vehicle bought a cargo bike and tried to drive as little as possible on weekends it would be a significant change. Obviously what one household does is not going to stop climate change, but that would be true of any change they would make. And I don't think the poverty level of folks in the third world has anything to do with that. There are millions of Americans happily driving huge vehicles all the time and I seldom see them criticized for not thinking about 3rd world poverty. But some dude with a fancy cargo bike is. Hypocrisy as a sin is overrated. Better a hypocrite who makes the world better, than a non hypocrite who makes it worse.

GB
04-24-2015, 09:44 PM
Better a hypocrite who makes the world better, than a non hypocrite who makes it worse.

I think Hozn's point is that they are not actually making it better, only not making it bad as fast.

That said, I agree (and I think Hozn does to) that (transportation) riding is good and people should not be critized for it.

dasgeh
04-27-2015, 08:45 AM
Sure, but to me this sounds like taking a rock out of the ocean in order to counteract the rising sea level.

I look at it as taking a rock out of the ocean in a very public way, that shows others they can take rocks out of the ocean. Face it, kids in a cargo bike turn more heads than MAMILs biking along. If seeing us out and about convinces a few more families that they can take the car a little less and the bike a little more, then I've multiplied my effect. If seeing families using the roads makes anyone think "oh, if it's safe enough for them...", then I've multiplied my effect. And if riding around on a bike starts conversations - with kids, amongst parents, at schools - then I've multiplied my effect.

Personally, the environmental impact is a minority part of why I ride and why I dedicate time for bike advocacy, but it's not negligible. If we can figure out how to make biking for transport safe and normal here, we can be a model for others, and we can all reap the benefits (environmental, social, cultural, etc).

lordofthemark
04-27-2015, 11:48 AM
A piece on "new paradigm" biking in China - its all about building your own bike apparently.

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/caixin/2015/04/bicycling_in_beijing_how_a_two_wheeled_revolution_ could_change_china_s_youth.html

Belcher
05-25-2015, 01:34 AM
In this morning's print edition of the NYT and online last night (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/23/style/families-ditch-cars-for-cargo-bikes.html?_r=0) is an article about parents ditching cars for cargo bikes with quotes from me.


So now I've been in the Washington Post and the New York Times this year. I just need a big West Coast paper for the trifecta.

I think it was great that you was on NYtime isn't it?