Monday, May 21

Bike to Work Conflict

Last week, during “Bike to Work” week, I received the email shown above from the North Central Texas Council of Governments.

I’ve received a number of such items from time to time, but this time, I pondered the matter a little, and THAT caused me to wonder about things. For example, what is the cutoff between “regular” and “older” adults? Are “older” adults that ride their bikes to work supposed to stop, heeding the direction to limit outside activity or are they supposed to ride their bikes in order to cut air pollution? Or are they only supposed to do that until they pick up one of the lung disorders cited? Will Fort Worth have a “moment of silence” for the cyclists that aren’t at the “Bike to Work” event because they followed the advice to limit their outside activity? What about people that have to WORK outside? Are they simply supposed to take vacation? Actually, I asked the“tryparkingit” lady at the event, and she was well aware of the conflicting advice. She took my queries in stride, and I found that air pollution alerts come in “watch” and “warning” levels just as tornado alerts do. A “warning” is much more serious. Their email advice in future omits the encouragement to bike or walk on “warning” days. To my mind, this seems like a negative feedback loop. When it pollutes, you have to pollute when you wouldn't normally. Seems sort of topsy turvy to me. How about - when it is polluted, everyone takes the day off without pay. Maybe motorists would appreciate cyclists more when they get to go back to work. Nah, call me a dreamer!
Bottom line – This is a classic governmental conflict between a short-term event and long-term advice. After all, I think few of us would volunteer to simply stop breathing during the duration of one of these events. Probably fewer of us will consider that the items advised do not affect many major sources of local air pollution. Certainly cars make a lot of smog, but the same government that wants us to “drive less” encourages more driving by building more freeways and other highways that encourage people to drive more and further. Few politicians will make useful suggestions about what local governments can or should do to avoid such events in the future. Instead, we’re told to “limit outdoor activity.” And campaign promises promise cheaper gas. So the cycle continues.

On a more positive note, I got some "Air Quality Index Crayons." Read the description on each.


Anonymous said...

Gale: All right, ya hayseeds, it's a stick-up. Everybody freeze. Everybody down on the ground.
Feisty Hayseed: Well, which is it, young feller? You want I should freeze or get down on the ground? Mean to say, if'n I freeze, I can't rightly drop. And if'n I drop, I'm a-gonna be in motion. You see...
Gale: Shut up!
Feisty Hayseed: Okay then.
Gale: Everybody down on the ground!
Evelle: Y'all can just forget that part about freezin' now.
Gale: Better still to get down there.
Evelle: Yeah, y'all hear that, don't ya?
[Everybody lays down. Gale looks at the now-empty teller windows]
Gale: Shxx! Where'd all the tellers go?
Teller's voices: We're down here, sir.
Evelle: They're on the floor as you commanded, Gale.

Pondero said...

Exactly. This is the kind of stuff that chaps me almost every day. Man, I'm a grumpy old man.

John Romeo Alpha said...

Those crayons are cool, and would go well with my "Water Quality Sharpies" and could be stored nearby my "National Debt Nerf Ball" on the shelf by my "Magic 8 ball press conference decoder".

Jenny Rilling said...

I guess we need to start wearing a respirator while biking, or something.

Steve A said...

Jenny, one good thing - if we start having to wear astronaut suits to cycle, I hear they have GREAT AC which would make cycling on those 110F days much nicer! Yeah, I get optimistic on rare occasions when I'm not being grumpy.

Jenny Rilling said...

What we really need are stillsuits.

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