I've avoided saying it on this blog for a while now, just because it's still kind of an ugly word in America, but it's important to the story I want to tell below. I am an atheist. I've always been one, and I can see no reason, barring the Second Coming, that I will believe anytime soon. I'm not ashamed about that either, but that's actually not what this post is about.
It's important because I'm a very active member of the Inland Empire Atheists, a great group of people who share our godless ways, intellectual and philosophical gifts, and all-around fun-loving spirits. Think of us as like a church social group, just without the church. Accordingly, I'm out and about throughout the IE on a very regular basis, often with the same general group of people, most of whom I'm great friends with, and all of whom know that I am a dedicated alternative transport advocate and cyclist. It never fails, when I use alternative transport to get to an IEA event, that somebody will inevitably offer to give me a ride back home.
If any IEA folks are reading this, I really, really appreciate your concern, and I want you to know that I'm not trying to be mean or offensive in any way... but please stop. If I truly need help, I will ask. (And I have. Late-night events in Redlands don't work out well without some way to get home.)
It is this cultural bias in favour of the private automobile that is destroying our society. Well-meaning, well-informed and concerned people, the types of folks who recycle their bottles and cans and make sure to turn out the lights when they leave a room, see a bike or a bus (or the combination thereof) as a punishment. They see my trips on transit as suffering that they'd like to alleviate. While my wife might feel this way, I don't. I truly enjoy my time on transit- it's time for me to listen to music, read a book, people-watch or just stare out the window. I enjoy my bicycle rides- it's time I'm spending getting in shape and thinking, something easily accomplished on a bike. (Try it.)
While riding with somebody is not as hellish as driving (time that I really HATE...), it's still time that my movement is slowly poisoning our planet, and it's time that I am tacitly endorsing the status quo. I have a moral problem with cars. I really, truly do. I think they're evil. I think that much of what is wrong in our society is the direct result of years of automobiles in our streets. I feel guilty every time I'm riding in one. The car is my transport of last resort, and I like it that way. (Not to mention, by the way, that most folks I know drive a vehicle with substantially lower MPG...)
So, to everyone I know... I am an alternative transportation advocate. I am a cyclist, not for sport but just to get around town. I am a bus rider. For all of that, I am not ashamed.