Peak Oil

Peak Oil and Bicycle Commuting

By Jason Allen
Published March 30, 2010

I watched the movie Cuba after Peak Oil last week, and found very interesting the fact that Cuba's initial response to the sudden loss of its cheap, consistent oil supply (due to the collapse of the USSR), was to import thousands of Chinese bicycles.

There is an awful lot of conversation in the transition town community about making cities more walkable and transit-friendly. However, the reality is not lost on these groups that for many people, bikes may be their vehicle of choice in the face of more localized communities due to $3.00+ a litre gas.

I work in downtown Toronto, and can't help but notice the huge increase in the number of bikes on the road compared with when I lived there four years ago.

Yes, there is a fitness and lifestyle component, and certainly a "save the planet" ethos to riding your bike everywhere. Then there's that article the Star wrote several years ago (sorry, can't find the link) where they had a cyclist, a motorist, and a TTC rider go from Yonge and Queen to Yonge and Bloor, and the cyclist won hands down.

There is, however, that element of people who ride a bike because ... well, once you have bought your bike (some of which can be had at second hand shops or kijiji for often as little as $20), it's free to ride.

Notwithstanding the whole getting-soaked-in-wet-weather-and-arriving-hot-and-sweaty-in-good-weather thing. That, I guess, comes down to this whole 'the world is about to get a whole lot less convenient' thing.

One of my favorite stores in Hamilton (and I'm not even an avid cyclist, he's just a great guy) is Downtown Bike Hounds. Sean has positioned himself perfectly to a) equip Hamilton for the reality of bike commuting, and b) make a reasonable living in the meantime.

His shop is packed with good quality refurbished bikes and top-of-the-line European commuter bikes - exactly the types that will seem like a very cost effective option when oil hits $200+ a barrel.

So now that the snow seems to be gone, and the weather is warming up, I'm going to get a jump on the whole "bike commute" thing.

I can easily walk to the GO bus stop, no problem, but starting this week I'm going to start biking to the train station and catching that in, instead. I'm also going to get real used to making my Friday at 8:30 'Beer and Hard Cider' runs by bike.

Sure, I'll be helping to husband what will be increasingly scarce resources, but mainly I'll be preparing myself (both in terms of physical ability and mindset) for the realities we're all going to face in the next 20 years.

What are you going to do?

First published in Jason Allen's blog.

Jason Allen is a chronic hive whacker in the Kirkendall Neighbourhood.


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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted March 30, 2010 at 14:35:59

"I work in downtown Toronto, and can't help but notice the huge increase in the number of bikes on the road compared with when I lived there four years ago."

I also work in dt T.O and I have noticed the exact opposite.

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By Real Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted March 30, 2010 at 15:31:35

Since last year when I started riding my bicycle everyday in downtown Toronto I've seen an increase in cyclists.

Cycling to work is not just for lefties as Capitalist thinks.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted March 31, 2010 at 10:32:15

Bike more

Walk more

More transit???

Small electric vehicles (cars and mopeds)

Recycled bio fuels

Businesses locating closer to where people live (i.e., suburbs)

Urbanization of the suburbs

Less travel by car

Less stuff

Many changes will happen in order to cope with rising fuel costs and peak oil and many of them will be good things. The race to the bottom economy of oil and fossil fuels was never sustainable, we'll get that through our collective thick skull someday... although we'll probably be forced to.

Comment edited by Kiely on 2010-03-31 09:39:19

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