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  1. #1
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    Can large-scale bicycle use put pressure on terrorism?

    We are told now that the WTC and Pentagon attacks were probably financed by Islamic fundamentalists in several countries in the Middle East. Naturally, that money most likely came from oil and not from the sale of dried dates.

    What many people do not realize is that many Middle East countries such as Iran have been skidding on financial calamity for the past twenty years. It is only when oil prices have increased recently that they pull out of it. People in the USA use three times as much petroleum fuel per capita as the average European. Now that is substantial.

    Imagine if -on average- we could have every automobile driver in the USA bicycle commute to work one day per week. That could have an enormous impact on the profits of oil producers.

    Assuming that private automobiles consume 75% of the gasoline in the USA and assuming that most of that use is during the weekdays, we could reduce consumption in the USA from about 7% to 12% with a "once per week bicycle commute strategy".

    As you may know from your own businesses, that would have an influential impact on profitability.

    Getting every driver in the USA to bicycle substitute at least once per week might not be possible, but on an average, it might be possible to get close. Just think, if you bicycle commute EVERY day, you do the travelling for four of your colleagues. If a couple of your colleagues contribute to the cause by bicycling, it could add up to a significant peaceful strategy to reduce the money going to Middle East terrorists.

    Every world citizen of every age could contribute to the cause. Spread the word. It sounds crazy, but I'm willing to pedal for peace.
    Last edited by mike; 09-20-01 at 11:49 AM.
    Mike

  2. #2
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Of course, your idea does not sound crazy to us, Mike!

    In fact, your idea is a most logical, long-term part of the total solution to our dependence on foreign oil. Foreign oil whose profits are used to attack us on our own soil and abroad. It's ironic that we are funding our aggressors and we don't make the connection in our minds.

    In light of the current situation, people who cycle to work should recieve a medal from the president. Chris "primate" L should be first in line.

    Not a bad idea.
    No worries

  3. #3
    Cyclist and village idiot ridealot's Avatar
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    Very good thought Mike. I wish it could actually work.

    On a side note it has been rumored that they get some financing from drug sells also. Supposedly 40% of the worlds supply of opium comes from Afghanistan.

    I will do my part and ride and ride and ride...
    Last edited by ridealot; 09-20-01 at 01:10 PM.

  4. #4
    Chicago Cyclist ViciousCycle's Avatar
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    Here's a related article I wrote for leapfrog issue #5. (Leapfrog is a print zine devoted to bicycle culture.)

    The War Is Also on the Expressways

    When I bicycle through Chicagoland, I often cycle over bridges that cross over expressways. Earlier this summer, I would look down and laugh at all of the cars gridlocked in traffic jams. Ironically, the snotty motorists who yell at bicyclists for being too slow would subject themselves to bumper-to-bumper traffic day after day. I would laugh, knowing that I was pedaling faster than they were driving.

    I bicycled over one of these bridges this morning, but I didn't feel like laughing. I dismounted my bike and stared down at the vast sea of cars. Hearing the roar of the expressway, I thought of how relentlessly hungry these cars were for oil. It is the United States' hunger for oil which has driven military and foreign policies in the Middle East which have earned us many enemies. Enemies who turned the World Trade Center into two flaming pillars. I got back on my bike and slowly pedaled back home. The mess on the expressway was no longer funny.

    This summer, when I worked at a client that was within bicycling distance, I felt free of car culture. With my water bottle and my U-lock, I was prepared to go to work. I went for weeks at a time without using my car at all. But I'm now at a different client. I now need my car keys to go to work. Like a lot of workers in the local computer industry, I keep getting sent to different parts of the suburban sprawl for each of my projects. So I'll often be ending my work day by reaching for my car keys rather than for my bicycle helmet. Against my wishes, I'll be relying on the internal combustion engine and its violent demand for oil.

    Some workers are stoically resigned to long commutes. I've worked with co-workers who lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and worked in Chicago's far western burbs of Chicago, more than 100 miles round trip a day. But even those of us who hate long commutes can often find it a struggle to reduce our commutes. Even though I'm within bicycling distance of the Chicago Loop, job recruiters almost invariably tell me that I'm limiting my job search too severely if I limit my search to the Loop. I'm always able to get a job in the burbs, though I have been unable to get a job in the Loop. (Meanwhile, I get exasperated when friends who live in the extreme far suburbs complain about how they keep ending up with job assignments in the Loop.) Murphy's Law seems to be in effect; no matter where a person lives, their job manages to end up being far away. And so the task of just getting to and from work ends up feeding into the United States' violent lust for oil.

    I have a friend who is fond of saying, "Don't tell me what your values are; tell me how you spend your time and money." I often think about this saying as I struggle with the issues of car commuting. What good does it do me to say that I'm against high gasoline usage if I use a lot of gasoline everyday? What good does it do me to say that I'm against the violence caused directly or indirectly by automobiles if I continue to drive them?

    It's hard for Americans to reduce their dependence on their cars. It's even hard for Americans who don't like cars to reduce their dependence on their cars. But now, more than ever before, we must try.
    The Easter Island people were clever, but their civilization collapsed after they chopped down the last tree on their island. You can't be 'resourceful' if you've used up all of your resources.

  5. #5
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    Wow, VisciousCycle. That is a neat article!
    Mike

  6. #6
    Those that can do, do do
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    Originally posted by ViciousCycle
    I have a friend who is fond of saying, "Don't tell me what your values are; tell me how you spend your time and money.".....

    It's hard for Americans to reduce their dependence on their cars. It's even hard for Americans who don't like cars to reduce their dependence on their cars. But now, more than ever before, we must try.
    I never thought of it like this but the above quote ties to the old saying that "talk is cheap". Actions do speak louder than words.

    Sadly, as much as I would love to ride my bike to work my arrangement does not allow it. It is one of my hopes that in time I will. Kudos to those than can and do. For as you know: "Those that can do, do do".
    JAPH

  7. #7
    grouchy bookseller HillaryRose's Avatar
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    Of course every one says, oh, the middle east, it must be oil money. I get the feeling sometimes that everyone in this country thinks that every one in the middle east is rolling in oil money. Hardly true. The oil wealth is owned by a few countries like Saudi Arabia. Most of the rest of Middle East is pretty darn poor. Take Afganistan. Between their last war with the former USSR and recent droughts not to mention few natural resources and arid land to begin with, most Afganis are bone-grindingly poor. Poor in a way that we wealthy westerners (and even those of us without much money are relatively affluent compared to them) just can hardly comprehend. Or take the Palestinians, pushed violently out of their own homeland, treated like criminals if they dare stay in Israel (I've heard first hand accounts of this), and treated only as second class guest workers in other Middle Eastern countries. Cheap labor with no chance of ever winning citizenship.

    I think the root cause of this violence is oil. But I think it has far more to do the power inequities of some few people having most of the wealth. Our lawmakers have supported these inequities because they serve the political expediency of feeding all those hungry SUVs with cheap oil, but I don't think the violence would go totally away if our demand for oil vanished overnight. All in all, it's a very complex issue, with roots that go back centuries. To British colonialism, for instance. Or further back to the Crusades of the middle ages, which set precedences of conflict between the Islamic and Christian worlds.
    Nothing is so good that somebody, somewhere, will not hate it.

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  8. #8
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    True, it's a complex issue, but bicycling certainly is a positive and useful gesture - much more so than duct taping a giant flag to a pickup truck. Conservation has real positive effects. Even if you just ride recreationally, you aren't burning the fuel you might doing other things. Everyone keeps saying how unified the country is, but I haven't seen any real sacrifices made yet by the general population (apart from those helping at the scene, of course).

  9. #9
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    Actually, with the right logo and marketing, the idea might really catch on. "Ride against Terrorism" or something. That's something I'd be more than happy to put on the back of my jersey. (Might keep the pickup trucks from trying to ditch me too...)

  10. #10
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Originally posted by HillaryRose
    I think the root cause of this violence is oil. But I think it has far more to do the power inequities of some few people having most of the wealth.
    Very keen observation, historically accurate.

    This is why the Marshall Plan of the post-WWII era, which used American tax dollars to rebuild the demolished cities of Europe,
    was so wise.
    No worries

  11. #11
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    The average American is too fat and lazy to ride a bike once a week.The typical driver I see while riding my bike ;middle aged man or woman,driving a SUV or minivan,one hand on the steering wheel with a cigarette poking between their fingers and the other hand holding a cell phone up to their ear.They are for the most part over weight.On the weekend I see many of these types of people with kids in the vehicle pulling a trailer with dirt bikes,4 wheelers or a huge boat.
    Mike I can relate to your idea,I'm working myself into a car free lifestyle.But just take a look around in public places like Wal-Mart or the grocery store and notice how many people are fat.Also you have to realize due to our fuel burning lifestyle Americans have aquired an aversion to sweat.In order to get Americans on bicylces something radical would have to happen like fuel rationing.Sorry for sounding like a pessimist but this is how I veiw the state of the nation.

  12. #12
    dark and cynical PapeteeBooh's Avatar
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    Originally posted by mike
    We are told now that the WTC and Pentagon attacks were probably financed by Islamic fundamentalists in several countries in the Middle East. Naturally, that money most likely came from oil and not from the sale of dried dates.
    Possibly.

    What many people do not realize is that many Middle East countries such as Iran have been skidding on financial calamity for the past twenty years.
    I don't think Iran has anything to do with the attack. They have been quite moderate internationally recently. FYI also not only did they condemn the attack but like all but two countries in the world, they do not recognize the Taliban as the legitimate Afghan government.

    It is only when oil prices have increased recently that they pull out of it. People in the USA use three times as much petroleum fuel per capita as the average European. Now that is substantial.

    I think you are dealing with differents issues here. That the US consume too much oil which is bad for the earth and for its own independence is an issue that should be address and bicycle is not a bad way.

    However, I think that the link between oil making other people rich and terrorism is not that straightforward. Put it in an other way: teh rise of the Nazi Germany had also to do with the disastrous economic situation Germany faced after the 1st WW not because they were too wealthy. Or say, the embargo might have completely destroyed the economy of Irak. Is that likely to bring down terrorism ? I doubt it. I see resentment and fanatism as a more likely outcome personally. Peace works pretty well too you know.

  13. #13
    Dazed and confused Ellie's Avatar
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    When everyone is saying terrorism at the moment it seems to only mean Arab terrorists. I'm not sure cycling would have any kind of effect on say the Real IRA, or Basque seperatists like ETA. I know these groups only kill small numbers of people, but they're just as dead.

    I think we need to remember that not all terrorists are Afghans!

  14. #14
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    But these groups do have an effect on cycling: It is illegal to lock a bike to a railling anywhere in Whitehall, London, where all the government offices are.

  15. #15
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    We have had one bicyle bomb (I think it was defused). The IRA planted it at the conference of the conservative party a few years ago. Bikes are removed immediated if they are locked up around the Houses of Parliament, government offices or military barracks in London.
    The funny thing is they are all taken to the basement of a police station.

    One hot summer day , London was bought to a halt by IRA bombs and bomb threats; nothing was moving except bicycles. The main motorway junction was closed, all the tubes were halted, and the buses were caught in stationary traffic for hours.

  16. #16
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Ellie
    When everyone is saying terrorism at the moment it seems to only mean Arab terrorists. I'm not sure cycling would have any kind of effect on say the Real IRA, or Basque seperatists like ETA. I know these groups only kill small numbers of people, but they're just as dead.

    I think we need to remember that not all terrorists are Afghans!
    Ellie,

    This has been on my mind, too. Terrorism has been going on a long time. Does this mean we are going to get serious about terrorism now, across the board?

    President Bush said in a speech before Congress, with Tony Blair present, that the United States had no truer friend than Britain. Is this statement a prelude to a plan for dealing with IRA terrorism?

    I am not taking sides Catholic or Protestant. I don't believe that
    true Catholics or Protestants would engage in violent revenge of any kind. This is about blatant terrorism.
    No worries

  17. #17
    dark and cynical PapeteeBooh's Avatar
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    There has been a bicycle bomb planted in front of a synagogue in Brussels in the 80s (I think) as well. You'ld think that bicycle are easily to check for bomb though but then again I presume they are good for terrosists because they don't leave a trail (registration etc).


    Anyway, bikes are removed around several buildings here and this is not for safety reason (I still wonder about the reason).

  18. #18
    Senior Member Palafo's Avatar
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    I'm all for biking and conservation, but it should be noted that the oil-rich MidEast countries have pledged support for the war on terror, even some that were a little on the fence. They have come to see where the money comes from. The countries that harbor terrorists are mostly poor or the terrorists are in hiding among a radical minority of the population.

  19. #19
    Senior Member mike's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Palafo
    I'm all for biking and conservation, but it should be noted that the oil-rich MidEast countries have pledged support for the war on terror, even some that were a little on the fence.
    I don't think we have to worry about our bicycle riding putting the oil producing nations out of business. However, it appears that oil money has gone to support terrorist groups in the middle east.

    Maybe, if we can put a little squeeze on some of the profits, there will be less fat to mix with the nuts.
    Mike

  20. #20
    Devilmaycare Cycling Fool Allister's Avatar
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    Didn't Bin Laden make his money in construction?
    If we learn from our mistakes, I must be a goddamn genius.

  21. #21
    Those that can do, do do
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    Originally posted by Allister
    Didn't Bin Laden make his money in construction?
    Bin Laden inherited his money from his father who was a Saudi construction magnate.
    JAPH

  22. #22
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Pete Clark

    In light of the current situation, people who cycle to work should recieve a medal from the president. Chris "primate" L should be first in line.
    Thanks dude, but would I get an award from an oil-money president? Not likely!

    every one in the middle east is rolling in oil money. Hardly true. The oil wealth is owned by a few countries like Saudi Arabia. Most of the rest of Middle East is pretty darn poor. Take Afganistan. Between their last war with the former USSR and recent droughts not to mention few natural resources and arid land to begin with, most Afganis are bone-grindingly poor.
    That's true, but does that go for the governments as well as the general population? I think not. When you're being ruled by that sort of regime, you're gonna be poor anyway. The only people who would suffer if oil money and aid was withdrawn from these countries would be the groups who organised these sort of attacks and are taking this stuff off their people.

    The average American is too fat and lazy to ride a bike once a week.
    Does the average American wonder why?

    Lets face it, you can't build bombs or guns without money. It's very simple. I'm surprised that more cycling advocates haven't used the "Cycle for your Country" slogan yet.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
    "We invite everyone to question the entire culture we take for granted." - Manic Street Preachers.
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