as if compelled by a force to speak i posed a vision to my community and our leaders. a lot of us gathered at the edge of a bicycle park at a rally for safe cycling on this small island, to ask questions of our elected member of the legislative assembly, who cycled there, with villagers, on rough shoulders along speeding streets, and of our minister for transportation and infrastructure. we had a lot to say.
the vision i proposed, if i can recall what came forth, is something like this.
it is coming up to five years since my family sold our private car and swapped it for electric bicycles. our children do not have their driver’s licenses nor do they plan to get them. this is the new generation of voters. on behalf of them i’d like to see us move forward with a shared vision for the future that does not look like the past.
we can no longer picture a future based on the private car. we know that we cannot possibly electrify all the vehicles, our mineral restrictions alone limit this. what we need now is an electrified fleet of shared vehicles and buses. there need not be bottlenecks at the ferries because we can welcome visitors to cycle safely round the island on the beautiful bicycle lane that you will build, that last 20 km of a circuit across the islands.
we get it wrong when we talk about this bicycle lane as for cyclists. this is a solution that solves so many of our troubles, meets so many of our needs. as a response to the cost of food and housing, our health, our carbon footprint, our transportation, safe bicycle infrastructure takes care of so much. we could have invited several ministers here, of health, of environment and climate change, of housing.
i would like to see us go forward together with a vision for the future that is shared and collaborative, to align each decision we make from this place.
our minister responded with great openness to this, i’m glad to tell you. he recognised our mineral blindness** and limits. he observed that a new electric bicycle rebate program came out a day or two before and promptly crashed the site with requests. there are plans coming into place to reinvent a particularly dangerous hill, and to reexamine our road speeds.
now. our hearts are in the right place when we have accepted the government subsidies that came before this, to get oneself an electric vehicle to replace one’s internal combustion engine vehicle. but the pattern underlying this vision of an electrified future reproduces the same troubles that it always generates. we must alter the root pattern first, and then our decisions might have a chance of yielding a viable future. our solutions must come from a place of collaboration, to meet the needs of all life.
public subsidies for private vehicles get it backwards. we must act quickly and if simon michaux is right** about our mineral limits, we must mobilise to electrify a system that is inherently based in meeting collective needs, not funding private profit. slower streets, safe shared multimodal streets, plenty of car-free areas including our villages, consistent and reliable electrified transit supplemented by shared electric vehicles are the future i’d like to see. i know i’m not alone.
how are your government representatives answering these requests? can you strike out on foot or by bicycle, mobility scooter or skateboard and get where you want to go safely? is life more important than expediency, efficiency, speed? are lives more important than cars in your shared spaces, your villages and roads? can your children play? can your youth and your elders get about without being chauffeured? do they associate independence, adulthood with driving a private car? is getting around a collaborative responsibility or a privatised, individualised one?
what does the pattern of collaboration look like when it comes to getting around?
what might our solutions look like if they meet the needs of all that lives?
this weeklyish letter is supported by our letters patrons and patrons who join the farm tours, mentorships and small farm sessions. with so much gratitude. i have nearly, almost, belatedly got the kitchen gardens weeded, raised beds built and all planted up and i’m looking forward to some spaciousness for writing and for a new series of films based on these letters.
**look for dr. simon michaux in conversation with manda scott on ‘accidental gods’ podcast and with nate hagens on ‘the great simplification’.