Traveling without driving

reikiman's picture

I'm traveling for a couple days and am in Sacramento for the national Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO) conference. Maybe it's odd for peak oil advocates to travel from around the country to meet, who knows, but I chose to travel without driving. The conference is in Downtown Sacramento and there is an Amtrak station right in downtown, and it's relatively easy to get to Amtrak from my home, so I walked to the train station, dragging a small bag with my clothes, rode the train, and then walked the 1 block from Amtrak station to my hotel. Sure the train itself used a bunch of diesel fuel but that's amortized over a bunch of fellow passengers. A few thoughts ...

First is the tradeoff ... I could have driven my car and gotten here in 3 hrs, and it took 6 hrs from door to door. The tradeoff is that I am not directly responsible for the oil use, and someone else did the driving, I got to relax and look out the window or read or doze off etc. If I'd done any of that while driving the trip would have ended up in a hospital or morgue.

Another tradeoff is the cost, which is $31 each way for the train ticket. It would have cost .7 tanks of fuel in my car, or pretty close to the ticket price each way for fuel. What a deal! An alternate would be to ride my gas motorcycle but the cargo capacity is limited.

It would have helped the travel time to bring a bicycle. But I don't have a bicycle with cargo capacity to carry the rolling bag I use. Well, I could have done as this one lady who had a bicycle, a huge (and I do mean HUGE) backpack, and a guitar case. But I have no idea how she could have ridden with that heavy a load.

So while I wanted to bring a bicycle it didn't seem possible to do so. Instead I walked to the local train station (about 1 mile from my house, a 20 minute walk) and waited there 20+ minutes for the next train. If I had ridden a bicycle to the train station I could have made the earlier train and then I'd also have a bicycle here in Sacramento for getting around town. Fortunately the hotels are close enough together I don't really need a bicycle in Sacramento but it would've been nice.

I could have hauled the baggage on the trailer I use for grocery shopping... hmmm...? Would Amtrak have allowed me to bring that trailer on the train? I think not. The bicycle itself would be okay on the train but what about the trailer?

Another option is an Xtracycle bicycle. I recall reading Amtrak's rules and they have a maximum size for bicycles (?? 80" length ??). Xtracycle sells their frame in a form which is easily detachable meaning you could ride the Xtracycle bicycle to the train, and then take it apart to load onboard the train. But then there's the issue of it being more trouble to load on the train.

In any case that's my brain dump from the train ride. I'm looking forward to learning more about peak oil.

Comments

andrew's picture

Could you have used two bags,a backpack, and a duffel bag? Put the backpack on, and strap the duffel bag to the bicycle. :P

I'm sure in the USA we will need to be thinking a lot more about things like this once our lifestyle dissolves. It's amazing what can theoretically be carried on a bicycle.

[url=/forum-topic/motorcycles-and-large-scooters/587-my-kz750-electric-motorcycle-project]KZ750 Motorcycle Conversion[/url]
[url=/forum-topic/motorcycles-and-large-scooters/588-fixing-my-chinese-scooter]900 watt scooter[/url]
Pic from http://www.electri

davew's picture

Amtrak will always let you take a folder on the train. This is the precise reason I bought a Brompton, but hauling stuff is another problem. I just pack what will fit on my shoulders. In summer a backpack is enough. In winter I need a duffel.

I like your breakdown of the pros and cons of hitchhiking train travel. It will usually be slightly less convenient and more time-consuming, but infinitely more sustainable. I just don't see how individual, 3000lb cars can be the way most of us get around in the future. With mass transit much more economical options are open. Riding trains and buses now I consider a vote with my pocket book for a more sustainable future.

"we must be the change we wish to see in the world"

sparc5's picture

Hi David,

I admire your dedication to preserve what's left of the oil, reduce your carbon footprint, etc.. If only everyone was as conscientious as you. I live my life the same way, although not to a degree where if the whole world lived as I do we'd be ok.

What I wonder all the time is why bother? My reduced consumption has no significant impact on the macroproblems. Yet if everyone thought this way, nothing would get done for sure. It's almost like voting, as an individual your vote isn't going to decide anything, but if everyone thought that and didn't vote...

What it does have a significant impact is my life. It's a lot more convenient even cheaper to live on the grid. It's often quicker and more convenient to drive. To throw everything out in the garbage can vs clean your cans and recycle, is more of a hassle then throwing it all in a big thick plastic bag. It can go on and on, you get the picture. So if all you're doing is radically changing your own life, while the rest of the world continues its environmental destruction at breakneck speed why bother?

Any solution needs to be top down. If a politician advocates long term sustainability, vote him in office. The free markets can't be depended on to protect the environment. Pollution is socially undesirable, but has no effect on what the polluting firm's profits. The key problem is that there is not a market on which pollution (or the rights to pollute) is traded. If the market for that existed (and is transparent heh), they would not fail to produce a socially optimal outcome. Creative destruction could take place. Rich countries have to provide solutions and incentives to get developing countries to limit their pollution/environmental destruction. We'd need global cooperation, I'm sad to say I don't think enough of humanity is ready for that yet. Call me crazy, but having a radically democratic future makes so little sense when the people with power have been improving their ability to control the public mind since the dawn of advertising.

I saw Michael Moore's new film Slacker Uprising. He's going around the country trying to get everyone who normally doesn't care about politics to vote for Obama. Each side tries to get the most politically ignorant part of the population to vote. If one side does it, it becomes a necessary evil in a close election for the other side. All is fair in love and war right?

So where does that leave us? Living green gets you nowhere in achieving your macrogoals. The world is too passive to force politicians to achieve the macrogoals. What is left? Move to a country where the general level of education is higher, greed is lower, and work with them to make the necessary changes to make a smooth transition to a post oil world?

XM-3000...
-DC-DC converter replaced with a Dell D220P-01 power supply.
-72V mod
-Expensive bank charger until I come up with something better... Still trying.
-

reikiman's picture

Yeh, I downloaded a copy of Slacker Uprising but haven't had a chance to watch it yet. Over the weekend I had other deep issues to think about.

Anyway ..

What I wonder all the time is why bother? My reduced consumption has no significant impact on the macroproblems.

Yes the little piddly bits of improvement I make because I've been using CFL bulbs for nearly 20 years, been using cloth shopping bags for nearly 20 years, driving my car for very little, ..etc.. all that's pretty small potatoes in the big scheme of things. (Or small potato's maybe)

But I think this pattern is interesting: a) explore, b) demonstrate, c) publicize

The last two steps are a way to amplify my efforts. If I prove to myself that steps A,B,C work, and then publicize A,B,C, it helps other people see something they can try for themselves.

If I instead simply work out for myself A,B,C and then don't tell anybody, what's the gain? Eventually I'll die and all the learning I gain will die with me. By sharing then the learning spreads to others. And with enough monkeys on the island learning to wash their food before they eat, then all the monkeys will likewise learn to live in a better way. (in case you didn't catch that.. it's a reference to the 100th monkey syndrome)

Any solution needs to be top down. If a politician advocates long term sustainability, vote him in office.

Top down? What about bottom up solutions?

Has the open source software revolution been a top down imposition of freedom? No.

In general there's a possibility for grass roots bottom up idea implementations to spread beneath the radar of the powers that be, and then change the world.

Of course there's value in the top dog boss man saying "do X" but in the end even that pattern requires the peons to obey the top dog boss man and do what s/he says. But my personal preference is in bottom up solutions. We all have power as well, power of our purchases, power of our individual decisions, etc. If all the peons were to talk to each other and decide to do Y rather than X regardless of the orders from on high, is there any power the top dogs can gather to stop us?

- David Herron, The Long Tail Pipe, davidherron.com, 7gen.com, What is Reiki
- Electrified Electra To

sparc5's picture

But I think this pattern is interesting: a) explore, b) demonstrate, c) publicize

How long do you give this strategy to work? How much time do we have? What is plan B?

Has the open source software revolution been a top down imposition of freedom? No.

Well, I think the internet did come about with some government help. ;-) Usually it just takes a little government push to get these balls rolling. In fact, once the government gets into the business of starting balls rolling, investors take a wait and see approach before they start investing. This was very evident in the latest energy bill.

What has really gotten me down is after all the press global warming has gotten, a movie, the cover of Science Magazine (or was it Nature? saying "Global Warming Is Real" (or something to that effect)), the UN panel, whistle blowers at the EPA, on and on, people still are doubting it's real and something needs to be done about it. What more will it take?

The crisis we're in now is so intense because Bush and friends didn't invest in infrastructure that would for the short term raise employment, and in the long term generate wealth back when we had a budget surplus. Actually since Carter no one has done enough to lower our dependence on foreign oil. No one did enough to fix lower education. I say the top down solution is necessary because taxing emissions will be worthless unless all cities, states, countries, do it in concert. I say top down because major infrastructure projects is financed by govt. I say top down because society tends to take the shape similar to the laws which govern it. Will finance change now that we had the biggest shocks since the great depression in a bottom up sort of way or will we want gov to step in and say, this system is rigged too badly in favor of the extremely wealthy. No matter what top down or bottom up, we're talking about the actions of individuals, or how individuals behave in a group.

Open source is a great example of what people will do when given the opportunity to utilize their talents, for hardware to be used in novel ways that corporations wouldn't take risks on or didn't think of. I'd like to see a plan to give whoever invents an amazing battery a large cash reward, so long as they make it open source.

What are the limitations of this freedom of information? The Soviets spent so much energy controlling information. Controversial scholars, writers, all faced severe consequences for doing what we do in this society every day. Turned out not be such a threat. The internet didn't help us get better public officials. It didn't threaten the two major political party's dominance. It didn't solve our energy problems, or pollution. So what's limiting the rEVolution now? Too low of signal to noise ratio. Public indifference. Lack of empathy. Other larger countries, like China and India, not learning from our mistakes.

XM-3000...
-DC-DC converter replaced with a Dell D220P-01 power supply.
-72V mod
-Expensive bank charger until I come up with something better... Still trying.
-

reikiman's picture

I think the great thing about the diversity of peoples is that one person can work the top down approach, another can work the bottom up approach, and we'll meet in the middle hopefully.

As for how much time do we have left... great question. At the peak oil conference last week a couple said we have less than zero time left to dawdle around making studies and delaying starting to work on a solution.

"Less than zero time left to dawdle around" is a sideways way of saying ... we have no time left to wait, and according to that guy we all have to start acting now. Seems Al Gore said something like that a month or two ago.

Oil supplies is an example of a top-down problem. Oil is supplied by big corporations etc with big scale infrastructure and on and on and on. Big solutions like the supply of oil kinda has to be solved from the top down due to its nature.

Come to think of it social change is the kind of thing which can occur from the bottom up just as well as from the top down. Maybe better. Top down social change tends to be authoritarian and cause negative reaction in people, but not always. FWIW the success of Faux News in convincing the population of the outright lie that we're in Iraq because of Iraq sponsored al-Qaeda demonstrates that top down social change is possible.

- David Herron, The Long Tail Pipe, davidherron.com, 7gen.com, What is Reiki
- Electrified Electra To

sparc5's picture

How can you stay optimistic?

I agree, a mix of top down bottom up solution is ideal. What has been driving me crazy is the amount of people here analyzing the current economic situation and giving their uninformed two cents. Suddenly every talk show host thinks they have a good enough grasp of economics that they can help the country by saying into the microphone what ever comes to their head. For the last 5 years at least, I've been on a mailing list called the Global Justice Movement. This group was forecasting the credit bubble bubble burst and discussing for five years how to go about reform. Five years of debate over very intellectual matters, from people who spent much of their life learning the history of economic thought, and now every slacker is shouting into the microphone. That's what I thought slacker uprising meant. I think to myself thank god this won't be a bottom up solution.

It's kind of indicative our society. It is ever more complex. We'll need ever more specialized people to maintain it.

XM-3000...
-DC-DC converter replaced with a Dell D220P-01 power supply.
-72V mod
-Expensive bank charger until I come up with something better... Still trying.
-

reikiman's picture

Optimistic? Me? Uh... not sure where you got that impression. I just have some idea that individuals have a lot of power. On the way home a great example occurred to me -- the plug-in hybrid concept would not be on the national attention if some committed individuals had not worked out how to hack the Prius to turn on the EV-only mode and add a battery pack. Toyota's top-down solution was the gasoholic hybrid (which leaves the owner 100% addicted to gasoline while giving them the faux delusion of having done something useful). Those individuals then worked and worked to get attention to their solution with Priii plastered with stickers saying 100 miles/gallon. That's grass roots bottom up. And it's turning into a top down as the big players have caught on and are getting ready to deliver. Grass roots works often enough that political operatives go out of their way to create faux astroturf campaigns, sometimes.

FWIW a couple years ago during the real estate bubble all my coworkers were badgering me for not buying a house and enjoying the ride in the real estate market. I kept telling them "it's a bubble" but they wouldn't hear of it.

- David Herron, The Long Tail Pipe, davidherron.com, 7gen.com, What is Reiki
- Electrified Electra To


Who's online

There are currently 0 users online.

Who's new

  • kurt.hug
  • qiubosu
  • zewako
  • Vectrixli
  • Alanjhayes

Support V is for Voltage