Published Somedays

This may explain my recent behavior

(updated: Aug 6, 2008)

Surviving the Apocalypse, On Two Wheels

Why did Igor Kenk keep over 2,800 bikes in storage?

That was the question posed by last Saturday’s front-page National Post article. Buried within the article was a possible answer: preparation for the apocalypse. “Det.-Const. Dennis says ‘Mr. Kenk told him ‘the apocalypse is coming.’ In the future when we have run out of oil, we will all need bikes to get around, the logic goes, and Mr. Kenk will have a few in storage to offer us.”

The alleged bike thief has captured the attention of the Canadian press since July 16th, when police claimed to have observed him directing a thief to steal a bike for him. As the investigation spiraled out, more and more bikes were discovered in rented warehouses across Toronto.

...Clearly, the charismatic Slovenian immigrant makes for a good story. There are questions about his sanity, and the National Post reports that the lead investigator wants him “to get looked at.” However, the constable who arrested him says that “he’s all there.”

What if Igor Kenk isn’t mad?

They say there's a special place reserved in hell just for bike thieves. However, I have one thing in common: I can't seem to get enough bikes either. I mean, I don't steal them, but I want to hoard them too. Maybe it's because I believe that we about to enter a period of human history that we are clearly not prepared for. We are accelerating straight off the cliff with the pedal to the metal. The way we occupy the landscape is a huge waste of resources. It cannot be sustained, and why should it be? It's ugly, and isolates us from ourselves and the environment. Yet I can assure you that we are going to try to sustain the unsustainable as long as we can. But the reality is that the personal automobile is going to become scarce and bikes will rule the streets once again. In fact, I predict that at least one of the major auto manufacturers will go bankrupt within three years.

So I am collecting bike parts. I'm stocking up. I order things several at a time -- five chains, five chainrings, six tubes, two cassettes, etc. I have standardized all my parts for the most part because I want everything to be interchangeable. Imagine if the day comes when it's very difficult and expensive to get bike parts. I want to know that my bikes will keep going for the next 50 years or more with what I have on hand. You may think I'm crazy, but look at the rising cost of bike parts this year alone. The problem is that nearly all components are made overseas in Taiwan and China. When TSHTF, which it will, you won't be able to get parts, period.

So this Sunday on my ride I pointed out the irony of less drivers and more cyclists on the roads. The DOT needs people to drive more so that they have the tax revenue from gasoline to improve roads. But if people drive less the revenue goes down and they have less money to maintain the roads. This is currently happening. So, the more people that start riding bikes on the road, the less the roads are maintained and the worse they become. So you can't win. The whole system has to be changed.

At some point, we need to get on the City Council's and County Commissioner's agendas, and have a great big Critical Mass ride to the courthouse downtown to the meeting. We'll present our demands for bike lanes and connectivity. The time is ripe.


Filed Under: General Entries > North Carolina > Wilmington


1. dm on wd said...

I agree that NCDOT is in a quandry because they are losing revenue due to more fuel efficient vehicles and less driving/more cycling. It really makes me mad to think that they are going to spend $38 million to basically eliminate left turns at one intersection (College and Oleander) with an extremely poor and unpopular plan. If you think that intersection is so bad and you can't stand having to wait through a couple of light changes, go a different way. That's what I do. How many miles of bike lanes could be built for $38 million? At roughly $50 per foot to design, permit and construct a bike lane, that would be over 14 miles or 7 miles on both sides of the road. I'll take that any day over a new intersection.

In addition, it looks like about a year ago they also came up with a new tax as described below. Just be aware whenever you get a new or used vehicle and apply for a title, this tax will sting you to the tune of 3%. I became aware yesterday when I had to write a $300 check for a new vehicle.

Highway Use Tax (HUT)

North Carolina collects a 3% Highway Use Tax on vehicles in lieu of a state sales tax (General Statute 105-187.2). The tax is assessed each time a title is transferred. The maximum tax for commercial vehicles (vehicles with a weight greater than 26,000 pounds) is $1,000.00. All other vehicles are charged 3% with no ceiling.

Money that is collected for the Highway Use Tax goes towards the North Carolina Highway Trust Fund. That money is then used to improve the roads of North Carolina. Additionally, another portion of the money collected for the Highway Use Tax goes towards the State's General Fund.

I am off the soapbox now.

Aug 7, 2008 @ 5:47 AM

2. Reno said...

"But if people drive less the revenue goes down and they have less money to maintain the roads. This is currently happening. So, the more people that start riding bikes on the road, the less the roads are maintained and the worse they become. So you can't win"

add to the fact that roads generally deteriorate along the shoulder first is it long before the state starts taxing Clif bars and powerade?


Aug 7, 2008 @ 9:01 AM

3. dm on wd said...

Agreed, it seems like a no win situation. However, there is very little spent on maintenance of existing roads when compared to new construction of roads (or "improved" no left turn intersections like College and Oleander). If more people rode their bikes or used some other form of transportation, there would be less need for the new construction (bigger and better roads). Maybe some of that new construction money could then be used to maintain what we have and add some bike lanes to boot.

Aug 7, 2008 @ 9:18 AM

4. newguy said...

Oh we win!!
Unmaintained roads mean drivers have to drive slower. All we have to do is use a fatter tire. If you've ever ridden on any of the old closed roads in the mountains, you know what I mean.
It's a none issue. As vehical gas milage goes up, gas prices will continue to rise. We'll be paying more per gallon at the pump just getting less and the state will get the same.

Aug 7, 2008 @ 11:12 AM

5. Reno said...

I was watching network news from Beijing and the pollution was so bad you couldn't see the stadium across the street. Having that visual is probably the best thing that could happen as the Chinese were doing everything in their power to "hide" the rampant pollution. They even closed plants weeks ago hoping the jet stream would hide the evidence.

Glass houses I know but I'm glad to see the emperor has no clothes (or am I mixing metaphors again?)

Aug 7, 2008 @ 6:16 PM

6. SBA said...

Yeah I heard about that. I also keep hearing the oft repeated quote that China is building coal plants at the rate of two per week. The US likely looked similar back in the day. We're still building coal plants here, like maybe 50 or so are in the works. I could see the pressure to build more as energy costs go higher. Coal is cheaper than all the alternatives because the externalities are not factored in, like climate change. The costs are still there, they are just pushed into the future for our kids to deal with where they will have grown massive. Such is the downfall of the human.

Aug 7, 2008 @ 6:54 PM

7. SBA said...

I'd also like to point out that despite our best efforts at bringing renewable energy online, coal powered generation will INCREASE from 47% to more than 51% in the US over the next 20 years. During that time if we build 20 new nuclear reactors in the US, we will still only remain at 20% nuclear power. We will continue to build more and more roads, tear up forests, and the government will continue to steal from taxpayers to bail out the big bankz and wall st. playaz, and likely the auto cos. and airlines as well. I urge you to consider what the root cause of all of this is, and then put your answer below.

Aug 8, 2008 @ 10:15 AM

8. dm on wd said...

First of all, let me say to SBA nice question.

Another thought might be is that there is no root cause but that it is symptomatic of our way of life. Most people do not think about the emissions of a coal fired steam plant when they turn on a light or set their thermostat. If the light or A/C does not work, then we certainly understand that.

The only attention these issues get from the majority of people is when it is in front of them or in their face. Maybe if everyone had to pedal a bike in order to provide electricity for lighting. Or carry buckets down to the Cape Fear River so that you could boil and filter your own potable drinking water. Sometimes, we solve a perceived problem by throwing out a big expensive solution that the majority of people do not have to think about. Too much traffic, add another lane. Not enough electricity, build another coal plant. Not enough water, build a bigger water supply plant. All of this costs big money when all we may need to do is use alternative transportation, bump the thermostat up a degree or two and quit wasting water.

Aug 8, 2008 @ 11:25 AM

9. Mike said...

The root cause is laziness. People know what they should do, but they don't because it's not as easy. I hear it all the time:
"I think it's nice you ride your bike to work"
(as they get into their car)
"I think it's great you use reusable grocery bags"
(as they choose paper or plastic)

and the list goes on. It's laziness.

Aug 9, 2008 @ 3:10 PM


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