When my parents were kids, the world was still imagining flying cars in the year 2000. At least, I think they were.
Now, we're not sure if we're going to have any petrol to power those flying cars by the time we get around to inventing them. Instead, we're scrambling to try to figure out better, more cost-effective ways of doing things like getting from point A to point B and generating electricity.
We're scrambling, that is, if we haven't already figured out that there's a better way, and that the Way rolls on two wheels and burns coffee and carbs for fuel. That Way is called 'Bicycle,' and -- from its humble beginnings as a plaything for the idle rich -- it has become a fine and wonderful machine that really may contribute a great deal to saving the collective bacon of humanity as we know it.
For those of us who follow the traditional Christian church year, Lent is nigh upon us -- a time of penitence, reflection, and re-dedication to our faith (some other traditions probably do that kind of thing this time of year, too). Rather than observe the rather tired 'give x up for Lent' formula (which rarely seems to achieve its objective of creating a sense of reflection, penitence, and spiritual focus), my particular church has decided to undertake a neat program called 'Lent 4.5,' wherein we focus, rather than on simply depriving ourselves of some or another enjoyable indulgence, on trying to live simpler, more-Christlike lives: lives in which we reduce our own footprints to afford a little more breathing room for everyone. I think this is a pretty good thing, and -- of course -- I think that riding a bike is a good place to start. Likewise, using less non-renewable fuels.
In that vein (and because both DD and I are currently in end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it mode, because we keep watching movies about the impending end of the world's oil supply), DD and I have recently been kicking around ideas for various bike-powered machines: one that would power a washing machine, for example; another that would generate electricity so we could watch movies after the end of the world (at least 'til all our DVDs and so forth wear out). Thus inspired, DD stumbled upon this neat resource full of bicycle-powered machines that a fellow in Guatemala has designed to help smooth life in an area where electricity and gas power are already pretty unusual (URL, just in case: http://mayapedal.org/machines.html).
I think it's full of pretty inspiring ideas, and I also think it's a great way to celebrate the life-changing power of two wheels and a bunch of cogs.
My 'City of the Future' is powered by bikes (even the washing machines). How about yours?