It’s 2009? Seriously? Well, happy New Year, then. If you’re into New Year’s resolutions I bet yours involves more time on the bike and less time spent on vices. It’s funny to think of how different the world would be if we actually stuck to our New Year’s resolutions.
It’s also funny to think about how the great science-fiction novelist Arthur C. Clarke imagined the world in the year 2001 when he wrote his breakthrough novel in 1968. Then in 1982 he penned the follow up novel, 2010, envisioning great scientific breakthroughs and extensive space travel.
Instead, the reality is that our greatest minds are scrambling to revive and stabilize a struggling economy. They’re working tirelessly to combat diseases without cures. And they wrestle with complex notions of how to avoid the next energy crisis.
A theme consistent with nearly all of Clarke’s works is the life cycle of the sun. Like all stars, it will eventually show signs that it’s running out of energy. Ours will likely swell into a red giant and engulf the Earth, but not for a billion years or more. In the meantime, we’re going to run out of the energy source we’ve based our entire civilization on—oil.
So it’s incredibly ironic that as we enter 2009, the powers that be in transportation community aren’t looking up to the heavens with dreams of interstellar mass transit. And they’re not mobilizing to build expansive 22 lane highways to accommodate an overabundance of automobiles (hybrid, electric, gas or otherwise). In this new age of energy instability, the great minds of our generation are looking back at the most brilliant physicist of them all. And they see Einstein riding a bicycle.
Urban Velo issue #11, January 2009. Dead tree print run: 5000 copies. Issue #10 online readership: 40,000+