Bicycles as Transportation in a Disaster

In the aftermath of the super storm that battered the Northeast, many have found themselves with no transportation. Cars were destroyed, roads were washed away, subway tunnels were flooded, and due to interrupted supply lines and power outages, many gas stations are now without fuel or simply unable to run their pumps. Long lines are forming at the stations that are open, and rationing is even being enforced in some places. As you might imagine, tempers are flaring at the pumps.


Hurricane Sandy on Bikes in NYC by Casey Neistat

An article on The Wall Street Journal starts out,

At a gas station on the corner of Henry Street and Atlantic Avenue in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, the phone Thursday afternoon rang constantly.

“Cobble Hill, no gas!” the owner Tony, who declined to give his last name, shouted into the phone.

“What should I do?” responded the caller.

“Bicycles!” yelled Tony and then hung up, before the phone rang again. He said his station ran out of gas on Monday and he has no idea when he’ll get more.

Another headline from the New York Times reads, One Way Around the Traffic Muddle in Brooklyn: Riding a Bicycle. Naturally, people who normally go about on bicycles have still been able to get around as usual, even enjoying the lighter automobile traffic. And there are many reports of people digging their old bicycles from their basements that haven’t ridden for quite some time. Bike shops say lots of people are bringing in their old bikes for tune-ups.

Photo by Benjamin Norman for The New York Times
Many frequent bike commuters said that, with sparse traffic in downtown Manhattan, conditions for biking were ideal.

Thanks to our global economy, many things we rely on day-to-day now come from far away and arrive just on time. Temporary interruptions in the supply chain can have devastating effects. As we’re seeing now on the east coast, having a bicycle can help insulate you from transportation problems in disaster situations. Not only do bicycles not rely on petroleum fuel to operate, they’re also very portable. Bicycles are small and light weight, making them easy to turn around or carry over obstacles that would normally gridlock a car.

Thanks to our geographic location, Carson City doesn’t usually have the extreme natural disaster problems that other parts of the world have. We still have our moments though. We’ve also seen that problems in California affect us here in Northern Nevada, with the refinery problems that drove the gas prices up higher than the national average being a recent example. So keep those bicycles running and tuned. Practice commuting or running errands by bike when it’s convenient for you to do so. A bicycle is a great way to get around when other methods fail, and should be a part of your disaster preparedness kit.

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