10th of May, 2013
Those people held a short demo in Kampala some three, four days ago. I rode by them on a boda-boda, and I came back to Entebbe on the back of my motorbike. (Since then, me and the motorbike have been on each other like new lovers. She hasn’t killed me yet, either. God, motorbikes are fun. It’s insane how quick the addiction is, and how devastatingly dangerous it is.)
I support the message of Make Roads Safe. As transportation, I used to walk a little over 5 kilometres every day in 2004-2006, and about 20 kilometres every week in 2006-2008. I generally still walk a lot more than the average member of my class. In the last two years I have brought cycling back to my modes of transport, and as a result I bought vehicles in the last two years in the order of bicycle, bicycle, bicycle, bicycle, motorbike, car. The car was this month.
Being now able to consider myself a true pedestrian and a true getter-around of a World of oil, I can say that it is a definite disadvantage to be a pedestrian. You are weaker than everything else on the road, you are the one who pays if you make a mistake or if they make a mistake. The road is a frightful place, and the sweaty-faced world of the regular pedestrians is under stress.
Yet in the end, the roads will slowly normalise. In the wake of peak oil, first the motorbike will get big. Because with this the Dream can still be rescued! We are ten times more-efficient at living in the poorly-planned urban squalor we inhabit, but with our motorbikes we can still do forty kilometres to fetch a bun. And since that is the Dream, motorbikes will get popular. Then, of course, horses and donkeys, but I digress.
I am now in the car, and I do not know how the temptation of safe irresponsibility will change my ways of getting around. I already feel addicted to the motorbike; I cannot imagine waking up and not wanting to ride it (a decision I have done for the car many times already). In a sense, the increased safety of being one of the killers rather than one of the killed is what makes us ride, as it were, full speed into a dead-end tunnel. I know for sure that I would not put my family anywhere but in the car, if they are on the road, now that I have routinely experienced the comforts of the other side. And so we seem to be attended by a positive feedback loop that is working against a solution to road safety issues.
The good news, however, is that since it all depends on cheap oil to carry on—imagine that: oil is the fuel of a cultural phenomenon—it will unravel over time, such that the problem solves itself. On the grim road to maximum entropy.