Of Pedicabs and the Environment

July 25, 2010

Unless you’ve been under a rock – or ignoring my recent collection of social media status updates – you realize I’m in the midst of one of the most exciting and game-changing projects of my career. I’ve been hired to take photos, do interviews and write blog posts, shoot video and record comments from folks who have interest in and have been affected by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The description of that assignment and my regular updates can be found at commonground environmental consultants’ community site.

In the 24 hours I’ve been down here in New Orleans, I’ve had an epiphany about the environment and how governments protect it. Essentially, they (and a great deal of other people) are short-sighted to the detriment of our planet. I’m not a tree-hugger or a hiker or someone who obeys the water-on-the-odd-days rules. But I do like to have a planet to float around the galaxy on. And I’m fairly fond of air to breathe. So this realization that governments and bureaucracy are screwing up the globe was a little shocker.

Here’s my train of thought….try to keep up. And by all means, correct me if I’m off-base.

Pedicabs are being done wrong. If you can take a regular taxi across town for $6 and a pedicab driver expects to get paid $20 for the same ride, there’s an issue. I think the city should subsidize the environmentally friendly modes of transport so pedicab rides are free, but drivers still make a living.

Scooters are not the problem, parking shortsightedness is. Increasingly in my town there are people who are angry at scooters for taking up a full parking spot. Well, the government mandates that scooters must occupy a full space. That’s the law. So if you want – as most scooter owners do – to allow scooter owners to park out of the way, on the sidewalk or in designated safe areas, don’t honk at the scooters, yell at your legislators.

Electric cars should be free…or at least cheaper. But right now if you want to buy an electric car, you have to pay a premium. Until the powers that be decide they really want to embrace environmentalism, there won’t be real incentives for regular folks to purchase clean vehicles because they cost as much as sports cars. I’m gonna just buy a cool car with my money if it costs me more to get a dorky-looking electric vehicle. Don’t tax me for wanting to be green.

And finally, close off the center of cities like they do in European countries. Seriously. If it costs money to go into the city in your car, people will find a way to get there via other means. These other means will likely be more green and then will turn the commuting model on its head in this country. Maybe some day we’ll all be on high-speed, clean and FREE trains.

Do you have thoughts on the environment? Please share. I’m still learning, so I’d like to learn from you.