Pondering the Gulf oil spill and getting Buncombians to ride more miles on bike

When I see photos [of the Gulf oil disaster's effect on Grand Terre Island, La.,] my commitment to live a life less dependent upon oil deepens.

Grand Terre Island … is a lovely little slip of land off the coast of Terrebonne Parish in south Louisiana. It is accessible only by boat, contains the remains of an old fort and a sugar mill from long ago and provides nesting ground for plenty of seabirds and shorebirds. Its backside provides a nursery ground, as does most of the oil-impacted area—the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary, for crustaceans and finfish, and also makes for delightful feeding areas for seabirds and shorebirds. Dolphins joyfully breach in the passes between Grand Terre and its neighboring islands as they accompany boats with researchers, educators and fishers.  Fishing boats with nets spread migrate through the waters and oil rigs dot the horizon.

… We are currently being served another poignant reminder of the errors of our assumptions: that oil will last forever, that we can continue marching blindly toward the cliff — with greed and consumption far beyond the means of this lovely globe we call home.

While I recycle and compost most of my waste, purchase in bulk, bring my own bags, baskets etc., I still drive a car for the commute from Alexander to Asheville and back. I would love to be riding my bicycle. But one [risks] one's life … to attempt the commute on River Road or most any of our byways during the week, because the roads are designed for oil-consumptive transportation, with few if any shoulders and no bicycle lanes.

No bicycle lanes — what does that tell us of our priorities? And all the while, as [first lady] Michelle Obama has pointed out, our population is experiencing increased obesity, disease etc., as our sedentary lifestyles are pulled into the lure of electronic leisure activities.

I want to ride my bicycle. I want to feel safe and supported in doing so. Won't you join me in creating and enacting a vision for communities that is truly sustainable, and not oil-dependent? Prioritizing bicycle paths would be a grand investment in that vision. Please, the time is now.

— Raven Kelly

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