Just got these stickers back from the printer, after a long while in the making. Stoked! A rip-off of the ubiquitous, One Less Car sticker from Microcosm. The bottom says, 'Fewer Smug Emissions'.
Most people, at least here in Los Angeles, 'get it', but I want to clarify more on the meaning of this and I'll do so in my all-time favorite format, FAQ's.
What's wrong with driving a prius? They get great gas mileage!
Yes, they do. When I need to rent a car for a trip (PA/VA MTB adventure!) I always try to get one. But buying a prius and making no other changes in how one travels every day in a city is not a paradigm shift. Cars are environmentally and socially damaging in many ways beyond fuel use. The energy and resources required to build and ship them, the destruction the space created for automobiles does, the separation of being in a 2,000 pound box, etc. And many hybrids drivers use it as an excuse to just drive more often!
To a cyclist, a prius is just a small hummer.
Isn't this splitting hairs? Why critique people who are trying to make a difference?
Are they really trying? How much of a difference are they making? Buying a prius and not making any fundamental changes, ie walking, biking, public transit, etc, is easy and non-threatening. What makes that worse is the smugness of hybrid drivers, as if what they are doing requires great risk or vulnerability.
On my bike I risk my life every day for what I believe is the right thing to do. Prius drivers are constantly being patted on the back for what they do while cyclists are still being criticized for being in the way and demanding too much.
Can't we all get along?
Ever been cut off by a prius with an Obama sticker? It happens more often than it should. The tipping point for the One Less Prius sticker was nearly being hit by one such vehicle IN THE BIKE LANE on Sunset Blvd. The guy gave me the finger when I threw my hands up.
But I drive a prius and I'm nice to cyclists!
Great, congratulations on being civil. And you want to be patted on the back for this? Get on a bicycle and join us in the streets, where we put our body behind what we believe. Get out of the safety of your metal box and feel what we feel, live what we live.
Cyclists are smug too! Isn't this a contradiction?
Yes, some are. But who has more sweat-equity? Who is literally busting their ass for what they believe?
Okay, okay, I'm beginning to understand. Where can I learn more?
There are plenty of bicycle resources here in Los Angeles in the sidebar of this blog. Derrick Jensen just wrote a fantastic article, Forget Shorter Showers, about the importance of political change over personal change, that is appropriate for everyone interested in environmentalism.
Where can I get a sticker?
In person. Look for me on the bike.
It still comes down to the fact that driving a prius is not a paradigm shift and has similar environmental, social and community health repercussions as an SUV. It changes very, very little. Is it a better option when one is forced to drive? Yes. I made that clear in the first question. And note the sticker does not say, 'Fuck you for driving a prius you mindless, selfish bastard'. It's a joke on people taking themselves too seriously. Can every single person in the world use a bike for every trip? Of course not. I never said that. But most urban people could use bicycles for many of their trips. Unfortunately, our cities are not set up this way, they continue to use 2,000+ pounds of metal to go 2 miles and real change never crosses their mind.
Those who ride a bicycle are taking more of a risk (one that is often exaggerated) and we do not have the infrastructure to make it more feasible. Reducing the risk and getting this infrastructure is the paradigm shift I am busting my ass for every day!
See you in the streets.