07 July 2009

One Less Prius

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.

Addendum (Wednesday, July 8th):
Wow, I've gotten quite a lot of criticism for this sticker. While it is always great to see people thinking, most comments (here and in random forums for automobilists) can be easily dismissed with, 'Did you actually read the post?' or 'Do you have a sense of humor?'

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.

38 comments:

Gary said...

I want some! I've had plenty of close calls with inconsiderate prius drivers, and am too sick of their over glorified touted greenness while bicycles are scorned by the powers that be.

Lisa said...

I've gotten into close calls with nearly every kind of vehicle, but maybe that's just a reflection on my unsafe cycling style. The only car that really stands out consistently as a kind and considerate vehicle is the Dodge Magnum. Every Dodge Magnum driver I come across, especially those in the Magnum wagon, is especially nice, giving me plenty of room on the road, waving me in front of them when I'm trying to get into the left turn lane, and even sometimes giving me cookies and bottles of sparking water while we wait together at a stoplight. Because of the love I get from Magnum drivers, I have decided to trade in both my inconvenient fixed gear bicycle and my broken Volvo sedan for a 2009 Dodge Magnum Wagon. I think they are hot! And I want to extend bike love from some sultry leather seats with surround sound. So, I'm wondering if it's OK with you if I plaster a "One Less Prius" sticker on my new car, even though it only gets 1/3 of the gas mileage of the Prius. I have a great attitude, I love trees and small furry animals, and I promise to walk to the grocery store once per month in order to pay my dues.

Joe said...

I want stickers! I don't like it when folks tell me that they're doing their part for the environment by driving a prius... yuck!

Chris said...

you know who is worse than a rude prius driver? the city bus. last thing i want to see is more of those whales crawling around the city, but apparently more buses makes the most sense for an extensive public transit system.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to buy a Prius ... but I also walk to work (I saved the energy use in making a bike!) and I'm a vegetarian and that saves a lot of energy!

Am I smug! YES! Every SINGLE time Obama takes off in Air Force One he uses 36 times the amount of fuel I use to heat my house for an entire YEAR!

I am right to be smug, and Obama and his eco-terrorist hypocrites need to make life-altering changes.

What will I do with my Prius? ... use it the least amount possible and make it last as long as possible.

SoapBoxLA said...

Well done! Absolutely well done!

Regardless of the fuel source, the fact is, our communities are packed with single occupant vehicles that could run on good intentions and cotton candy and it wouldn't do squat to shift the focus of our communities from vehicles to people.

Imagine if some of the land that is set aside for storing, maintain, fueling, selling and simply operating motor vehicles could be used for other purposes!

Great idea, great work!

Anonymous said...

I love cyclists, and I give them plenty of room every time. I drive a 94 Corolla, but I'd love to have a 2010 Prius(though I already get mpg in the 45 range). You might as well get a sticker that says One Less Denali, because big SUVs are much worse for the enviroment than a Prius, not to mention, in the rare event that you get hit, you've got a much higher change to live if you get hit by a Prius compared to something bigger. Continue your cycling, I'll love you for it, but don't bash something that doesn't deserve it.

MPGblogger said...

Love the line of "feel what we feel and live what we live". You sound hardcore and I appreciate that - certainly more than a guy who's buying a fashion statement.

www.mileagebuilder.com

Anonymous said...

I find self-righteous, hypocritical cyclists even more smug.

You wanna bet most of them take a jumbo jet to some great distance once or more a year at 0.47 mpg?! That all but renders "green" travel during the year useless.

Choosing a single mode of green transit is not the answer here. It is moderation in all aspects of life.

And btw, not everyone is able to ride a cycle. I happened to be disabled, so driving a Prius infrequently is the next best option. Oh and, not flying to Asia and beyond every year.

Anonymous said...

Conservation is certainly a good thing to hype, but I fear this piece is insensitive to two groups: women and disabled people.

As a psychiatrist in private practice, I have heard from these folks that they feel guilty for not being able to do their piece environmentally speaking. Because they can neither walk to a bus stop (let alone ride a bicycle) due to physical disability nor travel solo in a what is often a vulnerable situation due to history of assault, these patients often find that driving a hybrid vehicle is the best possible compromise.

Your article and merchandise was not intended to offend these folks, but please consider next time the range of abilities people have. Accepting difference is the earmark of progress!

sn2888 said...

love it! You should add that a new prius takes 1000 gallons of gas to make.. so that's yer footprint before youre even out the door..thats not even taking into account how landfiilling those batteries are going to be someday soon.. if you want to save the world.. buy a used honda.. the only thing a prius saves is the money youd spend on gas.

Megan said...

Dear most recent Anonymous,

As a woman that lives in a crappy neighborhood and does walk (and bike!) around alone at night, I don't really appreciate the notion that we cannot do such things. You should empower the women that are coming to you for help. It's not fair that because of our gender we are made to feel more vulnerable when we are alone and in 'scary situations'. Don't expect that we should compromise our values and ethics because our vagina gets in the way (maybe for some ladies it's boobs, but my active lifestyle keeps them out of the way).

Anyway, I bet any hooligan on the street would be more afraid of me than my favorite blogger here.

Anonymous said...

These are the comments of a spoiled adolescent, with little empathy for other people. Please grow up.

I drive a Prius, but I am commonly a pedestrian.

I rode a bike in C/U, and that area was great for it. But, the rest of the US is not like that. And many professions do not have jobs around every corner. And many metropolitan area transit system do not go in all directions.

His attack on the Prius is baloney, only a small fraction of Prius owners bought the car to have some kinda deluded eco-self-agradizement. Most of us bought the car to save gas.

Its only the posters imature personality that lets him even consider that his comments have any kind of value. Which they do not.

I imagine this poster might have been one of the inconsiderate bicyle drivers that have ridden into me while I have been a pedestrian.

If the poster wishes to grow up, then he should be pushing public officials to create safe bike lanes. This is the only way your going to get people onto bikes as part of their everyday commuting.

Anonymous said...

Megan,

While it is true that empowerment needs to be the first strategy in therapy, most of the women I work with have grappled with trying this approach unsuccessfully for years.
PTSD, for instance, is not something that can be intellectually reasoned around (that we can easily talk ourselves into the statement, "It's not fair that because of our gender we are made to feel more vulnerable") because the physiological responses will almost always trump the mental ones.

Until you have experienced such a life-changing event, I am afraid it is difficult to comment authoritatively.

And the disabled? They receive no voice here....which is why this sweeping generalization of an argument is no good. One cohort of the population is automatically deemed as polluters based on this (il)logic.

Milly said...

Your argument is specious and smug.

My fellow cyclist, you are a hypocrite:
1. You exist. It takes a tremendous amount energy and resources to keep you alive.
2. Although you are a veg, plants are plucked and "killed" in a mechanized way to sustain your diet. Ah, and let's not forget our Latino brothers and sisters who are brutally exploited in ag to pick the fresh veggies you like to eat. Fresas, amigo?
2. You're an American and you dutifully pay taxes to support two intoxicating wars.
3. You use a computer to blog your insightful thoughts even though the computer/monitor contain toxic materials and pure, precious water was used to bathe the silicon chips.

Need I continue the list?

Sanctimonious rants are just as ugly coming from a cyclist as from a Prius owner.

Matt! said...

Milly,
Based on your argument, I'd be better off killing myself. Just by existing, I do use resources, I didn't say otherwise. It's all about using alternatives when they exist and making real changes. I'm trying to do so myself and encourage others to do the same. No sanctimony in that, my friend. That whole 'you are a hypocrite cause you don't do enough' argument is so tiring.

Anonymous said...

I got flipped the bird by a douche bag in a Prius just the other day.

Jack said...

Anonymous; (the one that calls Matt! a spoiled adolescent)
first of all, the sticker is a joke. get off your high horse. but it's a joke based on a stereotype (which usually exist due to the existence of a singular behavior by the visible majority of a group. not because every member of that group displays this behavior.) which a lot of CYCLISTS in this city and others have noticed.
as far as accusing the "poster" of not doing anything to promote cycling and cyclist rights in LA and the rest of the country, well, you should get your facts straight before you assume people are as inactive and complacent as you are. I'm probably the inconsiderate juvenile that ran into you, and i'm sorry. maybe i was running late for my volunteer shift at the local bike coop, or to get home to my two dogs and girlfriend that works for the LA County Bicycle Coalition.
Why don't you take this joke as such, and laugh it off. it sounds like you take way too much stuff to seriously.
peace

Milly said...

That whole 'you are a hypocrite cause you don't do enough' argument is so tiring.

EXACTLY! Apply it.

Gary said...

It's a sticker, mostly a joke really, but fun to read how seriously people take it. I actually hit a Prius the other day, with my hand, because it merged into me so close it was about 3 inches away and I was worried I would be sandwiched into the side of a parked car. Sometimes slapping a car is the only way to wake drivers up from their cell phone chatting daze. It came up behind me so fast and so quietly, they are like 2,000 lbs. ninjas. A safety hazard really.

Jen said...

I LOVE this sticker. Everyone should have one on the bumper of the Prius they use to leave cities permanently, for the exurbs of states like Nevada and Arizona and Nebraska and New Jersey.
Cities survive because of economies of scale--lots of stuff packed into a small space for efficient production and distribution (of goods and labor). People live in cities for closeness to these systems, and cars just make it more dangerous to cross the street when we're trying to get to work/school/shopping/coffee/the neighbors' place.
personal occupancy vehicles just get in the way, whether a fleet of Priuses or Magnums.
and their nighttime and idle needs also usurp urbandwellers' quality of life--they beep when we want to sleep, circle for docking when we're trying to make more parks out of parking, and choke out the veggies we're trying to grow on our rooftop gardens and mowerstrips.
In other words, when cars of any shape and gas appetite are ubiquitous, people and what they need in cities are scarce.
This sticker is brilliant because it pushes the question of whose cities these are, anyhow?

Former Angeleno said...

Great sticker! The lack of a sense of humor on the part of some of these commentors (and what seems to be the great majority of Prius drivers) is exactly the point of having such a sticker. Good job.

Anonymous said...

We all hate your girlfriend Matt.

Anonymous said...

please ignore and delete the above comment left by a retarded coworker.

Milly said...

The sticker is humorous. Word play, when done right, is hilarious and social commentary that juxtaposes one subject for another is usually clever. Both elements are present in the sticker.

Unfortunately, the sticker is a form of hostile humor. It disses Prius owners by implying that they are deluded in their commitment to the environment and stupid because they are ignorant about the vehicle's carbon history/impact. Add consumerism into the mix and you can equate any Prius owner to a dupe.

Insults, stated in a funny way, are never helpful. It's still an insult.

I am aware that you want to bring about a paradigm shift in the way we live our lives. Admirable. However, you can't do this alone. You need allies. Although you may find hybrid owners to be naive, they are potentially more receptive to the type of change you want to see than the F150 owner driving a daily 40 mile commute or the concrete thinker who believes every lie they hear on AM radio. With enough education, orientation, and modeling, hybrid drivers can make a gradual transition to bicycles. But they won't if you alienate them. You diminish the righteousness of your position by ridiculing theirs.

According to you, busting your ass on the bike = sweat equity. And you're right, you do sweat more! But this isn't a competition about who is more ecologically sensitive. I doubt that you want to create a hierarchy of "who leaves a lighter carbon/nitrogen footprint." I suggest scaffolding your approach, helping others in realizing the paradigm shift.

By all means, use humor to educate; just don't use humor to belittle others. It makes you look smug and puerile otherwise.

linton.joe@gmail.com said...

From so many comments, it's clear that this has struck a chord. As irritated as I am by priuses, I am grateful for Milly's civility... inside every car is a cyclist waiting to happen, and it's likely to be unhelpful for us to go too negative on any of them.

Matt - in your addendum you state that bicylists take on more risk. Do you have any supporting evidence for this? It's a common perception, but, from what I've read it's actually wrong. Studies (mostly from the UK) show that bicycling is no riskier than driving. The collision rates, injuries, etc. are statistically equivalent, and the overall health risks are much much less for cyclists. When the big picture is studied, the riskier behavior is actually driving.

See http://www.networks.nhs.uk/uploads/07/11/cycling_and_health.pdf

John Garrish said...

Love the sticker. Great idea.

Melissa said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Adrienne Saia said...

Would you consider mailing one to me in Boulder?? It would get out so much of my Philadelphian-expat rage at smug hybrid drivers who almost hit me everyday but in the passive-aggressive way that this city is so used to.

Not sure if I'll stick it on my bike or on my beat-up 89 Acura as a form of ironic protest. I probably shouldn't have admitted that, but yes, I do have a car (easier to get the dog to the vet that way. She can't reach the pedals ;)).

I'll pay postage :).

Todd said...

Matt-

Thanks again for the stickers. My Prius owning friends were able to see the humor and point to your message. Well played.

Matt! said...

Adrienne,
I understand having a car, but you touched on my fear in making this sticker and that is people putting it on their non-hybrid cars as the ironic protest you mention.

Anonymous said...

Here's the sticker that I want to have made up. We can use in up here in Central Oregon.

ONE MORE BICYCLIST
(Another Target)

DouBt KILLS DReaMs said...

Interesting read.

Dan said...

this is a wonderful sticker.

tferris said...

So I live way up in the far northern latitudes of Oregon and I am wondering if you would send me some?

Anonymous said...

Huh. Because of the dirt roads and lack of shoulders on paved roads around here, I've long since had to give up cycling. I hadn't realized that bicycles had become so large that there is room on one for a bumper sticker such as this.

I guess I could put a "One Cyclist Fewer" sticker on my bad-weather-safe Subaru to show another kind of solidarity.

Anonymous said...

I'll listen to what a bicyclist has to say about transportation as soon as they can figure out how to obey basic traffic laws.

Matt Ruscigno said...

Seems like someone linked this blog post, a year later, to some site filled with people who don't bother to read the entire post or attempt to actually understand what I am saying. You may not agree with me, but the least you can do is put together an intelligent critique.

Anon above: Motorists break laws too, often violently.