Less movement, more freedom

silhouette at sunset

I noticed something recently, I hadn’t picked up on it until I looked at the numbers and I hadn’t even realised it was happening. I’m moving around way less than I had before, on a significant level.

In this I don’t mean physical activity, that hasn’t changed much at all – although my bicycle really isn’t getting enough pedal time. No, what I looked at was my mileage records for my motorcycle.

I’ve gone from filling it monthly and doing around 250km (it’s Port Elizabeth and I work from home so it is not as low as it sounds) to filling it every third month on that same mileage. From 30 days to 90 days I’m covering the same distance.

Am I driving a car more, nope. Am I walking more, nope. Am I doing less, not less than is required and certainly as much as possible. I’m just not spending as much time in the wide world as before.

When this pandemic kicked off there was a great deal of talk about “the new normal” and how we would all live in a more environmentally-responsible way with solar energy, electric cars, wind power and a host of other things including remote work, distance education and similar. This didn’t take into account the human need to be in contact with other humans.

It didn’t take into account the reality that our systems are not in place to allow all of these remote things to happen simultaneously and irrevocably. It also didn’t take into account that there is a significant cost to anything which is not fossil fuel, because that’s how our infrastructure and economy is set up.

Realistically, for the majority of us, a move to better awareness of the environment is to avoid polluting activities where possible. So more walking and cycling, less driving. Less use of electric appliances where practical and use of products and services that are less harmful to the world.

That’s something else we really should be cognisant of, environmentally-friendly anything isn’t the same as good for the environment. It is simply less harmful than other products of that type. If it doesn’t occur in nature, then it is unlikely to be good for the environment.

At least less-damaging is better than where we were, and progress is made in steps, not leaps and bounds. Even for serious environmentalists, it will take decades to make significant strides to change our current situation, so every little bit helps.

Less riding around has, at least currently, afforded me more freedom in the most important way. I have more time to do the things that need doing, rather than negotiating traffic.

On a final note, do you remember The King? Of all the monuments and tributes to Elvis Presley, I’m pretty sure there’s one you don’t know of – the one installed on the corner of Highway 51 and East Washington Avenue in Madison. As the story goes, Elvis had just arrived by limousine in Madison for a performance in June 0f 1977. His two-limousine convoy stopped at a traffic light and he saw a fight taking place, with two youngsters beating on a third.

Elvis leaps from his seat in the back of the limo, pulls off a couple of his signature karate moves and says “I’ll take you on!”. Of course the teenagers are immediately starstruck and after a round of handshakes and a promise to stop fighting, Elvis is whisked off to his hotel. A small stone monument with explanatory plaque now stand on the spot.

Author: Morné Condon

Automotive journalist in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, following new models, old cars, car clubs and motorsport. My interests are not restricted to the automotive environment, although this is where I am mostly to be found.

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