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02/01/2008: "Rail, Bikes, and Portland"
As many of you might know, I had been planning to ride Amtrak to Portland for the North American Handbuilt Bicycle Show.

Unfortunately, Amtrak has cancelled the Starlight till at least Feb.15th, because of a mudslide on the Union Pacific tracks south of Eugene.

Therefore, I am cancelling my trip. Walking with as light a footprint on the earth as possible is one of my primary goals, and the practice that we sell knickers and write articles to support. Flying causes over twice the carbon emissions per passenger/mile than even Amtrak's diesel trains, considerably more than even driving, so I'm going to walk my talk and stay home.

Will be very sorry to miss seeing all my Portland pals, but maybe in summer, if sales hold up, Gina and I will take the Starlight up and just visit all our cycling pals there for a week or so.

It's pathetic that in this country Amtrak has to be the stepchild of the freight lines rather than owning its own tracks--this would never happen in Northern Europe or Japan. Considering the incredible savings not only in energy cost but in spatial presence trains have over both road vehicles and aircraft, we are fools not to throw billions at Amtrak instead of carping over its paltry $500 million endowment. (Highway users get $60 billion in Federal subsidy; airlines $30 billion.)

To illustrate:Meanwhile, cars not only cost the earth (and our treasuries), but destroy culture--something they would do even if they ran on magic. You cannot build a viable culture upon a principle of personal isolation and public waste. Trains, like bicycles, are convivial as well as clean. We should be promoting them heavily.

Think about that, along with everything else, when you vote next time. And every time.

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