Friday, January 28, 2011

Transportation, the weak link of country living

There's a lot of advantages to living in the country, but the one big drawback is transportation. We are tied to our cars and trucks.

In the city, there's public transportation: trains, subways, buses, and taxis. There are plenty of neighborhoods where all your needs are within walking distance. A bicycle may be all that's required.

I've none of those things. Absolutely everything is beyond casual walking distance. On the plus side, country people tend to have at least some food stores. Can't run to the store every time you need a loaf of bread. Often I'd rather bake bread than run down to the store. Country people are used to providing for themselves.

There are still a few elderly people who remember how it was out here in the woods before cars were common. In the winter, it was an all day trip by horse drawn sleigh to the next town and back. It's a distance that modern people think nothing of traveling in a car. Back then, it was common to only go into town once a month. Even when they got cars, once a week seemed like more than enough.

Of course, cars were not quite as reliable as they are now. Roads were pretty bad too. I remember my dad telling me that as a kid, it was common for them to take 3 spare tires along for a trip to a town 50 miles away. Often they'd use up all those spares.

There were no school buses. People living on the outskirts would often board their children with people who lived close to the school. They may not have even really known them that well, but people did what they had to do for an education.

During the oil shock of the 70's, it was common up here at the lake to combine trips. Someone would announce they were going into town and did anybody need anything? That person might leave with a whole list of things to pick up for several different people. Plenty of car pooling took place too.

When fuel gets more expensive, we'll most likely do what what we used to do. At first, it'll be like in the 70's: car pooling and errand combining. Will things be like in the old days when people went into town once a week or once a month? That might be a problem. You see, back in the day, people out in the country lived on farms. They made a living where they lived. That's not often the case today. Most country people drive to their job, some for long distances.

A few people might be able to telecommute. That assumes the Internet infrastructure will be maintained out in the hinterland. My guess is that a lot of people will have to leave the country to look for work in the cities. A few may be able to generate income out in the country. Those old farms just might go back into production.

If you plan on living out in the country during the decline of the petroleum age, better have a way of making a living.

Now it is possible some whizzbang technological solution to easy motoring will be found, but do you want to bet on it?



  1. my back up is a wide tire multi-speed bicycle which is a rebuilt "curbside junker"

    good to also invest in puncture seal inner tubes and kelvar tires. having a flat where you don't want to be stuck can be dangerous.

    am planing to build an electric assist to power the bicycle. this will be able to utilize a solar pv panel to recharge.

    in any case it beats walking....


  2. I only live a little over 10 miles from town, but only go in once every 7 to 10 days. Unless my wife wants to go to Hoby-Lobby.

  3. In California during the Katrina caused gas crisis, my cousin who worked in San Diego and had to commute from Ramona could not afford the cost. He was lucky that his boss who owned their own parking lot allowed some employees to install a camping trailer that allowed several of them to stay there, taking shifts on who stayed, who commuted. Not a long term solution, but at least, he was sympathetic.

  4. I could sail to work and back! Just need a bicycle for the last mile. And a sailboat...

  5. Mayberry -get that darn sailboat.
    Anon-camping out at work used to happen back in the old days. Loggers would spend all winter in the woods and would only come out in the spring.
    Dizzy-good. Bet you don't burn much fuel doing that.
    Wildflower- Good idea. Would not be much fun here in the winter, but in warmer climates, it's a go.

  6. Well I'm building a network. The Kids (am I old enough to call adults that) Any way I got a trike from them. With a basket that could carry about 10 gal. of water. They just gave it to me. I'd like to talk bad about "kids these days" but the ones I got are great. Not only shoveled the sidewalk of the handicap(myself) but the whole block. Just cause they had a day off because of the snow.
    I think we forget to see freat folks and focus all to often on the negative.