Jonny5 (who founded Zero Per Gallon in 2005) and Kit Kohler (who took the helm in 2009) share a simple belief: that in a day and age when driving doesn’t quite seem to be entirely worth it, biking is more worth it than ever. Riding a bike is awesome — it’s like eating a super-duper delicious burrito every day with guacamole and cheese and sauce on top at the most fabulous taqueria mankind has ever seen, and discovering that it makes your butt look good AND it makes you feel good AND it’s extending your life AND it’s saving you money. Oh, yeah — and it’s also helping solve huge international crises, like healthcare and global warming and energy.
That’s what inspired the creation of ZPG: a little anger at the way things are, and a little vision of the way things could be. A little caffeine, too. A simple slogan was born, meant to simultaneously poke fun of our embedded habits, and to encourage people casting off those 2,000-pound, extra-horsepower-laden habits, if only for the occasional trip to the grocery store. It was, and still is, a triumphant little pat on the back for people discovering a better way to get around.
And there’s no getting around the best way to get around. Biking is fun, and quiet, and cool, and not boring. It’s practical. It’s also fast, simple, and pretty easy. It’s social. It’s enlivening. It’s freeing. It’s heroic. It’s also healthy, and fatties that we Americans are, we could all use a little less time sitting in a chair, and a little more exercise. (Does driving to the gym to run on a treadmill really seem like progress?)
Biking is far cheaper than driving a car, too. According to the Department of Labor, we Americans spend 18 percent of our income on our cars (if you include maintenance, insurance, and gas). That’s more than we spend on healthcare, which is pretty scary, considering how fat and unhealthy we are. Maybe that’s because we drive so much…And, yet, behind all of that fat, the real costs of driving are hidden. Gas is heavily subsidized, so the price you pay at the pump doesn’t reflect its true cost (reasonably estimated at $10/gallon).
It’s also not much slower; when Americans add up all the distance they drive in a year, and divide it by ALL of the time they spend dealing with their cars — driving, parking, maintenance, sitting in traffic, etc. — it turns out the average is not so far from 12 miles per hour. Most people can bike that fast without breaking a sweat, and avoid the hassle of looking for parking spaces.
Perhaps best of all, biking is politically and environmentally tenable. The bicycle lobby isn’t tangled up with oil-exporting nations, or over-eager to drill the hell out of our last great wilderness. Bikes don’t clog up public spaces in cities, and they don’t spit out pollutants that create acid rain, smoggy air, and global climate change.
Granted, cars are cool for occasional voyages; road-trips and getaways and vacations will always have a certain mystique — but for everyday, urban affairs, they’re a racket. We’ve been duped, hoodwinked into a way of getting around that takes all the zest out of travel, all the life out of moving, all the fun out of going somewhere. So the car age as we know it is ending, and it’s about time; few other technological advances impose so many burdens. ZPG, then, has become one way to make this point: Biking costs less for us, for our cities, for the planet. Go ride a bike – and spread the word…