Sipping gas, guzzling wine.


Environmentalists like to talk about how green Europeans are compared to us North American energy gluttons. They paint European cities as some kind of Suzuki-esque utopia. After stepping outside the North American gas-crisis zone and spending a few days in Paris this week, I have to say, they’re not entirely wrong. The streets are packed with scooters and motorcycles. The cars are all tiny. SUVs and oversized luxury cars are about as easy to spot as ivory-billed woodpeckers. Suzuki would be in heaven. People here figured out a long time ago how to live in a world of high energy prices.

Still, it’s hard to see Toronto or Vancouver becoming more like Paris, even in a world of $200 a barrel oil. We’re too set in our ways, and we’ve spent too long building infrastructure for a world of cheap gas. The day I see a Bay Streeter give up his 5 Series for a scooter will be the day the Leafs win the Cup, which is to say, it will never happen. But they do it here, and it seems to work. Now, if only I could find a place in this city where a cup of coffee doesn’t cost $8.

PS. I’ve only seen a few Segways in this environmentally-friendly city. And it was a tour group. But I’m sure the Segway revolution is just around the corner.

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Sipping gas, guzzling wine.

  1. The Segway is a clever means of spending money in order to avoid the free benefit of healthy walking. It doesn’t replace driving; it replaces walking and has a net negative impact environmentally.

  2. The Segway Personal Transporter can run some 26+ miles on a single charge, depending on a variety of factors. Do you think people are using them instead of running a marathon? It can – as it is designed to do – replace a car quite easily for the appropriate people & situations, the best example of which is urban dwellers who just might wish to drive the 4 or 8 miles to work instead of using their commute as exercise. Yes, I used to work for a dealership of Segways. No, I haven’t bought one because it is still outside my price range. But that will not always be the case. I also haven’t bought an iPhone yet, but I’m waiting for those who can afford it to drive the price down. That’s technology. That’s innovation. That’s progress.

  3. No Amanda, I think they are using Segways instead of walking, like I already said. A majority of Candians live within easy biking and walking distance of their work, but don’t. Why will another expensive machine change that?

    Again, the presence of Segways is not evidence of environmental consciousness, but maybe evidence of faddish materialism.

  4. Though a majority of Canadians live within easy biking distance of their work, a majority of Canadians do not bike to work. I think that’s the crux of the matter. Why will another expensive machine change that? Because it allows them to get from point A to point B without having to deal with exercise, the costs of parking, and the price of gas.

    That using it makes them slightly more environmentally friendly is, I think, a bonus, not the intent.

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