'Car Wars'

Last week, I got into a war with my car.

Here's a scene from "Car Wars," staring a non-mechanically oriented reporter and a solely mechanically oriented Toyota Corolla.

It's midday and at least 95 degrees in the Daily Tidings parking lot. Reporter has an interview assignment in 20 minutes, across town.

Reporter turns key in ignition. Nothing happens. Repeat about five times. Reporter exits car.

Reporter: I hate cars!

Car: No comment.

Reporter tries to start car again. Car doesn't start. Car starts to look like it's smirking at reporter.

Reporter opens hood and looks at engine. She sees a maze of mechanical parts. She goes into newspaper office and searches Google for "how to jump-start a car." She prints out four pages of instructions (which she later recycles as notepaper).

Reporter to legal advertising representative: Do you think you could help me jump-start my car, since your car's parked next to mine? I think my battery died.

Ad rep: Sure.

Reporter reads directions, and she and consultant hook up jumper cables. They try to jump-start car twice. Nothing happens.

Reporter: I hate cars!

Editor comes out of newspaper office and looks at arrangement of jumper cables.

Editor: Wait. Let me do this.

Editor changes position of cable that's supposed to act as the ground. Ad rep starts his car. Reporter turns key in ignition and, magically, starts her car.

Reporter: Thank you!

Ad rep: Nice to know he's good at other things besides laying out the paper and editing.

Reporter: If the paper closes, we can open an auto shop. I'm good at Googling instructions on how to fix cars.

Reporter drives to assignment across town. After interview, car won't start.

Reporter: I hate cars!

I had to jump-start my car three times that day, with the help of my very nice friends. The last time, I drove to Les Schwab and got a new battery. Needless to say, I'm a jump-starting pro now.

My car's fixed, but I'm still against it.

Bikes don't have batteries that die. They don't have hundreds of mysterious parts. And fixing a broken bike is much less expensive than fixing a broken car. My new car battery cost the same amount as my entire bike: $100.

I drive my car for work assignments and meetings or out-of-town trips. The rest of the time, I ride my bike.

I've been riding my bike to and from work for several months. Biking makes you realize how unnecessary cars are for most types of basic transportation.

Most drivers are transporting only themselves. And, in Ashland, it's nearly as fast to bike as it is to drive. The entire city's only about 6.5 square miles.

But just because Ashland's small and bike friendly, doesn't mean bicyclists or drivers should space out on the road.

If I've learned anything from covering bike versus car crashes in this city, including two last week, it's this: Follow the rules of the road and pay attention. It can save your life.

And if you're riding a bike, wearing a helmet doesn't hurt either.

Even though we may be in a war against cars, let's not take the fighting to the streets. Let this be a peaceful takeover.

Reporter has just returned to work, after riding bike to house, round-trip 6 miles, on lunch break. It's at least 2,095 degrees in the Daily Tidings parking lot. Reporter is sweating abundantly. Reporter enters office.

Another reporter: Did you just go for a run or something?

Bike-riding reporter (out of breath): Bike ride.

Bike-riding reporter goes to desk and opens spreadsheet on computer. At the top, she types "Car Wars." Then she makes two columns:

Car: 1.

Bike and all things good and holy: 1.

Contact reporter Hannah Guzik at 541-482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com. For past columns see dailytidings.com/ecologic.

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