Disasters deliver infrastructure disruption and human suffering. The former exacerbates the later. We have limited money and we have limited political will to invest in “stand-by” disaster response resources. We are left vulnerable.
Nowhere exists a local government with a stockpile of supplies and cadre of response professionals big enough to adequately deal with Hurricane Katrina or Haiti Earthquake-scale disasters….and no one is able to predict that big disasters are behind us. On the contrary, earth science professionals from many disciplines are willing to predict that climate change is increasing the likelihood of disasters. Within this state of imperfect and imperfectable preparedness, facing a growing need in growing population centers, what can we do to soften the blow of disaster-damaged communities? How can we reduce the future suffering and death created by fuel shortages, clogged and damaged roads, electricity outages, water and food scarcity, over-taxed first responders, and communication system failures?
ANSWER: we invest in resilience. Disaster resilience is largely about infrastructure grid independence, but also about smart urban development, education, and strong coalition among community groups. Prime tools of grid independence (and therefore resilience) are solar panels, gardens, rainwater collectors, and bikes. These tools not only prepare a community for disaster, but also create more livable communities, save money, and reduce carbon footprint: resilience is attractive in the short-term, invaluable when disaster strikes.
“Community resilience” is a fresh concept that is being promoted and embraced in modern society, but the movement is young. Not dialed-in. Now is the time to refine and expand the definition. Disaster Relief Trials is a dramatic visual statement arguing for the relevance of cargo bikes to the resilience movement. In peace time and disaster time, cargo bikes work.
Cargo bikes are light, small, and inexpensive yet highly capable of hauling big loads with relative ease. They operate efficiently without any power or sophisticated transportation infrastructure. They not only transport relief goods, but also people and messages. These disaster response-compatible qualities need to be proven in dramatic style over and over again before we can permanently erode the “bikes are toys” paradigm. Once we achieve “toys and tools”, we can start to make practical steps to incorporate cargo bikes into municipal disaster plans.
Disaster Relief Trials makes the case with exuberance and fun: cargo bikes are powerful tools for community resilience.
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