Samoa Observer

APIA, Samoa (Dec. 24) – One justification given for changing the side of the road for vehicles is that it would stop big gas guzzlers being imported from the United States.

It does not add up since only a few apparently affluent citizens have such vehicles.

Many, including affluent people, buy vehicles with its gas consumption level a key factor, especially these days when the price of oil keeps hopping up.

A barrel of oil cost $US60 the start of the year. It is now $US100.

Not enough has been done to adjust to this alarming situation.

The alternative of coconut oil remains an unfulfilled promise, because not enough focus has been dedicated to solving the glitches arising out of using it, as a fuel for motor vehicles.

Perhaps the price of oil has not reached an alarming enough stage yet.

In the meantime, it looks like it will continue to climb.

The factors causing the high prices seem likely to persist far into the foreseeable future.

We may have no control about what happens to the price of oil but we do not have to take it lying down.

One of the prominent gifts being offered by shops this time of the year are bicycles.

One way of adjusting to increasing fuel prices is to become as independent of them as possible.

This means using bicycles more for transport.

This idea came from a letter to the editor which states: "encourage our people to ride bicycles to and from school and work, so we need a bicycle lane painted on roads."

Going back in time and taking up the saddle again presents the cumbersome difficulty of cleaning up after the horses that would need quite large parking spaces too.

There has to be active encouragement involved, however, most logically from the Ministry of Health who will have a host of justifications to call upon to push for more bicycle riding.

In short it would be good for the health.

Life is getting busier and busier while the need for exercise is constant to ward off lifestyle diseases like diabetes.

Add up the bill for bus fares each year for a school child and it would cover the price of a bicycle.

Taxi costs are pricier still.

Owners of buses and taxis will keep pushing for fares to be put up every time there is a rise in fuel prices - and fair enough too.

They have to cover their costs.

It won’t be a problem-free option bicycles.

One immediate problem would be the need to arrive at school and work in a clean state.

It would place on schools and workplaces the extra burden of making available shower facilities - and the work of school kids of having to cart extra gear to and from school.

The most urgent problem however would be safety.

A bicycle lane would help tremendously.

However, the level of driving seen on our roads can be very bad.

Some drivers cannot comprehend the purpose of the centre line on the road - and the need to not cross it.

A greater reliance on bicycles would place an extra burden on police to have an increased presence on our roads to ensure the white lines designating lanes are not breached as often as they are currently.

Riding bicycles on our roads is risky right now because of unskilled driving by motorists and the lack of a lane for riders.

But it should be an option to be considered seriously along with ways of making it safer.

It is certainly an environmentally friendly option.

In terms of schools at least, the de-centralisation move which have seen an outbreak of rural colleges which should now result in getting an education closer to home, with bicycles an alternative if transport is still required.

Samoa Observer:

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