A previous blog by ACJ broached the subject of using a bicycle to escape and/or survive disasters. As of late we all have been made acutely aware of the problems of evacuating a city like Los Angeles in the case of a disaster – natural or otherwise. Could it happen here? Well, not a hurricane (probably) but a myriad of other disasters, not excluding a nuclear attack. Could L.A. be evacuated by auto? No need to even go there, it can’t be done rapidly during a non-emergency (daily rush-hour) so what are the chances of evacuating during a panic? As I write this, the Texas evacuations by auto are proceeding at about 3 or 4 mph, evacuees are running out of gas, gas stations are being pumped dry, and some people are giving up and turning back.
So, we are contemplating the obvious. A bike. Not your hard-core carbon fiber road bike, not your drop-bar fixie (although I suppose some will argue that point) and nothing with low spoke count wheels. What then? How about something like this: Sturdy (steel?) utility bike with 1.5 inch knobby tires with liners and thorn-proof tubes (prepare for broken-glass-lined roads) narrow flat handlebar (to get between stalled cars), two or three water bottles, a good LED headlight with fresh batteries (for actually seeing the road, or off-road, and useable as a flashlight) rear rack and maybe panniers for food, clothing, tools, etc. Cell phone, but don’t count on being able to use it. Handgun, for discouraging those who would want your bike. Survival knife with matches, compass, and saw.
More details on the bike: Five or six speed freewheel or an internally geared hub would be plenty, you won’t be trying to maintain 25 mph on smooth roads. A single-speed might be better yet if you don’t anticipate a lot of hills, or can handle them. Ideally, no front derailer, one chain ring. Suspension optional, probably better without. Simplicity and reliability is actually the goal, you don’t want to be fussing with a 30-speed drivetrain in the middle of a disaster. Bring the usual tools and parts: pump and patch kit, multi-tool, spoke wrench and chain breaker.
I doubt if anyone wants to build such a bike and keep it sitting around, but thinking about assembling such a beast on short notice might be a good idea.