So now that gas prices have gone up and the marketing industry has decided that green is in, certain people have started buying hybrids. And these are brand new cars they're buying. And, somehow, they think that they're saving the environment AND money. Of course, what they're really buying is the green image.
If you're really dedicated to being green then carpool, or ride public transportation or a bicycle to work. Or walk. Or work from home.
Now, if you're in need of an image-enhancement, buying a Prius might be tempting. I mean, you've got instant sorta-green street cred when you roll up in that suppository-lookin' thing. Do not give in to this temptation. Get a motorcycle instead. Here's why:
You can still save on gas, use the carpool lane and ride alone. Somehow, we Americans have developed a serious aversion to carpooling. I understand the need for independence - waiting for a ride can be a drag. I don't want to deal with your grumpy self, and I can guarantee you don't want to put up with me in the morning. But if you drive a non-hybrid alone, you don't get to use the carpool lane. And gas is expensive!
Well, get a motorcycle, instead of that ugly car thing. You can ride solo, or with a friend if you like. You get to use the carpool lane. Best of all, a good commuter motorcycle can easily get 50- 60 miles per gallon.
Motorcycles, even new motorcycles, consume fewer resources than a new car. OK, so you want to be green. Your decision is buy a new car??? Are you really that stupid? Think about everything that goes into a car. The front end of a new car is always new, high quality steel, because no manufacturer is going to trust recycled metal in their front ends. Where does that steel come from? Here's a hint: not a sustainable farm. Then there's new plastic for everything else, plus rubber, etc. etc. And then the hybrids throw in a few full-of-toxic-material batteries for good measure.
A new motorcycle needs a lot less new metal, rubber, plastic and energy to produce than a new car does.
Of course, the greenest option, for a car or a motorcycle, is to buy used. That metal, plastic, etc., has already been consumed, you might as well keep using it.
As far as ongoing maintenance goes, a motorcycle only has two tires to wear out at a time. We're not dumping nearly as much rubber dust as cagers are every day. We use less oil, less coolant, less brake fluid, and so on.
An ugly motorcycle still better looking than a Prius. Seriously, butt-ugly-chic? It doesn't exist.
A motorcycle, and all the gear and rider training you could ever want, is still cheaper than a Prius. I think this one speaks for itself, but here we go:
Brand new motorcycle for commuting = ~$8,000
Safety gear (helmet, jacket, pants, etc.) = ~$500-$1,500 depending what brand and how much you buy
Training costs vary by state, but we'll say $300.
Assuming you go all out, that's $9,800. A Prius is $20,000+.
Do you want to be thought of as an awesome biker, or a half-electric sheep? We all know you bought that Prius so you could feel all holier-than-thou. Even if you won't admit it, you want everyone to think you're a green person. You're still identifying yourself by your vehicle.
I'm not going to say I haven't been guilty of the same, but at least I've got an awesome motorcycle to show for it. And I can still be environmentally-conscious, just like you!
A Prius isn't even all-electric. I, for one, welcome the day when I can get an all-electric motorcycle that does what my gas-powered motorcycle does. I'll set up a wind turbine and solar cells in my yard, just to charge my motorcycle. Until then, however, I'm not going to drag around a bunch of heavy batteries and rely on a pair of under-powered motors to do it.
Prius drivers are slow and annoying. Have you noticed? If you want to be pretend-green, fine, but at least get out of my way. I don't think this is entirely the drivers fault (though seriously, move over meathead), the car only has an underpowered gas motor, and an underpowered electric motor to get it moving. And they have a gauge telling them what kind of mileage they're getting, so they can obsess about each and every mile per hour and how it affects their fuel economy.
Meanwhile, I can ride like a crazed spider-monkey high on crack (not that I would), and still get amazing gas mileage.
Getting a car instead of a motorcycle is admitting you're a huge wussy. "Oh, I would ride a motorcycle, but I'm scared of traffic and getting cold or hot or rained on or snowed on or whatever."
You, sir, are a pantywaist. Motorcycles are risky, sure. Learn to ride, wear your gear, and take some damn responsibility. Riders have to contend with the elements as well. Aren't those elements what you want everyone to think you're defending? Get out and enjoy them, instead of sitting in a slow, ugly, moderately-more-protective box. Be a warrior! Take Gary's example and simply ride slower and dress warmer in the winter.
Motorcycles are fun! The number one reason to get one instead of a car! Cars are not fun. Cars SUCK. If cars were awesome to be in, they wouldn't need stereos, you wouldn't feel compelled to call all your friends while driving, and you would see nothing but smiles - instead of scowling faces - on your way to work every day.
Make some new friends, learn some new stuff, enjoy some windy state roads, stomp around in your kick-ass motorcycle boots, buy new tools, and be the environmentally aware bad-ass in your office. Get a motorcycle, not some crappy Prius.