The Slow Movement Movement

This is a guest post from Hans Noeldner, a trustee in the village of Oregon, Wisconsin, a rapidly growing bedroom community of about 8,300 near Madison, Wisconsin. Hans' first piece on the rules of downtown revitalization can be found here and his "Declaration of Dependence" can be found here.

By now many millions of gourmands are familiar with “The Slow Food Movement,” and the notion of a “100 Mile Diet” is spreading quickly among the sustainability-minded.

What do they have in common? Both concepts share central themes – a focus on quality rather than quantity, re-localization, greater self-reliance, and strengthened bonds with one’s geographic community (as opposed to abstract “communities” of the comfortably like-minded).

Although these two concepts relate to food, they are highly extensible in an algebraic sense, and we can fruitfully apply them to many more facets of life. For example:

“10 Block Entertainment Diet”
“Slow Recreation Movement”

But here is a variation that I find especially promising: “Slow Movement Movement”

What’s that? Did I stutter just now?

Absolutely not. I am talking about a movement whose purpose is to champion moving slowly as opposed to moving rapidly via energy-gobbling, planet-dominating, climate-altering machines. Slow movement like walking. Bicycling. Strolling. Meandering. Sauntering. Wending. Skipping. Striding.

In particular I am talking about re-grounding ourselves in the human-scale rather than the automobile-scale. Why?

Because our technological will-to-power has seduced us into a perverted and ruinous disharmony with Earth. By collapsing a mile into one or two minutes, the automobile in motion has so profoundly distorted our sense of space and time that few living Americans comprehend the nature of a truly walkable community.

And the automobile further warps reality when at rest. The amount of real estate “consumed” by only four or five off-street surface parking stalls would suffice for a modest-sized retail business and several floors of residential units. Multiplied by hundreds and thousands in a community, the resulting chaotic patchwork of surface parking scatters day-to-day and week-to-week destinations over miles rather than blocks, thereby establishing a ceiling on density well below practical thresholds for pedestrians, cyclists, and public transit users. Multiplied by a billion and more, accommodations for the automobile have rendered the greater portion of modern-day “developed” America unfit habitation for the non-motorist.

The Slow Movement Movement will recapture the field for homo erectus, and relegate the species homo automobilicus to a safe and highly subordinate SUPPORTING role. Please join!

Well, I'd love to discuss it with you, but I'm about to hop on my bike and spend the day riding down to Santa Cruz for a party :-)

Beautiful. Thank you for this.

Even thought it's sprawly and suburban here, I have found that by slowing down to 15 MPH on a bike I have found plenty to keep my attention within biking distance. It's not so much a "movement" as it is just opening your eye to what is already there.

15 MPH?

Are you some sort of fitness freak?

Just kidding ;-)

How about 8 MPH?

I returned recently to a highly suburbanized El Paso, Texas, in hopes of finding a small downtown property to buy only to learn that a revitalization project had been approved intent on using eminent domain to condemn properties for a massive REIT-driven project. The idea was to literally bulldoze much of the historic city center and put in more parking for "anchor" stores, to include a Wal-mart! I wanted to own a place downtown so that I could walk to El Paso's sister city, Cd. Juarez, among other pedestrian-centric activities.

While some areas of the country are moving forward in the area of green and sustainable urban planning, many are racing backwards. The only way to stop it is the introduction of outside pressures, such as prohibitive gas prices. Until then, most Americans just can't conceive of a cityscape without the car.

Ivan Illich and his 'Energy and Equity' from 1974 (or so) get right at this idea of slow movement. His claim is that we cede much of our autonomy as we adopt technology to move faster and faster (and paradoxically create scarcity of time and space).


Thanks for reminding us of Illich's thoughts.

Here is a link to the full text for those who have not read it.

During Friday's sleet storm here, I rented "Beijing Bicycle."

While I was browsing, two guys came in shouting FU at someone who had driven out of an alley and almost hit them. Soon after, the drivers came in to shout back. Aaah, life in the city.

According to someone on IMBD, the Chinese title is literally "Seventeen year's bicycle." The bike is an allegorical device, but the film is a good look at an old city with lots of foot, bike and auto traffic, into which peasants are crowding to find work. It is interesting to see a bike as a symbol of wealth and prosperity - something to be fought over.

SMM!! I love it!
An added bonus would be a silencing of our noise pollution. Wouldn't it be awesome to live in a metropolitan area that is devoid of the sounds of the ICE?

Hans Noeldner wrote:

Because our technological will-to-power has seduced us into a perverted and ruinous disharmony with Earth.

Tsunamis, hurricanes, tidal bores, plagues of locusts, volcanoes, tornados, lightning bolts, avalanches, flash floods, earthquakes, epidemics, droughts, blights, infestations and ages of ice....not to mention asteroids and super-novas.

Our will-to-power? Perverted: maybe. Ruinous: doubtless.

But "disharmony with the Earth"?!?! There is nothing that humans will ever do that is anything but a tiny footnote to the normal workings of the earth. She is our inspiration in all things.

You are claiming man is living in harmony and balance with Earth Mother Asebius. I don't see it that way. I see man walking and acting in a way that dishonors earth mother being an inspiration in all things. Such inspiration I see from most of man is nothing of the sort.

You seem to think that spinning in space and providing a place for gravity to be of an effect as the normal workings of earth mother.

I think the animals and plants and all other creatures would have an entirely different view. Ever been to a slaughter house Asebius, where is man's honor in that. How about a chicken farm for you to eat those dinners. I doubt the chickens think you have honored them.

Your world view if very different from mine. I see man completely out of balance with earth mother and all her creatures that walk, fly, crawl, and slither.

Yes, go slow, not a bad idea at all.

Quid Clarius Astris
Ubi Bene ibi patria

We are not far apart. I am, actually, a proud member of the Green Party of Canada.

A good part of me agrees absolutely with what you are saying. I have camped in Canada's boreal forest for a week at a time, completely alone and felt totally at one with Gaia and my place in her.

My heart agrees with you, but not my head.

My head knows that that the Earth and the Universe are utterly pitiless and don't give a fuck about any of us. And that we mean less to them than our slaughterhouse chickens mean to us.

However, I'm all in favour of a new earth religion even if it's more a projection of our own needs than based on the facts. Yet, I will on occasion also blaspheme that new faith.

I haven't found a good place to post this, yet think it would be of interest to some. The man's name is Tom Brown Jr. he has many books and has been featured in readers digest among other publications.
I have taken one of his survival courses. He is the real deal. His latest book on urban survival was available a costco a couple of months ago. This book would be a must have for any city or urban dweller who thinks times could get tough. He mentions the "thin viel" of our just in time society, and how quickly circumstances can change into a personal survival situation. Several of his suggestions in his book would have saved some of the people who died during the last big cold storm in Seattle, WA.
He is one who teaches on the living in harmony with nature. He isn't into rambo like survival classes and recommends people look elsewhere if this is what they are expecting.
I cannot say enough good things about him and his books. Well worth a look. I think you will want a few copies as they are very very practical for short and long term personal survival.

Slowly I respond....

I have been doing slow movement for about 6 years now. Using pedicabs and cargo trikes tends to slow one down, especially hauling a couple of hundred pounds of tools or some people.

Slow is so glorious! I see and feel my surroundings, talk with people walking or working in their yards, greet children in the neighborhoods I work in.

Slow movement allows me to be a part of the place I am going to, which is just as important as the destination.

Today I rode my pedicab in the peace march here in Minneapolis, MN, USA. I called out "free rides for tired feet!" and had many takers -- usually children or elderly marchers taking a break from walking.

I always think: "How can we cry out for peace with our lips, while the way that we choose to consume demands war?"

Slow movement makes peace possible, while casually undertaken fast movement often requires violence to power it and causes violence within the space traversed.

We are not as sophisticated or wise as we may think. Clever, yes. The ability to use huge resources to gain speed is impressive and maybe sometimes truly needed. The unreflected and casual use of these resources to move fast all the time is foolishness.

Slow movement. I'm all for it.

Great subject Professor, but I sure wouldn't want to be a bicycle salesman on this site today. I don't think the time is right for the human mind to encompass the concept of slow as beauty. Try it again later, it's lots easier riding bike on a down slope.Heh!

May I suggest the book "Promise Ahead"

by Duane Elgin author of "Voluntary Simplicity "

Well, for those worried about how we are going to fund the pensions and pay social security to the aging boomers, the bicycle may provide the answer. The stat below is for New York City, but the report it is from on bicycle safety, death and injury is said to pretty much mirror the national average

Most bicyclists who died were male (91%), and men aged 45–54 had the highest death rate (8.3 per million) per
age group.

By the way, the next highest percent of death as percent of total is children.
We recently lost 2 more small children in Hardin County when they were struck riding on one bike with an older sister in a driving rain. The scene was about as gruesome as they come, and now a young mother who did noting wrong except not be able to see the bike in the driving rain will have to live with it the rest of her life....{of course, in a perfect world, no one ever rides in driving rain and bitter cold do they? Well, except for a young woman I work with who cannot afford a car. I have seen her wet and cold to a level that would be considered inhumane punishment if it were inflicted on her by another human, from having to ride about 7 miles to work in rain and sleet (that's gotta' be safe, right?

As folks who read my posts know, I try to be open minded....but allow me one brief rant: I am so sick of this idiotic bicyle fantasy I could barf. If you like them, they are fun (I have always loved riding for recreation), but as useful transportation they are almost entirely useless for anyone except the granola bar set who can pick and choose when and where they work, and whether or not they want to go to work that day or not. This is NOT the world that most of us live in.

Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom

The irony of your tag line, in total contradiction with your post, is priceless.

I don't like bicycle accidents any more than you do. Don't like the much more frequent motorcycle accidents much either. I'd be willing to bet that, unlike motorcyclists, cyclists prolong their life more than they shorten it, i.e. the health benefits of cycling vs. no exercise greatly outweigh the accident risk.

I don't like getting wet, but I'm prepared to wear a raincoat when the weather demands it. People are so soft! The slightest discomfort becomes a show-stopper. The future demands greater efforts.

Hi Thatsit,

I agree with your comment:

This is NOT the world that most of us live in.,

but I wouldn't mind living in this guy's world:

To paraphrase'

Remember freedom is only one mental quirk away.

No doubt, it is very dangerous to ride a bike in most locales. My experience, however, in Germany, and in Boulder, Colorado is that it is easy to get around safely if cities have taken the steps to provide bicycle lanes separate from the roadway.

For that matter, automobiles aren't all that safe either based on national highway traffic fatality data.

Whether or not bicycles are useless depends on where you live.

Ultimately, we need to largely eliminate the auto from cities. Yes, that is a fantasy, but the health and well being of everyone would be much improved if this action were taken.

If you are a Male, aged 45-54, and if you can't see your toes when you are standing up straight, then you are staring straight down at your greatest risk factor; your metabolically-active internal abdominal fat! Also known as paunch, gut, barriga...

"Got Diabetes?" "Got Stroke?" "Got Infarction?"

And yet, bicycling to work usually takes care of that quite nicely and painlessly. Over a period of time, you automatically get trim.

About 700 people a year die in cycling accidents. Subtract children, drunks, incompetents, people riding illegally or recklessly, and the absolute number of accidents for good adult riders is small... a hundred or two hundred for the whole USA?

700 people die in household falls each year, are we going to ban gravity?

And you get chronic disease reduction for free. And it costs about $0.05 cents per mile, worst-case.

I've ridden 75 miles per week to and from work for years, and I live in bike-unfriendly Houston.

Dismissing bicycle useage out-of-hand is just irrational.

Peter Wang
Texas Registered Professional Geophysicist

That's exactly right and completely wrong RC.

This is NOT the world that most of us live in.

What you've got right is that we don't live in bike friendly world.... although Portland Oregon isn't bad.

But just about everything else is completely wrong.

Slow movement requires changing everything.... including the relationship between where you work and where you live. Part of why the world isn't friendly to bikes is because of where you chose to live, in relationship to where you chose to work.... and part of that problem is that you may not have a good choice to live and work in the same area.

Don't know details about the accident but sounds like the killer was driving outside of the appropriate speed visibility envelope to me.... I almost never let my children ride in the street. As others have said, balance the risks of biking with the health benefits and who will say you don't come out ahead... and frankly it's so much fun that I'm not that concerned if I knock a few statistical days off my estimated lifespan anyway. If I stay inside the house wrapped in foam rubber, I could avoid all sorts of risks, but that wouldn't be much of a life would it?

My sympathies to your cold coworker... perhaps you haven't heard the saying "There is no such thing as bad biking weather, just bad biking clothing..." All weather gear costs money... but it still costs a lot less than a car.

We don't live in a world that makes it easy to bike... but we can make choices that make it possible to do so.

High energy prices will encourage people in that direction, but the built infrastructure and patterns of work/residence distance will cause many to resist.

First, thanks everyone for the replies to, as I said in the post, what was admittedly a bit of a rant..., and some good information, I saved one excellent link on bicycles, the Sheldon Brown one recommended I said, I like bicycles...But, unless we do somehow ban all automobile traffic or create a new infrastructure, I see them as marginal contributors to transportation, except in exceptional circumstances, but the contribution may be increased IF that is what they we strive for, as opposed to simply recreational/health riding. I noticed many took up the"health" aspect of bicycling, which of course is true, but on the other hand can also be achieved by various other forms of exercise, many of which are much safer.

Very quickly, let me show you what does interest me, but I don't know if it has a future in the U.S......

Obtaining a velomobile tab has some very interesting designs.

I think that peddle power or assisted peddle power has a possibility with
(a) Weather protection (b) recmbent design allowing for a more comfortable and aerodynamic seathing position (c) bodywork that gives the vehicle visible presence and some measure of slight protection in event of crash and (d) some provision for possible electric motor assist for those who are unable to navigate steep hills or become tired far from destination....(purely optional, and able to attached or removed easily)

Velomobiles....will the old fashioned upright bicycle crowd accept them?
They haven't yet, but they actually could be useful....

Remember, we are only cubic mile from freedom

I'm not sure who you think the enemy is. Where is this "old fashioned upright bicycle crowd"?!

My town is full of people riding uprights, recumbents, electric assisted bikes, and more.

Some people even ride things like this:

or like this:

It's all good.

RC, you write as if people are going to have very much of a choice when the Peak is upon us. Gasoline at US$7 ? US$ 10 ? US$15 ? per gallon.

Many (like me) living in areas with little or no public transit, and those transit agencies will be cutting back routes due to inability to pay for diesel.

Severe economic contraction; people losing jobs; families going from two breadwinner to one in many cases, or going through periods of unemployment or underemployment. Kind of hard to make those $500 per month car payments. Family will have to ditch 1 of 2 cars maybe, or if the only car dies, to make do without a car.

People have negative savings rate already, and are overloaded in debt, and these are the good times! What's going to happen when oil is US$120 per barrel?

Safer forms of exercise? You mean a gym? Half of those are going to close, due to declining membership during the inevitable recession. People won't be able to pay. Running or walking? My observation is that being a runner or pedestrian in this town is as dangerous as being a cyclist. No uplift there. And people working long hours to make ends meet don't have extra time to run. But bicycling to work is multitasking: exercise + transport.

I would say increased bicycle useage is almost inevitable. It just depends on how high and swiftly the price of oil increases when peak hits.

I like the idea of velocars generally, but in my climate it won't work (too hot here).

When 2% - 5% of all vehicles on the road is a bicycle, out of necessity, you will see much more motorist awareness of bikes, and cyclist injuries will go down, especially as the populace re-learns how to bicycle (which it does not any longer; that knowledge has been lost). Lights, helmets, mirrors, bright reflective clothing, obeying traffic laws, better traffic tactics, these will go a long way to making bicycling an effective transportation mode once again, as it was 100 years ago, before we went to mono-mode transport (cars).

Plus, at US$120 per barrel for oil, there will be less and slower car traffic competing for road space.

Peter Wang

I suppose increased bicycle utilization isn't inevitable, because sitting at home stranded is also an alternative. Some people may choose to drop out of circulation if they can't gas up their chariot. People do strange things; we have decades of reliance on internal combustion vehicles under our belts, and layers of learned helplessness and disconnection with our physical bodies. There's no telling what people will do or not do when a crisis hits. Especially if their health isn't good.

I just increased my bicycle utilization yesterday, probably by 100% over last week.

I really felt it today, but I'm hoping to do it again tomorrow.

Well I made my slow day crack, now I think I should slowly take the time to say something a bit more constructive, maybe.

Slow is to me, right now, in how my garden grows,.. sorry no silver bells and pretty maids all in a row but there is digitalis for the faint of heart and poppies for what ails thee....Oops! now slowly back to the garden. It isn't planted in one fell blow of a machete or harvested in a harvest home day, whatever that is, but bit by bit without notice and without drudgery it goes in. I read a book and it goes in I make combinations of notes on my guitar which I call music and it goes in. There are no signs of leaves and fruit but it is growing unnoticed by my eyes which are too slow to see the movements of seed moistened, swelling and opening. Days pass and I have made many combinations on my guitar which I want to believe are music more days pass and slowly green appears and only slightly faster leaves unfold.....Well this is much too slow for me ...It's time for me to unwrap my Triumph Bonneville it's SPRING

Why you could write a book on this very subject. In fact, I am writing a book on this very subject.

The trick is not letting a philosophy of slow movement interfere with the speed at which you type. Badumbum. But seriously folks. This is a wonderful and very serious topic.

Slow movement is a powerful aesthetic, and can be practiced because it pleases us on aesthetic grounds, and on the moral ground that we should each behave in a way that, should everyone else do what we do, the maximum good would be realized by the maximum number. There are many good reasons to live slow and move slowly through space.

Personally I'm pleased that I'm able to ride a bike to work every day in Portland Oregon.

But the fact that slow movement will remain voluntary as long as transportation energy is cheap, and as long as fast movement is cheap, creates huge problems. Slow movement remains a boutique choice.

Only when the cost of energy (created by scarcity or taxation) truly makes fast movement unaffordable to the masses of humanity will the positive effects of relocalization and community building and simply being able to value place because we can no longer run away from it... begin to be realized. Slow movement is not only a pain in the butt in a world designed for fast movement... but it really isn't even possible for most people.

Most of the US is still thinking about how to move farther and faster. We invest in transportation between places... when we could be investing in places worth living and working and playing in that therefore wouldn't require transportation.

The only notable step in the direction of slower movement (at the very high end of the scale) was the cancelation of the Boeing sonic cruiser in favor of the slower 787 dreamliner.... and that isn't the envelope that we're talking about here.

As long as we have cheap energy the boundaries that make places possible will keep disolving... Only when people are economicly forced to make slow movement choices will we really begin to rebuild the places and place based communities with everything people need for a complete life (homes, play space, work space, in-between space, etc.) and the means of slow movement (bike paths, sidewalks, trails).

If we facilitate slow movement but live the gates open with superhighways, 4 lane roads and cheap gas... we'll never take local communities seriously enough to invest in them and make them places where slow movement really brings you to all the things you need for a full life.

If we facilitate slow movement but live the gates open with superhighways, 4 lane roads and cheap gas... we'll never take local communities seriously enough to invest in them and make them places where slow movement really brings you to all the things you need for a full life.

It's up to each local community to take themselves seriously first. Maybe that's what you meant. Much of what needs to happen can be controlled at the local level. People often have very low expectations of their community. They figure they can control their own house and then the best they can hope for is a big wide road to get out somewhere else and back to their house. If they were forced to move slow, they would find it imperative to make their communities better places (because they would be spending more time there) but OTOH if they first realized their communities could be better places to be, and made it that way - they might voluntarily slow their movement because being there would be better than anywhere they might go anyway.

Exactly.... and the words you quoted from me included an error by me... it should have read...

If we facilitate slow movement but LEAVE the gates open with superhighways, 4 lane roads and cheap gas... we'll never take local communities seriously enough to invest in them and make them places where slow movement really brings you to all the things you need for a full life.

Yes, each community has to take itself seriously, but how can communities do that when the entire built landscape facilitates not investing locally, but instead using services that are not in walking distance?

Commuting in America in 10 years or so may look like this:

Laura Garcia doesn't have a car, and the change in her pocket won't cover the 15-cent bus fare. But standing by a crumbling overpass, ... says a free ride is only an outstretched thumb away.

Oh, I doubt it will come to that in 10 years, but this was amusing to contemplate.

Those with empty seats must take hitchhikers, a law that results in 68 million free rides a year, according to the Communist Party newspaper Granma.


Very good job, this is one of your better postings.

But as long as Billy four-wheeler (aka homo automobilicus) can travel at a rate of $0.16/per mile to travel it will be hard for the(homo automobilicus) to get the Slow Movement Movement. But when Billy has to pay $0.48/mile to travel then poor Billy will quickly head towards the slow movement movement lifestyle.

keep up the good work

Jon Oregon


I think your $0.16/per mile estimate for automobilicus travel is low (even for a Civic) and the .48 is probally right for a modern small SUV. Gas is only one part of equation. Obviously, the numbers vary wildly. But, having done these calculations on various cars in the past, I was lucky to hit 25 cent a mile, 10 years ago.


Depreciation (And finance charges)

Divided by miles driven will give you the true costs.

Unfortunately, it is the perceived and variable costs that matter. Joe SUVilicus doesn't give a damn about depreciation and insurance when he climbs into his SUV to go to the store for a loaf of bread. His visibility, figuratively and literally is limited; so he is more likely to run over a bike on the way to purchase said bread.

People just don't get how expensive the auto is until they are up against a financial wall or are staring at $3.00 plus gasoline prices. As a start, we need insurance rates based on miles traveled. We could also use taxes based on horsepower, mpg, etc., anything that would encourage the purchase of smaller and more efficient automobiles.

Don't forget to add all the external costs to society and the planet to your "true" costs calculation. If Joe had to pay for that too, we might start to get somewhere.

Slow movement means less distance travelled. Surely it should be divided into: time taken for movement, to cover x distance, and means used for movement?

Our present OECD societies are based in part on the idea of maximum exchange, the free market religion, all that. So mobility is of prime importance. Mobility of capital (virtual movement of immaterial stuff), of goods, and of labor, which is in fine, is not very mobile, which is why factories move to China (“globalisation.”) Agricultural production is not ‘mobile’ either, as it is anchored to the land and its earthly conditions; you can’t outsource a cow or grow pineapples London.

Human movement (setting aside the jet setting rich, etc.) has definite limits on it in the present infrastructure. However, the movement of goods does not (beyond energy constraints and ‘economic decisions.’)

From a ‘green’ pov it would seem thus more rational to worry about, and limit, the movement of goods. Making them move ‘slower’ in some cases is obviously either not possible or nonsensical (Mexican asparagus to the EU) or would seem to furnish little gains (electronic appliance shipped or aired)?

Slow movement remains a boutique choice.

wrote Oregon7, for people that is.

Well, rapid and long distance movement imposes a huge carbon burden on the atmosphere, whether for goods or for people.

Slower shipping (for example, advanced sail technologies) has great potential benefits.

Is it good for the planet to people to eat outside of their bioregion easily? Read Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma and consider the value of eating locally in terms of the consumers capacity to demand ecological responsibility from producers.

Theories of international comparative advantage don't really take into advantage the informational costs and community intangibles that are lost by dispersing production around the world to the lowest cost producer.

If food also moves more slowly, then people eat more locally, and this may have powerful ecological feedback effects that economic theory has not yet accounted for.

Classical economics will tell you that America is richer because Chinese workers fill WalMart stores with inexpensive plastic goods... cheaply and quickly. I understand the argument, but I and many others wonder whether the loss of indigenous manufacturing in the U.S. has really enriched us.

Slow movement and expensive movement are just two faces of localization and a more ecological approach to life on the planet.

The slower we move, the bigger the planet we have, and that's basically a good thing.


Thanks for point that out, I was only pointing out fuel cost,
and not Maintenance, Insurance, and Tax.

The true problem of where we are today is poor planning.

Since this is a "locally" kinda thread, like to post info about our April 17th Eat Local Now dinner in the Seattle area. The good news is that 1. We had to expand the venue size due to the popularity and 2. The majority of our sponsors are small biz owners, local farmers, or CSAs. Proceeds support our local food programs and BALLE Seattle's promotion of local living economies. :-)

This next summer I am going to be volunteering on a great example of the Slow Movement Movement - The Lois McClure
( ), an 1862 style wooden sailing canal schooner. It was invention of necessity when the Lake Champlain Canal was built in 1823 - a canal boat with masts and sails.

Consider: It weighs 40 tons but can carry 120 tons in a pinch. Try stacking three pickup trucks on top of one and driving away. It can move those 120 tons down a canal at a few miles per hour using two horsepower. Top speed is a stiff breeze is maybe eight knots.

Canal boats fell out of favor in the late 19th century because the railroads were faster. Nothing, however, has been more energy efficient per ton mile, before or since. Perhaps that is hyperbole, given the efficiencies of modern bulk cargo ships, but consider that the canal boat is run on hay or wind, has a 3:1 cargo/tare ratio, and is made mostly of oak. (They would also get towed in huge strings behind steam tugs.) The infrastructure is a river, a lake, or a ditch filled with water.

Besides which, in their heyday they were considered the smoothest and most relaxing way to travel. Having crewed on the Lois, I concur. I think we'll see them come back someday.

That's just beautiful.

BOTE time:  2 hp = ~1.5 kW.  This is the output of about 10 160-watt PV panels in full sun.  The BP SX 170B panel is about 5.25 feet by 2.6 feet, so the deck of the Lois McClure could accomodate between 32 and 48 of them.  Thus, it could cruise at 2 hp on electric power 24 hours a day with some relatively small batteries.

I always appreciate a good clean set of numbers like that. Thanks.

Fascinating stuff. And a reminder that goods travelled a long way to market before fossil fuels, especially where water routes were available or could be built.

It speaks to the incredible efficiancy of water transport that it made good economic sense to dig those canals (until rail came along).

Fascinating stuff indeed, and beautiful to look at to boot! :-)

Think of these on the inland waterways of the Mississippi/Ohio/Tennessee River region and the great lakes...and along the intracoastal, and you have yourself at least a workable heavy frieght system in the event of total meltdown...of course, we need to hold on to the lumber we have to build them, rather than blasting down whole forests with "mountaintop removal" coal extraction...

Roger Conner Jr.
Remember, we are only one cubic mile from freedom

I would like a 28 block entertainment diet (taking in Donna's on Rampart and Frenchman Street). Accessible by streetcar (an extremely civilized way of getting about and essential to the survival of my neighborhood. Also a great place to meet people).

I live on a 28' wide street (on-street parking both sides) which preserves more space for people.

I have 5 places to make groceries within 7 blocks, tailor and insurance agent 4 blocks away, bank 3 blocks away, streetcar 2.5 blocks and Magazine Street (5 miles of small shops; drive to drive, easy to walk) is 2.5 blocks away.

Our superb cuisine is based on what is grown & caught locally (perhaps 150 mile radius) except for wheat which is floated downriver.

But most Americans say my home is not worth saving.

Best Hopes,