Halloween provides the perfect excuse to make jokes about the zombie apocalypse. That isn’t the only potential — or real — disaster we face as a species, however. From hurricane relief to earthquakes, bicycles serve as a flexible, convenient utility vehicle perfect for disaster relief.
What makes bicycles the perfect vehicle for the zombie apocalypse and other emergencies:
1/ In every disaster movie ever made, everyone fleeing the city in a vehicle ends up in a huge, hopeless traffic jam, AKA zombie smorgasbord or a bunch of victims of whichever disaster this is. And really, this is any busy day in a downtown core. Biking makes sense in any context, not just a zombie apocalypse.
2/ Bikes let you dodge around not only that big traffic jam but all the other debris left by the looters, hurricane winds, flood waters, what-have-you.
3/ By the time you realize things are getting serious, your neighbors have taken all the gas and diesel and you can’t refill your car’s tank. Even better, you can rig up a bicycle to a generator and use it to recharge any devices that still matter in a post-apocalyptic world, like your headlights.
Just saw a live shot on CNN showing a blocked and broken road in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael — and someone on a bike riding around all the damage where a car couldn’t go. Bicycles are emergency vehicles.
— BikinginLA (@bikinginla) October 13, 2018
Curbing global warming could save US$20 trillion
Economic damage strong financial case for urgent action on greenhouse-gas emissions.
Man rides bicycle along hurricane road damage
Compelling economic case for #ActOnClimate pic.twitter.com/je7kAE1n9d
— fj (@gecko39) October 8, 2018
4/ Zombies are drawn to noise, and bicycles make for much quieter travel than the internal combustion engine. (Sorry, electric vehicle owners, but the grid is going to let you down about the same time people realize the petroleum fuel distribution system isn’t ever going to work again either.) In a real emergency, disaster relief workers will be looking for survivors under the debris. The quieter it is the better they can hear to rescue you and your loved ones.
5/ Bikes will retain their value as a barter good in the post-apocalyptic economy.
6/ You can carry more on a bike than you can if you’re walking/running — even more if it’s a cargo bike.
7/ Bicycles are the most calorie-efficient form of transportation. When you’re scavenging for food and eating cold canned beans every calorie you find has to go a long way.
8/ See them coming! No constraints on your field of vision caused by the vehicle’s body or a windshield full of cracks because there’s no way to get it repaired post-apocalypse.
9/ When you need to stop for the night you can climb a tree and pull the bicycle up with you or bring it into the building you’re barricading yourself into. Either way, you have a vehicle you can hide from passing zombies.
10/ You’re not limited to roads for your travel — you have a wider range of escape routes from which to choose. Bikes can fit in spaces a car can never enter even on a regular day, let alone when every street is jammed with vehicles running out of motive power.
11/ Mechanically a bike is pretty straightforward and you can learn to repair it yourself and keep it running. The more technologically advanced cars get, the less this is true of whatever’s in the driveway.
12/ If your plan is to hunker down and shelter in place for a while and you own lots of bikes, bike frames make good bars for the windows.
13/ In a really tight spot, you can keep the bicycle between yourself and the zombie as a barricade. Use it to push your attacker away and buy time while you draw your sword.
14/ Bike gear is good for all kinds of emergencies. When Hurricane Irma hit, media advised people to protect themselves from flying debris with whatever could help, including bicycle helmets. Bike headlights make good flashlights. Bike panniers are big waterproof bags, some of which are designed to convert to backpacks. All the food designed to fuel a long bike ride is good for a long getaway journey. A bike pump could make a good emergency cudgel for bashing in a zombie’s head. Your spare tube can serve as a tourniquet in the event of a nasty wound. (Can an emergency amputation prevent the zombie virus from spreading? See World War Z for the answer, and for extra-scary zombies because they’re fast.)
With all this in mind, maybe your next bike purchase should be one with the attributes you’ll need for a quick getaway:
- hauling capacity
- sturdy tires
- quiet mechanics — ditch those spoke cards and buzzing freewheels
- standard tire size so you can find parts
- nothing fancy — no electronics you won’t be able to find parts for in a future economy with no global shipping
- heads-up posture so you can see the zombies coming and fire your crossbow (and maybe you’ll want to start practicing riding hands-free)
- maybe an e-bike for the extra getaway boost, and then you can turn the bike into a generator to recharge
In case you think we’re the only ones who think about this, there’s this Zombie Apocalyplse Getaway Pinterest board and this exhaustive comparison of all types of vehicles and their plusses/minuses for use in the zombie apocalypse.
Bottom line: The zombie apocalypse will not be motorized.
- Is Your Bike the Ultimate Disaster Escape Tool?
- Improving a City’s Disaster Response–With Bikes
- Parks and Bicycles Were Lifelines After Mexico City’s Earthquake
- Pedal Power! How to Build a Bike Generator
- Zombie Apocalypse Getaway Pinterest board
- 3 Bikes To Survive The Zombie Apocalypse
- Zombie apocalypse! What bike would you pick?
- 6 ½ Reasons to Travel By Bike During the Zombie Apocalypse
- The Zombie Apocalypse Will Not Be Motorized
- Zombie Apocalypse Simulation Helps Bike Cops Train for Crowds
A version of this post first appeared on the Washington Bikes blog in 2014 and was subsequently picked up on the Rails to Trails blog in 2016. Figured it was due for a refresh.