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An unanticipated bottleneck

An unanticipated bottleneck

In the World Without Oil game, we predicted that a sudden rise in oil prices would cause a bicycle shortage. But I don’t think we adequately envisioned the crisis in bicycle repair.

Behold a sign of the times: the times being 1973, that is. The photographer, ubrayj02, explains:

“The price of gasoline in the U.S. rose dramatically in 1971. The OPEC oil embargo of 1973 sent gasoline prices through the roof in the United States. The rise in gasoline prices got many Americans to start riding bikes in numbers never anticipated by bicycle manufacturers and retailers. The result? A shortage of bicycles in the U.S., and a repair queue at most bike shops that could last several months. This hand made sign, from B&H Cycles in South Pasadena, was hanging in their store window during the oil embargo. This sign is now housed at the Bike Oven.”

So add bicycle care and repair to gardening, cooking, hypermiling, community organizing, and the list of other skills that give a great return on investment in the world without cheap oil. Photo by ubrayj02 via Flickr.

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It was the world's first serious alternate reality game, a cooperative pre-imagining of a global oil crisis. Over 1900 players collaborated in May 2007 to chronicle the oil crisis with their own personal blog posts, videos, images and voicemails. The game ended after simulating the first 32 weeks of the oil shock, but its effects continue, as game designers analyze its unique gameplay and we all watch the continuing drama with global oil prices and supply.
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