In the Long Emergency, Will I Be Able to Buy Bike Tires?

The Ghost Mall

Originally uploaded by heinemanfleck.

Wandering on my bike Thursday morning, I ended up at “the ghost mall,” the old Winrock Center a few miles from my house. It’s one of those enclosed shopping malls circa the ’60s, when air conditioning and indoor shopping was all the rage.

It’s now largely empty, discarded in favor of new shopping trends despite the fact that it was perfectly useful if you needed to buy a t-shirt or tennies or play those new-fangled electronic games at the video arcade.

It’s a testament to our affluence that we can throw away something with such heft and permanence and continued usefulness. But it occurs to me that it’s a good little conceptual practice ground for thinking about life in the long emergency – peak oil and the like.

When it was still a working mall, I went for a bike ride around it one Christmas day, reasoning that was the only time I’d ever get to race around its ring road without having to deal with traffic. These days, most any day will do. I was feeling all smug and satisfied Thursday morning as I rode around the mall, thinking that, in the long emergency, when all around us is collapsing, I’ll still be able to ride my bike to get around.

But where will I get tires?


  1. Good post!

    In Jim Kunstler’s “World Made By Hand,” there is no rubber because it all came from South America. Experiments with wooden or metal wheels don’t work too well either. But someone else told me there’s a way to produce rubber in the U.S., maybe in the south. I’d like to find out more about that.

    Speaking of throwing away stuff that could be useful, I’m wondering how many bike inner-tubes I’ve thrown away because my patching skills aren’t so good. And come to think of it, I don’t even know if that type of rubber is recyclable.

  2. An abandoned shopping mall in Albuquerque seems like it ought to be a great place to generate electricity with solar panels.

  3. Chuck Nelson and others think these buildings will get reused as housing, as the next 100M folks need to have somewhere to live, and gas will be expensive, preventing living in a far-flung suburb (and only 25% of households will have kids).



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  5. Larry –

    My wife, Lissa, noticed my pile of old tubes and started trying to figure out how to make stuff out of them. She’s cutting them, sewing and stitching them. We’ve got all kinds of cool experiments in bike tube manufacturing going on in our house.

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