Pedaling Past Zombies

I watch a lot of zombie movies, and am a huge fan of The Walking Dead. But there’s one glaring oversight in every single zombie movie and TV show that bugs me to no end. The characters spend an inordinate amount of time trying to escape zombies in cars and trucks. Automobiles are great, except for the fact that they need gas, and are prone to mechanical failure. Plus, the roads are littered with abandoned vehicles, making transportation difficult and unreliable. So, here’s my question:

Why doesn’t anybody ever ride a bike?!

Bicycles, for some reason, are inexplicably absent from every single zombie-related show. It’s as if the Zombie Apocalypse killed most of the people while simultaneously vaporizing all the bikes, because they simply do not exist in the post-apocalyptic zombie-strewn wasteland. What’s up with that? Every other vehicle is still around. Cars, trucks, SUVs, motorcycles. An RV played a big role in The Walking Dead. So did a tank. And a horse, for crying out loud! But we have never once seen a bicycle. And how convenient would they be? They’re certainly fast enough to escape from zombies, who shuffle and lurch along at insanely slow speeds. They don’t require fuel, which is a good thing since gas pumps no longer work, and you never have to worry about changing the oil or swapping out spark plugs. Sure, you need to keep the tires full of air, but I’m pretty confident you’d be able to find an abandoned bike pump easily enough. And, they’re completely maneuverable. You could simply pedal around all those abandoned cars and trucks clogging the freeways. Hell, you don’t even need to stick to roads with a bike!

You know where else bikes are conspicuously absent? From The Road, Cormac McCarthy’s oh-so-cheery depiction of a man (played by Viggo Mortensen in the film version) and his young son who are forced to walk all across the Eastern Seaboard, traversing abandoned roads while dodging marauding bands of crazed survivors who aren’t actually zombies but are somehow much, much worse. Because they can actually run and shoot guns and stuff. Plus, they too want to eat people. The only thing with wheels in this book/movie is a freakin’ grocery shopping cart. How much easier would their journey have been had they nabbed a couple of Schwinn 10-speeds along the way? And yet, they don’t. Because apparently whatever catastrophe that has wiped out 99.9% of the population also mysteriously destroyed all the bikes in the world (while leaving the shopping carts intact). Weird, huh?

It’s not like bikes have never appeared in movies before. Am I right, Pee-Wee Herman? Would you second that, E.T.? Even Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid took a memorable bicycle ride. Just last year, Tara and I saw a great movie about bike messengers called Premium Rush. Clearly, bikes exist in other movies where the main plot device doesn’t involve escaping from the undead. I guess we’re just supposed to conveniently forget about them when watching these zombie shows. And I’ll admit, for awhile there, I did. But this is Portland, the most bike-friendly city in America. One day last weekend we were sitting at a red light while about a dozen cyclists – a whole family, as a matter of fact, and then some – pedaled on by. And suddenly, I was like, hey, wait a minute here…

Either Lance Armstrong really sullied everything having to do with bicycles, or these television and movie executives are hoping we’ll all just forget about this convenient two-wheeled invention that has been a popular mode of transportation worldwide for 200 years…

Exactly! (Courtesy of forums.mtbr.com).

Exactly! (Courtesy of forums.mtbr.com).

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20 thoughts on “Pedaling Past Zombies

  1. I’ve always felt similarly towards “The Stand”. In the movie it shows them camping out on their way to Colorado from Maine, but why aren’t they just staying overnight in the empty motels? Or even in the empty houses, considering everyone has died except for a few? These are weird things I think about. Well, SOME of the weird things I think about.

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      • As far as The Stand goes, with it being the summer when Captain Trips made his debut, I wouldn’t want to stay in a stuffy house/hotel/motel without power. Sleeping outside, at least, gives you some kind of relief from the heat of the day. And let us not forget the dead, rotting bodies laying around in those houses/hotels and motels!

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  2. Makes you wonder why a zombie even wants a brain incapable of such simple logic. I guess zombies aren’t too concerned about nutritional value. They must all be junk food junkies. freakin’ hilarious, Mark!

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    • Ha. There’s something else I never stopped to consider: whether smart people have brains equivalent to so-called “smart foods” while airheads are like empty calories. Pardon the pun, but there’s some food for thought…

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  3. “It’s not like bikes have never appeared in movies before. Am I right, Pee-Wee Herman? Would you second that, E.T.? Even Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid took a memorable bicycle ride. ”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Mark, I LOVE your logic!!!

    Hilarious post! And I love the zombie graphic. Brilliant!

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    • It’s amazing to me how often I can find the perfect graphic to illustrate a blog post. The last time I wrote about zombies, I mentioned how cool an Einstein zombie would be, and sure enough found a great pic of a zombified Albert. You really CAN find anything online!

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  4. If I remember correctly about The Stand, the reason they were camping instead of using houses was because by the end, most houses had dead folks in them, as the hospitals were over-run. And nobody really wants to spend the night in a house with a rotting corpse, now do they? Later on, one of the first jobs the survivors undertake is to get rid of all the bodies.
    Of course, this probably doesn’t apply to motels, but maybe it does, how would I know? I just remember The King’s (Stephen, that is) rationale for not using houses.
    That man takes up way too much space in my brain. Which might make me especially enticing to zombies who enjoy a literary entree…

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    • I was thinking the same thing, Jonna. I seemed to remember rotting corpses in the houses. But still, I’m sure there would be at least a few empty ones, right? Either way, it doesn’t matter. That remains one of my favorite reads!

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  5. Okay, I’ve spent a good 20 minutes looking for a video clip from TWD, because I’m distinctly remembering the ‘bicycle girl’ story now. Best I could do was find this: http://images4.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20120428134440/thewalkingdeadtv/de/images/8/83/Fahrrad.jpg

    In general, though, I totally agree with you.

    Also, the comments her made me laugh – have you seen this: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/06/18/193137445/wheres-jimmy-hoffa-everywhere-and-nowhere?utm_source=npr&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=20130618

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    • Ahh! So there was one scene with a bicycle in The Walking Dead. Nice to know they at least exist in this alternate reality!

      Great link on Jimmy Hoffa, by the way. (Yes, the comments rock). The same could be said for D.B. Cooper. If they ever DO find out what happened to him, the suspense (and romance) will be gone. I suspect he’s hanging out with Amelia Earhart in the lost city of Atlantis, personally.

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  6. Now you can write a screen play for a whole new type of zombie movie where the heros & heroines use bikes to escape. Or maybe that’s the problem? If they can escape from the zombies, what’s the point of the movie? There would be no suspense as the car dies or runs out of gas if you just pedal away on a bicycle.

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