Being an American, I have many solutions to many issues nobody has asked my opinion on. Thus, it should come as no surprise that I support GMOs: Genetically Modified Ostriches. If you’re still reading, GMOs could be the solution to urban traffic problems.
It’s like my second grade teacher, Ms. Carriage, used to say: where there’s a will, there’s a way, and also an ostrich. She retired later that year, and nobody has seen or heard from her since. But that’s not my story.
Well, if you ask that question, then why anything? I fail to see how harnessing nature’s vigour is any more arbitrary than two rubber wheels with a demonic engine in-between, mocking life as it starts up with a thousand tiny explosions inside. How is that safe? Who would put their children on such a thing?
Ostriches are easier and simpler to maintain. While they are the largest birds on the planet, and may have an inferiority complex that they can’t fly or swim, their insides are relatively simple. Since most people know as much about the inside of their bike as they do about the inside of an ostrich, there won’t be any spikes in confusion over maintenance issues.
Steering is simple. Use its wings. It might sound weird, but since it can’t fly, the ostrich will thank you for putting its wings to functional use.
Don’t worry about falling: you will fall, head over heels, in love. After your first ostrich ride, you’ll be so happy you could kiss it! But please do not kiss your ostrich without its written consent.
Ostriches also outperform motorbikes during rainy season. They can't swim, but they can float, and while that leaves you to the whims of the water currents in the streets, we're already at the whim of the currents of the cosmos.
Ostrich-related fatalities are negligible, with the exceptions of drivers who provoke ostriches. In the interests of full disclosure: yes, ostriches have been known to make pre-emptive strikes when they think that you think that you’re better than them. Just ditch the attitude.
Anyway, crashes are rare, because ostriches have built in crash prevention systems: belligerent tempers. This is what made them such effective cavalry when Alexander the Great crossed the Great Alps to invade England at the Battle of Waterloo against Genghis Caesar (citation needed).
Footprints, Socialising and Drink Driving
Many view ostriches as ancient and mystical birds that shouldn’t be subjugated for human transportation. But think of it this way: if you were unemployed, wouldn’t you want a job?
Ostriches will lower a city’s carbon footprint, although different emissions will be noticed. But cleaning up after them will provide countess jobs, besides, hiding mountainous amounts of dung seems like a local speciality.
Some readers may be concerned at pecking-related encounters. Considering that ostriches naturally live in tribes of seven to 50, the real danger waiting at a red light is your ostrich getting swept away with socialising. This is easily preventable with suitable doses of ADD meds.
And if you don’t mesh well with ostriches, ride the bus. Ostriches have a surprisingly dour track record with vehicles, and don’t even need to be trained to avoid hitting buses. The same cannot be said for many motorists.
Also, drunk-driving crashes will be curbed, unless your ostrich is drunk. Please do not get you ostrich drunk, except for emergencies, or Tet. Further, ostriches are much more difficult to steal than motorbikes. If you don’t believe me, try it sometime.
Ostriches have the added benefit of laying eggs. This makes them a renewable resource. Find me a motorbike that can reproduce and be eaten after it breaks down, and, well, I will probably run like hell.
Pimp it Up, Baby
GMO upgrades could include sharpened beaks, different shades of feathers, and tinted eyelids. Further, instead of a mere license plate, you can name your ostrich. I myself have decided on Buckbeak, the name of a little known — but crucial — hippogriff from the 1990s.
With genetic splicing so successful in movies, it seems only a few years before we can splice together an ostrich and a camel, creating a hybrid ostrich with an extra hump for the family, while running on less water.
Like any progressive policy, expect Big Oil to fight us on this. Their dirty fuels of the rotted past will be useless in our new avian transportation society. Even the most cynical skeptic must admit that anything Big Oil is against can’t be all that bad.
A bonus would be living next to an ostrich parking lot, which would protect you from hearing funerals and karaoke. Your dwelling would be cloaked in the calming ambiance of dozens or perhaps hundreds of parked ostriches.
Outside the Box
This may seem laughable, but every major change in transportation was considered ludicrous at the time. The wheel was a shock to people thinking inside the box, steam power seemed like just a bunch of hot air, and the car was thought to be a dead end to horse carriage drivers. When the first ironclad ship was launched, thousands gathered to watch it sink. It didn’t sink. I realise hundreds of ostriches running around a traffic circle may look silly, but a simple ban on wearing pyjamas during the daytime will fix that.
Of course, there will be times when we feel the hollow pull of nostalgia, such as when you are in a rush and need to zoom through traffic. But isn’t it more productive to ask yourself why or how your life has deteriorated to the point when time is a constraint, and you’re in such a hurry? I’ll choose self-reflection over convenience anytime.
If you’re still reading: hot air balloons. Now, read me out on this. I know they’ll be difficult to operate, and won’t be nimble during rainy season, but they’ll beautify the sky. Also, due to the three-dimensional design of our planet, the chances of unintentional hot air balloon collisions are close-to-nothing. And close-to-nothing is something I’m willing to stand for.
Finally, I’m just raising awareness about urban traffic issues, so even if you dismiss my solution, you have to agree that it’s important to raise awareness.
Devin is a teacher and the co-organiser of Stand-Up Saigon. He comes from Portland, a city where ostriches are all the rage