Getting Around the Wasteland

No. (Credit: Georgina Perry)

If you find yourself in a post-apocalyptic survival situation, chances are you’ll need to get around somewhere, whether it’s for foraging, looting, or uprooting to a safer place. But the realities of postmodern civilization are different from the realities of the wasteland, and one cannot simply go about their merry way commuting as they did before. Each mode of transportation has a whole new set of pros and cons which must be considered. Here are but a few of your options.

Bicycle: Bicycles are considered by some to be the best thing on two wheels our species ever invented. With nothing more than the power from your legs, you can reach sustained speeds of up to 20 km/h, enough for an idyllic commute through the wastes, and you can always go much faster for short periods in times of danger. In fact, a bicycle can be three times as efficient as walking – an enticing prospect for the stingy wastelander. On top of that, a bicycle is dead-simple to maintain and repair. However, depending on the rider, your fastest on a bicycle still may not be fast enough to stay away from bandits who want you dead, especially when burdened with cargo on a backpack or pannier. If you’re looking out for one, try to find a mountain bike, as smooth roads are never guaranteed in the post-apocalypse. In and around Brandon, this should be rather easy – many bicycles in the area are mountain bikes, seeing that most of Brandon’s roads and sidewalks can be considered “post-apocalyptic” already.

Automobile: A sort of polar opposite to the bicycle, an automobile, be it a compact car or an SUV, a minivan or a Mustang, can also be a good way to get around. It can go much faster than a bicycle, can carry much more cargo, and the body can provide a degree of protection against gunshots and other projectiles. But a big, and, for some, damning, disadvantage to automobiles is that you need fuel to go anywhere in them. Therefore, drivers would be well-advised to find a fuel-efficient machine and stock up on fuel before heading out, as depending on the time, place, and type of apocalypse, fuel availability will be spotty, or even nonexistent. Another issue for some is noise. Even assuming a properly-maintained exhaust system, the roadway noise of over a metric tonne of metal wheeling across the pavement can be prohibitively loud for those who wish to stay stealthy.

Motorcycle: A compromise between the bicycle and automobile, the motorcycle strikes a chord with those wanting to go fast, but not use nearly as much gas as their four-wheeled friends. A motorcycle will still be loud, especially due to not having as quiet an exhaust as most cars, but will also be more fuel-efficient, meaning you can stretch the same amount of fuel for longer. You can only carry as much as a bicycle, but also travel a lot faster than one, which is important for safety in any area prone to banditry. An older, dual-sport motorcycle is recommended, as they are among the simplest to work on, are capable of off-roading with ease, and possess almost no electronic components, meaning that your chosen mode of transportation will still be functional if an EMP wipes out the ECUs on all your neighbours’ cars, rendering them useless.

Beasts of Burden: Quite possibly the oldest mode of transportation aside from one’s own two feet, people have been riding horses and donkeys, both common in North America, for millennia. Having legs instead of wheels, they can traverse somewhat rough terrain, and though they require food, they can feed themselves. However, their main disadvantage is what makes them what they are – separate, alive beings with their own wills. They may get tired when you’re still awake, make noise when you’re trying to be quiet, and get spooked when you’re trying to move ahead. One may be ill-advised to own one in case of a zombie apocalypse that also affects non-human animals as well.

Aircraft: An airplane or helicopter, to someone who knows how to fly it, is especially useful during a zombie apocalypse: however, you’re going to have to land eventually, and a safe place to land isn’t always guaranteed. Perhaps, in an “ideal” post-apocalyptic future, survivors across the world will implement a system of winch-launched gliders, but given their disadvantages and relative rarity, betting your survival on any aircraft is a bad idea.

Skateboard/Longboard: While skateboards are scientifically proven to make you look at least 500% more WICKED SICK, one would be well-advised not to act on their Tony Hawk’s Post-Apocalyptic Pro Skater LARP fantasies, even if a skateboard can also be used as a blunt weapon. Longboards are faster and easier to ride, sure, but are a jack of all trades, yet a master of none. You still can’t go as fast as a bicycle, and you can’t do any sweet kick-flips on them, either.

Bus: Car owners: ever have that one annoying friend who always asks you for a ride, but never gives you gas money? Now, picture having dozens of those friends, some of whom being ready to kill you if you refuse. That’s what owning a bus in the post-apocalypse is like.

Rollerblades: No.


Republished from The Swill print edition, Volume 107, Issue 27, March 28, 2017.