Monday, November 12, 2012

Been a while. I've been spending a lot of time on my bike this fall…

With my bike chained to the bench of my table, I'm having lunch outside Coffee & Crepes, a great little place in the middle of Crossroads Plaza here in Cary, NC. Not exactly an easy place to get if you're not in a car, so why would I ride the 3 miles from my house in heavy traffic? Here's 1000 words:

a buckwheat bacon, tomato and cheese crepe with a salad. Yummy!

So, what things have to happen to make the world safer for bicyclers? I think everyone would love to have the pleasure of a slow ride, where you can stop often, enjoying the shops and businesses that we so often zoom past in our metal bubbles. The air would be cleaner, and we'd be healthier, too. Our streets would be safer for cyclists, and there would be fewer incidents of car/bike injury/death. Want proof? Take a look at Holland.

From the 1950's to the mid 1970's, as the economy boomed with post-war re-building, the average salary went up several hundred percent, as did auto ownership and house size. Streets were made wider, bike ridership went down 6% per year, every year. The average commute rose from less than 4 km per day to almost 30 km per day. With the most common vehicle being the car, drivers naturally became less wary of bikes, which increased biker mortality. In 1973, there were over 3000 people under 16 killed in bike/car crashes. The people of the country decided the death of their children was not an acceptable price for fast transportation, and started mass protests for safe biking routes. In 1973, when the first Arab Oil Crisis hit, the leadership of the country decided to make some risky policy decisions that have since proven almost miraculous. Car-Free Sundays in town centers reminded people what fun it was to walk, ride, visit, and have a meal in an area without cars, their noise and exhaust, and danger. A few towns made their town centers car-free on a permanent basis. Businesses flourished and people moved back into the areas once devoted to autos. And, most importantly, child death went from a high in 1973 to just 14 in 2010. Yes, it has been forty year process, but it started with a populace who decided the tradeoffs to cars, pollution, and endless pavement were not worth their health, their sense of community, and the death of their children.

I would encourage you to read the article and view the video over at the NY Times site.

Growth of bicycles is not without it's problems. Storage of bikes and crowding in bike lanes (over 40% of the country commutes daily on two wheels!), which causes bike/bike injuries are nothing to be scoffed at, but those issues are far more easily dealt with, at much smaller cost, than our current issues of how to park cars in urban areas during the working day. And bike/bike wrecks are rarely fatal. The choice is ours. We have to tell our leaders what we want, in order to have the world we can live in healthily, as well as have it fit to pass on to the next generation.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Walnut St,Cary,United States

from dusty archives - Largo Lodge

[ed. This piece was written some time ago, but I found it recently while moving hard drives on a computer. I thought some folks may find it ...