A companion site (THE PRACTICAL CYCLIST) is home to
genuinely practical information about using bikes for transportation.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Some thoughts I had back in May...

I must have been trying to convince my neighbors that bicycles deserve
more than they are currently allotted in the early 21st century urban
and suburban transportation culture.


So, generally, I don't like to push bikes on people who don't already want or
like them. I'm going to break my own rule here in a moment, and in support of
the creation of additional convenient bicycle parking in collectively
owned space.

First though, I want to say that I am not strictly anti-car. I own a
car, I use
it, I enjoy driving it (sometimes). I think cars a terrificly useful and fun

Now that I have that out of the way, I'd like to talk about other things:
community, health, economic diversity, environmental degradation (including
global warming), and finally, convenience.

Nothing builds community like personal contact between people. It's
easiest on
foot, but walking is sometimes too slow, and has a limited range in general.
It's hard to stop and chat with someone going the other way when
you're driving
a car. Bicycle: just right. Without the glass and steel shell, you
the physical community, rather than watch it go by on the other side of the

No social speech needed here. Exercise is good for you. Walking is good.
According to the CDC, people are healthier in "walkable communities." Biking
is healthy too.

Economic diversity:
Aside from the cost of the car itself, owning a car costs an average of $7000
each year. Plus, the more you use it, the more you pay in gas and
Walking? Free. Riding a bike? Maybe $1000/yr, maybe less. If you can live
without owning a car, you can save a lot of bread. Conversely, if you don't
have a lot of bread, riding a bike is a good option.

Environmental degradation:
The Union of Concerned Scientists, and many other groups, say that a typical
American's car, compared with all other objects or activities, has the largest
environmental impact by a wide margin. They recommend tuning cars regularly,
keeping tires inflated, and shopping with gas mileage in mind. They also
recommend reducing use. Try using an alternative method once a week. Try to
go car free one or two days a week. The statistics for car trips are
nutty. A
huge majority of auto trips are under one mile.

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