This article by Elly Blue describes a confused world full of sexism, angry drivers and confused cyclists. I often forget about the strong sports and athletic emphasis in the cycling world–mostly because I don’t really pay attention to the sports side of it. Women are still touted as sex objects in the cycling world. Sports seems to cloud the mind, obscuring a greater issue: it is still not safe for women in children to bicycle alongside auto traffic.
It’s hard for people to live without their car if they only feel safe getting around by cars. Do we actually need to drive a car because we assumed everyone was affluent enough to get everywhere by car? How close is the day when 55% of our income goes into travelling by car? Does that status extend to $10/gallon gasoline?
Will the price of gas out-pace our ability to build separated bike lanes so that citizens can safely cycle without fear of being hit by a 3500lb rain-suit? Are the only cyclists going to be brash, fearless men who would rather chase down cars on their bikes and knock on driver-side windows to tell motorists how they nearly murdered a bicyclist? What does it say of a society that we allow civic infrastructure to remain intractably oligarchical, when a growing number of families can’t afford the gas to use it? Will it force us into vigilante civic infrastructure?
As a father, Elly’s article speaks to me of family life–getting groceries–safely. Civil rights, and the freedom to travel unharmed with your children in public. By walking or biking. I am increasingly convinced that the transportation revolution, like the nutrition revolution, is to be won by women with children voting for safer bicycling infrastructure. We have to pay taxes to get that done. We have to enroll corporations (like grocery stores) into encouraging their customers to get their groceries by walking and bicycling. This is a domestic freedom. Women need to stand up for their right to not travel by car.
Simple article with obvious points. But it doesn’t really enroll anyone, does it? The only thing simple studies like this don’t help with is promoting cycling in un-sunny weather. The article’s points are all fine but don’t have any penetration into the thinking of a nation of comfort-entitled people. We could learn from football fans on this point–if you paid 100 bucks for tickets in December–you go if its snowing, right? You bring blankets and coco. Biking is just more like camping.
Employers, grocery stores neighbors and friends need to expect each other to bicycle even when its less than comfortable outside. This can be incented with much steeper parking rates, and much steeper property taxes on parking lots acreage for businesses, and extra licences requied to park on residential streets. This revenue would go not only to cycling improvements, but bicycle and avalibility funds , and car-free rewards (celebrations, recognitions) that local businesses can competes for (al-la Bike Month). The level of these events is almost invisible to those not seeking to participate. Taxes and fines would really make wide incentive.
We also know from some twitter-enabled-bathroom-scales out there that some level of humiliation is effective at forcing habits and adopting a forthright attitude on topics like weight loss and diet. If friends and neighbors started holding important social events at no-parking locations, it would exclude the car entitled and strip away the more immediate social status of driving privileges. Humiliation schemes could also be harsher, but really we want to celebrate our active lifestyles. Contests, parades, and faires are all positive reinforcement.
When will we see Bellingham, for instance, make Railroad avenue and the Farmers Market become no-parking environments? Not only would we gain more area for smaller moble street vendors downtown, shops would face green space, and there would be copious room for bike lockers. Then the next time you wanted to hit some posh spot with your buds, they’d all expect you to bike there like they did, without the hassle of downtown car traffic.
Bellingham doesn’t have just one Walk Score–its neighborhoods each have walk sores!