Saturday, June 29, 2013
admit that the waters around you have grown
In Denmark they are building additional bicycle infrastructure so that people further out from the cities can bicycle in to work on bicycle "super-highways." According to the Danish**, this is going to have the result of reducing pollution and reducing health costs because the Danes will be more driving less and be more attractive and fit than ever before. More Americans are riding their bicycles also, but since our infra sucks ass, any health costs we recover from healthier bicycling Americans will be balanced by the health costs incurred when the SUVs and pick-up trucks and whatever drive over the bicyclists. Usually I'm just happy for whatever state or country gets good bicycling infastructure but this is so good that I admit to a certain amount of unattractive jealousy.
How serious are Americans about their bicycles? Not very serious. Do they take their cars seriously? Hell yes. Just ask Florida where driving on the beach is a cherished tradition. Of course the rules state that you can't drive any faster on the beach than 10mph but this hasn't stopped the police from driving over people sleeping on the beach. I guess she fell asleep in the middle of the road? I mean beach? Not sure what happened here but where I come from, swimming and then sleeping on the beach (for 20 minutes! o the humanity!) is not a reason to be run over.
Ok so a woman carelessly fell asleep on the beach but we don't have any fatalities so everything is ok. Except it's not. Two small children were killed in the space of four months on one beach alone. Umm, wow. It's the sort of thing that might make the Danes reconsider their car infra but the locals are unsympathetic. “The parents should have been watching him,” said Ms. Fletcher, the mother of a 6-year-old. “It was high tide; the beach was packed. It’s like crossing the street.”
Meanwhile, over at Georgia Tech, the brainy people are looking at the soaring rate of bicycle accidents and investigating if it might be possible to lower bicycle deaths. Note the damn Danes, who I am starting to hate, are well past lowering bicycle deaths. They're on to how to get bicyclists to work in ever faster and ever sexier style. Here we're still wondering about how to reduce (not eliminate, one must be reasonable) bicyclist deaths. How do bicyclists die? Hmmm. Hmmm. Pro-tip: bicyclists are killed by cars. Put the cars where they can't smear the bicyclists and you'll reduce bicycle death. There. Fixed that for you.
Which brings me to my wandering point. Over in San Francisco they are looking at the level of congestion and pollution and planning additional cycling lanes to encourage bicyclists and commuter taxes to discourage cars commuting into the city. Cambridge, MA was recently rated a gold level bicycling community despite protestations from Margie that there was no room for bicyclists on Massachusetts roads. Meanwhile there is rioting in the streets of NYC because of the sheer gall demonstrated by the installation of city bicycle racks on various strategic corners. This one continues to surprise me because the complaining is fresh and unusual. Instead of hating on the CitiBikes because bicyclists are a threat to old people and children, instead of hating on bicycles because people "bow right through those red lights" instead of any of that the source of the hate is...the racks are not attractive. The lovely city of New York has been defiled by these blue bicycles and their racks. I don't mean to harsh unfairly but in a city where the homeless people poop on the sidewalks and in the parks it's difficult to see how a blue bicycle could be an eyesore.
Wow. I still didn't get to the point. Sorry. Long week and all that.
The point is that the number of people and cars has grown and grown. My father's parents did not have a car. At all. Ever. My mother's mother did not know how to drive. Now my father owns two cars (one a pick-up and one a sedan and he drives one with each foot) and last I checked my mother owns three. One for her one for her second husband and one for a back-up. The amount of cars on the roads is following Moore's Law, the numbers are doubling every two years. Ok maybe not that exactly but the number of cars is steadily increasing and the roads are filling up fast. The level of the water is rising all around us and the problem is not the bicyclists. The problem is not that the bicycle lanes are causing congestion by slowing down the cars (yes I have seen this suggested) and the problem is not that bicycles do a shabby job of obeying traffic lights (whether this is true or not). The problem is that there are way too many cars and new ones are being born all the time. The problem is that we have a steadily increasing zerg rush of cars.
To the people who say that the reality is that there are too many cars and that it cannot be safe to have a bicyclist on the road? You better pray that you're wrong.
Start biycling or you'll sink like a stone.
The bicyclists are not the problem.
The bicyclists are the solution.
**The people of the Scandinavian country. Not the sugary breakfast treat.