Please take a few minutes to read this very well written article in the New York Times by a bicyclist in New York City. It addresses all the challenges of commuting in a major city. The article by Robert Sullivan seems to be titled either “The Wild Bunch” or “A Modest Proposal – Bikers, Take the High Road.”
Here’s what I added as a comment to the article:
We live in a car culture. We’re exposed to toy cars, car commercials, car ads, etc. Cars are almost always our main mode of transportation. They’re our first major purchases. They’re promoted as social/sexual/power symbols and used that way.. We’re trained to drive by our parents, older siblings, public schools, and private instructors. Getting a driver’s license is a rite of passage. Our homes, neighborhoods, roads, and cities were designed to be car dependent. We understand how cars fit in our culture because driving, owning, and maintaining them is intimately woven through our lives.
How many of us played with toy bikes? How many of us were taught how to change a flat, true a wheel, or trick-out a ride? Who dreamed about taking their date to the prom on their new tandem? Who ever had to take Rider’s Ed to get a Rider’s License?
Let me repeat that: who ever had to take Rider’s Education classes?
We don’t know how to fit bikes and riding bikes into our culture. In many other countries, bikes are simply a part of life and children learn how to ride respectfully and how to treat riders respectfully. Never in modern history did our popular culture ever believe that bicycling would become a part of our every day lives as a means of transportation. We would always have cheap gas and didn’t have to worry about global warming because, well, what the heck is that and whatever it is, I don’t have anything to do with it.
If we’re to survive as a leading nation in the world, we must learn to incorporate bicycles as vehicles and bicycling as a means of transportation into our lives, livelihood, laws, etc. If we continue to deny the need for reducing our need on cars, we will miss the changing yellow of our current economic and environmental crisis and get T-boned by the tractor-trailer of our changing world.
So, be a part of the solution. Teach your children to ride safely and respect the law. Ride safely and respectfully. Advocate for education, public policy and and legislation that holds bicyclists, motor vehicle drivers, and pedestrians accountable for their behavior. Advocate for economic incentives for bicycling riding and bicycle business. Together, we might stand a chance to provide our children a safer, sustainable world.