The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) has forecast an Air Quality Action Day for tomorrow based on ozone levels that will be unsafe for sensitive people. This was announced in today’s South Bend Tribune (LINK).
I’ve lived in South Bend for several years now and have been aware of several such forecasts, yet I’ve been amazed each time by the lack of public outcry. Think about it: it will be a beautiful day, but many won’t be able to enjoy it due to poor air quality. I’ll still commute by bicycle, but I won’t do any extra riding for pleasure.
More people cycling and walking would be a great way to avoid days like this in the future, and I’m pleased that several bicycle-friendly initiatives are underway in the Michiana area. On the other hand, I still see lots of development with no provisions for bicycles and pedestrians. Grape Rd and Main St in Mishawaka are grotesque examples of urban planning that are not only car-centric, but essentially preclude alternative transportation modes.
I’m sad to see that a similar model appears to be in effect for South Bend’s Erskine Village. From what I’ve been told, the initial description was of a pedestrian-friendly walking mall. Yet what I’ve seen develop is a sprawling concrete jungle with little or no provisions for bicycles. This is particularly sad given the large number of people living within a very short distance — most are likely to drive, rather than walk or bike, even when they just want to enjoy a bagel and cup of coffee at Panera Bread.
I’m sorry for the negative nature of this post, but I’m struck by the depressing irony of not being able to enjoy a nice bike ride tomorrow due, largely, to the overuse of personal automobiles and bad urban planning… when bicycles should be a key part of the solution.