Tuesday, June 27, 2006

On the road

Once upon a time:
"Most people living in cities didn't think fast cars belonged in streets. When cars hit pedestrians, it was always the driver's fault."
"But some people wanted to give cars a rightful claim to street space. By casting doubt on pedestrians' place in the street, it strengthened cars' claim to street space."
"By 1930, 'jaywalker' was routinely applied to pedestrians engaging in street uses that had once been beyond reproach. By then most people agreed (readily or grudgingly) that streets are chiefly motor thoroughfares."
And now:
"For the past century, America's love affair with automobiles has meant that motor vehicles have ruled American streets. Despite sporadic efforts to assert the rights of pedestrians and bicyclists, that culture prevails."

Yet, some are hopeful:
"While America's roads may be perfect for gas-guzzling cars and disposable travelling, they don't have to be used that way."

And some are helpful:
"State highway departments have been taking big roads and narrowing them, adding bike lanes and trails. In the last 10 years, engineers have increasingly looked for ways not to speed cars along but to slow them down."

A Slow-Road Movement?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The end is near

Since I started this blog 357 days ago, these are some of the things that have happened:

  • I replaced 1,188 miles worth of car trips with bike trips.
  • I still drove a lot more than I should have.
  • I was hit by a car.
  • I was nearly hit by a board thrown from a second floor window.
  • I met new friends online and on the street, who encouraged me.
  • I met angry motorists, who yelled, "Get off the road!"
  • I waved to other cyclists.
  • I wished there were more cyclists to wave to.
  • I sweated a lot.
  • I shivered a little.
  • I almost witnessed a motorhome vs. riding lawnmower accident.
  • I accidently left my bike lock at home almost a dozen times.
  • I tried to finish "Effective Cycling" by John Forester.
  • I finished "The Art of Urban Cycling" by Robert Hurst.
  • I got caught in the rain.
  • I got my pants leg caught in the chain.
  • I developed basic bicycle maintenance skills.
  • I developed a great respect for professional bicycle mechanics.
  • I was startled when motorists blew their horns at me.
  • I startled motorists by blowing my horn at them.
  • I became used to seeing cars parked in the bike lane.
  • I learned that some cyclists hate bike lanes.
  • I frequently regretted getting behind the wheel.
  • I never regretted getting on my bicycle.

Above all, I came to realize that using a bicycle for life's everyday tasks is not really such a big deal. Riding to work, to the grocery store and to other everyday destinations has been relatively easy for me. What started out as a significant lifestyle change is now the norm. That's not to say that my fellow citizens have also become avid utility cyclists. The choice I made last July makes me a rather odd specimen among my neighbors, my friends and my coworkers. But it's become normal for me.

And that's why I must decide, in the next couple days, what to do when the Bike Year ends. Should I continue the blog? If so, what direction should it take? I welcome suggestions.