Monday, April 5, 2010

even in alaska?

"The idea is to make biking more convenient and less dangerous so that more people do it." -article

Excellent premise. And this is from Alaska, cold land of the very long dog race, where sometimes people die while competing, and the mid-night sun. They want more biking and they appear (at least from this article) to have the ground-swell behind it. My sister recently moved there to attend nursing school at UA - Anchorage and is riding her bike in the dead of winter, which doesn't end for a while yet. She must be nutty.

Spending money to put more people on bikes and fewer in cars makes a trickle-down sense, more so than George H.W. Bush's trickle-down did. Fewer cars means fewer emissions, means less wear on roadways, means smaller lines at lights, means healthier citizens (yes, that is possible, even in Bend), means more parking for tourists in downtown, means easier parking for employees in downtown, means always finding a place to park. Always. Want to save money by not driving? Walking or biking will do it for you. Personally, walking may not be a money saver, if time=money. That makes biking the money maker. It saves you money, makes you healthy (healthy=money saving could be another post), and is about equal in terms of time as a car.

But, you think to yourself, I don't want to arrive at work sweaty/wet/snowy/grimy. A valid response to this statement is, you don't have to. When one goes skiing, fishing, kayaking, or snow-shoeing, one wears the proper gear. Biking or walking is no different. Equipped with weather-proof pants and jacket, which one might already own for different sports/activities means you are already equipped!

One way to make it safer is to get more people to do it. Wait, what? Read on. If more people are riding or walking, we increase our collective visibility to those in cars. Drivers learn to be more watchful for cyclists and walkers because they know we are everywhere. This was the way in Portland. When I was bike commuting there in the early 90s, I never saw anyone else riding my route (turns out my route sucked for safety, had no shoulders and blind curves. I was lucky to outlive my foolishness), so drivers were not expecting a cyclist. But now, cyclists are everywhere in Portland and thus are expected everywhere.

1. Maybe your gear closet already has items that can cross over from one sport to bike/walk commuting. Don't spend more money for bike gear, no matter what The Source tells you. This makes it convenient to you.

2. Safety in numbers. This makes it safer for you.

Make it convenient and safe. Now get out there and do it.

No comments: