5.30.2008

Bikes and cars

Like oil and water, a painfully appropriate simile, the two don't mix.

The brave and the few who choose to ride today's roads are battle tested. They've been hit by cars. They've been strafed by cell phone chatterers. They've been pushed into the ditch by angry motorists. They've chased down speeders on rural roads. And they have friends who have died beneath a bumper.

With the arrival of $4 gas, we also have the arrival of new bike people. These are men who've never shaved their legs, women who own no lycra, and kids who've never gone to school or the market in anything other than the straitjacket carseat in the back of a Legacy.

These are the new advocates, the new rally organizers, and they are learning the refrain that bike geeks everywhere already know by heart.

To triage our way out, it's tough to say what's worse ... that we've allowed an entire generation to grow up believing that cars are the only way to travel, that we've built a transportation infrastructure that reinforces that belief, or that we've enabled motorists to feel singularly entitled to the roadways.

Judging by the amount of squealing out there right now, the pressure to change is surely imminent. It doesn't need a tax break or a subsidy to happen. It doesn't need an act of congress or a presidential decree either. And it definitely doesn't need an every-other-Thursday boycott of your local Exxon station.

What it needs is a look in the mirror.

1 comment:

  1. That's me! I'm the new kind of commuter. After only two years out of college, commuting various distances, I made a serious effort to find employment where I can walk/bike every day.

    Now I have a lovely 20-min commute along a waterfront bike path in Seattle. It's heaven! Of course, it's also summer. Last winter I mostly walked, but now that's not an option. We'll see what happens in the future, but for now I'm loving the fresh air and exercise.

    No joke, I can't stand to drive anymore. It's downright unpleasant compared to riding!

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