Couple of things on bike, traffic, time, and space. Not space, like outer-space, but space on the road.
Personally, I got the broader message here, and appreciated it. But the next day on the local public radio station here, it sounded like some people, both cyclists and drivers, were pretty skeptical of the initiative. Cyclists because it was a lame proposal in a few key respects: bike lanes don’t mean cyclists are safe or that drivers will take up biking any time soon. For example, more cyclists are nailed by right turning cars into bike lanes than just about any other situation.
Drivers were mad because they didn’t want to see that much money going to something that wasn’t going to make their commute any better. Traffic in Seattle is horrendous–it typically rates around 3rd or 4th in the top worst cities to drive in. So, drivers were mystified by the apparent message from Mayor Nickels: ride a bike instead.
To me the message was muddled. It should have been a lot more inclusive, rather than aimed at cyclists: Every bike on the road means one less car on the freeway or street or thoroughfare. Bless those rugged souls who have taken one small but real step towards actually reducing the traffic!
Still, biking is a tough business in lots of ways, which brings me to today’s topic: time. It takes time to ride places. Duh, you say. But really–it takes a lot of time, and time is one thing most people don’t have much of. As we careen into a new world order, one less endowed with the natural resources we’ve come to rely upon, our ability–so taken for granted–to jam pack our schedules with a million back-to-back events and meetings–while still living in the outskirts of town–will be mightily challenged.
I used to work downtown at Amazon where lots of people biked to work. But as I moved up the chain of command, and clothing/presentation, and back-to-back meetings starting early in the morning became regular requirements, I have to say my commuting habits changed significantly. I wonder how we’ll all deal with that in the future? Will we relax time and appearance requirements enough to allow for transportation that goes slower than 25 miles per hour
So, finally: Daily stats. I’ve had a lot of things to do in the last few days that have required me to drive a lot more than usual. And another one coming up tonight. Good news: few trips were solo, and fewer still were single task. I can say that this practice for the last couple of months has indeed helped me change some of my habits. But the past few days have still brought home the fact that biking takes time–and sometimes time is simply not available.
Car: approx 36 miles, multiple tasks, two people
bike: approx 4 miles