I understand the human fascination and dependence upon cars, I'm just really glad I am no longer beholden to car ownership. I did not think about car ownership much for the first few decades of my life because it was a necessity. I grew up in the burbs where there was no public transportation and my bike was used for recreation, not transportation. Most modern societies are set up on the assumption that people will travel by car.
Then I moved to New York City where a combination of wealth, patience, and time is required to own, operate, and park a vehicle. I think I am a patient person, but I'm not so good on the wealth and time scales. I took public transportation daily for about a year after moving to NYC and then it hit me, why not ride my bike? I rode for fun but thought commuting would be too much of a pain. Boy was I wrong - community by bike is now like a drug.
It has gotten to the point where when I am forced to take the subway for some reason, I get bummed out. My commute to and from work is a part of my day I look forward to, no matter the weather. I think back to when I commuted by car on the West Coast and it was far from an enjoyable experience - it was drudgery.
What got me to thinking about all of this? Reader Marc sent along a link to an article in China Digital Times about city planning in China. The article states:
After wrestling for years with Beijing’s appalling traffic and pollution problems, city planners have come up with a distinctly old-fashioned solution: bicycles. Municipal officials want to boost the number of cyclists by 25% during the next five-year plan, state media reported today. Twenty years ago, four out of five residents in the Chinese capital pedaled to work through one of the world’s best systems of bicycle lanes.
Then comes the kicker . . .
Last year, China overtook the United States to become the world’s biggest car market. Increasing affluence brings about a million new vehicles on to the roads every month, choking the streets with traffic and the air with smog.
Wow, a million cars a month - that's a lot traffic. I for one am glad the U.S. does not lead in the car market any longer. Reading about the plan to use an "old-fashioned" solution, I am reminded of something my high school math teacher pounded into our brains. At least once a week he would walk up the board and it all caps write K - I - S - S and would reminded us to "Keep it Simple Stupid." With all of our technology it is nice to see city planners going old school by keeping it simple.
For most areas where people live, bikes are not reasonable transit, but with half of the world population living in cities, BikeHacks is in favor of old fashioned solutions.
Any commuters in China out there? Chime in with comments.