Storm's Journal

  The modern world is a crowd of very rapid racing cars 
  all brought to a standstill and stuck in a block of traffic. 
  (G. K. Chesterton) 

Bike Villages

Re: Bike Villages (Score:3, Insightful) by johnrpenner (40054) on Wednesday October 01, @10:20PM ( #7110215 ) ( ) if even a fourth as much money as we subsidise the auto-industry with in building roads for cars, were spent building roads for bikes, the problem would be solved! right now, for most people, its a vicious circle -- you need a car to get to work, you need to work to pay for your car. its a vortex hard to get free of. setting up mini 'bike villages' within a city by zoning out two or three blocks of a side-street in the downtown core, and designating it as 'pedestrian/bike use only' would make pedestrian friendly areas with safe passage for cyclists between these areas, so that you could usefully use a bike to actually go somewhere you need to go. i remember the first time i went to a large city (in s.america), and one of their better ideas seemed to be the pedestrian boulevard. the places were always busy with life and energy of people coming, going, and interacting in the street. 'why don't we have this where i come from?' i asked. indeed -- why not? for the most part, i think shop-keepers tend to initially resist a change from car-lined streets to a pedestrian concourse because of fear that they will lose their business. while it may certainly be the case, that a couple shop-keepers will lie on the side of the bell-curve which is adversely affected (and there needs to be some working out amongst all involved) the overall results for everyone in that community where the streets were turned into pedestrian boulevards (with bike lanes and trees) were percieved to be quite beneficial for the quality of life in those areas. creating a couple inter-linked bike-lane accessible zones in the core of a city (amongst historically significant old and modern buildings) would be a great way to reduce the need for people to depend on cars, as then more people would have the opportunity to get within everything they need (work, groceries, pub, friends) by means of bike transport. this would go a long way to facilitate the possibility for people to not use their cars should they choose to break out of the vicous car-work cycle. bikes in the downtown of a city are generally faster than cars, and less hassle to park. Also, there's zero polution, no batteries to recharge, and no you don't have to pay $120/month for parking and for a health-club membership so you can run on a treadmill like a gerbil -- bikes are faster, cheaper, and more reliable than a seguay scooter, and the air is cleaner. the downside is the weather. having biked it through two canadian winters myself in toronto, i can attest to this personally. however, if you dress right for it (wear a good hat!!), and once you get going, its actually much more pleasant doing some winter-riding than having to shovel snow, and do the stop-and-go of commutting (which i did for seven years). since getting to work is a pre-requisite, a solution for northern climates could be sheltered bikelanes -- these could be cheaper to build than a huge wide road full of pavement. already our city (toronto) has the 'path' system -- a system of tunnels through the whole downtown core, so people can walk between buildings in the winter. montreal has a similair system. this could be extended, and made quite useful as a trasportation alternative if even a fourth as much money as we subsidise the auto-industry with in building roads for cars, were spent building roads for bikes! > a lot of times, biking to-and-fro to work, there are bike lanes, and then they end abruptly with only car access allowed any further, and then it makes for dangerous riding. a system of paths, and several places where a central block or two are made pedestrian/bike boulevards would do a lot to enhance quality of life in the city. its been my experience, that if people just made a little accomodation for the bikes - a wide paved street can be made into a tree-lined bike laneway as a corridor between converted zones. outdoor cafe areas in the summer months would be popular, and easier to get to. i have seen a bit of this work in ottawa, and in london. they have vibrant downtown lives, because they've actually made it pleasant to live there. sub-divisions though -- they don't plan for bikes. nor do they put useful features within biking distance. if you want to get to a corner store, you have to take transit half an hour away -- what a pain. want to get to work from a sub-division? you've got to take a car, and you'll be required to feed that hook for the rest of your life. take transit, and add two hours overhead to your life everyday -- and usually stinkier and bombarded with commercials -- ugh! so there's no real way to get to work, it all adds up to cars being the only alternative, since the planning didn't allow for proximity placement of useful locations, nor bike-lanes (between parks works good, since bikes give off no polution or noise like cars, they can more freely co-exist). work places can be integrated more closely if they're not so stinky. leaving room for trees around the edges of parking-lots can bring some life to these barren areas. Plants are the lungs of a city. Leave at least six inches between wall and pavement to allow for natural growth; and if a tree grows -- let it. -- anyhoo -- just a few observations of a two-year biker. i commuted for seven years, and hated living in a tin box for two hours of every day. now i bike in the winter, but i never shovel snow, and i'm a lot healtier, and would never go back if i can find a way to be within 20-minutes living of my employer, i will do it given a choice. my quality of life is better then sitting in a tin can stuck in stop-and-go traffic. Back to Storm's Journal
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