Thursday, May 17, 2007

Biking In the Burbs

I went to a meeting last night organized by the Sierra Club called Biking in the Burbs and other Transportation Choices

I was surprised at the number (approximately 30) of people that showed up. That seemed like a lot to me; certainly more than the handful that I expected to see. I had expected a handful of bike nerds to show up. There were a number of representatives from different public organizations: Ramsey County, MN Department of Transportation, Met Council, Shoreview, Roseville Area Schools Transportation, and our own Roseville City Engineer. (I may have missed a few too.)

It's clear to me that there is more to getting people out on the road than just building the infrastructure. The highway department didn't get formed a long time ago to promote automobile traffic. Nope, I think the demand came first, the car, then the roads were built. I'm not sure the best way to promote an activity is to penalize the others. It's a car world.

It will take a major change in our "culture" to get the average person out of their automobile and on to a bike, or into a pair of walking shoes, or on a bus. I happen to believe that walking or riding a bike to nearby destinations makes sense in a LOT of ways. But...generally (sorry folks) we are inherently lazy. We take the path of least resistance and we take the advice of the fear and safety mongers. Too concerned over safety, we put our kids on the bus, we drive our kids to their destinations, we get in our own cars etc. As an avid cyclist living in Roseville, I don't see infrastructure and roadways as being the big hurdle for cyclists. (Though, there are a few spots in town that are VERY unpleasant on a bike.)

To me, it seems logical that the first place to start is locally and with the greatest number of people. I don't KNOW the statistics, but it would be my guess that the greatest number of people traveling within 2-3 miles of their home would probably be our youth going to and from school, after school activities, social events, and part-time work. I think that I see the greatest opportunity for success is with our youth by encouraging them to be a little more transportation independent. I think that we should start with our kids by encouraging them to ride their bikes and walk to school and we should do what we can to create safe routes to get there. Right now, my kids are prohibited from riding their bikes to school because there is not a safe way to get there. There are buses and parents dropping off kids, our principal made the arbitrary decision to not allow kids to ride. As a parent, I certainly understand the safety concern. I don't know how to solve the problem for everyone, but I am willing to participate in trying to find a workable solution.

1 comment:

rigtenzin said...

Getting to my kids' school is not a problem by bike, but they removed the bike racks because they don't want to be responsible for someone getting hurt riding to school. With that reasoning, they should ban parking also. We're screwed.

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