WHAT’S IN A NUMBER?
Jan 22, 2021 at 9:37 am #3695045
Well said both Nick and Bonzo. I read an article recently (forget where) about the power consumption of data centers for just Facebook and its subsidiaries (not really the proper word, but I’m lazy this morning) over the next decade, and it’s simply amazing how much more power it will consume to run those centers. That’s the energy issue of the future.Jan 22, 2021 at 10:10 am #3695052William ChiltonBPL Member
It may work well enough for people that live within urban areas, but for the large number of people that commute to urban areas from dispersed, outlying communities with no reasonable access to mass transit, such a restriction is a massive hurdle.
Would park and ride not work in the U.S.?Jan 22, 2021 at 12:14 pm #3695085
Would park and ride not work in the U.S.?
I think that’s going to depend on commuting lengths from residential to city-center areas, among other things. We already have that kind of service in some areas, but in a lot of places it may not be feasible.Jan 23, 2021 at 12:04 am #3695150
There is park & ride in my area, where we are mostly small towns separated at approximately 10-15 mile intervals. I looked into trying to make it work, but it was going to turn my 24mile, 30min commute into a 2hr commute, 1 way and would cost me more than the gas and maintenance on my own vehicle. It was faster for me to bike it, so I tried that a couple days a week for a while until I had a kid, then it was no longer a good option to have that extra long commute (1hr20min + shower time) when I wanted to spend that time helping my wife with house chores and spending time with my son. We could move closer to work, but the town I work in is a far less desirable area than where we are, and all our friends are in town, so we would trade commuting to work for commuting to socialize. Not a good trade in my opinion. But then, that is the problem – there is not really a one size fits all or even a one size fits most solution for a lot of these problems. Life is complex, and is complex in different ways for so many.Jan 23, 2021 at 7:29 am #3695160
^^^ Perfect explanation.
The US is an extremely distributed and diverse country; it’s often hard for solutions to work within the same state, much less the entire country. Applying a blanket set of rules in that kind of situation often doesn’t work, and is frequently the source of a great deal of strife in our nation.Jan 23, 2021 at 9:13 am #3695169
All of that compounded by our truly horrible public transportation system. How I miss the train system in Germany.Jan 23, 2021 at 9:47 am #3695175KarenBPL Member
American cities and suburbs aren’t really set up for efficient mass transit; when a light rail gets added, whole neighborhoods get upended. Our interstate freeway system was supported by the oil companies, and the goal was for everyone to drive cars and use as much oil as possible, and that ethos hasn’t really changed. Cars are freedom! When I used to live in cities, If the bus was inefficient, I tried to find ways to carpool with other people, but I learned that Americans also aren’t very favorable toward sharing that sacred car space. One lady I asked about sharing rides with said that her 40 minute commute was her “alone time” and she didn’t want it to be disrupted. We both started and ended at the same place! So we both drove alone every day.
The crazy commuting situation is one more factor that keeps me from leaving the cold dark north. My commute by car is 10 minutes, no traffic, by bike it’s 20 minutes, and through the woods! In the last few years I’ve been walking it a lot, to enjoy being out and helping me prepare for the hiking season. I do think I may have the world’s best commute to work. I wish everyone had this.Jan 23, 2021 at 9:51 am #3695176Paul WagnerBPL Member
@balzaccomLocale: Wine Country
I served for many years on my county’s “alternative transportation committee” which began life as a bicycle commission and then evolved. The problem isn’t so much the lack of public transportation, it’s the lack of planning and vision.
Our towns (and many cities) were laid out when land was cheap and available–so we built out instead of up. And we still prefer to do that wherever possible—just look at suburbia. Meanwhile, we create office parks that have no sidewalks, shopping centers surrounded by massive parking lots, and we zone many of our town centers to be commercial and exclude residential–necessitating commuting in all directions. And then we take up large parts of our downtowns with parking garages, and complain that downtowns don’t have the critical mass for success. We build in the need for personal transportation, rather than public transportation, and then we complain that we can’t make public transportation work.
Above all else, we need to start organizing our towns and cities to be accessible for people, rather than cars. But that has been a very long term failure, and it will require a very long term solution. The good news is that where infrastructure is created to make walking and cycling safe and easy, it is wildly successful. But people who live and die in their cars refuse to believe this, and won’t pay for it.
Don’t get me started….Jan 23, 2021 at 11:07 am #3695182
I agree with everyone lamenting the poor state of public transportation here, the auto-centric focus of our city planning….
But that said, nobody is stopping anyone from getting on a bicycle to run errands or commute to work…yet I don’t see it happening. If I can cycle 30 miles (one way) to work and back (insert humble brag!) through one of the biggest cities in the country, I cannot understand why I don’t see a single bike locked up at the supermarket that’s only 3 miles from my home. I am not special. When I briefly lived in Japan I marveled at the thousands of bicycles locked up on university campuses…so many you could lose your bike! There is no good reason this can’t happen here, right now. I cycled Japan extensively and it was just as congested and dangerous- if not more so- than cycling Los Angeles. But here in LA I hear people talk about the lack of bicycle infrastructure being the great impediment. While I am a member of organizations that advocate for this, I also don’t buy it. I know this sounds harsh, but if a person won’t bike 2 miles through a calm suburbia to run an errand, don’t tell me about the need for bike infrastructure in our downtowns. We don’t need more transportation commissions and traffic studies, we just need people to get on their bikes. First things first!
And here in Los Angeles, we do have rail and light rail. But you can’t expect it to be as fast as driving. What you have to embrace, IMO, is a different way of thinking. You have to embrace the public, the chance encounter, the ability to talk to someone you’re sitting next to. Embrace the ability to walk through neighborhoods and shop in stores you would typically never enter if you were in a car. Embrace slowing your life down a little in exchange for participation in your city and local culture.You have to consider these things worth the tradeoff for your time.
The car is an isolation machine. It makes you lazy. But let’s not pretend we don’t want the isolation and lack of effort.
Yes, we have infrastructure problems in this country. But first and foremost, I think we have problems that are rooted much deeper in laziness, the stubborn individualism that makes us not want to share anything, and impatience.Jan 23, 2021 at 11:09 am #3695183
Don’t get me started….
No, go ahead; an intelligent and articulated response is a welcome change when – for years, now – there’s been a little to hear on the subject aside from a veritable litany of relatively-mindless blame and finger-pointing.
I do think I may have the world’s best commute to work.
Totes jealous of you right now.Jan 23, 2021 at 1:15 pm #3695194
In relation to my last post: None of these riders are waiting for bicycle commission reports, infrastructure upgrades, or city planning changes to do what they have to do. Where there is a will….Jan 23, 2021 at 2:17 pm #3695206
I think most people who choose to bicycle either for primary transportation do so out of convenience – either a finacial convenience or because it is physically/psychologically convenient. Most of the arguments I hear against cycling are made out of a position of fear; many people are afraid of being hit and killed by cars. There are so many factors that may be contributing to this fear; news reports of car/bike collisions, lack of perceivable traffic enforcement, poor road maintenance leading to more single-rider incidents (loose gravel, potholes, etc.), lack of bike handling skills leading to fear of embarrassment, etc. It doesn’t keep people who like riding bikes from riding, but these are all relatively reasonable enough excuses for justify using them to avoid starting riding. I do wish there was more infrastructure, and more properly driven govt spending aimed at making the roads safe for everyone, regardless of their method of transport. The infrastructure spending is very lopsided – however, I would not want our govt to ignore public road use by automobile any more than i want them to ignore public road use by any other transport.
I have a tendency to place blame for lack of cycling on apathy; firstly on drivers who can’t be bothered to a) obey basic rules of the road (e.g. speeding, running stop signs, etc) and b) treat cyclists as humans, or at least acknowledge their equal legal right to the use of public roads (except where prohibited of course); secondly, on cyclists who commit the same exact sins as their car-driving counterparts, except they are dumb because they are going to lose the sumo fight with a car, hands down every time; thirdly, on our local police, who cannot be bothered any longer to enforce the basic rules of the road, either due to the possibility they also don’t care to observe the rules themselves (they don’t think it is a big deal to speed, blow stop signs, etc), or they are pressured to not act due to some political pressure as we have been seeing explode this year in the US. I know there are many examples of good behavior in these groups – there are many good people in the world, but that doesn’t mean the bad apples don’t potentially spoil the whole bunch, so-to-speak. In my own personal life, I used to be that person who got angry at people on the freeway who wouldn’t get over for me and let me do 80, and I was never one to obey most basic speed laws in town either. I had a lot of speeding tickets, even ran from cops on my motorcycle a couple times. At some point, I decided that it was wrong, and it was my responsibility to change my behavior. I rarely speed anymore; speeding is statistically a factor in several thousand fatal collisions each year, many involving cyclists and pedestrians, so I have made a point to make sure I am not being a contributor to anyone else’s fear if I can help it. I have hope that people will be compelled to change their own behavior, whether that be through their own growth, or through proper law enforcement.
From a legislative standpoint, I tend to agree with those who are opposed to government subsidies – things should cost what they cost – if using oil costs much more than what we are paying at the pumps, and the rest is being hoisted on to the backs of the taxpayer, that isn’t right. I don’t know what the actual numbers are, but to me it doesn’t really matter. But, I have the same issue with subsidies for renewable energy. It should cost what it costs. Bicycles are typically cheaper to own than cars – that is why most people who use them use them. We drive cars because we can “afford” them. Whether that is due to federal subsidies passing costs from the individual consumer to the taxpayers, or because financial institutions are eager to allow people to get themselves up to their eyeballs in debt, it matters not to me. We have a system which is supposed to look out for people’s best interests, but it has to be balanced with letting people (and businesses) have the liberty to make their own personal decisions and fail, and be responsible for themselves.Jan 23, 2021 at 3:00 pm #3695212
I think there’s a lot more to it than ‘where there’s a will…’ Societal expectations play a big role in it, I believe. Here, cars were a means of showing that you made it, you weren’t part of the car-less underclass. And the infrastructure was built to support that idea/ideal. You didn’t necessarily get a car because you were lazy and such, you got one because it was a level of prestige that everyone wanted. We’ve had decades upon decades upon decades of equating cars with freedom, and we Americans love to pretend we’re freer than anyone else.
Cars are baked in to our national psyche, and that’s not going to change any time soon. Here, bike riding is something we do for recreation, not for daily life stuff.Jan 23, 2021 at 3:04 pm #3695214
Years ago I lived in Arlington, VA, and worked at Fort Belvoir, VA. For quite some time I rode my bike to and from work — 23 miles each way. All seasons, including winter (froze my toes off but did it anyway). I was lucky though, since perhaps 80 percent of the ride was on an asphalt trail that ran along the George Washington Parkway (at least I think that’s what it’s called). At certain times of the year I’d see gorgeous sunrises, and at other times, beautiful sunsets. And, of course, not too many people doing what I was doing, which made it even better. I miss those days (of commuting, not the job).Jan 23, 2021 at 3:18 pm #3695218
Well, we need the will to get off those nonsense attitudes about cars… ;)
Look, I’m for all of the development that people speak of here. I want to see bike lanes, pedestrian friendly cities, all of it. By God, Pasadena used to have an ABOVE GRADE bicycle highway connecting it with downtown Los Angeles!
But I’ve also seen the “build it and they will come” approach fall flat, create bike infrastructure in places where there was no demand, waste money, enrage locals, and ultimately set the bicycle movement back. Does demand dictate access or does increased access help with demand? I don’t know.
But I’ll keep riding my bike in the meantime, for some of the reasons you mention in your second post Doug!Jan 23, 2021 at 3:24 pm #3695219
I agree, we need the drive to compel us, merely providing the means is not enough. This can be said for so many of the ideas that are out there for trying to solve the world’s problems. I am in survival mode right now, with two children under the age of 2, but will resume biking regularly once I am able to prioritize it again. I just hope I don’t gain too much weight in the meantime. Dang pizza is too tasty.Jan 23, 2021 at 4:31 pm #3695229
I’m certainly all for the development as well, but that wasn’t the point I was trying to make. I simply think cars are baked into our subconscious more than they seem to be in other places, so comparing us to other places is an apples to nuclear waste comparison. I do also think (and have experienced more than once) that since bikes simply aren’t a part of our movement culture, and haven’t been in a very long time, far too many drivers don’t see bikes, don’t think bikes should be on the road, etc. There’s a lot, lot more than development that will need to change before we become more of a self-propelled society than a motor-propelled society.Jan 23, 2021 at 5:00 pm #3695232
I am hesitant to believe our American ideas about cars are much different than those people in other developed nations. I work for a multinational company and have had the chance to work mostly in France, but also in England and China. All the places I’ve gone, the people I’ve worked with, they all use personal transport. That being said, the areas of the countries my company has facilities in is similar to the area I live in; semi-rural. Those places do not have great mass-transit infrastructure in place either, so everybody drives their own car, because that is what is available. I think there is something to be said for the level of automobile marketing aimed at the general US population, and I agree generally with your assessment that we (humans, in general) like to show we have made it. Maybe the presence of an automobile is more normalized in American society, but it is by no means absent in the cultures of other countries. Our cars are definitely bigger though.Jan 23, 2021 at 5:13 pm #3695235
I guess I’m just not explaining myself well. I’ll give an example and leave it at that. I lived in Germany for four years a couple of decades ago. I was stationed in a small town in northern Germany for two years, and then outside Heidelberg for the last two. In both places I would see old ladies on their single-speed, heavy-ass bikes riding around everywhere, riding to the store to shop, etc. Of course, not just older ladies, lots of people. And you could ride from town to town almost without crossing or riding along a main road, since there was an enormous system of trails and whatnot, some through farmer’s fields, etc. (I also saw much, much less trash on the sides of the road than I did in the US, but that’s another thread).
I grew up in a smallish town, but was near a larger city. I never saw anything like that where I lived. Once in the military I was stationed in a few places, and still didn’t see anything like that wherever I was.
The main difference, IMO, was that the bike was part of the culture in Germany, people didn’t try to run you off the road, people didn’t scream at you for being on the road, etc. Bikes were seen as part of the overall transportation system. Little old ladies and men, younger people, they rode their bikes for more than just exercise and recreation. Culture. They had cars too, there were plenty of cars in Germany when I was there, but bikes were part of the culture.
That simply isn’t so in the US, IMO. So, to me, it’s about changing that culture. And that’s never easy.Jan 23, 2021 at 5:36 pm #3695238KarenBPL Member
Bicycling for transportation rather than recreation is definitely not part of American culture and definitely part of the culture of many European countries. One of my colleagues loved cycling across England, even on the busy traffic roads, because the truck drivers and all the other drivers too, would watch out for and make room for cyclists; he never felt unsafe, but biking to work in town here was always sketchy. My husband and then-10 year old rented bikes in London, and cycled all over the place, with those 3 decker buses going by! (I was terrified and opted out.) It’s just that common there to see bikes on the road; they don’t need bumper stickers that say “share the road.”
Long bicycle trails need local government support. That trail in Virginia, Doug, probably crossed all kinds of private land; it’s a real challenge to try to get people to support something like that, just to get it built in the first place. I used to use the Burke Gilman trail in Seattle to ride from Fremont to the university – rain or shine it was the most efficient and rapid transit, beating out driving or the city bus. But that trail was put in by the city and again, crosses lands with many different owners. I’m all for public/private partnerships and cyclists tend to be very active about getting these things done. But getting all the permissions in a city would be tough. I think government has to be involved. And right now our culture is pretty anti-community and anti-government, so even if we’re talking about something other than cycling, it’s hard to create or maintain a community good. Doesn’t mean we stop trying!
I live in a trails place, where we have so many different types of trail users (bikers, walkers, runners, snowmachines, 4 wheelers, skiers) that there is broader support for them here than in many cities/counties, but it still takes pretty significant effort, organization, and funding to make them happen. While I’m not happy about people like me with good jobs getting free federal money (stimulus cards), borrowed from the future, I’m able to put it to use locally instead of more DOD contracts. I hope more folks who got the money and don’t need it, will consider trails or parks as a beneficiary.Jan 23, 2021 at 7:15 pm #3695254
It’s definitely not part of our culture. So alien, in fact, that Americans regularly drive cars to pay to ride pretend bikes for exercise. Maybe that will never change. I’ve shared many experiences and close calls with Doug that make me question what I’m doing at times. But I enjoy it enough- and believe in it enough- that I keep coming back, year after year, making that commute to work when I can or going in circles for fun on a Saturday. I take pride in being part of a counter-culture in this regard.
There’s a lot, lot more than development that will need to change before we become more of a self-propelled society than a motor-propelled society.
I think this is what I’m essentially getting at. And it starts in one’s own attitude and actions. Such as trading the relative comfort and efficiency of the car for a slower but far more participatory (and IMO rewarding) experience in one’s community. Nobody can legislate this idea, nobody can build anything to create this mindset. I think we’re collectively becoming quite antisocial and the car plays a huge role in it….but I suppose this is a tangent.
As for the notion of a great distinction between bikes for recreation vs. strict transportation, I would remind people that bikes are still a win: If I’m out riding in circles all day for giggles, from a health/energy/pollution/environmental standpoint, it beats the heck out of doing donuts in a 4×4…Jan 30, 2021 at 11:25 am #3696339HkNewmanBPL Member
@hknewmanLocale: Western US
..Nobody is stopping anyone from getting on a bicycle to run errands or commute to work…yet I don’t see it happening. If I can cycle 30 miles (one way) to work and back (insert humble brag!) through one of the biggest cities in the country, I cannot understand why [more don’t ride]..
Safety. The numbers aren’t encouraging even when simple accidents are at fault, and then there’s hostility. Was looking at a move to Atlanta Georgia long-term, and got on their bike forums as they have multiuse trails but disconnected by streets. There’s so much hostility sometimes a driver will get behind a cyclist and keep blasting the horn, though the street is otherwise empty. Think there needs to be bike-friendly infrastructure like (lol) downtown Chicago which can separate drivers and bike riders. Too much latent or even blatant hostility to consider some communities..
Going onto bigger things as agriculture leads to more CO2, CH4 (methane)… Part of Brazil’s latest leader idea is to convert more of the Amazon to range and farmland for that part of his constituency. This assumes there’ll be a growing population to ingest more production but all signs point to a global baby bust worsening since 2008. Could get more “chaffy” as the reasons are more socio-economic, but a slowdown/pause in human numbers as food technology advances (meat substitutes require less industrial sized stockyards or poultry operations, reducing those emissions and effluents), this should mean less demand for land …
Even the Chinese, now wanting more kids for their system, cannot get women to marry
COVID actually made it “worse” ..
With a future glut of land, seems to me leaders should be encouraging more wilderness areas, natural recreation areas, etc..(of course I’m biased).
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