Biking in the City

My husband sent me a link, which he saw at Boing Boing that they got from Making Light to Sustainable Cities on “The Real Reason Why Bicycles are the Key to Better Cities“:

image from Boing Boing

image from Boing Boing

The bicycle doesn’t need to be sold. It’s economical, it’s fun, it’s sexy, and just about everyone already has one hiding somewhere in their garage.

Invite a motorist for a bike ride through your city and you’ll be cycling with an urbanist by the end of the day. Even the most eloquent of lectures about livable cities and sustainable design can’t compete with the experience from atop a bicycle saddle.

“These cars are going way too fast,” they may mutter beneath their breath.

“How are we supposed to get across the highway?”

“Wow, look at that cathedral! I didn’t know that was there.”

“I didn’t realize there were so many vacant lots in this part of town.”

“Hey, let’s stop at this cafe for a drink.”

Suddenly livability isn’t an abstract concept, it’s an experience.

3 Responses to “Biking in the City”

  1. inquirer Says:

    Houston is NOT a bikeable city. But Calgary is! I can’t wait to get there and live outdoors (in the summer). In the winter I will happily stay inside my car.

  2. Kai Jones Says:

    I think that’s a pretty load of self-serving justification. I mean, I walk around the downtown area of my city (Portland, OR) a lot and I think the bikes are a menace. Plus walking pace is even better for noticing things, and I can actually stop at the various places without a thought for where to lock up my transportation.

    Livability is more than “can I get there by bike?” It’s “can I afford to live there? Can I get groceries I like easily? Can I get a good job in this place?” and lots of other questions. Not everything must be bike-able or walk-able or drive-able, we can have a mix of accessibility.

    Judging by bike leaves out people with mobility issues, people whose health doesn’t permit that level of physical exercise (I have asthma and allergies), people who want things to be further apart (I don’t want to live near my work, I like to compartmentalize my life more than that).

  3. girldetective Says:

    Kai, you make excellent points. I read the article as arguing for bikes over cars but think many of the things you note, like groceries, affordability and jobs would tend to be part and parcel of a bike-able place to live, and most bike-friendly places are also walk-friendly. Portland and Minneapolis, for example, rate highly for those things, as well as being very bike friendly cities. As gas prices rise and as world tensions continue to rise over oil rights, I think biking is a good alternative to driving if it works for you.