My Soapbox is a Bicycle
BP had another oil spill. Exxon Mobile spilled into the Yellowstone River. Let us not forget the Gulf oil spill, also BP. People are up in arms, demanding we fine them and boycott BP. Wars are fought for oil, “Drill, baby, drill” is used as a campaign slogan, hybrid cars sales are growing.
Y’all this is out of control. Bike sales are increasing like crazy but cyclists are still seen as an anomaly. Because I ride a bike, people think I am fun or funny. Bike paraphernalia decorates my walls and clothes. Don’t get me wrong, I love that cycling is a bit of a sub-culture and that I feel like part of a club (a club that drinks beers and looks good); but I wonder when people will start taking cycling seriously as a way to stop this environmental and health death spiral?
I simply don’t understand the societal disconnect. If you are worried about our environment, ride a bike. If you are overweight and looking for a cheap way to get into shape, ride a bike. Broke from gas prices? Ride a damn bike. Be more than just talk; do something. I am ok with baby steps: transition to a smaller car for the family, try taking the bus once a week…just do something. Until then, quit complaining about how the big companies are ruining the world; they exist for a reason, because their product is in demand. How can we hope for lowered gas prices AND more careful drilling? Boycotting BP but still driving your SUV is not saying Damn the Man. You know how you damn the man? Stop participating in the problem. Get our of your car and on your bike (or the bus or a nice walk or the subway).
LA was freaking out over “Carmageddon“, but does anyone care when the bike lanes are blocked due to delivery trucks, sidewalk renovations or valet signs? Nearly every city has a parking requirement for business zoning, but rarely is bike parking thought of*. I don’t know the numbers, but would assume that the difference between money spent on roads and money spent on bike infrastructure is vast. Yet I see cars with anti-drilling stickers on them all the time**. I want cycling to be more than a cute hobby with t-shirts and mugs and wall hangings. I want it to be ordinary. I long for the day when this and other cycling blogs are moot because everyone does it and it is nothing special. There is hope: Ray LaHood is a big supporter of cycling and is working hard to make things happen. However, it is going to take more than that to really make a difference. People need to take cycling seriously and see it as a method of changing our world, one pedal at a time.
Until the change is mainstream, let’s keep encouraging others to get on a bike. Let’s work our hardest to make it accessible. Let’s ride like it is an ordinary thing because for most of us, it is. And that is a beautiful thing.
* Some cities, such as San Francisco are requiring bike parking and I salute them for it!
**considering I live in the heart of the Gulf oil spill, there may be a disproportionate number here.