Friday, May 16, 2008

This is what I was trying to say all along...

This comment came in response to my short post yesterday;
Matt Boulanger has left a new comment on your post "Interesting article;":

I hope that every "bike boom," large or small leads to a few more people discovering cycling as a viable option for getting around. I'm happy to be in such a bike-friendly place (Missoula, MT), where I can live in town, bike to work, and get many of my errands done on the bike as well. I sold my clunker car for fender and tire money two years ago, now my wife and I share a car and haven't looked back.

But back to the "living in town" thing. In my working life, I'm a land-use planner, and that's where it all starts. Planning for enough residential density and mixed-use in town to make biking, walking and public transportation viable. Creating a built environment that people want to live in, that's nice enough so they don't buy a half-acre on a cul-de-sac at their first opportunity to get out of the loathsome city. Get enough people living in town and bike facilities and complete streets become economically viable. And for heaven's sake, welcome new people into the biking fold. In my other working life, I've been a sales floor guy at REI for the last few years, and we see our share of people looking at bikes who haven't been on one since they were 12. The price point has to be explained gently, the basic education (tire changes, etc) has to be worked in without being intimidating. As cyclists, as retailers, as citizens, we will all benefit from more butts in saddles. One of the most important things to do as a cyclist is to get out there and be seen riding, to and from work/grocery store/whatever. Be seen riding a regular old bike, with fenders and a rack, wearing normal clothes, following the rules. Show the world that in between DUI cyclists and spandex racers, there is a whole other class: regular people riding bikes to meet the needs of dasily life. OK, I'm rambling, but you get the poitn and I'm preaching to the choir anyway.

That's what I've been trying to say all along.

Matt- thanks for extending the conversation!

Tim

1 comment:

Erv said...

TJ,

As a former shop wrench/poor student, now transportation planner for local government, Matt is exactly correct in his assessment. Bike people will always ride no matter the conditions (see Kearny Villa Road) but to get more people out there, its our (my) job to make the built environment more appealing. And you in the bike industry have a huge role to play in that to influence elected officials (the true decision makers) to convince them of the importance of biking and walking as viable transportation modes.