This year I won’t be writing more about hiking and green space when what I wish is to be able to get out in organized outdoor trips more often. This year I get a chance to paddle, hike and bike as a member of Venture Outdoors. First trip: this Saturday on an exciting “Easter Egg Tyke Hike” through Schenley Park with my preschoolers.
And what is cooler –both the membership and the first trip are free. I won them fair and square by leading one of the teams during CORO Solutions Festival on April 9th. A prize I deserved I think for doing the “stay on the topic” drill with my team members. The topic –funding public transportation –was a controversial one and some participants have a tendency to take the longest possible path to the given issue.
Did we find a solution to the transportation funding issue? Not really, but we got some points covered.
Considering the complexity of issues and solutions, my team almost agreed that it will be a good idea to build first a small group of people and organizations with a direct interest in the matter. This group would look to discover resources, convene the stakeholders, identify the root issues and generate a first set of solutions to be brought in front of the stakeholders.
However , if we ask me, the problem lays somewhere beyond “the funding issue” and we were all aware of the fact that we did not address Port Authority’s “Legacy Costs”** at all. But more about it , in another post.
*VMT =Vehicle Mileage Tax
** Legagy Costs – Bad financial decisions of previous Port Authotrity management and union contracts closed before 2007.
A heated dispute about the safety of bike sidepaths started on twitter, made me re-consider the two options as well.
For example, Erik Weber @vebah considers sidepaths to be a safer option than bike lanes. And he does have a good point . In a country that dismisses cycling as a mean for the daily commute even more than walking and taking public transit and almost worships “The Car” as an insignia of its exceptionalism, to have cars and bikes share the street will always be an ordeal for cyclists. It is like forcing the scrawniest kid in school walk on the same path to school with the meanest bully and assume they will cooperate somehow.
Bringing cyclists and pedestrians together on sidewalks and sidepaths sharing the same pavement makes more sense , since people that care enough to walk are more likely to understand and co-operate with cyclists. Yet this match is not necessarily the best.
Bicycles are more like motorized vehicle and the new generations of e-bikes are “motorized vehicles” de facto. They can reach speeds of 20-25 miles per hour which cannot compare with a person’s walking speed of 3-4 miles per hour. Having a bike passing you by a few inches away, going five times your speed, can be intimidating to say the least. Pets and young children may get frighten and cause accidents…
Street crossing is another issue – as it is designed for pedestrians walking at for miles per hour and able to stop in a moment as traffic lights change. A cyclist who gained “full momentum” needs a considerably longer path so it can bring itself to a full stop as lights change …
A detailed list of articles and some stats on how dangerous sidepaths could be found on the internet here. I am no expert on bikes or cycling so I won’t guarantee it’s unbiased professionalism… Returning to cycling in the United States – I consider that both positions made equally good points. Yet neither can reach an agreement on what is the best solution – accommodations on the street or on the sidewalk. Because they are looking only at one of the issue’s multiple facets…
Note: Eric Weber blogs for http://greatergreaterwashington.org/ and The City Fix.
Recently I have wondered how would drivers react if they were to find out one day that shortly the will not be able to drive on 15% of the streets on the county. Would they be more vocal than the riders that saw their service cut by 15% yet did little other but complain about it?
There are, I imagine, a multitude of reasons why transit riders did not flow on the streets to keep their service even though the number of daily riders is still the in hundreds of thousands range –or at list it were before the cuts. Yet there is one reason keeping us from becoming more visible in our advocacy efforts – Perception. Nowhere in Europe where I went or stayed for while did I have to describe myself as a “non-driver”.
And does non-driver ring you any bells? “Non-white” or perhaps “not-a- heterosexual”… One that is little, marginal … a Who. Our voices , those several hundred riders that became involved in advocacy work or at least voiced our need for transit publicly are faint, yet they need to be heard.
“We are here! We are here! We are here…”
A person’s a person no matter if driving often, seldom
or not at all.