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Bicycles and the new world order

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
August 18, 2008


I think it is safe to say the gas guzzling era is over. Soon to be relics of the past, Hummers, Suburbans, and all other species of over sized SUV's, will soon go the way of the dinosaur. With this change will come a need for change.

Hybrids and alternative fuel vehicles are a good start, but bigger vehicles require more resources to operate. The key to sustainability is doing more with less. Hybrid urban assault vehicles are not the answer, neither is the "food or fuel" choices associated with ethanol and other crop based energy sources.

As the price of fossil fuels continue to rise so too does the number of people seeking alternative means of transportation. Reevaluating the way we get around trends towards smaller more energy efficient vehicles. The two wheeled revolution is upon us and commuters are adapting to changing economic conditions and stark environmental realities.

To paraphrase Roald Dahl and Willy Wonka, "To go forward we must go back."

Redesigning our communities involves shifting away from auto centric infrastructure to smaller, more energy efficient forms of transportation. As a society we must begin to look beyond atmosphere destroying fossil fuels, combustion engines, vast parking lots and ever expanding roadways. Finding alternatives to the car culture has never been more important.

As the price of gas goes up so does the number of people driving scooters, mopeds, and motorcycles. To encourage and accommodate this shift towards sustainability, municipalities must rethink development standards as they pertain to transportation. One way to accommodate the two wheel revolution is to require more motorcycle and scooter parking spaces in all new development plans and projects. Traffic senors at intersections will also need recalibrating to respond to lighter vehicles.

Requiring only human power, bicycles are the most environmentally friendly form of transportation other than walking. As we all know human power is infinitely renewable. Bicycles promote health and healthy lifestyles. Bicycles cost significantly less to maintain and repair, require less resources for their manufactures, take less room to park, less water to wash, and less money to register and insure.

Bicycles do not spew greenhouse gases, promote waste, or foul waterways with antifreeze, brake fluid, and oil leaks. And the price at the pump becomes a non issue for Bike commuters.

Accommodating bicycles is easy. Needed are better defined bike lanes, a significant increase in bike parking near schools and places of business, and the will to do so. Encouraging all new development to incorporate shower facilities for bike commuters would also help get people out of their cars and on to fuel efficient and health inducing bicycles.

I realize Bicycles can not and will not meet all the transportation needs of Californians. It is also clear many people are physically unable or unwilling to ride a bike to work or the store, or to accompany their children to school. This should not however prevent Californians from doing all they can to break the oil addiction by encouraging younger generation to ride instead of drive when making short trips around their communities.

The two wheeled revolution is upon us.

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