BIKING … THE VIEW FROM HERE--Good news for anyone who believes in the future of cities and humanity; bad news for the Neanderthals on the LA City Council who grunt nostalgically for the bad old days of traffic jams, road rage, sprawl, and blood on the streets. (And anyone who believes that road rage is a new phenomenon need only watch the 1950s Disney cartoon, “Motor Mania,” written at the height of the Car God Cult’s worldwide jihad.)
Yes, somehow Congress managed to vote on and actually pass a transportation bill, known as the “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act,” acronymed down to, of course, the FAST Act. But it’s not so obsessed with speed as those among LA’s city council members who would kill any number of constituents as long as putting the pedal to the metal is still possible between pile-ups.
As Next City reports, the act includes language “allowing local governments to use alternative road and street design manuals” (such as the NACTO guide) “in designing federally assisted construction and repair projects.” This amounts to official permission to build Complete Streets with Federal cash.
The FAST Act also contains support for transit, Amtrak, and transit-oriented development. Though the bill has flaws, spelled out in the latter half of the Next City article, overall it represents a genuine step towards healthier, wealthier cities.
Meanwhile, the Huffington Post reports on How Cyclists Are Causing Cities Worldwide To Rethink Bike Safety. In an interview with Fredrik Gertten , director of the film “Bikes vs. Cars”, HuffPost examines what Gertten learned during his explorations of urban cycling in Los Angeles, São Paulo, and Copenhagen, as well as other cities.
As Gertten observes, “It’s not about left or right. It’s not even about having money or not having money. People make the choice: I don’t want to sit in the car. It’s boring, I lose my time, I get fat, I feel unhappy, I feel trapped. On a bike I feel free, I’m more flexible.
“About eight bikes equal a car in space. It’s amazing to see here now in San Francisco, with a traffic light, with 10, 15 bikes waiting for a green light. If that had been 15 cars, that would be a very long line.”
“If you can make that little equation in your brain, you will start to love bicycles, even if you will never go on a bike. Even if you will be in a car for the rest of your life.”
Let us hope we won’t be, and that soon we’ll live in an LA that makes more room for human culture than for motorized isolation chambers in our public spaces.
(Richard Risemberg is a writer. His current professional activities are centered on sustainable development and lifestyle. This column was posted first at Flying Pigeon.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.
Vol 13 Issue 100
Pub: Dec 11, 2015