April 21, 2010 12:30 PM
Building a better biking city isn't about restricting anybody's choices, but about expanding everyone's transportation freedom of choice.
The truth is that since World War II, the dominant land use and transportation practices have restricted our freedom as Americans by limiting us to one form of transportation: the car. What we've seen on this study trip to Europe is city after city that builds complete streets - ones that accommodate all forms of travel so that they can coexist and everybody can be safe as they move along to their destination.
What we need to do is get away from the idea that somehow one form of transportation is in conflict with another or that one choice of transportation makes some kind of value statement that is superior to another. The way most of us live today we are at the very least bi-transit, as we walk and drive. But many of us are quadra-transit: at one time or another we walk, drive, ride a bike or ride a bus. What we need to do is develop some empathy for people who are engaging in a different form of getting around at that particular moment. So, when I'm driving a car I'm always looking out for bikes and pedestrians, remembering what it feels like when I'm out there and not inside my vehicle.
What we need to do is develop an infrastructure and a culture where we respect and accommodate one another's transportation choices.