Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Alabama is far from being a shining example of a cycling-friendly state. Why is is so hard to get our local government to see the huge benefits of making our state bike friendly? Huntsville in particular seems to be making an atempt to become a smart, progressive, high tech city yet somehow fails miserably. In reality, were trying to portray Huntsville as being a very forward thinking and progressive city in an effort to attract more tech companies yet doing little to back it other than building more and more over-priced strip malls.
We have all these brilliant and talented people here but it seems the city is still very much controlled by the old guard who looks at bicycles as toys for children and are to be given up once we can drive. Wroking in a shop, I see three major divisions; (1) club riders and racers who are usually middle and upper middle class (2) families buying bikes for their kids (who will ride on sidewalks and grow up equally ignorant as their parents) and (3) borderline homeless people who ride on the wrong side of the road and have little to no regard for the rules of the road. Its very rare that I meet intelligent people in the 256 that see cycling as a viable and green transportation source. Its very rare that I meet someone who sees the countless health and environmental benefits of going by bike. I am far from being what we call "good with words." If anything, I would like to at least help provoke conversation or inspire others to speak out on behalf of the rest of us. In our favor; Critical Mass has been growing and making a presence. I love CM but I doubt its overall effectiveness. I do enjoy it as a coming-together of our modest but tight-knit and growing cycling community.
As many may or may not know, Oregon is a shining star in regards to how bike friendly it is. Portland in particular is about to be the next center of the bicycle industry in North America. North America! It has some of the most progressive and innovative cycling laws in the world (check out the video and be super jealous) and is the bicycle commuter capitol of the US. How did they do it? Isnt it too cold or too rainy? Apparently not. Their weather is miserable compared to us and yet they cant get enough. Studies show that cycling brings over $15 billion of industry to Oregon. Southerners however can't be pleased. In addition to no bike lanes (which is the number one concern i hear almost daily), its either too hot, too humid, or too cold. Weird how the southeast has the highest percent of obese adults in the nation. Its much easier to jump in the Hummer, crank the A/C, and drive two miles to the store. Now I''m pissed. Anyhow, please check out this link about Oregons new velodrome, do some browsing (there is soooo much good info here) and let me know what you think;