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  1. #1
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    The Real Reason Why Bicycles are the Key to Better Cities


  2. #2
    babylon by bike Standalone's Avatar
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    An elegant and simple point well made by Kasey Klimes. Thanks for the link!
    The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets. Christopher Morley

  3. #3
    On a Mission from God FunkyStickman's Avatar
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    Absolutely fantastic article.

  4. #4
    Senior Member toddles's Avatar
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    Yeah I posted this sucker on Facebook. Why? Because this was my exact thinking since seriously getting into biking just a year ago. I feel more connected with my communities than ever. The world of bubbles and walls has been well documented before but it was great to see it applied to bicycling and how it can break down those walls.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Right on the money.

    But the font is tiny!
    Don't believe everything you think.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Top Gunner's Avatar
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    Thanks for the post. Reminds me of this quote by Ernest Hemingway

    "It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle. "

  7. #7
    Je pose, donc je suis.
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    The article is kind of begging the question, though. Who says people actually want to experience the city?

    I, for one, am just trying to get to work like everyone else.

  8. #8
    Senior Member exile's Avatar
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    Nicely written and I don't necessarily disagree. But couldn't walking through or living in the neighborhood elicit the same "understanding"?
    lil brown bat wrote:
    Wow, aren't other people stupid? It's a good thing that we're so smart. Yay us.

  9. #9
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by exile View Post
    Nicely written and I don't necessarily disagree. But couldn't walking through or living in the neighborhood elicit the same "understanding"?
    Maybe, but you'd have to spend a lot more time walking. On a bike you can see more of the city while still actually "seeing" it.

  10. #10
    On a Mission from God FunkyStickman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by exile View Post
    Nicely written and I don't necessarily disagree. But couldn't walking through or living in the neighborhood elicit the same "understanding"?
    I don't think the author was trying to say cycling was the only way to experience their surroundings... but it's probably the most efficient.

  11. #11
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Yup. Ever since I started riding NYC suddenly is a different place. I mean, I still don't like it, it stinks, but suddenly everything seems closer, easier to get to, I found streets, shops, parks that I would have never found if I kept riding the mass transit. Subway, in particular, isolates you from the outside world: you get on the train HERE and get off the train THERE, you spent most of the time underground and you are completely unaware of the world between HERE and THERE.

    Driving keeps your senses occupied, keeps you in heightened state of alert and frustration so that prevents you from seeing the world around you as well. When I stared riding around my neighborhood I was amazed how easier, and often faster, it is to get places by bike than by car. And even when you drive you move through "virtual tunnels" with little flexibility and you're so fixated on your route that you don't see much outside of it.

    I remember a while ago, before I started commuting regularly, I was on a subway train and we were forced to leave the train and get out to the street due to smoke condition somewhere along the route. I found myself in a completely unfamiliar place, I had no idea where to go, I felt like I was on a different planet. I waited two hours for another train. I ride by that very station almost every day now and I always smile when I remember that. That place is about 3 miles from home But when I was taking the train I had no sense of distance and direction. I felt like I was A LONG WAY from home.

    I know most of the neighborhoods along my routes very well now, even though I don't really have any business there, just passing. But it just feels kind of good to "know places". No more blanks on the map. I often detour just to checkout another area. I guess that kind of keeps me sane. I don't like this city, but dealing with it this way makes you more a part of it and easier to deal with. I know shortcuts and detours now to get away from the traffic, nice spots to stop and take a break. It feels like I have more control over my movement, which I do, I no longer rely hopelessly on someone else to get me places. I can use my knowledge of the city to get around faster and with much less frustration.

    People sometimes ask me how I know this or that place? I say, "oh, I rode my bike through that area bunch of times and I noticed it".

    The problem I see is that many people are OK with mass transit and driving: they just want to get THERE from HERE and don't give a rat's ass about anything inbetween. People have no curiosity any more, no interest in "seeing the world", they're too busy to care.

    This illustrates the above point:

    Quote Originally Posted by Pedaleur View Post
    The article is kind of begging the question, though. Who says people actually want to experience the city?

    I, for one, am just trying to get to work like everyone else.
    Curiosity, man, curiosity. That's what moves us forward as species. If you lose curiosity of your surroundings you lose humanity. You become an empty automaton. There is world outside of "work". I understand that your route might not be very interesting. My route SUCKS but I still try to make the best of it. I feel like a kid discovering new places. You never feel like that?

    ***

    BTW, the most eye opening, even more than cycling was the 9 mile walk home from Manhattan to Queens during the East Coast blackout. That was something entirely different. I was already biking on and off during that time so I knew the route already, but still, walking along slowly with thousands of other people, wow! But I digress
    Last edited by AdamDZ; 05-28-11 at 07:31 PM.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Lot's Knife's Avatar
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    Cycling makes me hate other people, which is not good for the communitas.

  13. #13
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    eh, a bit touchy-feely for me.

    J.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Lalato's Avatar
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    I agree with the author. I lived in Chicago for over a year before I started biking to work. All I knew was my apartment and my job. Everything in between was reduced to a blur. I hated Chicago. I remember a friend visited me before I started biking and I didn't even know where to take her because I hadn't really interacted with the city at all.

    After biking it, I started to learn about the different neighborhoods and how everything was connected. I started enjoying Chicago for the first time. I rode through some great neighborhoods and some horrible ones, but I would have never driven through those places because they weren't the easiest way to the highway and therefore the fastest way to work.

    The problem is... convincing people to ride bikes. I can't even convince my wife to do it.

  15. #15
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    I've lived in Fort Worth for 16 years. It's only the last 3 or so that I've ridden my bike, though, and in that time I've begun to know the city much more intimately than I ever did before. The McCart corridor, for instance, was a "tunnel" (as mentioned upthread) to me- I stuck to the road and knew nothing of what lay a block in either direction. Now that is one of my more heavily traveled corridors. At first I expected gang bangers and pit bulls on every block, now I realize it is just an immigrant neighborhood, sections of which are quite nice. I've also ridden through other neighborhoods that are... okay... during the day but wouldn't venture into them at night. But even then, there is a continuum- not simply areas that are good and areas marked "Thar be dragons" in my mind (like they used to be).
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  16. #16
    Senior Member
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    The city in which I now live isn't very interesting on or off the bike, unfortunately. Riding through previous city on various commuting routes was much as the author described, though.

  17. #17
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lot's Knife View Post
    Cycling makes me hate other people, which is not good for the communitas.
    Tried driving?

    Quote Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
    The McCart corridor, for instance, was a "tunnel" (as mentioned upthread) to me- I stuck to the road and knew nothing of what lay a block in either direction.
    A lot of people seem to do that, I did that myself: they stick to main streets while there are plenty of side streets with lesser traffic. Again, I discovered those when riding my bike. I used that knowledge a few times already when driving: I was able to nicely detour around clogged main streets.
    Last edited by AdamDZ; 05-31-11 at 12:49 PM.

  18. #18
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    Just got back from northern Minnesota and my older brother commented that he used to think it was pretty flat.

    Now he's bicycled it and those hills are noticeable. Cycling does indeed connect you to your surroundings more.

  19. #19
    Senior Member tjspiel's Avatar
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    I get what the OP is saying but I wouldn't go as far as saying that Bicycles are the key to better cities. I do agree that the automobile weakens what would otherwise be natural communities. Automobiles and central A/C but that's a different topic.

    You can be very isolated on a bike too. I used to take a bus to work very frequently. I had two choices, - an express bus that went through mostly white parts of the city and a limited stop bus which went through a much more diverse set of neighborhoods. You get a much better sense of the people in the city on a bus than I ever will on a bike.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Lot's Knife's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
    Tried driving?
    No. What's that like?

  21. #21
    Fat Guy on a Little Bike KonAaron Snake's Avatar
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    Sorry to pee in the punch bowl, but I honestly thought it was poorly written, poorly thought out, flowery, pretentious, self serving and silly.

    I haven't become familiar with my city by cycling, I've become familiar with it by walking and socializing. I know about the pretty cathedral because it might have had a rummage sale I went to...or because I've lived here long enough to hear about things and to know where they are. I might see something new because it's near a new restaurant I go to. When I'm cycling I notice things less than I do in a car because I'm generally very focused on not getting run over, not hitting jay walkers and looking out for street debris. Is he riding through Mayberry? I do notice the obnoxious and rude comments I often hear, especially while driving through less economically well off areas. That certainly doesn't make me feel at one with my city.

    As far as the comment about instantly converting a city driver to cycling, that seems like idealism to the highest magnitude. Most people don't want to sweat. They don't want to work for transportation. A HIGH percentage of people you see on bikes in my downtown area are on bikes because they have to be...they lost their license, they can't afford a car, they're an illegal and can't get a license. Another substantial portion are on bikes because they're paid to be...delivery guys, messengers, etc. The actual number of people commuting on bikes because they enjoy it is quite low I'd wager. I absolutely detest driving cars...and I stink at it. I choose to commute by bike and I choose to live somewhere where it's possible. I don't have the arrogance to suggest that's a good choice for others, let alone a majority.

    This author seems like a snotty newbie to city life, who just graduated with a spanking new sociology degree, looking to feel superior.
    Last edited by KonAaron Snake; 05-31-11 at 09:49 PM.

  22. #22
    Senior Member tjspiel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
    Sorry to pee in the punch bowl, but I honestly thought it was poorly written, poorly thought out, flowery, pretentious, self serving and silly.

    ...

    This author seems like a snotty newbie to city life, who just graduated with a spanking new sociology degree, looking to feel superior.
    Well, that's certainly a counter point.

    I do agree with some of what you're saying though. Sometimes folks make cycling out to be a much more religious/spiritual thing than it really is (IMHO).

    Individual circumstances will vary of course. AdamDZ makes a pretty good case for why cycling has made him feel more connected to NY City than riding the subway does, but we don't have subways here. Actually some of the cycling infrastructure we have can insulate you from the surrounding area quite a bit, more so than if you were to drive. If you live in the Western part of the city or the Western burbs you can get on a bikeway in the warehouse district and within a mile feel like you're out in the country. There's a couple of stops and that's it. Not really much of city experience.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by KonAaron Snake View Post
    Sorry to pee in the punch bowl, but I honestly thought it was poorly written, poorly thought out, flowery, pretentious, self serving and silly.

    I haven't become familiar with my city by cycling, I've become familiar with it by walking and socializing. I know about the pretty cathedral because it might have had a rummage sale I went to...or because I've lived here long enough to hear about things and to know where they are. I might see something new because it's near a new restaurant I go to. When I'm cycling I notice things less than I do in a car because I'm generally very focused on not getting run over, not hitting jay walkers and looking out for street debris. Is he riding through Mayberry? I do notice the obnoxious and rude comments I often hear, especially while driving through less economically well off areas. That certainly doesn't make me feel at one with my city.

    As far as the comment about instantly converting a city driver to cycling, that seems like idealism to the highest magnitude. Most people don't want to sweat. They don't want to work for transportation. A HIGH percentage of people you see on bikes in my downtown area are on bikes because they have to be...they lost their license, they can't afford a car, they're an illegal and can't get a license. Another substantial portion are on bikes because they're paid to be...delivery guys, messengers, etc. The actual number of people commuting on bikes because they enjoy it is quite low I'd wager. I absolutely detest driving cars...and I stink at it. I choose to commute by bike and I choose to live somewhere where it's possible. I don't have the arrogance to suggest that's a good choice for others, let alone a majority.

    This author seems like a snotty newbie to city life, who just graduated with a spanking new sociology degree, looking to feel superior.
    Pretty much agree. You have to go out and get involved and that has little to do with a bike or a car and a lot more to do with attitude.

    J.

  24. #24
    babylon by bike Standalone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
    BTW, the most eye opening, even more than cycling was the 9 mile walk home from Manhattan to Queens during the East Coast blackout. That was something entirely different. I was already biking on and off during that time so I knew the route already, but still, walking along slowly with thousands of other people, wow! But I digress
    I rode my panasonic to the foot of the Queensboro to wait for my wife making that same trek that day. She was still recovering from being hit and run on her Schwinn a few weeks before, so I knew the walk was not going to be so fun for her. I completely missed her in the mass of humanity coming over that bridge!
    The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets. Christopher Morley

  25. #25
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lot's Knife View Post
    Cycling makes me hate other people, which is not good for the communitas.
    Quote Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
    Tried driving?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lot's Knife View Post
    No. What's that like?
    Perhaps it'll fill you with love for other people as opposed to cycling

    Quote Originally Posted by Standalone View Post
    I rode my panasonic to the foot of the Queensboro to wait for my wife making that same trek that day. She was still recovering from being hit and run on her Schwinn a few weeks before, so I knew the walk was not going to be so fun for her. I completely missed her in the mass of humanity coming over that bridge!
    I'm not surprised you missed her. That was unreal.

    I saw people fist-fighting over a cab on Queens Blvd, right off the bridge. Like a freaking movie.
    Last edited by AdamDZ; 06-01-11 at 05:59 PM.

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