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  1. #1
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Example of how much attitudes about transportation are changing

    Des Moines is a particularly conservative town, home to insurance and banking companies, middle of the corn belt.

    Imagine my surprise to see the front of the Des Moines Register Opinion page on Sunday featuring an article about carfree transportation.

    Alexander Grgurich is a 24-year-old entrepreneur who lives and works in downtown Des Moines. A year ago, he sold his car and relies on his bike and the bus to get around town.

    Grgurich might seem a brave pioneer, or even daft, to some, but he is actually a living example of just how much attitudes about transportation are changing.

    Des Moines has largely been auto dependent for much of the past century, but there are signs of an important cultural shift: More people are choosing public transportation, bicycles and walking while leaving the car in the garage. The challenge for developers, city planners and employers will be to keep up with this trend - and to encourage it - as a way to make Greater Des Moines more vibrant, healthful and environmentally conscious.

    Des Moines may never entirely give up its preference for the automobile, but it should offer more transportation options for residents who want them. As those options expand, and more people use them, Des Moines could become a very different city.

    rest of the article
    Sometimes I feel very optimistic about change.

  2. #2
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    That was a nice article. There's hope for Des Moines.
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

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    Very groovy.

  4. #4
    Dare to be weird!
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    Alexander Grgurich is a 24-year-old entrepreneur who lives and works in downtown Des Moines. A year ago, he sold his car and relies on his bike and the bus to get around town.
    It's interesting that the reporter chose to illustrate his thesis with the example of a young environmentally concerned entrepreneur. This conveys the idea that there's a growing cohort of predominantly young people who are seeking a less car dependent lifestyle for both idealistic and practical reasons. This is a useful idea because it's not psychologically threatening to people who have already committed to car dependency.

    Most people are probably subconsciously aware that 20th century universal car culture can't be sustained much longer. They don't want to consider making any changes themselves, but at this point in time they might be somewhat willing to make accommodations for other people who are trying to become less car dependent. "Okay, you can have your bike lane, just let me continue driving in peace."

    Edited to add: We're entering the bargaining phase now.

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    Bravo!

    I never thought my hometown would get to the point of putting in bike lanes (only in a couple higher-traffic areas so far), and I'm AMAZED at the extensive MUP network that has grown over the last few years; checked out the latest bike lanes last week, and they are pretty sweet -- if they just keep them clean, we'll be good. One D-bag buzzed me while I was in the lane, but that fool was all over the road anyway, so it wasn't personal.

    The "Lancemania" is dying off, and the idea is beginning to sink through the concrete (of ignorant skulls) that bikes are here to stay. We have seen the slap-in-the-face shock of "OMG, bikes! What are they doing on our roads?" We have seen, and are still seeing, "They're trying to push us off our roads! FIGHT BACK!" We will see, "Oh, a bike -- OK, there's room...." Hopefully, sooner rather than later.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Platy View Post
    We're entering the bargaining phase now.
    Good point. Most of my coworkers think that I'm crazy or suffering somehow by cycling (an entire mile) to work. But some of them express envy. They have excuses (I have to drive down X road to get here; It's 14 miles, etc.). But some of them acknowledge that they are excuses.

    There really are a LOT of roads that I would not go near on a bike here. Any sort of bicycle accommodation is years and years away. We are definitely still in the denial phase ("Cycling is for hardcore roadies, environazis, felons and the very poor").

  7. #7
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eileen View Post
    There really are a LOT of roads that I would not go near on a bike here.
    Where's "here"?

  8. #8
    Senior Member Newspaperguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DX-MAN View Post
    We have seen the slap-in-the-face shock of "OMG, bikes! What are they doing on our roads?" We have seen, and are still seeing, "They're trying to push us off our roads! FIGHT BACK!" We will see, "Oh, a bike -- OK, there's room...." Hopefully, sooner rather than later.
    That's already happening here. Sure, there are a few holdouts who think bikes don't belong, but they're hardly worthy more than a passing mention anymore.

    Much more common are those who ask if I feel safe on a bike. I normally log more distance on the bike than in the car. I wouldn't do that if I thought cycling was unsafe.

    There is still a mindset shift we need to see, but it's not about accepting bikes on the roads. Instead, it's the transition from seeing cycling as fine for others to seeing cycling as practical for most.
    Life is good.

  9. #9
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Platy View Post
    It's interesting that the reporter chose to illustrate his thesis with the example of a young environmentally concerned entrepreneur. This conveys the idea that there's a growing cohort of predominantly young people who are seeking a less car dependent lifestyle for both idealistic and practical reasons. This is a useful idea because it's not psychologically threatening to people who have already committed to car dependency.

    Most people are probably subconsciously aware that 20th century universal car culture can't be sustained much longer. They don't want to consider making any changes themselves, but at this point in time they might be somewhat willing to make accommodations for other people who are trying to become less car dependent. "Okay, you can have your bike lane, just let me continue driving in peace."

    Edited to add: We're entering the bargaining phase now.
    Many young people have the subconscious notion that car culture is about to make a giant u-turn... heading off in some new direction. This type of article or the example of seeing a bicycle commuter in winter or a peer who has moved to a big city and now finds public transportation the most convenient way to travel... all this sets up the possibility of what some call a paradigm change ( or perhaps "sea change" is a better term.)

    The seed has been planted.

    With all the interesting things that are happening in small and large cities -- at least in the northern US and Canada -- I expect this to grow into something substantial...

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    It a good article and thanks for the OP in posting.

    If you'll notice, the young man was born very close to the year 2000. It's this generation (Those born after 2000) that will lead the way for coming generations in the carfree movement. Each geneation after this one will drive less and less.

  11. #11
    Senior Member ro-monster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gerv View Post
    ... all this sets up the possibility of what some call a paradigm change ( or perhaps "sea change" is a better term.)

    With all the interesting things that are happening in small and large cities -- at least in the northern US and Canada -- I expect this to grow into something substantial...
    Into something rich and strange!

  12. #12
    Not safe for work cyclokitty's Avatar
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    It's good to see the media report positively about bike commuting. Maybe it'll encourage more people to go outside and try cycling to an errand or to work or school. Bike commuting is pretty addictive and so much nicer than being inside a stuffy car or bus.


  13. #13
    bragi bragi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
    It a good article and thanks for the OP in posting.

    If you'll notice, the young man was born very close to the year 2000. It's this generation (Those born after 2000) that will lead the way for coming generations in the carfree movement. Each geneation after this one will drive less and less.
    I'm not so sure about this. I'm a middle school teacher, and the vast majority of my students very much look forward to driving. On the other hand, they've also told me that access to communication technology is even more important to them. If they had to choose between their smart phones and a car, I'm pretty sure most of them would opt for the phone. But, of course, they'd rather have both. Unless economics make it unreasonable, most of my students will drive cars as soon as they are able.
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  14. #14
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bragi View Post
    I'm not so sure about this. I'm a middle school teacher, and the vast majority of my students very much look forward to driving.
    I have to admit you've got a good point. My youngest son is currently out looking to buy a car. He's very much into using a car. He commutes by car, even though it would probably be more convenient to take the bus.

    Despite that, at his age, he's a lot more exposed to transportation alternatives than his father. Some of his friends are living in major cities w/o a car. Of course, many more of his friends think a car is necessary living in Des Moines, so he's of the same mindset... we'll see.

    Any move to getting the "modal split" anywhere near 10% (ie, bicycle trips compared to other forms of travel) will take a long time. And even 10% will see many more still using cars.

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    I have a 16yo nephew who's looking forward to getting his license, but he still will get on the bike in a second to go where he wants to go! He still enjoys the ride!

    My daughter (soon to be 13) has expressed repeatedly that she has no interest in driving; we'll see if that holds.... can't cross anything else, lol.......................

  16. #16
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Another data point: Fort Worth. The blog I linked is called FortWorthology: traditional urbanism - smart growth - transit - sustainablity. If you scroll down through the articles, there is a lot of info on a new streetcar project, street projects to enhance pedestrian and cycling access, bicycle parking, etc., along with other land use & development stories. There is a growing push (and yes, some push back) toward bicycle transportation, public transportation, and sustainable development, much of which is in the city core.
    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."

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    Quote Originally Posted by gerv View Post
    I have to admit you've got a good point. My youngest son is currently out looking to buy a car. He's very much into using a car. He commutes by car, even though it would probably be more convenient to take the bus.

    Despite that, at his age, he's a lot more exposed to transportation alternatives than his father. Some of his friends are living in major cities w/o a car. Of course, many more of his friends think a car is necessary living in Des Moines, so he's of the same mindset... we'll see.

    Any move to getting the "modal split" anywhere near 10% (ie, bicycle trips compared to other forms of travel) will take a long time. And even 10% will see many more still using cars.
    When I first started driving, I was really excited. The feeling was new then. I would go for joyrides with friends, listening to music, into the mountains just to have something to do. Then when I started driving out of necessity to get to work and school, the novelty wore off. After a few tickets, I was just resentful of the car. I started taking the bus to school and riding a crappy slow old cruiser around town because I couldn't afford to pay for the ridiculously expensive registration tags. I would still use my car from time to time when necessary but the last ticket for $950 just convinced me that I did not enjoy driving my car enough to keep paying for things like gas, insurance, tickets, etc. A year ago, I found the Tammy Strobel's rowdykittens.com blog and read her Simply Carfree ebook. That's when I decided to sell my car and buy a bike. I'm still struggling to adapt to using a bike for every day transportation, but at least I enjoy it a lot more than driving the old cage.

    My younger brother is starting to drive now and I think he's starting to learn what a burden having a car can be. Driving a car is expensive and working just to afford the car to get to work is a drag. I think some younger kids can see that after the novelty of driving wears off.

  18. #18
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by albertmoreno View Post
    When I first started driving, I was really excited. The feeling was new then. I would go for joyrides with friends, listening to music, into the mountains just to have something to do. Then when I started driving out of necessity to get to work and school, the novelty wore off. After a few tickets, I was just resentful of the car. I started taking the bus to school and riding a crappy slow old cruiser around town because I couldn't afford to pay for the ridiculously expensive registration tags. I would still use my car from time to time when necessary but the last ticket for $950 just convinced me that I did not enjoy driving my car enough to keep paying for things like gas, insurance, tickets, etc. A year ago, I found the Tammy Strobel's rowdykittens.com blog and read her Simply Carfree ebook. That's when I decided to sell my car and buy a bike. I'm still struggling to adapt to using a bike for every day transportation, but at least I enjoy it a lot more than driving the old cage.

    My younger brother is starting to drive now and I think he's starting to learn what a burden having a car can be. Driving a car is expensive and working just to afford the car to get to work is a drag. I think some younger kids can see that after the novelty of driving wears off.
    All this attitude about cars is something you get as a benefit of being a Generation Y type. Years ago, young people generally wouldn't have given serious thought to going without. Gas was cheap. Cars reasonably priced. They were easy to repair. There was less congestion on the roadways. And I think there was less need to spend hours per day getting from A to B.

  19. #19
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gerv View Post
    Sometimes I feel very optimistic about change.
    Yeah, I do to... then I wake up.

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