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Getting Serious about Eco-Cycling

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Getting Serious about Eco-Cycling

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Old 06-13-18, 09:58 AM
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welshTerrier2
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Getting Serious about Eco-Cycling

We're only kidding ourselves if we truly believe that cycling as it exists today is going to have a major impact on climate change. Sure, we might encourage more people to ride. Sure, we might see a small percentage of commuters stop driving to work. Sure, we might get a few more bike lanes or even protected bike lanes. Sure, we might build a few more off-road bike paths and even network them together. It's all good. It's also inadequate. As the saying goes, you can't get there from here.

If we're really going to pry people out of their cars, at least for some of their miles, we're going to need radical changes. We need to find honest answers to the question: "Why won't they cycle?" Let's explore some of the most common responses. Cars are convenient and comfortable. By just turning the key, we can go as fast as we want and as far as we want. We can lug home bundles from the grocery store. We can pack whole families into our suburban assault vehicles. We can be hot, cold or anything in between. We have on-board tunes, videos, phones and even live TV. And, of course, we can drive whether it's light out or dark.

Well, with all that, why would anyone want to risk life and limb riding a bicycle? Yeah, there are always a few nuts out there cycling in traffic, bad weather or at night but, let's get real, they are in the minority and they always will be. That is, of course, unless some huge changes can be made.

Is it really possible that cycling could reduce auto miles by 50 percent or maybe even more? Wishing and hoping and making the kinds of changes most cycling advocates are pushing for, although worthwhile, will never get the job done. These efforts, to be sure, can clearly make cycling safer and more enjoyable for those who do ride today. But, to effect the radical changes we need, no way!

Okay, so, how do we get there from here? What would it really take? Here are a few thoughts on the matter. Hopefully you can add to the list.

Starting with the basics, safety, comfort and convenience have to top the list. While many cyclists feel comfortable riding alongside cars, most people do not. If we want "the masses" to cycle, we need "separation". This doesn't mean that today's road warriors should be barred from using the roads but it acknowledges that changes to the infrastructure have to happen if cycling for the masses is going to succeed. Of course, "separation" is easier said than done. Many roadways are already too narrow to build in meaningful separation. On many roads, there really isn't even room for bike lanes.

Proposal #1 is to create bicycle boulevards on a few select roads. Think of a tic-tac-toe pattern of "bikes only" roads in every community. I can hear the "no way would that work" already. How would people who live on those roads even get to their houses and what would that do to businesses located on these roads? Change is never easy. Instead of explaining why it wouldn't work, think about what could be done to make it work. Suppose, for example, that the speed limit for cars on those roads were limited to 10 mph and that cars could only travel very short distances on these roads before they were detoured onto other roads. Are there problems with this? Sure. Solve them. With "bikes only" roads, we'll be a whole lot closer to solving the most feared safety problem.

Proposal #2 addresses the comfort and convenience aspects of the problem. These changes are already underway as e-bikes grow in popularity. Cycling advocates, at least those who recognize the critical necessity of promoting cycling for the masses, should embrace e-bike technology. We're still free to pedal the bikes we have but we should not take an elitist view of cycling. To put cycling within reach of most people, a little help from a battery is just what the doctor ordered. With adequate battery support, problems like range, speed and power are no longer serious obstacles for most people.

Proposal #3 takes comfort and convenience a big step further. Check out this link: 5 Examples Of Enclosed Bike Designs That Are Taking Over The Roads CONTEMPORIST. Redesigning bicycles such that they offer some of the same benefits cars offer is the third missing link in the chain. With an enclosed bicycle, especially if the enclosure could be easily removed during good weather and even used generically with any bike, concerns about rain and snow and cold temperatures could be eliminated. Our bicycles could now be heated. In cold climates, even most hardcore cyclists are not out riding when temperatures get too low. Enclosed bicycles could change that. And, of course, these enclosures could be designed to carry an additional passenger or two and maybe a few groceries. As for creature comforts like music, phone and more, no problem.

Proposal #4 recognizes that there are limits to the distances people will be willing to travel on a pedal-powered vehicle even if it's equipped with a battery. We need much better integration between the bicycle boulevards discussed above and mass transit. What would it take to encourage commuters to use their bikes to get to a train station or a bus station? How about unlimited, free, secure parking? How about huge discounts on the bus or train if you get to the station by bike? How about simply improving mass transit itself? Most of the mass transit in my area doesn't get you where you need to go.

All sorts of other activities will be needed if we are going to make eco-cycling a reality. We need much more planning, much more driver and cyclist education and much more marketing to make the public aware of why these changes are so desperately needed. The cycling advocacy community has understandably focused on issues that affect today's riders but it's time we broadened the vision to bring cycling to the masses. The sooner we get started on these radical changes, the better off we'll be.
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Old 06-13-18, 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by welshTerrier2 View Post
We need to find honest answers to the question: "Why won't they cycle?" Let's explore some of the most common responses. Cars are convenient and comfortable. By just turning the key, we can go as fast as we want and as far as we want. We can lug home bundles from the grocery store. We can pack whole families into our suburban assault vehicles. We can be hot, cold or anything in between. We have on-board tunes, videos, phones and even live TV. And, of course, we can drive whether it's light out or dark.
You forgot the biggest one: Cycling takes physical effort which most people aren't willing to put out. We as a society would rather sit on the couch watching TV, drive to the store for groceries, then eat a ton of food while we post memes on Facebook about how hard it is to lose weight. And if we do decide to go to a gym, we'll drive there so we can walk or run on a treadmill or ride an exercise bike. If we get an exercise bike at home it becomes a convenient place to hang clothes. And we buy all sorts of labor saving devices for use around the house so we'll have more time to go to the gym and get exercise.

Seriously, people look at me like I'm either crazy or superhuman when I tell them I ride a bike 10 miles every morning, as if it's completing a triathlon. To me, it's nothing.

In short, we as a society are generally lazy.
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Old 06-13-18, 12:24 PM
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I ride a motorcycle to work every day because it's the closest thing to a bicycle that will get me there in a reasonable time (47 miles one way on the highway, or about 40 miles if I take the most direct backroad route). The weather and day/night don't really bother me.

Could I ride a bicycle to work? Sure, but the ride to- and from work would take 8 hours (lots of hills!). That's not practical. Even an e-bike with a top speed of 20 would take me 4 hours, round trip.

I would definitely use an electric motorcycle, assuming it had sufficient range. That market is still emergent, along with e-bikes.

If I lived within 15 miles of work, I could see myself daily commuting via bicycle. That's probably about the limit of what I'd want to do day-in, day-out.
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Old 06-13-18, 12:36 PM
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Those proposals sound great, but you need to find the political will to implement them.The global political situation is highly polarized between the right and the left, and this manifests in most aspects of life, including cycling. Cycling is mostly associated with the left. Getting massive city transformations without at least some support from the right is an uphill battle. The reason why I am saying this is because of how you started your post

We're only kidding ourselves if we truly believe that cycling as it exists today is going to have a major impact on climate change.
God luck convincing the typical conservative that he should spend tax payer money to remove car lanes in order to avoid climate change. Luckily, cycling has much more benefits other than fighting climate change
  • Reducing traffic. The average car speed in Manhattan is down to around 8mph. Amsterdam is the city with the slowest average speed for cyclists, around 9.3mph. Once you take into account how hard it is to find a parking place, cycling in big cities can be much faster than driving under current conditions. More importantly, cycling can make roads faster for all road users, including drivers. The bike lanes in NYC actually sped up traffic instead of slowing it down (this is not the case with all bike lanes worldwide in the short run).
  • Saving lives. More than 3000 people are killed every day in car accidents world wide, including around 100 in the US alone. Cars hitting pedestrians is what helped the Netherlands find the political will to make changes, and their changes have worked.
  • Helping local businesses. With the boom of online shopping a lot of local stores are struggling to sell products. People don't want to drive to the store and find parking when they can just buy things online. Cycling is a way to get people out of their homes and into businesses.
  • Reducing pollution. Even if you want to talk about the environment, global warming feels distant and impersonal. Air pollution in big cities is something people can see and smell in the air. It is something that people are aware of when they get high-ozone warnings. It is a lot more tangible than global warming.
  • Lowering taxes. Infrastructure for cars is way more expensive than infrastructure for bicycles. Both in terms of maintenance and in terms of construction.
  • Lowering public health costs. Because obesity, diabetes and heart disease are serious issues.
  • Improving the quality of life. Because nobody wants to live in a concrete parking lot. Bike boulevards fit resident areas much better than wide asphalt streets.
  • Safer roads for all road users. Separating bicycles and cars makes the road safer both for cyclists and drivers.
What is not to like? Cycling infrastructure should not be a cyclists vs drivers battle, nor a left vs right competition. Most liberals I know already like the idea of building cycling infrastructure. The question is how to get conservatives to support the idea. And it should be possible, because the idea can benefit all.
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Old 06-13-18, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by General Geoff View Post
I ride a motorcycle to work every day because it's the closest thing to a bicycle that will get me there in a reasonable time (47 miles one way on the highway, or about 40 miles if I take the most direct backroad route). The weather and day/night don't really bother me.
That is a long commute. It makes perfect sense to use a motor vehicle for it. And I understand that many people are in your situation. And, in sparsely populated areas, I doubt that public transportation is a realistic solution for you.

I suspect that many people with shorter commutes use a single-occupant car to get to work. I used to live in a town in central PA that was 6 miles long, and I only had one coworker that commuted by bike. Just one, everyone else drove their car for less than 2 or 3 miles (a few people commuted from other towns, but not most).
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Old 06-13-18, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by salcedo View Post
I suspect that many people with shorter commutes use a single-occupant car to get to work. I used to live in a town in central PA that was 6 miles long, and I only had one coworker that commuted by bike. Just one, everyone else drove their car for less than 2 or 3 miles (a few people commuted from other towns, but not most).
I've found over many trips to a local grocery store (about 2.6 miles from my house), that I take less time to bike there than driving, if I include the time I let my car warm up (about 2 minutes). It takes me about 9 minutes to cycle there, 10 if I'm being leisurely about it. Hardly a daunting task to ask of people.
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Old 06-13-18, 01:56 PM
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To make more people ride and/or take transit, you have to make those options better than driving. Like dieting successfully, what needs to be done is well known, we simply lack the will to actually do it. Put a $0.50 per liter tax on gas and use the revenue on green transportation initiatives like what is being described by the OP. Switch to more renewable and nuclear electricity generation and provide incentives for people to use electric cars.

The problem is that any politician that makes life difficult for the majority of the population (i.e. the driving population) will lose their job.
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Old 06-13-18, 03:24 PM
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my long held opinion/belief is that there will be no significant increase in cycling for commuting/utility until is more convenient to ride than drive.

What defines "more convenient"? A number of things potentially, but it will be unique for each individual, some but not all include:

Cost which is many things
  • Cost of gas....history has shown it would take a big increase in gas cost to make a difference
  • cost of parking, if parking at places of work were not free (as is the case in many but not all places) this would drive decisions (but would take political changes to make so)
  • Increased income, if people were to paid to commute
  • reduced health insurance costs
functional convenience:
  • easy, safe, protected place to park bike (require bike parking for new development, not car parking)
  • Hard to find parking for cars
  • biking takes less time than cars
  • effort is doable (e-bikes?)
  • bike supports commuting/utility needs...i.e rack, fenders, light etc
Perceived safetybike lanes and other infrastructure
  • visible law enforcement
  • Riding education
  • road diets
Social acceptance
  • biking seen as normal (holland any one) daily activit
  • I know person x, if they can do it i can
  • wow jim has lost 20 lbs..all he said he has done is ride his bike
most of this will take legislative change, but the one thing we can do is to impact social acceptance....ride daily, commute, do utility rides, help friends and neighbors bike have fun and smile
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Old 06-13-18, 07:09 PM
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The automobile can be seen as a device for turning hydrocarbons into human fat, fulfilling a genetic imperative. Whiskey foxtrot, folks.
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Old 06-14-18, 04:18 AM
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Getting Serious about Eco-Cycling
Originally Posted by squirtdad View Post
my long held opinion/belief is that there will be no significant increase in cycling for commuting/utility until is more convenient to ride than drive.

What defines "more convenient"?A number of things potentially, but it will be unique for each individual, some but not all include:...
I have previously posted:
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Boston is probably one of the most Car-free cities in the world, and having a car is often detrimental. We live near the transportation hub of Kenmore Square. Our easily accessible Car-free / Car-light modalities at home and work are:
  1. subway and Commuter Rail
  2. taxis and Uber
  3. car rentals, including Zipcar
  4. shopping and personal services within walking distances
  5. a convenient place to stay overnight at work
  6. my cycle commutes are on pleasant routes in the reverse of the usual commuting direction.
I’ve been an avid cyclist for decades, so that and other Car-free transportation is fine with me. I posted to this thread on LCF, "What's awesome about Living Car Free":
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
And I have equally pleasant driving and mass transit alternatives…Sometime ago I tried to schematically diagram the comparisons between my three transportation modes:…

Overall Satisfaction:
BIKE>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>TRAIN>>>CAR

Intensity of Focus:
BIKE>>>CAR>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>TRAIN

Convenience:
CAR>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>BIKE>>TRAIN

While not totally car free, nearly all activities where I do use a car have alternatives which just require more time and planning...

In my environment, not owning a car is indeed freedom. Driving in heavy traffic to a scheduled appointment in downtown Boston and trying to find a parking place or pay outrageous parking fees is not a liberating experience whereas walking, subway and bike can be…
Location, location, location.

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Old 06-14-18, 07:54 AM
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There was a time when people weren't fat, and the majority were in way better shape then even the fit people now, because they worked hard physical labor jobs. There were no cars and they walked, used horses, took trains and trollies, and maybe rode a bike to get around. Then cars came on the scene. Those people gave up walking, gave up the horse and wagons, left trains to handle freight, tore out the trollies, and skipped right over bicycles to the car. They embraced cars quickly and developed their entire infrastructure around it.

So it's intellectually lazy to say people now just want cars because they're fat, lazy, etc. You need to go back to when cars were first developed and became popular over 100 years ago to determine why the bicycle lost the race at the start. The reasons the car became the transportation mode of choice are still the reasons it remains the most popular choice, and cars now have over 100 years of entrenched infrastructure design and cultural attachment on top of that. Not only does another method of transportation have to beat out something it couldn't beat out in the past (when people were fit and trim) but it has to overcome even more due to the inertia of sunk costs and culture.

Go back, figure out why the car won in the first place and you may have a chance at coming up with some alternatives. Tossing out a list of stuff the a small minority would love to have, while handing someone else the bill for it, probably isn't the way to go.
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Old 06-14-18, 10:20 AM
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Originally Posted by salcedo View Post
Those proposals sound great, but you need to find the political will to implement them.The global political situation is highly polarized between the right and the left, and this manifests in most aspects of life, including cycling. Cycling is mostly associated with the left. Getting massive city transformations without at least some support from the right is an uphill battle.
True, and allthough I believe the true hard right is not interested in reducing health costs, to the contrary, there are things about cycling that must appeal to the right. You can have extra economic activity like sidewalk cafés when you get rid of cars and their noise in a certain area, especially when CUI isn't prosecuted fanatically. But you can also have more economic activity in a city if people can get around quicker, with less trouble and have more meetings and visit more places to spend money in one day.
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Old 06-14-18, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by InOmaha View Post
There was a time when people weren't fat, and the majority were in way better shape then even the fit people now, because they worked hard physical labor jobs. There were no cars and they walked, used horses, took trains and trollies, and maybe rode a bike to get around. Then cars came on the scene. Those people gave up walking, gave up the horse and wagons, left trains to handle freight, tore out the trollies, and skipped right over bicycles to the car. They embraced cars quickly and developed their entire infrastructure around it.

So it's intellectually lazy to say people now just want cars because they're fat, lazy, etc. You need to go back to when cars were first developed and became popular over 100 years ago to determine why the bicycle lost the race at the start. The reasons the car became the transportation mode of choice are still the reasons it remains the most popular choice, and cars now have over 100 years of entrenched infrastructure design and cultural attachment on top of that. Not only does another method of transportation have to beat out something it couldn't beat out in the past (when people were fit and trim) but it has to overcome even more due to the inertia of sunk costs and culture.

Go back, figure out why the car won in the first place and you may have a chance at coming up with some alternatives. Tossing out a list of stuff the a small minority would love to have, while handing someone else the bill for it, probably isn't the way to go.
Nicely written. I have posted:
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
…It seems to me that in order to be an attractive place to support a variety of restaurants and shops to which to walk (and not drive to visit that neighborhood…the basic premise of this thread (["Car-Free outings for otherwise car-heavies"]) a neighborhood must be a large area with a substantial, dense population living there, likely that evolved in the pre-automotive era.

I think a lot of urban revitalization projects tend to create enclaves as driving destinations to walk around in such large cities like in my native Detroit.

One of my greatest complaints about the automotive industry/culture is that by intent, or just popular acceptance, previously vitalized neighborhoods just whithered away, and deprived the citizens of the choice to Live Car Free
Location. location, location

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Old 06-14-18, 02:27 PM
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Utility bicycling is an inherently urban and faintly foreign-ish activity, which, at least in this country, makes it antithetical to what passes for conservative thought at this time. That said, the independence, decentralization, mobility, and lack of dependence on government (in the form of mass transit or even good roads), should make it appealing to classical conservatives, if any still exist.
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Old 06-14-18, 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by MoAlpha View Post
The automobile can be seen as a device for turning hydrocarbons into human fat, fulfilling a genetic imperative. Whiskey foxtrot, folks.

Did you possibly mean Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?
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Old 06-14-18, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by NewATBikeComute View Post
Did you possibly mean Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?
No, that would have been followed by a question mark. Whiskey fox is a statement, synonymous with "Mayday," the first contracted word of which is "we're" and which has its very own signal flag.



I suppose it would be more properly "Whiskey Alpha Foxtrot," but I've never seen it spelled that way.

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Old 06-15-18, 04:23 AM
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Jim from Boston
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Originally Posted by welshTerrier2 View Post
We're only kidding ourselves if we truly believe that cycling as it exists today is going to have a major impact on climate change. Sure, we might encourage more people to ride. Sure, we might see a small percentage of commuters stop driving to work.

Sure, we might get a few more bike lanes or even protected bike lanes. Sure, we might build a few more off-road bike paths and even network them together. It's all good. It's also inadequate. As the saying goes, you can't get there from here…. Is it really possible that cycling could reduce auto miles by 50 percent or maybe even more?

Wishing and hoping and making the kinds of changes most cycling advocates are pushing for, although worthwhile, will never get the job done. These efforts, to be sure, can clearly make cycling safer and more enjoyable for those who do ride today. But, to effect the radical changes we need, no way!...

Of course, "separation" is easier said than done. Many roadways are already too narrow to build in meaningful separation. On many roads, there really isn't even room for bike lanes….
Originally Posted by salcedo View Post
Those proposals sound great, but you need to find the political will to implement them.The global political situation is highly polarized between the right and the left, and this manifests in most aspects of life, including cycling. Cycling is mostly associated with the left. Getting massive city transformations without at least some support from the right is an uphill battle. The reason why I am saying this is because of how you started your post

God luck convincing the typical conservative that he should spend tax payer money to remove car lanes in order to avoid climate change. Luckily, cycling has much more benefits other than fighting climate change
  1. Reducing traffic. The average car speed in Manhattan is down to around 8mph. Amsterdam is the city with the slowest average speed for cyclists, around 9.3mph. ...
More importantly, cycling can make roads faster for all road users, including drivers. The bike lanes in NYC actually sped up traffic instead of slowing it down (this is not the case with all bike lanes worldwide in the short run)...

What is not to like? Cycling infrastructure should not be a cyclists vs drivers battle, nor a left vs right competition. Most liberals I know already like the idea of building cycling infrastructure. The question is how to get conservatives to support the idea. And it should be possible, because the idea can benefit all....
From a daily reading of the Politics and Religion Forum, it certainly does seem that the large majority of self-selected subscribers that I recognize from the cycling forums have leftward political views.

Just yesterday, I was listening to a right-leaning popular Boston Talk Show, The Howie Carr Show, who is also a columnist for the right-leaning Boston Herald newspaper. The topic was an article in the Sunday Herald, "Boston has the ‘worst traffic in the country’ ... How would you fix it?."

I could not open the comments section, but according to Howie, many suggestions were to eliminate the bicycle lanes.

https://howiecarrshow.com/2018/06/13...-13-18-hour-4/
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Boston…Jim from Boston. D’uh.

Actually, besides the simplicity and utility of that screen name, it has a deeper meaning. I’m an avid radio talk show fan, and when I (rarely) call in, I’m introduced as Jim from Boston (…”and now here’s Jim from Boston. What’s up Jim"?)
.

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Old 06-15-18, 05:37 AM
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I think the only real way to entice people to bike commute is to attack their wallet and/or to make driving a real hassle.
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Old 06-15-18, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Just yesterday, I was listening to a right-leaning popular Boston Talk Show, The Howie Carr Show, who is also a columnist for the right-leaning Boston Herald newspaper. The topic was an article in the Sunday Herald, Boston has the ‘worst traffic in the country’ ... How would you fix it?.

I could not open the comments section, but according to Howie, many suggestions were to eliminate the bicycle lanes.
Of course, the right answer is that the most effective way to "fix" the traffic problem would be to eliminate the car lanes. Just sayin' ...
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