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Different perspective in Europe

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Different perspective in Europe

Old 10-20-23, 11:23 AM
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Different perspective in Europe

There is the notion that making cites better for people is important and if that means putting the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians ahead of those of motorists and their vehicles, well that is for the common good. How novel to put people above profits for a few at the top. This change is possible in those few countries that still have a semblance of democracy and progressive people can be elected to office to serve the majority. It will never happen in the USA but it shows the problem is endemic and by design.

https://www.theguardian.com/environm...urban-planning
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Old 10-22-23, 09:44 AM
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The USA's car-focused culture was largely brought on by the urban sprawl of the mid 20th century, which created the need for even the lowest paid workers to own a personal car. Prior to that our city/town designs more closely reflected the needs of non-motor vehicle transportation. I no longer think the citizens will be the limiting factor in shifting the culture, because there is a growing number of people who want alternatives to motor vehicle ownership. This has been largely an economic motivation as the automobile manufacturers have rapidly out-priced the middle class' ability to afford their products, and they don't seem to care either. The limiting factor will be changing the infrastructure itself as it will be costly and a logistical nightmare.
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Old 10-22-23, 10:37 AM
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It helps that most Euro countries tax the hell out of gasoline, makes using an auto expensive, many then seek out and use alternatives, buses, trains, bikes. Triple the fed gas tax here and you’d see a lot fewer folks in Land Crusher SUV’s.
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Old 10-23-23, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by JW Fas
The USA's car-focused culture was largely brought on by the urban sprawl of the mid 20th century, which created the need for even the lowest paid workers to own a personal car. Prior to that our city/town designs more closely reflected the needs of non-motor vehicle transportation. I no longer think the citizens will be the limiting factor in shifting the culture, because there is a growing number of people who want alternatives to motor vehicle ownership. This has been largely an economic motivation as the automobile manufacturers have rapidly out-priced the middle class' ability to afford their products, and they don't seem to care either. The limiting factor will be changing the infrastructure itself as it will be costly and a logistical nightmare.
Or rather, the urban sprawl was brought on by the planners who deliberately favored cars and tore up mass transit options, tore up functional urban neighborhoods to push through highways, etc.
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Old 10-29-23, 01:14 AM
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“Europe” is a very broad term.

For example, two of the largest cities in my country:

Novi Sad - “Serbian Amsterdam”
Flat, covered with separate bicycle paths, with a long cycling tradition.
Great public transport, and very bike-friendly.

Belgrade
Larger (though no longer more densely populated - at least not significantly), with some hilly parts.
Very bad for cycling. With not so good public transport to boot.
Cars get stuck so densely that you can’t filter on a bike with narrow handlebars.

So, there are huge differences in infrastructure and drivers’ habbits. Both make a huge difference.

Now, I’ve never been to the USA, but it is my understanding that (correct me if I’m wrong) shopping malls, industrial centres (factories and big company buildings), theatres, swimming pools etc. are not within a 30-minute bicycle ride from where most people live.

So, one would need to do some major restructuring to make cycling be the most convenient means of transport. Cycling infrastructure does not make distances shorter. Relocation is costly and complicated. Maybe good subsidized train and metro network with enough bike storage space on board.

Still seems very difficult to solve.

Now, for my city (Novi Sad):
Traffic jams, high petrol prices, and not nearly enough parking lots make cycling very popular.
But it also makes buying or renting a flat VERY expensive.

There just is no convenient and inexpensive way to commute from 20+ km away from the city centre. Similar goes for high school kids from “the suburbes.”

Pros and cons to everything I suppose.
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Old 10-29-23, 06:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Bike Gremlin
“Europe” is a very broad term.

For example, two of the largest cities in my country:

Novi Sad - “Serbian Amsterdam”
Flat, covered with separate bicycle paths, with a long cycling tradition.
Great public transport, and very bike-friendly.

Belgrade
Larger (though no longer more densely populated - at least not significantly), with some hilly parts.
Very bad for cycling. With not so good public transport to boot.
Cars get stuck so densely that you can’t filter on a bike with narrow handlebars.

So, there are huge differences in infrastructure and drivers’ habbits. Both make a huge difference.

Now, I’ve never been to the USA, but it is my understanding that (correct me if I’m wrong) shopping malls, industrial centres (factories and big company buildings), theatres, swimming pools etc. are not within a 30-minute bicycle ride from where most people live.

So, one would need to do some major restructuring to make cycling be the most convenient means of transport. Cycling infrastructure does not make distances shorter. Relocation is costly and complicated. Maybe good subsidized train and metro network with enough bike storage space on board.

Still seems very difficult to solve.

Now, for my city (Novi Sad):
Traffic jams, high petrol prices, and not nearly enough parking lots make cycling very popular.
But it also makes buying or renting a flat VERY expensive.

There just is no convenient and inexpensive way to commute from 20+ km away from the city centre. Similar goes for high school kids from “the suburbes.”

Pros and cons to everything I suppose.
Partly true.

As you might expect, that's more true for some US cities than for others. Los Angeles, Houston and quite a few others are too spread out for most to depend mostly on cycling. Others, such as where I live (Minneapolis), Portland, and many others are more conducive. But it's true that there are few US city centers organized in compact ways as Amsterdam, Copenhagen, etc.

But progress can be made. Many American cities have added infrastructure to make cycling more feasible.
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Old 10-29-23, 09:39 AM
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I believe the best solution is to find a place on Earth that already suits your needs perfectly and move there.
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Old 10-29-23, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Bike Gremlin
.

Now, I’ve never been to the USA, but it is my understanding that (correct me if I’m wrong) shopping malls, industrial centres (factories and big company buildings), theatres, swimming pools etc. are not within a 30-minute bicycle ride from where most people live.

So, one would need to do some major restructuring to make cycling be the most convenient means of transport. Cycling infrastructure does not make distances shorter. Relocation is costly and complicated. Maybe good subsidized train and metro network with enough bike storage space on board.

Still seems very difficult to solve.

Now, for my city (Novi Sad):
Traffic jams, high petrol prices, and not nearly enough parking lots make cycling very popular.
But it also makes buying or renting a flat VERY expensive.

There just is no convenient and inexpensive way to commute from 20+ km away from the city centre. Similar goes for high school kids from “the suburbes.”

Pros and cons to everything I suppose.
You're not wrong. Through policy decisions from a corporate owned government, Americans have been pigeon-holed into car-dependent high cost consumer culture. Everything is a trip. Be it the to the grocery store for a bale of toilet paper, the "third place" for social activities, or work.

The solution to this is a holistic approach: Zoning changes that allow a return to a pre-war (read: European) model...One which valued value per acre. It will take many decades as it will rely population growth and/or migration to adequetly fill in designated urban centers with out mass revolt or disruption. "The revolution will not be televised" is an appropriate phrase.

Yes, these kinds of changes fostering density do drive prices up. But that is only because of the convenience and overall niceness of living there. Those that do not have a car to support, have comparatively less demand on their income, so thusly could be considered are more affluent by comparison. It is this "affluence" that causes the prices to go up as for profit business owners in the local area can successfully charge more for the same good or service. In reality, for the most part, for most people the total amount of "disposable" income hasn't really changed all that much. Just the distribution of how/where it is spent. In short: Prices are high because there is a high quality of life...It's just nice to live there. The corrolary is rural or suburban areas are cheap because they suck and everything is inconvenient or unavailable. Transportation cost and time obligations simply vaccuum up the available dollars.

The typical post-war American approach is to Move 30-60 minutes away (by car.) To save $300/mo on rent, then add $750/mo in car payments and/or other related costs and untold hours of travel, time and inconvenience. Then to underfund, or make disfunctional, or invent reasons a robust functional public transportation system couldn't work to keep change averse Americans tied to their high-cost car dependent lifestyles.

How many times have you heard: America is too big for a train?(or bus, or trolly, or whatever...) When in reality they had all of those things, those things built America and they could sustain them before 1950's urbanism emptied the vibrant urban cores in favor of low yield, high total cost, inconvient suburbs. But at least the auto makers and corporations made huge profits, right?

America has a huge continent wide public transportation system. It is just over run with high cost personal vehicles and bad policy.

Last edited by base2; 10-29-23 at 01:03 PM.
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Old 10-29-23, 01:34 PM
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Originally Posted by base2
You're not wrong. Through policy decisions from a corporate owned government, Americans have been pigeon-holed into car-dependent high cost consumer culture. Everything is a trip. Be it the to the grocery store for a bale of toilet paper, the "third place" for social activities, or work.

The solution to this is a holistic approach: Zoning changes that allow a return to a pre-war (read: European) model...One which valued value per acre. It will take many decades as it will rely population growth and/or migration to adequetly fill in designated urban centers with out mass revolt or disruption. "The revolution will not be televised" is an appropriate phrase.

Yes, these kinds of changes fostering density do drive prices up. But that is only because of the convenience and overall niceness of living there. Those that do not have a car to support, have comparatively less demand on their income, so thusly could be considered are more affluent by comparison. It is this "affluence" that causes the prices to go up as for profit business owners in the local area can successfully charge more for the same good or service. In reality, for the most part, for most people the total amount of "disposable" income hasn't really changed all that much. Just the distribution of how/where it is spent. In short: Prices are high because there is a high quality of life...It's just nice to live there. The corrolary is rural or suburban areas are cheap because they suck and everything is inconvenient or unavailable. Transportation cost and time obligations simply vaccuum up the available dollars.

The typical post-war American approach is to Move 30-60 minutes away (by car.) To save $300/mo on rent, then add $750/mo in car payments and/or other related costs and untold hours of travel, time and inconvenience. Then to underfund, or make disfunctional, or invent reasons a robust functional public transportation system couldn't work to keep change averse Americans tied to their high-cost car dependent lifestyles.

How many times have you heard: America is too big for a train?(or bus, or trolly, or whatever...) When in reality they had all of those things, those things built America and they could sustain them before 1950's urbanism emptied the vibrant urban cores in favor of low yield, high total cost, inconvient suburbs. But at least the auto makers and corporations made huge profits, right?

America has a huge continent wide public transportation system. It is just over run with high cost personal vehicles and bad policy.
In my country, most jobs exist in just the few largest cities. So the quality of life is decreasing, with population density (and prices of housing) increasing.

Even if you earn double of what 50% of the citizens earn (median wage is the proper English term?), it is very, very, very difficult to buy or even rent a flat.
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Old 10-29-23, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Bike Gremlin
“Europe” is a very broad term.
An excellent point. And, for the record, Europe has approximately 50% more people in the same land area as the United States, and population density is a critical variable in these engineering problems.

Originally Posted by Bike Gremlin
Now, I’ve never been to the USA, but it is my understanding that (correct me if I’m wrong) shopping malls, industrial centres (factories and big company buildings), theatres, swimming pools etc. are not within a 30-minute bicycle ride from where most people live.
This is not remotely correct, however. 80% of the US population lives in either urban, or suburban, areas and all of them have those amenities within a short bicycle ride. For example, within 5 miles ( 8 km ) of my suburban house, there are 49 ( ! ) grocery stores -- and that number does not count dozens of convenience stores, bakeries, and gas stations which also have limited groceries available. I have never bothered to count the malls, theaters, and pools, but suffice it to say, there are multitudes of those, as well -- at least a dozen pools that I can think of off the top of my head. And the 20% of the population that doesn't live in sub/urban areas mostly lives and works in small towns where such destinations are more limited in variety but also within a 30-minute ride -- except, probably no theaters, since those no longer survive in small towns.

The problem is not infrastructure, nor design, it is cultural. Precious few Americans, for example, are in the cultural habit of going to the grocery store every day or every other day, and buying just a few items -- trips that are easily accomplished on a bicycle, or on foot. Most of us tend to go once every few weeks, and purchase a couple hundred dollars' worth of supplies at one time, and that is effectively impossible to do without a trailer or a cargo bike. And there are good reasons for this habit -- while walking to your local corner bodega is the theoretical aspiration of many young urbanites and bikeforums posters, doing so costs an order of magnitude or so more than acquiring your groceries at a massive store a little further away.

The root of the "problem" is that motor vehicles are really outstanding transportation devices, as long as one has the room to store it, when not in use, and to park it temporarily. At American fuel prices, they are cheaper to fuel than a bicycle is, and massively capable, and convenient. There's good reasons why the enormous majority of humans who can afford a car either own one, or aspire to, as soon as they can park it.

Last edited by TC1; 10-29-23 at 01:47 PM.
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Old 10-29-23, 08:22 PM
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Originally Posted by JW Fas
The USA's car-focused culture was largely brought on by the urban sprawl of the mid 20th century, which created the need for even the lowest paid workers to own a personal car. Prior to that our city/town designs more closely reflected the needs of non-motor vehicle transportation. I no longer think the citizens will be the limiting factor in shifting the culture, because there is a growing number of people who want alternatives to motor vehicle ownership. This has been largely an economic motivation as the automobile manufacturers have rapidly out-priced the middle class' ability to afford their products, and they don't seem to care either. The limiting factor will be changing the infrastructure itself as it will be costly and a logistical nightmare.
I grew up in suburbia. I walked to school until I was in third grade when this class was FINALLY allowed to ride our bikes to school. From then on I joined my gang for daily rides to and from school. After school? Endless exploration & fun. Not a bicycle lane to be found. Cyclists were a RARE sight. The one parent who rode to work? He was some wierdo German guy. We laughed at him, DESPITE us ALL riding our bikes everywhere.

My childhood neighborhood hasn't changed. Well, it has. It was solid middle class, with a few above and below this classification. It now consists of $2-3M homes, so it's definitely upper middle class in Silicon Valley. The place is a ghost town. No kids anywhere. Very, VERY few kids riding bikes. But there are some.

Bike lanes are common. Cycling is a VERY popular sport and embraced by Bay Area, California culture. School mountain biking clubs are flourishing. Yet, very few kids on bikes.

So although suburbia plays a role, this is in no way any sort of excuse for the lack of bicycle use in these places. It's endless, irrational fear by parents.

So sad.
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