Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Bikes=Trucks

Well, not really, but it is notable that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has gone so far as to say that walking and cycling should have equal status in transportation planning as cars and trucks. This is the new Transpo Department policy. It has no force in law, which would take, as I understand it, an act of congress.
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Anyway, I got to thinking, what does equality in planning mean? I doubt it means equal funding, and as both a cyclist and a driver, I'm not sure there should be equality in funding for bike/pedestrian funding and motorized traffic funding. Like it or not, most of us will be using cars to commute. Any real movement to make cycling a realistic option to car commuting would require an investment on the part of employers, as much as from government transportation planners. Most of us can't show up at work, covered in sweat, and expect to do our jobs. Too many of us have jobs that require some interaction with the public, which means that employers would have to pony up for shower and locker rooms. In cities, off road mass transit would probably make more sense, as far as funding goes, than either car or bicycle funding. Here in Los Angeles, I can think of dozens of routes that would be perfect for subway or above ground, off road, light rail. A better investment than in high speed rail between Orange County to the bay area.
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But since I do live in Los Angeles, and since I own four bicycles, and two pair of hiking boots, I also think about bike and walking routes. I find it very frustrating to see all of the stream beds, criss-crossing the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys, channelized and lined in concrete, all with service roads. Lets get some money to open up those routes to foot and bike traffic. And for drivers who object to money going for bike paths, and don't forget most cyclists and pedestrians are also drivers, think of how nice your car commute will be if cyclists are riding along the Los Angles River, and all those stream beds that end up at the L.A. River. Put in plenty of marked bike lanes on streets, letting both cyclists and drivers know exactly where they should be on the road, and every one wins.

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