A revolution in transportation solutions is gaining momentum. This revolution is being necessitated by environmental, economical and political crisis and encouraged by rapid developments in technology.
As cyclists ride out into the crowded streets, we become central figures in the epic struggle of the transportation dilemma. Riding our bicycles, we directly experience the intensity of the street; we are not sheltered by metal cages. We are intimate with the traffic and its pollution. While dodging the onslaught of cars, trucks, and buses, we dream of the less oppressive technologies of the future. The physical impact of traffic and pollution on cyclists is much stronger than anything experienced by an automobile driver and the cyclist has more freedom and a stronger connection to the world around him or her.
Cyclists have a unique stature among the various constituencies of transportation. We are endangered and exposed, yet visible and connected. From our vulnerable yet visible stance, we are positioned to rise up and lead the critical discussion of how to improve transportation in our world.
We start out by teaching and demonstrating what we know best, riding a bicycle. As cyclists, if we want to convince others to get out of their cars and ride, we are going to have to show how great cycling is. We have to look great, feel great, smile and proclaim to the world that riding a bike is better than driving a car in so many ways.
We must be constantly aware of critical issues to bicyclists and constantly thinking of new ways to improve the cycling experience. To be a cyclist takes a little bit more planning. You are going to need to plan some extra time. Plan out the right clothes to wear, a lock, a way to transport your stuff; thought is required. As cyclists, we need to be aware of these inconveniences, which turn people away from cycling and which point them in the direction of the perceived convenience and ease of the automobile. We must discover ways to share and proclaim the benefits of cycling, we need to help make cycling a better and easier experience, and then we must demonstrate all the benefits by doing what we do best: riding.
Great strides are being made in the areas of bicycle advocacy. A rising number of groups both local, national, and international are leading the charge to encourage the use and infrastructure for cycling. Of course, much work remains to be accomplished.
Cyclists, who find their strengths as bicycle advocacy leaders, next should begin to look at themselves as leaders in the entire spectrum of transportation. From the vantage point of the cyclist, many problems as well as opportunities can be identified. We already have a powerful motivation to advocate change and have proven successful in getting a basic movement off the ground.
Now is the time to recognize that our efforts as bicycle advocacy leaders could benefit a broader agenda. Transportation leaders should begin looking at making entire systems of transportation flow together. From walking to trains to motor scooters to wheelchairs, we need to look at effective transportation solutions from a very broad scope. Means of transportation should complement each other, not be in opposition.
As bicyclists we are very aware of this sense of being in opposition to automobiles. In many ways, we shout out our rallying cries against automobiles. Rather than combating the automobile as the counterpoint to the bicycle, we need to show the motorists that the automobile is an effective tool for some situations, but there are many other useful transportation tools that should be considered for other situations.
Cyclists should become masters of transportation. We love to travel, and we should go by plane, train, auto, and boat. We should ride motorcycles, scooters, and electric cars. We should continue to seek out exotic, efficient, and exciting ways to transport ourselves and tell everyone how its going. And as we are having all this fun, we should really begin to think about how we can make these things work. What infrastructures will be needed to support the varied modes of transportation? How can we improve and create better pathways for multi-vehicle transportation? How can more and more people be convinced to expand their horizons for more efficient and healthful transportation?
All images compliments of Chloe Forsman.
At Utility Cycling.org, we see transportation as being a major component of the utility cycling movement. There is a great deal of momentum behind the transportation systems we function with today, as there are historical, political, economic, societal, and cultural factors contributing to its structure. However, the potential for a transportation revolution is gaining momentum as well. So before the world is forced to change its transportation behaviors due to climate change, an energy crisis, or other possible scenarios, let’s change it of our own accord. Let’s change it because we want to make the world a better place, we want to be happier, and we want to ride our bikes.
So if you are not a cyclist, and you happen to stumble upon this site, please come back, because we want to show you that the possibilities for utility cycling are endless! And if you are a cyclist, join us for the ride, and maybe you will learn something new.