Friday, January 27, 2012

Bikes vs Cars

Why do we always have to be against one another? Don't get me wrong, I am NOT a fan of cars, I never want to own one, and dread the times when I have to ride in one, yet they exist and like it or not our cities and western culture has developed around them. That doesn't mean we have an excuse to rely on them or drive everywhere, but it does mean that they exist on the streets. However, bikes also exist. Bikes in fact have been around longer then automobiles! The first bicycle invention was created in 1817 by Karl von Drais, while the first automobile was not invented until 1886 by Karl Bentz. So, why do bikes get the shaft? As a biker I feel like I constantly have to fight for my right to a piece of the street (especially in the winter), which doesn't seem to make sense when I am the vulnerable under-dog who really has been here longer then the car driver. Humf.

But what gets me the most is the tension and anger we create around the idea that we have to share the road. Share?! Heavens no! Again, all I am asking for is a little R. E. S. P. E. C. T., is that so hard to do for me? There are cars that provide that, but there are many that don't. I think a big problem is that a lot of the car drivers are...surprise surprise...not bikers. Therefore they do not understand why a biker would ride in the middle of the road and get in their way. When really it is not that the biker wants to get in the way, but rather that the side of the road is full of hard and dangerous ice layers. Some drivers would thus reply, "Well then you shouldn't be on the road". But again, I disagree. I know this is an extreme, but take a look at Copenhagen, this is a city that has more bikers then drivers, and thus they have to adapt their infrastructure for it. Yes their climate is somewhat milder, but they do get snow, they do get ice, and all the unfavorable conditions that winter brings.

But wait, lets back up to the ticket word...INFRASTRUCTURE! I have to say that are infrastructure is not built to value both cars and bikes, its built to value cars only. And while north American cities are getting better (Woot woot to Ottawa's bike lane on Laurier Street, I love it), we have a long way to go. So obviously its awkward when bikers have to pedal along in a world designed for cars, yet it doesn't mean it shouldn't happen. In fact more bikers should do this. The more bikers flood the cities the more demand will arise to adjust our city infrastructure to create space for the bikers, which in turn creates a better infrastructure for cars too.

So instead of becoming hateraters lets be appreciaters. And if you want safer roads, then lets lobby the cities to built better infrastructure that supports both car and bike traffic (and walkers of course too!).


History of the Automobile:

History of the Bicycle:

Biking in Copenhagen:

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