bicycle utopia

In the same way I wonder why small, inexpensive homes have to be so ugly, I wonder why we can’t create a bicycle utopia in this country. I’m not an economist or urban planner, but I can’t imagine it would cost that much. I know it might be difficult in a place like NYC for instance to widen the road a few feet on each side to make a bike lane possible, buy why can’t we mandate that all new road construction include bike lanes? Then, let’s give every adult in the country a $500 tax credit to buy a bike with. Third, let’s try and implement the two-mile rule. Since it’s been shown that most of our driving occurs within a two-mile radius of our home, let’s encourage people to ride their bikes to their destinations instead. Perhaps we could invest more in public transportation (remember Bill Clinton’s promise of high-speed rail?) and zip cars for people to use on longer journeys, and redevelop, or “undevelop”, parking and vacant lots into gardens and green spaces. Then let’s put American ingenuity into creating clean-burning and recyclable energy solutions by asking (nay, demanding) that Detroit to stop making gas-guzzlers and instead produce more hybrid and electric cars. (Isn’t it sickening that GM/Jeep/Chrylser is now trying to subsidize their customers’ fuel bills for driving their gas-guzzlers with their “$2.99 Gas Guarantee?”) I don’t want to eliminate cars completely (except when I’m on my bike and they blow past me going 50 with inches to spare), but it would be nice if in this country we could break our blind faith in the idea, created and foisted upon us by the car companies, that a personal vehicle is necessary for freedom. I can be just as free riding my mountain bike into the woods and jumping into a stream. Using bicycles and public transportation when we can just might allow us all to take a collective deep breath of fresh air, instead of the exhaust fumes of the guy stuck in traffic ahead of us.

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