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    Monday, November 28, 2005

    Car-Free

    Bill Gifford on bike-travel.

    I truly wish that people didn't drive as much as they do. In NYC, I walk as much as possible and take the train when I must. But Manhattan is engineered for that, so I'm not making any sacrifices. Also, having a bike or riding the train or, God forbid, having a car or taking cabs, are pricy, and I am a miser.

    It's ridiculous where I gew up in the suburbs, seeing people drive six blocks for a cup of coffee. But, there are problems besides laziness:

    1. Things are too spread out in the suburbs. You can't walk to the grocery store or the bank.

    2. It's unsafe because roads don't have pedestrian accomodations.

    3. In the winter after 4pm and most of the year before 6:30ish, it's pitch black with almost no street lighting in the suburbs and, for women in particular, it's practically suicide to walk by yourself, surrounded by alleys and bushes.

    4. In the suburbs, too many idiots have dogs from which the public are not properly shielded. In addition, as one who grew up in Colorado, I know that there are often wild animals (wolves, bears, mountain lions).

    5. People insist on saying "hi" and such crap to everyone they meet in the suburbs. If you want to avoid such petty awkwardness, you secure yourself in an enclosed automobile.

    In conclusion, this is a city planning issue and another argument against "sprawl". It is also a cultural problem.

    I wish more people rode bikes. I also wish the people who did ride bikes would actually follow laws. New York can be dangerous sometimes because of the wild cyclists, popping up on sidewalks, disobeying traffic laws of all kinds, and actually mowing people down not unfrequently. And, really, do you have to have a bike in a city with the best public transportation in the nation? I am more concerned with people's ability to bicycle to work and such in places with awful public trans, which is most American cities and towns.

    Groups like Critical Mass and other such "activist" organizations for unruly, obnoxious, dangerous cyclists are also often responsible for giving full-time cyclists a bad name, as in the article. Please guys, stop pretending you're standing up for any real "rights", when you endanger people's lives every time you "protest".

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