March 27, 2010

Power to the Pedal People

March 27, 2010
In a very roundabout way I recently discovered People For Bikes.  This new organization is uniting all bikers, no fitness level requirement!  Their mission statement is as follows, 'the goal of is to gather a million names of support, to speak with one powerful voice—to let policy makers, the media and the public know that bicycling is important and should be promoted.'

PFB's rapid movement already (+6,000 in a few weeks, have signed their pledge en route to the million) suggests that it has possibly helped bridge the gap between a diverse group of riders throughout the nation, all intent on improving biking.  Despite a variety of knowledge and skill levels, at the end of the day we all share a passion for biking, a need for safety, and an urge to continue adding and improving paths - making it possible to travel across your neighborhood, your city, your state, or the country.
image credit:  PFB

Since our move to Santiago, we have found an opportunity to change many parts of the way we live.  One in particular is the freedom to commute via public transportation, walking, and biking.  This new way of commuting around town has proved to be rewarding in so many ways - exercising, fresh air, after a day in the office staring at a computer screen smelling the trees and seeing some nature is a big thank-you!, getting to really know the neighborhood, people watching, picking up some bread or milk with ease, and man it just feels good to say I biked/walked to work.

I think of my small hometown.  What a great little place it is, but when visiting I realized quickly how limiting it is when it comes to commuting via bicycle or by foot.  Sidewalks only reach so far and there is a lack of connectivity, and the only bike paths are located in the parks.  Full of two lane roads, you can surly ride your bicycle, but your safety at times is questionable.  My brother for instance often used his bike to commute to a summer job.  One day en route to return home, he lost control of his bike due to loose gravel and holes as a result of a tar/chip day.  The result was flying airborne and a broken arm.  (busted summer and quarterback career as he tells the story).  

Now fast forward 20years, the result would be similar - still no bike paths or sidewalks in high traffic areas for bicyclists and walkers/runners.  

Chilean bikers struggle with similar problems, a need for safety and a network of paths connecting neighborhoods.  Slowly the city of Santiago is improving and adding bicycle lanes, and more people are commuting in their suit and tie to work.  Surprisingly, the smaller towns here in Chile tend feature great bicycle connectivity.  We have visited a number of towns that have very well defined bicycle paths to help provide a safe way of commuting for their residents.  It is impressive how the rural areas have successfully addressed the issues of safety, commuting flexibility, and rising gasoline prices. Young and old now can commute to work, run errands at the post office or market, or take a sunday drive on their bicycle.  

Back to People For Bikes, check out there video:  'We're all united by a shared passion:  bikes.'

1 comment:

John Zacherle said...

Hey Kelly,
Good post, i always like a cycling article!

I think you would like the following Wired Magazine article:
Promising first step towards improving infrastructure and awareness for cycling in the U.S.