Pains of an imminent NYC transit fare hike and a recent article in the New York Times on bike theft/vandalism defeatism inspired me to validate the overwhelming perceived economic benefits of commuting by bike versus transit, despite the occasional theft. If frugal is the next big thing and green is the new black, then hop on a crappy old bike if you want to be hip.
Amid the stimulus-backed hullabaloo over high speed rail, perhaps efforts by municipalities to supplant old-school diesel with new era electric bus fleets have been overshadowed. Maybe it is still too soon, but there has been little media coverage on cities making the switch from diesel to hybrid or electric buses; however, with the money that is being pumped in, and the major shift in national perspective on the importance of sustainability, energy efficiency, and pollution reduction, now is the time to bypass the delays of a hybrid “stepping stone” and leap straight for all-electric transit systems.
Worldwide media coverage earlier this week of Tata Motors unveiling their Nano car-for-the-masses brings the argument over individual car ownership to the forefront yet again. Thanks to one hundred or so years of clever marketing, our society glorifies the bling of a shiny new car, demands auto ownership as a basic right, and proclaims its necessity to be (almost) as critical as water, food, and shelter.
High Speed Rail (HSR) is the favorite moniker to describe the new era of trains envisioned and partially down-paid by the recent stimulus. The idea, linking major regional corridors via fast trains that rival door-to-door times for air travel and put highways to shame, is a powerful elixir to the crunch of congested highways and airways that represented a failed – or to be more accurate, incomplete - twentieth century vision to satiate America's transport needs. Perhaps this vision, if implemented with undeterred gusto, can renew our perception of travel and convenience while simultaneously reinvigorating our gagged transportation system.
If you’re working in the transportation industry, you know there are basically two ways to contribute to the amazing shift in perspective going on in our country towards livable streets: Advocacy or Consultancy. On one hand, you can work with a non-profit organization or advocacy group to push the envelope and make a stir. This is the perceived over-the-top approach because the norm is so far away from where things could really be. For example, in a saner world, the Critical Mass bike rides that have long rubbed New York City Police the wrong way would not be necessary because thousands of bicyclists would already be respected and given appropriate space on city streets. But someone has to scream “Wake Up!” On the other hand, you can choose to work “from the inside
This month's Broadway "opening" proposal is as much a clarion to the new thinking of public street space in America as it is a gift to the people of New York City.