Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Automobile dependency and a lack of sidewalks are phenomena usually associated with the suburbs. But cities and rural areas hold their own special roadblocks to non-auto travel. In rural areas, the old country practice of “walking along the road” has become even tougher with increased auto traffic and stronger private-property fencing. Meanwhile, in the city, where sidewalks allow walking, governments are trying to facilitate bicycle transportation as another alternative to auto travel. Changing laws to help bicyclists faces the stereotype of cycling as suitable only for young people and fitness freaks, even though biking is a regular part of life in many other countries. As with buses, I suggest that dedicated bicycle lanes (preferably with barriers to keep cars out) as the only viable solution to encouraging more Americans to eschew their autos.
Here are two stories on efforts to change laws to help alternatives to auto travel –- one from Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, into which have flowed the ideas of density and clustered development that facilitates walking, and one from New York City, which is building more bike lanes and increasing bicycle safety.