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Car, T, walk... why not cycling?

[float=right]IMAGE(http://i279.photobucket.com/albums/kk143/nfsagan/globe319.jpg)[/float]Beantown, The Hub (of the Universe), The Cradle of Liberty, The Cradle of Modern America, Athens of America, The Walking City, we are all of these.

Imagine if we had a well developed cycling infrastructure as an alternative to cars and the T. If you could cycle safely from your home to your grocery store or from home to your place of work, would you?

Compare Boston with another world-class city:

Between 2005 and 2007, Amsterdam residents rode their bicycle 0.87 times a day on average, compared to 0.84 trips by car. It was the first time on record that average bike trips surpassed cars, the research group FietsBeraad reported last month.

The governor wants to raise gas tax $0.04 per gallon statewide to cover turnpike and the central artery project debt. He wants to increase gas tax by an additional $0.15 per gallon statewide for purposes unspecified. Why in this day and age, while we are focused on identifying the best public policies that support the use of renewable and sustainable energy sources rather than fossil fuels, do we not demand that excess funds collected on non-renewable energy be put to use in the transformation of our society? In order words, taxes collected on fossil fuels should be dedicated to transportation and specifically transportation that changes the way we travel to more sustainable methods, public transportation, cycling for short haul trips.

You can can write Governor Patrick, your state senator and state representative with a single e-mail here by entering your zip code. Ask them to restrict fossil fuel tax revenue exclusively to purposes that provide us and our children a more sustainable future.

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Comments

Average price of a gallon of diesel in the Netherlands: $4.55
Average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in Massachusetts: $1.87
Price that a gallon of gasoline in Massachusetts would be with our proposed "ridiculous" gas tax hike: $2.06

Oooooo

The difference? $2.49, or about 2.2 times the price of gas here in MA.

Gee, I wonder why so many more people drive cars than bike around here! For people to take a real interest in improving bicycle transportation in this city, they're going to have to have a reason to want to get out of their cars in the first place!

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The price in the Netherlands is exactly because of taxes. Thats why the tax increase isnt a big deal at all.

Also, you dont just need to get people in cars biking. They come later. You want people who are taking 30 minute T rides to realize that on bike that trip could be done in 15 minutes. Once enough people are biking, others will follow.

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certainly the cost of fuel plays a role but so do other factors which require investment:

The key to achieving high levels of cycling appears to be the provision of separate cycling facilities along heavily traveled roads and at intersections, combined with traffic calming of most residential neighborhoods.

Extensive cycling rights of way in the Netherlands,Denmark and Germany are complemented by ... MORE HERE

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IMAGE(http://i279.photobucket.com/albums/kk143/nfsagan/gas-prices-new-england.jpg)

So how do we pay for investment for alternatives to our car-go approach to transportation now during the recession so that when the global economy recovers and we're paying $4/gal, we have good alternatives?

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Imagine if we had a well developed cycling infrastructure as an alternative to cars and the T. If you could cycle safely from your home to your grocery store or from home to your place of work, would you?

No. I have no interest in cycling.

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OK how about improving MBTA operations?

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The main reason I don't bike for commuting is because of the aggressive drivers and the culture that makes mortal enemies out of bikers and drivers. I used to bike the 6-7 miles to work, but the stress of dealing with the roads and drivers stopped me. Cars act like you have no right to be there.

Also, on another note-- I'm just a regular girl, with a regular bike. It seems like biking is associated with a particular niche of people....hipsters with their fixed-gears, or comically serious "cyclists" who commute on bikes while wearing spandex racing gear. I've been to Amsterdam and there, as elsewhere in Europe, biking is practiced by all sorts of people. It is viewed as a legitimate mode of transportation, and no-one would view a cyclist as "silly" or "trying to make a statement", etc.

There are infrastructural as well as cultural reasons that cycling is on the margins in Boston.

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It's never going to be commonplace if a few people don't just do it and start a trend.

I used to bike in Rochester, NY and if you think bikes are "hated" here, then you haven't seen anything yet. Try biking in a city/suburb where there's little to no shoulder AND the speed limit is above 30-35 mph. When people feel like you're holding them back because you're in "their" lane is when the anger and road rage starts to build. Around here, I have found that to be less of a concern, honestly, because within about 3-5 miles of downtown, the roads are at a low enough speed, people just accept that a bike isn't going to kill their speed and by the next red light (next block?) the bike is just going to be out of their way by jumping up the right anyways.

I worried that I'd get a lot of grief from drivers on my scooter, but I have honestly only had very rare situations where a driver has honked at me, said ANYthing to me, or passed me in an extreme sort of way. This includes taking a 49cc scooter up Comm Ave from Kelton to Summit where the engine can only get me there at about 20 mph. I'm sure the motor and size help me out compared to when I was on my bike instead, but having done both now, I just don't feel anywhere near the hate in this city as I've gotten in grief in other places.

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Amanda,

The Dutch and Danes start cycling at a young age for transportation. Grade school kids don't take buses, they ride their bikes. You can imagine that this takes a safe route before any parent would permit it.

There is always a place for bicycles in the Netherlands, frequently a separate right of way from the road and the sidewalk. In the early 90's I rode from Amsterdam to Paris, the Netherlands part of the trip on bikeways almost as extensive as our Interstate system. It was mind blowing that roads, bikeways and sidewalks were all a part of the mix.

And just as important, the bicycle has the right of way when crossing the tributary road. Cyclists do not stop and start to yield to cars, it's the opposite. (The cars have to stop for the stop sign anyway.)

I agree that the two main issues are safety (infrastructure) and culture. Interesting is that infrastructure development and public policy in those two countries has improved safety and changed culture. The safety improvements have yielded more cycling in lieu of auto driving.

We live in a fiercely conservative country that to my amazement has banned cigarettes in bars and even public space for public policy purposes.

We live in a Commonwealth that understands equal rights under the law means whites and blacks and gay people, too.

I'm thinking that we can change the auto-centric transportation model we have... for our own health and for a wallets too. Designing a bike route along side a new road or a pavement project as a matter of policy would help turn us into a nation that rides as often as drives.

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This:

Designing a bike route along side a new road or a pavement project as a matter of policy would help turn us into a nation that rides as often as drives.

sounds like a good idea, but, unfortunately, the Bay State is not bicycle-friendly enough, either weatherwise (note our often unpredictable winters), or legislation-wise. The bicycle lobby doesn't seem strong enough to enact bike laws here.

I recall seeing a program on TV a number of years ago about the kind of program that Seattle has (or had) regarding bike routes alongside the regular commuter route. The city spent big bucks to have that kind of set up, with even a bicycle toll and tunnel, and it 's been extremely popular among Seattle residents, who often bicycle to and from work or wherever on that route.

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... at least on some roads, including one of the avenues, and it didn't take 10 years to get done.

I thought Boston always wanted to be NYC... yet it even fails in imitation...

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Boston being like NYC? Never! That'll be the day hell freezes over.

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They are implementing a computerized subway driver system in the L Train that will let them put in "time to next train" signage and run the trains closer together safely because of the communication between trains by computer that will be going on (CBTC).

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The MTA's L train already has train arrival info... as have subway trains in Barcelona, London, and a great many other cities for many years.

Boston has hockey players reminding riders to buckle up and say something, or something like that.

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We are extremely short sided in this country. We understood the risks of importing fossil fuels from the middle east in the 1970 in cost and in its effect on our economic well being. Now we know that carbon is affecting our climate.

When gas is at $4 gallon, which it will be again at sometime in the future, we will wish we had taken advantage of the prior years to put in place policies and investment to minimize its affect on our biosphere, economy and lifestyles.

Imagine if we had acted in the 70s. Bicycles are a good alternative in metro areas if money is invested in safe infrastructure. The marginal cost of a cyclist is pretty much nil.

Our government frequently conflates recreational cycling with cycling as an alternative to auto transportation and public transportation. Too bad for all of us.

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