No, I don’t use my bicycle in the winter.
Why not? Well, I look at the dudes on their bikes, huffing and puffing on clear-road days, wearing a mixture of Mountain Equipment Co-op gear with a hodge-podge of knitted hats and scarves or balaclavas with mismatched gloves…and they look like they had to spend 20 minutes getting dressed for their ride. Also, some folks have these super-pants (all I can think to call them) with seemingly light jackets. They look like they’re going to freeze. But likely, their jacket is some sort of ultra dense polymer-mix weather-resistant beast that MUST’VE cost a fortune.
So I have to either look like a Value Village on two wheels or pay through the nose to justify riding my bike 20km every work day.
Well, I began feeling like both of these two options is totally worth it. Worth the money or worth the look.
Last night, reading some older issues of Spacing Magazine, I was dumbfounded by some of the statistics about cars. Not the pollution. Forget that for a second. Just the space these things need is silly. Parking where you live, parking where you shop, parking where you’re going, and almost for FREE.
The author of one of the article postulated that raising the cost for parking WAY UP would only serve to discourage car rides when walking or biking is a doable option. I kind of love this idea. A lot (pardon the pun – hahaha). If you live in Boston and you want to go downtown, you may pay $50 for a day of parking. I can already hear the conversations of people anticipating this cost, “Screw that! Let’s take the subway, or the bus.”
Yes, Windsor would need a respectable transit force before any of this was possible, but I like the idea of discouraging car use by intimidating the wallets of the users. Should NO ONE have cars? No. I don’t think that. In fact, the idea of car-sharing in Toronto and New York, and other cities is hugely intriguing too. The bummer of car sharing, and many of these forward thinking shifts in transportation ar that they have to start in MAJOR urban centres…unlike Windsor. We get to sit around and wait for these initiatives to get used, proven, popular, and then passed on…
Parking is such a stupid thing, when it’s examined in terms of space. I fully plan on mapping all the parking downtown on a Google Map. All of the dead, mostly unused or underused space. I always hear that there’s no parking downtown from people, especially in the Windsor Star Letters to the Editor, but what they mean is that there’s not enough FREE parking. Like at Devonshire Mall. They want downtown to be a mall. FREE!! Well, the mall wants you to drive from the moon and back to get their stuff. I think the goal of urban retail and entertainment spaces should be to expect fewer cars and less traffic in areas of retail. I mean, I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but it has been proven to improve business when traffic is significantly lowered in urban areas.
I digress. I wanted to look at something I seem to remember from when we first opened Phog Lounge. There was a discussion about paying for parking, as a business owner, for any parking space that we, the business, could not provide to the customer. If we didn’t have a huge lot attached to us, we would (supposedly) pay for enough spots, corresponding to our capacity. How in the hell is this making sense? The business owner is being penalized because of the HUGE space-gobbling vehicles that people drive to their business? And for me, I have tons of customers who WALK, drive scooters and bikes, and don’t USE parking spaces on the street, in the lot, or anywhere. I think this kind of gouging for the city to offset infrastructure costs is just dumb. If they want to discourage cars from overloading downtown or their BIA, don’t charge the small-business owner, charge the person who chooses to drive alone in a car designed to tow, pull, carry way more than it is ever used to do.
Which brings me back to the bike thing. I just keep realizing how dumb cars are, in the capacity that they are currently used. They don’t get to use their speed (congested traffic), space (single drivers are rampant), power (moving one person only and almost never transporting goods), and are becoming more and more silly. They are, obviously, way more of a status symbol and inhibitor of exercise and connecting to the environment around us.
Jane Jacobs has suggested that as people think trucks get in the way, it is in fact cars that are in the way of trucks. Trucks employ people, they move goods, and they are economic pluses. Cars are buzzing around, taking up WAY more space than needed (which is extraordinarily expensive), and they are not contributing financially the way trucks do. If trucks were the road owners, and loads of cars left the roads, it would actually improve environmental situations with fewer vehicles on the road (less congestion, less idling). Which would beg the question…if we were a city who thought progressively, and we raised prices for parking, reduced car use, implemented a solid transit system, and consolidated our interests in a less-sprawling nature, and trucks were the kings of the road (the few bits and pieces that would still be in use), where in the heck would the next bridge crossing go? What would be made of the DRIC/Greenlink stuff? Where would it make sense to put it then? Hmmmm….
As for biking…I am anticipating warm weather LIKE CRAZY so I can bike to work every day. But should I wait? How much will I have to pay to outfit myself with warm gear that will keep me dry? Where would I buy this stuff? Why isn’t there a bigger bicycle persona in this area? I know lots of cyclists who tell me about all these other HUGE cycling enthusiasts and bike shop owners, but they’re almost invisible when it comes to encouraging new riders, bike education (like what the hell to wear in the winter), etc. Maybe it’s just me, but I had to almost fall into this biking thing by watching Phog customers biking and praising it. Where are the leaders of Windsor’s bike movement hiding? They should be prominent, respected, and referred to when discussing city planning and other such important issues.
My wife and I are seriously considering getting rid of a car from this two-car, two-person household. Save money, get healthy, get connected to the environment. Anyone want to help? I just feel so stupid rolling around in a car these days.