Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Will You Ride A Bike?

photo: Chang W. Lee/The New York Times
If I lived in a city as bike friendly as Copenhagen, a bike would be my main mode of transportation.  What would be the downside?  Certainly, riding one is good for our health, wallets and the environment.  But the truth is, I'm scared to ride a two-wheeler during rush hours against aggressive drivers.  That can be dicy.  It would be ideal if more cities passed ordinances to make everyday bike riding safe.  Would restricting motor vehicles to certain areas and hours work in the city where you live?  Let's entertain the thought: Truck deliveries could only happen between set hours.  No private cars allowed during peak hours.  Then offer alternatives, such as bike lanes, as well as, trolleys, or frequently running buses at low fares.  Continue to allow taxis and car service for people who need and will pay for them.  Plus, set a speed limit for bike peddlers too.  No racing like a maniac.  If you're in a hurry, take a cab.  Ticket recklessness and violators big time!  People who endanger other people should be fined up the gazoo, and add the money to a city's coffers.  It boils down to priorities. What values and practices do cities and locals want to encourage?
Copenhagen mom
New York City will soon try a program where people can rent sturdy bikes for a reasonable rate.  Details are still pending, but the plan is to set up 600 stations and 10,000 bicycles throughout the city by next summer.  For a yearly fee, pedestrians can unlock a bike, use it for up to two hours, then return it to any other bike station.  It may not be as convenient as owning a bike, and after time, who knows what condition the public bikes will be in, but lets give the city and the company, Altra Bike Share (who will provide the bikes and split the revenues with the city) credit for an innovative idea that we hope (and pray) works.

Copenhagen's MIT wheel for a smooth ride
It's a step in a greener direction, not to mention, a cultural change.  Perhaps, it's time for city people everywhere to think about investing in bikes like we invest in automobiles.  And cities should bend over backwards to support bike riders by making bike transportation safe, convenient and affordable. 

Let's say, riding a bike becomes the norm. A barrier to owning your own might be a lack of space.  So here are a few high rated fold up bikes for city dwellers and travelers to peruse:

Citizen Bike
(1) Citizen Bike – Very affordable. Offers several types and prices. I like the MIAMI City Bike 20” 6 speed for $199.  And it's cute too!
(2) Dahon – Lots of models for different purposes, starting at $479. Look for big wheels to ride up hills.
(3) Brompton – A bicycle shop employee folded one up for me in 6 seconds.  Ultra expensive starting at $1,270!  But, it's the most compact fold up bike available.  It locks and can be carried by its nose like luggage.  Nice, but quite an investment!

Also check foldingbikeoutlet.

My fantasy is to ride a bike to do errands, hop off, fold and push it into a store just like a baby carriage. [I don't want to have to find a place outside to chain up my bike.]  And after I finish, I'd like to unfold it, hop back on and ride off ... into the sunset.Smile 

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  1. In Miami- they have these rent-a-bike things. I prefer a big car, but the bikes are extremely popular from what I've observed. In New York- they would offer a tremendous way to beat the traffic. I totally agree that cities should support making life bike-friendly.

  2. Cars in New York are unaware of bikes. Motorists take no notice of them, and you have to be alert at all times. Copenhagen is very different. Bike countries defer to bikes.