Once upon a time bicycles were seen as a purely recreational form of transportation. Something for the kids in the cul-de-sac or for the health nut who tackles Highway 1 in Big Sur. To most Americans using bikes for commuting purposes was something done in places like Beijing – something to be pitied and dismissed.
Over the last few years this has begun to change, as more and more Californians are using their bicycles to commute to work or to school. To encourage this, May has been declared “National Bike Month” and May 12-16 is Bike to Work Week.
Since January I have been among the ranks of the bicycle commuter. Which just goes to show anyone can do it – I was always the unathletic nerd, but biking has come easy to me and has me in excellent shape. Last month I began serving on the Transportation Agency of Monterey County‘s Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, to help develop a stronger network of bike trails, bike lanes, and to promote safe bicycling for riders, whether they’re recreational or commuters.
One of the most common issues we run into in developing these facilities is a lack of funds. To their credit Democrats have stepped up and proposed increasing funding for bike facilities. Assemblymember Mark DeSaulnier has proposed AB 2971 which would shift some developer fees into construction of bike paths and other safety measures. It was the subject of today’s Democratic radio address, where DeSaulnier linked bike commuting to cutting our carbon emissions as part of the AB 32 project.
It’s not everything we need, and most California cities have a ways to go to catch up to Davis or Portland. But with state support we can make bike commuting a viable method for more and more Californians. Besides, who ever said cars had to be the primary method of commuting? After all they began as a recreational form of travel.
Finally, if you have a bike, and live reasonably close to your workplace, consider taking part in Bike to Work Week. You may not think you can make it – I know I didn’t – but you might surprise yourself. Even if not everyone can have the commute I have (pictured above).