We can ride in urban chariots, or we can do the right thing and use our own predestined people power to motor us from endpoint to endpoint. 
Take a look at the image below to see how moving 72 people can “shrink the road” and prevent city congestion just by getting on two wheels and pressing our legs forward in circles — and if you will give in to the wiles of public transportation, the savings are even greater:

  • Bicycle: 72 people are transported on 72 bikes, which requires 90 square meters.
  • Car: Based on an average occupancy of 1.2 people per car, 60 cars are needed to transport 72 people, which takes 1,000 square meters.
  • Bus: 72 people can be transported on 1 bus, which only requires 30 square meters of space and no permanent parking space, since it can be parked elsewhere.

I wonder why so many Americans require a car when the price of occupation is so high. You have to pay your monthly note, you have to pay for gasoline and maintenance and for parking and licensing and even fines.

Is the price of freedom of movement so sweet and so sacred that we’ll place our future city welfare and personal health in peril just for the privileged of riding alone?

6 Comments

  1. I think it’s because a lot of people live in the suburbs where, at least during the winter, trekking out to the supermarket to buy groceries would be difficult if not impossible without a car. I do wonder about urbanites who feel that they “need” a car. Everything is in mass transit reach. The occasional trek upstate can be done with a rented stinkmobile.

  2. I think that’s the problem, Gordon. People don’t want to go grocery shopping via public transportation. That’s nutty and unnecessary. We can’t continue to provide “a car in every garage” and expect to remain solvent as a society.

  3. I live in Boston, frequently named one of the least bike-friendly cities in the country. I ride a bike around, but I understand why many people don’t; it’s freaking dangerous! I’ve narrowly avoided accidents on several occasions, and learned the hard way that brakes don’t work well in rain and snow. It’s also really difficult to park a bike when all the parking meters, signs, and bike racks are buried under 3 foot snowbanks, which the city doesn’t feel need to be shoveled out. Most parts of the city have few or no bike lanes, and the choice is often between riding next to parked cars (watch out for opening doors) or so far out in the middle that cars can’t pass (watch out for road rage). I ride because I love it- it’s fun, it’s exciting, it keeps me in shape, I save money on bus fare, and I don’t mind being sworn at. But in cities like Boston, biking won’t be popular until the streets are designed to accommodate cyclists.

  4. Excellent point, liminal.
    In my Midwestern hometown, bike lanes were finally created in the downtown area to promote bike riding for students attending the university. Great idea; horrible execution. The only “protection” for the bikers is a line painted on the street. They are still stuck in heavy traffic and available for abuse by drivers that resent having their lanes narrowed. When it’s more dangerous to ride in the street than on the sidewalk, something has gone horribly wrong.