Here’s an insight from Suzy, one of the earliest Bamboo Bicycle Club members, who does her riding in Chicago IL – It seems that the frustrations of cycle-commuters are shared across the pond too!
“First in theory, then in practice, the automobile effectively banished the passerby from the street… To measure the extent of the revolution that has taken place over the last fifty years, it is enough to compare the indescribably mobbed streets of the early 20th century with the silence and emptiness of streets today. The street has become an abstraction.”– The Skyscraper and the Pig
Do you ever wonder what, if ever there was a time when the streets were occupied- er- dominated by something other than cars? I commute to my work via bicycle daily. I have had close calls of being clipped by a car when a driver chooses to text on their phone while turning, and held my breath as a person swings their car door open without looking, and I veer out of the way in time. I have had the angry driver shouting at me as I cycle as close to the side of the road as possible, screaming for me to get out of the way as they slam on the gas of their 4 by 4 SUV.
I just keep my head held high and ride on, thinking that I am glad to not be stuck inside a box, but free on a summer day to cycle to work. I have seen other urban cyclists share my frustrations, giving the finger to drivers and even shouting at me “ride on!” as they witness my close calls. I have met some cyclists who refer to their gas guzzling foes as “metal coffins”. But does the mentality here have to be developed into a war between biker’s verses cars, a fight to the death? Long, long ago, this city I live in, like many others, used to be dominated by the pedestrian, kids could play in the street; crowds of people could congregate on the street, walking, talking, and catching a trolley or taking a cycle ride around town. And cars were not really around at all and if they were, they had to yield to everyone else.
As stated above, those who dominate the streets today has changed drastically. To take out some of the good in historic transportation and bring it into the modern city, I believe we can prevent a “war” between bikers in cars. Rather, through improved infrastructure within an urban environment, we can take back the opportunity for the cyclist to have the right of way again. Creating more cycle paths, roads with a space designated for cyclists, improved cycle rider signage and cycle lock-ups are a few of many improvements that must be made and applied everywhere to give all cyclist a fair advantage to get to work every day without putting their lives at risk.
And all of this cannot materialize unless we have the education and outreach to the general public about the importance of alternative transportation and creating ways to develop and nurture its popularity. And with such wonderful concepts at the Bamboo Bicycle Club being brought to life to promote and educate people on creating their own bicycles out of alternative materials, it makes me believe that the movement of change is catching fast.
– Suzy –