As much as I enjoy commuting to work and school on my bicycle, oftentimes I dislike riding it for regular errands. Incomplete streets, limited bicycle trails, and routes are one problem, but a lack of bicycle facilities are another.
When you’re hopping out of your car to patronize stores at strip malls, do you ever check to see where the nearest bike rack is? Apparently bicycles must be an eyesore, as many times bike racks are hard to find and often relegated to some unseen location. Or perhaps whoever designed the area just figured people who drive are also less likely to be active, and thus need to be able to park closer to the business doors?
I, for one, think people who bike should get preferential treatment. After all, bikes don’t require as much space to park and are far less destructive to the roads. On the other hand, bicyclists can’t carry large quantities of consumer goods away from shopping centers.
I realize that using bicycles for utilitarian purposes isn’t feasible for everyone. Many individual circumstances make it impossible to do so. But what if we designed our streets, business areas, and public spaces to welcome those of us who are able to use bicycling as our all-purpose transportation? What if we make bicycling just as desirable as driving cars?
Maybe it is possible to use marketing in a way that motivates people to use their bicycles for more than the occasional joy ride on a nice day. Maybe it is possible to use social media, via Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to start a bicycle commuting revolution. Maybe it is possible to use advertising to promote the benefits of bicycling – over cars.
Can we bring awareness of the need for better design for bicyclists to the urban planners, architects, and landscape architects that shape our urban future? Can we shape our public policy, architecture, and landscape design in ways that will promote bicycling? Can we envision the use of bicycles as an integral part of sustainable design?