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Unbeknownst to me there is another holiday at the end of April called April Ghouls day…or at least that is what the good folks at Dot Bike would have us believe.
From the email:
Tags: april ghouls day, Dot Bike, rides
Posted in fun | No Comments »
I was having a discussion with someone this morning and we realized that at every stage in the development of automobile infrastructure in America, other, consistently better, choices for infrastructure were available, but we continued to choose the car every time.
We could have built high speed rail, but we built highways. We could have built rapid transit bus lines, but we built a snarl of traffic filled streets. We could have built a bike and pedestrian path networks, instead we cut up neighborhoods with massive highway projects. At every stage we took a look at all the options, and choose the worst one.
Which has lead to our current situation, where transportation spending is dominated by the needs of the automobile, and not the humans using that automobile.
Seems I am not the only one who has come to this conclusion, there is an excellent article in The Atlantic that really goes step by step in showing just how destructive American’s fascination with cars has become.
It starts off laying down some real talk:
Simply this: In almost every way imaginable, the car, as it is deployed and used today, is insane.
Then the author Edward Humes goes on to lay our in depressing and methodical detail just how horrible the car has been for America.
What are the failings of cars? First and foremost, they are profligate wasters of money and fuel: More than 80 cents of every dollar spent on gasoline is squandered by the inherent inefficiencies of the modern internal combustion engine. No part of daily life wastes more energy and, by extension, more money than the modern automobile.
Would you burn 8 our of every 10 dollars you made for the freedom to get in a box and get stuck in traffic? Because you are literally burning 80% of the money you put into that car.
While burning through all that fuel, cars and trucks spew toxins and particulate waste into the atmosphere that induce cancer, lung disease, and asthma. These emissions measurably decrease longevity—not by a matter of days, but years. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology calculates that 53,000 Americans die prematurely every year from vehicle pollution, losing 10 years of life on average compared to their lifespans in the absence of tailpipe emissions.
TEN YEARS! Are we really so addicted to the “freedom” the car provides us that we would sacrifice ten years of our lives for them?! Let alone the 50,000+ people who straight up die early every year.
On economy and global security:
There are also the indirect environmental, health, and economic costs of extracting, transporting, and refining oil for vehicle fuels, and the immense national-security costs and risks of being dependent on oil imports for significant amounts of that fuel. As an investment, the car is a massive waste of opportunity—“the world’s most underutilized asset,” the investment firm Morgan Stanley calls it. That’s because the average car sits idle 92 percent of the time. Accounting for all costs, from fuel to insurance to depreciation, the average car owner in the U.S. pays $12,544 a year for a car that puts in a mere 14-hour workweek. Drive an SUV? Tack on another $1,908.14
Sheesh…another way to look at it, is that if you ride a bicycle instead of driving you will be saving at least that much money. Also if your bike sits around unused for 92 % of the time you will not be wasting nearly as much money, as your bike probably cost you a couple hundred dollars and doesn’t constantly need new oil filters and gasoline. Not to mention you don’t need bicycle insurance.
On the Environment:
Then there is the matter of climate. Transportation is a principal cause of the global climate crisis, exacerbated by a stubborn attachment to archaic, wasteful, and inefficient transportation modes and machines. But are cars the true culprit? Airplanes, for instance, are often singled out as the most carbon-intensive form of travel in terms of emissions per passenger-mile (or per ton of cargo), but that’s not the whole story: Total passenger miles by air are miniscule compared to cars. In any given year, 60 percent of American adults never set foot on an airplane, and the vast majority who do fly take only one round trip a year. Unfortunately, air travel is not the primary problem, contributing only 8 percent of U.S. transportation-related greenhouse gases. Cars and trucks, by contrast, pump out a combined 83 percent of transportation carbon.
There is simply no doubt, our addiction to driving our cars is going to destroy the environment we need to live. There is little point in having the “freedom to travel” if the territory you are traveling over resembles a nightmare hell-scape. Mad Max is not an instruction manual, its a cautionary tale.
The unacceptable cost in lives:
Annual U.S. highway fatalities outnumber the yearly war dead during each Vietnam, Iraq, the War of 1812, and the American Revolution.
And that’s not even counting cars’ most dramatic cost: They waste lives. They are one of America’s leading causes of avoidable injury and death, especially among the young.
Jim McNamara, a sergeant with the California Highway Patrol, where officers spend 80 percent of their time responding to car wrecks, believes such public inattention and apathy arise whenever a problem is “massive but diffuse.” Whether it’s climate change or car crashes, he says, if the problem doesn’t show itself all at once—as when an airliner goes down with dozens or hundreds of people on board—it’s hard to get anyone’s attention. Very few people see what he and his colleagues witness daily and up close: what hurtling tons of metal slamming into concrete and brick and trees and one another does to the human body strapped (or, all too often, not strapped) within.
Every time you see war casualties, or terrorist attacks on the news, realize that what the news is not talking about is the thousands of deaths that month from car crashes.
If we were in a war with cars, it would be the longest and deadliest war we have ever been in. Roughly 40-50 THOUSAND people a year. Or to put it another way this is more deaths than a 9-11 scale terror attacks every month year in and year out for the last 50 years. One wonders why this isn’t the number one news story every day.
The article itself makes the same conclusion I have:
This disparity in attention between plane crashes and car crashes cannot be justified by their relative death tolls. Quite the contrary: In the 14 years following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, there were eight crashes on American soil of passenger planes operated by regional, national, or international carriers. The death toll in those crashes totaled 442. That averages out to fewer than three fatalities a month.
The death toll on America’s streets and highways during that same period since 9/11 was more than 400,000 men, women, and children. The traffic death toll in 2015 exceeded 3,000 a month. When it comes to the number of people who die in car wrecks, America experiences the equivalent of four airliner crashes every week.
A normal day on the road, then, is a “quiet catastrophe,” as Ken Kolosh, the statistics chief for the National Safety Council, calls it.
Car crashes take our young people from us:
Car crashes are the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 1 and 39. They rank in the top five killers for Americans 65 and under (behind cancer, heart disease, accidental poisoning, and suicide).
And when cars don’t outright kill us they cost us a lot of money and suffering, even if you don’t drive:
And the direct economic costs alone—the medical bills and emergency-response costs reflected in taxes and insurance payments—represent a tax of $784 on every man, woman, and child living in the U.S.
And yet we have people who will fight long and hard to keep on-street parking, and keep speed limits high, and lobby for more highways, and complain that bike lanes will make it harder to drive.
What has lead Americans to fight so hard for something that is so bad for them?
Is it the non-stop barrage of car commercials showing rich white people cruising empty streets while encased in luxury leather and listening to the latest hit song?
Could it be the massive amounts of money spent by auto industry lobbyists to promote cars over public transit? Could it be the large oil companies spending millions to lower emission standards?
Could it be the joy that is the daily commute? Or the joy of traffic filled highways? The asthma, the obesity, the oil wars, the oil spills, the global warming, the road rage, the plowing under of nature for highways and roads, the constant bills, repairs, tickets, tolls, and insurance?
I simply don’t understand why the vast majority of city dwelling Americans own and operate their own car, especially when you consider there are a host of better, cheaper, healthier options available to them.
Tags: rant, ride a bike, your car is killing you
Posted in advocacy, bostonbiker | 1 Comment »
Got this in the email. Very interesting proposal! If we really could make speeding enforcement and lowering speeds a priority we would be much better off.
On April 20th there will be a hearing on Councilor Frank Baker’s proposal regarding lowering the speed limit in Boston from 30 to 20 mph. I am myself slightly confused whether the measure sets a new speed limit, or allows the speed limit to be lowered. There is a bunch of press on this you can find, one example is here.
Spreading the word and sending testimony will be very useful in helping this effort. Also, please feel free to encourage others to submit testimony and/or attend the hearing, if their schedules permit. Others should also let their district city councilors, all four at-large city councilors, and the mayor know of their support. This Home Rule Petition needs to pass the City Council and the Mayor needs to sign it. Then it needs to pass the State Legislature. So, the more elected offices in support, the better.
Tags: give out tickets, lower the damn speed limit, speed limit
Posted in advocacy | 1 Comment »
This guy is making things happen in Dorchester, seems like an awesome guy! I used to live in the very very (very) southern point of Dorchester, and while its gotten better for cycling down there, its not nearly as good as it needs to be.
More great info on Noah and his message here. He is really talking about the real issues behind cycling, as a transit option, and as a life changing technology for low income folks. I hope the city will pivot to focusing on the neighborhoods that most need these kinds of infrastructure improvements and where they will do the most good economically.
Tags: awesome, Dorchester, noah hicks, NPR, video
Posted in advocacy, infrastructure, news, video | 1 Comment »
from email looks like a fun time:
The Middlesex Canal Association Presents:
Spring Bicycle Tour of Historic Middlesex Canal
On Sunday, April 3, 2016, the Middlesex Canal Association will present its spring bicycle tour of the Middlesex Canal. The Canal was the “big dig” of the end of the 18thcentury. Completed in 1803 after 10 years of construction, the Canal connected the Merrimac River in what is now Lowell with the Charles River at Sullivan Square in Charlestown. In many ways it served as a model for later canals including the Erie Canal. The Canal remained in operation for 50 years, providing both passenger and freight service, but could not compete successfully with the Boston and Lowell Railroad which began operation in the 1830’s.
The ride will depart from the Lowell Train Stationshortly before 11AM. You can take your bicycle on the 10 AM train from North Station which arrives in Lowell at 10:43. (Riders can also board at West Medford at 10:11 or just meet at Lowell Station). This year an early group will take the8:00AM train from North Station to allow more time in Lowell and breakfast at the historic Owl Diner (<http://www.owldiner.com/>, aka the Four Sisters). Route visits the Pawtucket and otherLowell canals, river walk, Francis Gate, and then Middlesex Canal remnants in Chelmsford. Quick visit to Canal Museum, then on to Boston.
Lunch at Route 3A mini-mall in Billerica. Long day, but sunset is late. Riders needing to leave early can get the train to Boston at 1:07 at North Billerica or at 3:14 at Wilmington. Participants are responsible for one-way train fare [$9.25 from Boston to Lowell]. Complete Lowell line schedules can be downloaded <http://www.mbta.com/schedules_and_maps/rail/lines/?route=LOWELL> if anyone wishes to plan a rail travel itinerary specific to their needs.
The route is pretty flat and level and we will average 5 miles per hour, so the ride will be an easy one for most cyclists. Along the way we will stop at a number of remnants and restored sections of the Canal, as well as the Mansion of Loammi Baldwin, the chief engineer of the Canal (who discovered the Baldwin apple while building the Canal), the two remaining aqueducts (which carried the Canal over rivers and brooks), and the northern end of the floating towpath that carried horses over the Millpond.
The ride will be led by Bill Kuttner (617-241-9383, [email protected]) and Dick Bauer(857-540-6293, [email protected]) of the Middlesex Canal Commission . Helmets required. Steady rain cancels.
For more information about the Middlesex Canal go to:http://www.middlesexcanal.org
Tags: 2016, Middlesex Canal, tour
Posted in fun | No Comments »
Hurray! Looks pretty awesome too:
The recent removal of rusty rail tracks behind his home on Beacon Street, as they were dragged out whole by heavy equipment after the wooden ties were removed, was “like watching two large snakes going by all the houses,” according to Barry Clayman.
The activity marked the beginning of the long-awaited Cape Cod Rail Trail extension through Dennis and Yarmouth.
This will be a great money maker for nearby business as well, as tourists on bike will be hungry and thirsty.
Tags: cape cod, extension, rail trail
Posted in infrastructure, news | No Comments »
Found this in my local bike shop, looks like a good time!
I have been to these sorts of sprints before, its a blast, go check it out and support the 2016 NACCC’s!
Tags: 2016, BBMA, naccc, somerville, sprints
Posted in advocacy, fun | No Comments »
We need this here….we so need this. (click for video, its great)
While we are at it, can we train our dump truck/trash truck/semi-truck/suv drivers this way as well? Nothing really brings home what it feels like to not be given the space you need on the road than having a big ass moving piece of metal rush past you. Every single large vehicle driver should be forced to go for a bike ride, or do something like this before given a licence.
Tags: bus driver training, colombia
Posted in advocacy, video | No Comments »