BICYCLING IS A FORM OF MASS TRANSIT
AND IT PROVIDES THE EXERCISE WE NEED
I would like to say a few words about bicycling, and most of the things I say about biking will apply to walking.
Biking is an excellent form of exercise. Almost everyone can bike. Old people can bike. Fat people can bike. It is not as hard on the knees as jogging.
Biking is also an excellent form of transportation. It is not as fast as driving but much faster than walking and a relatively fast way to get around. Bicycling can be a way for people to get to bus stations or get to their ultimate destinations.
Biking is my main form of exercise. I bike mostly standing up, going up and down hills. It is quite a workout. It is a good way for me to get to the post office and the bank. I bike in the dead of winter. I even bike at night. I ride with my blinking headlight and tail light night or day so drivers will see me.
I propose we develop what I would call bicycle highways and freeways. Some would be striped lanes winding through neighborhood streets. Some like the Burk-Gillman and the Interurban should be limited access bicycle freeways.
Traffic signals should be set up at busy streets so bicycles can cross. Traffic flow could be timed so that bikers and cars could take turns riding through on green lights. To cross the busiest streets and highways there should be overpasses or underpasses so bikers and walkers could pass safely.
I note how difficult it is in most places for pedestrians and cyclists to cross freeways. The roads that pass under freeway interchanges often include no lanes for walkers and bikers, who must sprint across freeway on-ramps littered with broken glass and gravel. Bike tires can be punctured.
Biking is not necessarily a sweaty thing, but employers should be encouraged to make showers available for those who push hard and get sweaty.
Already we have bicycle corridors on major thoroughfares and even highways. Their virtue of these is that they are straight and that hills are gradual. Unfortunately, it is inevitable that drivers will make mistakes and hit bikers. I suggest that alternate routes be developed which would parallel heavily traveled thoroughfares and run a few blocks away from busy streets. These routes would twist and turn through neighborhood streets. There would be few cars on these streets, and the few cars there would be required to drive slowly and carefully and give bikes and pedestrians the right of way.
What is mass transit? It is transportation that moves a lot of people and goes really fast. Moves a lot of people—yes. Goes really fast—not necessarily. If the mode of transportation moves a large number of people and the distances are not great, then high speed is not a necessary ingredient. It is the total flow per hour that is important. Three miles can easily be walked by a pedestrian in an hour, and 12 can easily be biked by a biker. The term “mass transit” should not have to exclude methods where people travel three mph as in the case of walkers or 12 mph as in the case of bicycling. I would propose bicycle and pedestrian routes that would be multiple and parallel, and which would thus have a large carrying capacity. This is why I contend that biking and walking qualify as mass transit.
We have a lot of people who have problems getting to and from work. A lot of these people do not get enough exercise. In one bicycle or walking package we could give them weight loss, good health, and a refreshing and reasonably fast commute to work.