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Topic: Bicycling (Read 19629 times)

  • ersi
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Bicycling
Bicycling is not a hobby for me. It's a mode of transportation, after having tried cars for a decade and not being able to handle them. Bicycles are manageable. They are portable even in the other main mode of transportation I use, namely trains.

Inside a small apartment, a good way to store a bicycle is on the ceiling.



Unfortunately, the walls of my apartment are more sand than cement. so I cannot fix anything on the walls, much less into the ceiling. Luckily I have a tiny cellar space that is just big enough for two bicycles side by side, but then nothing else fits in the space.

  • ersi
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Re: Bicycling
Reply #50
This video details probably the main reason we don't live in America.
Because of a bad experience on a 800 m walk in Houston?


Even before I had visited USA, I had heard about lack of sidewalks there. Of course the true significance of this hit me on my first actual visit.

In USA there are some accidentally walkable little towns, for example Pitman, NJ. Granted, if you want to live in such a nice town, you also have to find a train line away from there to a nearby big city where all the livelihood is, shops and schools and jobs etc.

Even some big cities are eminently walkable, such as NYC, particularly now after the redesign of Times Square.



But NYC is unpleasant in many other ways - overcrowded and expensive, with poverty and luxury side by side in plain sight at every step. Yup, those are negatives, not positives. Moreover, car-centricity in USA has set a bad example that the entire Latin America is eager to emulate, so there is no attractive place to move to there either.
  • Last Edit: 2021-07-22, 11:57:12 by ersi

  • Frenzie
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Re: Bicycling
Reply #51
Because of a bad experience on a 800 m walk in Houston?
Houston might be exceptionally bad and I've never been there, but that's basically just how all of America is. For example, in Arlington Heights (Chicagoland) the nearest grocery store wasn't very far, just a kilometer or so, but there didn't realistically seem to be a way to cross the 6 lane stroad. They did seem to have sidewalks everywhere (?) though. The car-centric design felt incredibly oppressive, unpleasant and restricting your liberty in a way even the worst places here in Belgium[1] just don't.

Not to mention the place visually feels like a communist unity sausage dystopia.
Moreover, car-centricity in USA has set a bad example that the entire Latin America is eager to emulate, so there is no attractive place to move to there either.
I understand China's also emulating the bad example.
Which can be quite bad. Some parts of Flanders are starting to reach the Dutch '80s though. The Netherlands realized this whole car thing wasn't working by the '70s, Flanders in the 2000s.

  • ersi
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Re: Bicycling
Reply #52
Due to my experience with people in the area of city planning I have concluded that tolerable cities are roughly 50/50 the result of urban planning and also of non-planning. Often enough a city or neighbourhood remains tolerable when it escapes the visions of urban planners and becomes tolerable when it is left behind in development.

For example in Tallinn the iron goal of the mairie is arrested development. The priorities are:
 - service and cargo traffic (e.g. trucks/vans that provide for shops etc., ambulance and fire trucks, road construction and repair machinery,...)
 - public transit (the heaviest mass of it being buses)
 - pedestrians

(probably in this exact order)

It does not mean that bicyclists are not considered at all. It means that solutions for bicyclists are considered only after the priorities have been fully considered first. As a result, the solutions for bicyclists are half-assed, untested, only intermittently workable. When pressed, the official answer is always, "It's a temporary solution considering the current resources available."

The mairie may print publications and statements called "long-term plan" and "vision" with pretty pictures, but the reality is determined by the yearly budget of the road and transportation department and the particular priorities of the department (as listed). The envisioned kilometrage for bicycle traffic is most handily achieved by paving bicycle roads in parks just outside the city, i.e. by leading bicyclists away to nowhere, rather than enabling them to move in the centre.

Therefore towns that do not have a layer of bureaucrats with any sort of priorities or a budget to enforce priorities have occasionally a better chance to remain relatively car-free in the centre. There may be a few enlightened urban planners in the country, but none of them has swayed the road and transport department of their city. Yet we definitely have plenty of unenlightened urban planners who have managed to screw up formerly decent neighbourhoods.

And also, apart from urban planning (or non-planning), restrictions on car ownership can make a difference. In the 70's and 80's, Estonia was the most car-infested corner of USSR, but that was nothing compared to now, when anybody can own any number of cars, anybody can liberally drive anybody else's car (if the car is not reported as stolen, then no problem), anybody can squeeze out any speed they like (the police can stop and fine you, but not confiscate the car - funny that at the same time wrong parking is punished much harsher), etc. Back in good old days it was easily and safely possible to walk and bicycle on roads, even though the roads were ostensibly designed for cars. The cars were simply not there in too significant numbers because a car cost about a decade's salary and often enough you had to wait in car-purchase queue for a decade (to get your licence to purchase a car), you could buy just one (new) car a lifetime, and for serious infractions such as multiple speeding the car was confiscated.


Just prior to my first visit to USA I looked at the map and thought, "Only a few kilometres from the airport to the bus stop. I can walk." Then I landed and the road from the airport to the bus stop looked like this https://tinyurl.com/8a6bsjm7 (Google Maps). This is truly unwalkable and there's no way around it, unless one is willing to climb a few three-metre fences with luggage. I have examined the area time and again in Google Earth over several years - still no go. To arrive at such a situation has required some careful and thorough urban planning, I'd say.

  • Frenzie
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Re: Bicycling
Reply #53
Back in good old days it was easily and safely possible to walk and bicycle on roads, even though the roads were ostensibly designed for cars. The cars were simply not there in too significant numbers because a car cost about a decade's salary and often enough you had to wait in car-purchase queue for a decade (to get your licence to purchase a car), you could buy just one (new) car a lifetime, and for serious infractions such as multiple speeding the car was confiscated.
That's more or less how it was in the Netherlands in the 1950s. The roads were designed and built for cars but most people didn't own cars yet, so in a sense it was not dissimilar to the situation purposefully designed since the '80s. Most people biked and walked. But since the '30s things had definitely been built around the dream of the car, and by the late '60s when car ownership skyrocketed it quickly turned into a nightmare. It did so everywhere of course, so I'm not really sure why the Netherlands and Denmark more or less uniquely sought to actually do something about it. And America was a decade ahead of Europe because of the war...

  • ersi
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Re: Bicycling
Reply #54
For example, in Arlington Heights (Chicagoland) the nearest grocery store wasn't very far, just a kilometer or so, but there didn't realistically seem to be a way to cross the 6 lane stroad. They did seem to have sidewalks everywhere (?) though.
There, N Vista Rd in Arlington Heights, IL, has no sidewalks https://tinyurl.com/y3zdpjsj [1]The northmost tip has it but then the sidewalks stop. I ran into situations like this every time when I ventured or was forced to take a longer walk. Everywhere, except NYC.
By the way, has Google Maps really removed their short url option or am I just not able to find it? I mean in Street View. Ah, found it finally! Hopefully it will be there also next time I look.
  • Last Edit: 2021-07-24, 11:24:51 by ersi

  • Frenzie
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Re: Bicycling
Reply #55
Oh sure, but I meant next to a stroad like Dundee.