We want to thank all our customers and friends for support over the last year of our venture here to spread bicycle love, and in the process, rethink transportation. We wouldn’t be here without everyone’s support, we truly appreciate it.
It has been an amazing, and challenging year. On the broader scale, 2008 will go down in the history books as a year of substantial change, most of it for the negative. The financial world has been in turmoil, dragging the economy with it. But some changes have not been bad. The crazy ups and downs of gas prices have a lot of people thinking more deeply about America’s dependence on foreign oil. While various sides of the political spectrum are not necessarily in agreement about how to solve the problem, the important thing is that there is increasing consensus that something needs to be done.
Cycle 9 was founded in 2007 after we decided that we didn’t just want to complain about oil dependency, but to do something about it. It always feels better trying to fix a problem than just to complain about it (even if that involves mortgaging ones house to the hilt to get a business going). Bikes won’t solve every problem. Cars are useful conveyances for many purposes. But the more we use bikes and watch our energy usage in getting around, the more it becomes clear that moving a 3,000 pound hunk of steel around to transport a single human is a huge waste of energy. Many kilowatt hours of energy, for even a short trip. And bikes can be one piece of the puzzle, along with more walking, more public transit, high speed trains, and etc. At some point in our future, when oil is more scarce, I bet most of us will prefer to have that oil go towards producing our food and other necessities.
So, if we can have one wish for 2009, it is that the incoming administration realizes the importance of developing better infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists in our towns and cities. By far, the biggest complaint we hear about cycling is about its “danger.” While statistics show that it is probably not nearly as dangerous as many people think, statistics don’t change most people’s minds. Regardless of the highly controversial subject of whether bike lanes are good or bad safety-wise, it is a simple fact that bike lanes/paths promote more people biking. I was recently in Madison, Wisconsin, which has developed a network of rail-trails around the city. In warmer months, those are very well used, I saw other riders out at all times of the day.
But, here in the Southeastern USA, we have the double whammy of fast drivers and narrow roads. For many people, even if they want to bike, they just don’t feel comfortable doing it on these kinds of roads. And so they get in the car. Sadly, our state’s department of transportation has often been actively anti-cyclist in their road planning. Talk about lack of foresight.
When Obama announced plans for new infrastructure, he mentioned roads and bridges. I really hope he does some more thinking about this before implementing it. Certainly, some roads and some bridges do need work – those that represent the central transportation corridors should be brought to modernity. But beyond that, it is a matter of priorities. I hope we place more priority on making our cities easier to navigate by non-car means, rather than just spending willy-nilly on automobile infrastructure.
Two thousand and nine will be a challenging year. But often it is the challenges that cause people to become engaged, rise up, and work towards solutions. We sincerely hope that in trying to meet the challenges, the solutions that get implemented aren’t just “more of the same.” We’ve tried that for the past 30 years. Let’s try something new – livable, walkable, bikeable cities and towns. Places where children can play in their neighborhoods again, walk to school safely, breath clean air, and not become obese by being driven everywhere. If we as a country put our minds to something, we can usually do it. I hope we will put our minds to this as our new year’s resolution.