Monthly Archives: February 2016

Bikes vs cars?

There are two basic ways to cross a city on a bike. On the one hand, there is the officially preferred path which consists on a bike line commonly designed by non-cyclist technicians (we will deep in this issue in the future). On the other hand, some bikers are prone to share the pavement with cars without physical barriers.

This last point has to do with the lack of secure alternatives within the cities and it’s likely to create a clash between the long-time favored, polluter motor vehicles versus the green model of sustainable transport on a broad scale, although bikes have been with us for ages. This is precisely one of the fears of compulsive car drivers: losing privileges in favor of bicycles.

What they do not see is that the more bikes in the streets, the better air we breath, not to mention the cuts in car accidents and their gravity, or the reduction in oil dependency among others. One of the easy-measured key indicators in the bad relation between cars and bikes is the number of horn hokes you hear when riding in a highway. Drivers who are aware of this issue respect cyclists as they feel us as part of the community and they could also be bikers themselves on the weekends. This synergistic model is what a lot of local governments are looking for. But dozens of years allowing everything car-related (including alarming dead figures in car accidents) is making this ideal coexistence tough. Nevertheless, important steps are being made towards the development of the bike movement and we thank them as part of the search of a better future.

Healing wounds

During the 50s and the 60s things where wrong, really wrong, when it comes to transportation diversity. The car filled the gap of the American dream: a big house on the suburbs and a work downtown required a way of transportation suitable for very low density in an individualistic society. Long and wide roads were built, and enormous wounds in the form of highways divided entire cities.

Most people here in Seattle love Vancouver, Canada. People mention how beautiful and nice it feels and here is one key thing: it isn’t crossed by a highway in the way most American cities are. Having a highway-divided city has one potential advantage: fast commuting. However, every single day its capacity is exceeded and urban highways are full and slow at peak hour and when there is a big event. Moreover, the properties around it loose value since nobody wants to live next to a source of pollution and noise. Not to mention the fact that, if you have a business and you aren’t a big brand, nobody driving on a highway is going to see you and take a detour to stop by.

Luckily, though, the US has been healing these wounds. A clear example is San Francisco’s embarcadero area. Previously a noisy double decker freeway, the 1989 earthquake helped transform it into a beautiful open space that attracts a lot of tourists and locals.


A similar thing could be said about Boston’s Big Dig which, despite having some issues, managed to substitute a high density highway with a more pleasant open space and nature


And it isn’t only roads, Chicago’s Millennium Park turned a bunch of railroads into one of the most popular spots in the city. And Barcelona’s railways were rebuild underground to improved the whole city.

And now, Seattle, what are you waiting for?.