Category Archives: Opinion

The death and live of great American cities

The death and live of great American cities is a book by Jane Jacobs. Although it was written in 1961, most of their insights still remain live today.

In the first part, she claims the necessity of maintaining vivid sidewalks because of improving pedestrian health (both physical and psychological), security (for example if a robbery happens in a street with plenty of small stores, shopkeepers will identify and face the bad guy or call the police. Lack of sidewalks reduces people on street), human relationships promote, protection (against cars and bad people since the more eyes in street, the less probable somebody could be something inconvenient like parking a car on a sidewalk), more space to sidewalks means less space for cars, thus less noise, pollution and ultimately deaths, and the opportunity to practice sport when walking or running in contrast to moving by car.

Quietly related, we have confirmed the reduction in the number of small, local stores in neighbors which are being substituted by the same multinational stores you come across in many cities or tourist apartments in the last years. This is an error since less local stores means less community and trust. At the time Jane wrote her book, it was common practice to give her house keys to the fruit seller for relatives who used her house where she was on vacations as a result of trusting him. Few people do it nowadays and we tend to be more individual and distrustful about people. However, social movements and different groups try to revert it and would be beneficial to everybody.

Wide sidewalks allow children to play on them with the approval of parents since in such sidewalks there is plenty of space and lack of cars. Parents fear children playing on pavement precisely of these dangerous one-ton or more machines, not to mention the pollution they produce. Thus, the wider a sidewalk, the better to everybody.

Shitty politicians

From the last local elections in Spain, right-wing politicians have decided to ban bike lines in several cities with the help of fascists. These actions go against European and Spanish laws as well as common sense. One of the key points in fighting against climate change is changing the XX century mobility based almost exclusively on polluting cars into low carbon footprint vehicles like bicycles in order to protect human health and environment. It attracts attention that while bikes are promoted in a lot of countries around the world, no matter what political party governs including right-wing parties for example in The Netherlands and Denmark, in Spain right -wing parties see bicycles as a threat for car. Both the Partido Popular and VOX in Spain share the same origin: The genocide dictatorship, and several corruption cases. Surprisingly, in European countries where the equivalent Partido Popular rules, bike infrastructures are increased.

Why is that the Spanish right-wing parties behave differently considering bicycles as unpolitical vehicles? Clearly it is because they feel that they live in the XX century, they like cars (some corruption cases in which these political parties were involved were related to cars and its infrastructures) and love climate change. Additional facts confirm the last point such as the apathy in protecting the Doñana national park , the disaster in the Mar Menor or the disastrous management and environmental impact of the Prestige ship. Guess what, in all cases the politicians involved in these examples have been members of the Partido Popular.

Bike and genre

Bicycles can be enjoyed by both, women and men. Nevertheless, the way both genres behave when riding use to be different. Studies say women tend to ride at lower speed without competing between them (at least at no professional level) and appreciate much more landscapes in routes, whereas men tend to be more competitive with more testosterone, ride at higher speed and do not put so much attention to sceneries.

At psychological level, women do not usually speak openly to men regarding common problems they face when biking. On the contrary, they feel more confident to talk about their issues to other women. Moreover, car drivers act differently in arguments with a bike ridden by a woman or a man. If a woman is biking and a dispute with a male car drive takes place, the car driver acts as a beast feeling he has the right to yield or insult the woman even if he is wrong and malicious in his reasoning (supposing he has one since sometimes he has nothing to clutch at straws). In contrast, if a man rides the bike, the male car driver does not show himself so aggressively as he innerly know he could loss in a fight. This animal behavior is another example of the patriarchal society we suffer.

Here I have exposed some reasons because women need women-gender spaces to share ideas and empower themselves. Feminism is a global movement which looks for women to have the same rights as men. Biking is just another field in which come out. As a result of it, changes have been producing. For example, the Iberian Congress was initially opened to both genres, but in the Zaragoza edition they decided to give a space only to women with the creation of the Cyclist Women Meeting. This meeting was repeated in the Valencia edition and it was agreed to differentiate it with an appropriate event by women to women. The Iberian Congress is not expected to count with the Cyclist Women Meeting anymore, which will be an independent event held in a different place and date.


Ciclointegración is the invented Spanish word for the integration of determined ways of transport. In a few words, it means that the weak and sustainable vehicles should be integrated into roads. By this I am referring to bicycles, skates, skateboards, scooters, etc. People who drive these should be treated as drivers since they drive vehicles and thus they should move on roads instead of sidewalks. Sidewalks should only belong to pedestrians.

Compare this idea with what is happening now. The vehicles I am talking about enjoy particular areas or lines sometimes stolen to walkers. So pedestrians feel city surface belonging to them is less and less. And do not forget, we all are pedestrian at first and then drivers. So pedestrian areas should be respected above all. Furthermore, potential crashes are avoided with ciclointegración for example between bicycles and people walking on sidewalks who are looking their mobiles or blind people.

Integration means do not create ghettos for green, cycle vehicles, better integrate them into roads. Moreover, thanks to this integration traffic is calmed as they move slower compared to cars and motorbikes. In turn, quality of life is increased, pollution is reduced and, in the long run, some intelligent people would probably stop driving cars because they would realize cars are not worth it.

The solution to traffic jams

Every day millions of cars enter to cities creating traffic jams around the world. The negative effects of such habit encompass psychological problems like stress and drivers bad mood as well as pollution. Apart from the clear excess in the number of cars we suffer, another key point is the real source of that. The more distance between where one lives and where one works, buys or studies, the more traffic jams. The bad behavior of driving dozens of kilometers every day converts people in a kind of simple-minded persons. If they sum up all the money they waste in gas plus the personal cost of all the hours they spend stuck and the drugs they need to overcome the psychological problems it causes, they probably realize how to overcome them. What about living nearer to the work place? Or moving to a closer area? Or using public transport? Or riding a bike? Or sharing the car (as figures show the mean occupation by car is 1.2 people)? But not. Most of them prefer poisoning everybody, including themselves, instead of changing how and where they live. Reducing distances and using green ways of transport is both beneficial for their pockets and the environment.

Bungee cords

When transporting goods in a bike, one can put them in a basket or in a bicycle bag. There is a third option which consists in tying them to the luggage carrier with one or two metal bungee cords. Bungee cords are composed of one or several strands forming a core covered in a woven cotton or polypropylene sheath.

They are ideal for such a purpose as they are elastic, thus allowing to use extra length and making more pressure at the same time. Indeed, they end in hooks at their extremes in order to ease their anchorage. It is quite recommendable not to anchor the moorings directly into the luggage carrier, rather it is better to give a spin to the cord extreme you want to anchor to the luggage carrier and then put the hooks into practice. This is because you do not want the bungee cord extreme to be released in the middle of a ride and this way the anchor is secured. If you are thinking in buying bungee cords, I recommend to invert money in good, high quality ones since they will last much more time.

Changing habits

Let me tell you a story that has been repeating from the past century. We have a street and car stuck occurs often. Suddenly, one visionary says “Eh, we must improve the number of car lines so that cars won’t be in stuck anymore”. And then the street passes from two car lines to four ones at the expense of space for pedestrian. As a result, the number of cars also increases and car stuck comes in a few days. In this case the problem is even greater because space for pedestrian has been reduced and the more cars, the more pollution and noise.

One common argument of those who are blind to the improvement in sustainability produced by bikes lines, is to say that car lines reduction would be make everybody worse off. Note that the everybody in italic means “only themselves”. As the story I have explained earlier indicates, improvement in car infrastructure only causes more cars on streets. On the other hand, making bike lines on roads (and then reducing at least one car line) makes citizens better off as air quality improves and noises reduce. Moreover, as bikes take up less space as cars do, it is common that pedestrian space increases as bike line is built.

When car lines are reduced, dimwit car drivers blame against bike infrastructure instead of changing the car for the bike, the public transport or just walking. Replacing a habit by another is costing but if only they be open-minded enough to realize that everybody (now meaning each and every person) get better and improve their health.

Road tax for bikes?

One of the main claims in the less developed countries regarding bikes and sustainable mobility is that bicycles should pay a road tax. This usually comes from scared car drivers who see how the bicycle trend takes car lines and transform them into bike lines. Or also how pacification of traffic does not allow them to drive so fast and consequently force them to fulfill the traffic law. This anger scream represents the loss of a false liberty in essence.

Today I am going to focus on the proposition of road tax for bicycles. Why does road tax apply to cars? Because of the negative impacts it has on society. Cars occupy too much space in streets. Approximately, one car has the same surface as eight bicycles. It also impacts negatively on the pavement as one ton (2,204 pounds) machines passing on by thousands or even millions every year on the same streets cause wear in impressive magnitude. Compare this fact with the usual weight of bikes 10-15 kg (22 – 33 pounds) or even less if the frame is made of carbon fiber. Furthermore, road tax is also paid as a result of all the diseases and health problems the poison of exhaust pipes expels. It would not be fair if all the people pay for problems caused by a fraction of the whole population. Not to mention the deaths car causes because of car accidents.

To sum up, it would be a nonsense if bicycles pay the road tax as they do not provoke as many problems as cars do.