Saturday, February 20, 2010
Dan Moser's column: Biking and Walking as Viable Transportation Options
Florida Weekly 2/17/10
Biking and walking as viable transportation options
In the not-too-distant past when I showed up for work-related events on my bike, I was often greeted with reminders that bicycling rather than driving was very unusual, to say the least. Same when I’d arrive having walked there, although not as many questioned my sanity, just my decision making. Some may have even thought I lost my driver’s license, asking themselves why anyone would brave the weather and take the risks that surely must accompany getting somewhere other than by car?
But now that most people who are familiar with me are used to my preferred means of transportation, the questions about my choices come only when I arrive by motor vehicle. In fact, it’s gotten to the point where I better have a pretty good reason for driving because I’ll invariably be pressed to answer why I’m burning fossil fuel and not using human power.
As a recent column revealed, I’ve been keeping track of my running and other physical activities for many years, a habit I got into early on. Looking back at last year, I saved 320 car trips by instead cycling, walking, or running, or combining those with a bus ride to buy groceries, go to the bank and post office, attend meetings, and get to locations where I was offering bike/ped education and outreach services. Probably about 75 percent of my 2,500- plus miles of cycling and almost 600 miles of walking were for a purpose, as well as about 20 percent of the 600-plus miles I ran. That’s a significant savings in fuel cost, not to mention routine maintenance and wear and tear on my motor vehicle. Add to that the fact that I’m recreating and exercising while commuting and it’s hard to see any downside.
Of course, there are challenges and times when I’d rather be in the comfort of my air-conditioned car, but never would I go back to limiting myself to only one way to get around. What I’ve found — and as I believe others who at least occasionally get out of their car and on their bike or feet also know — is that comfort and convenience are relative terms. For me, the physical and mental benefits are real. Sitting in traffic jams, finding and paying for parking, and covering the bills that are associated with exclusively driving a car to get around can negate any convenience factor, be it real or perceived.
Now that Lee County’s Smart Growth Director Wayne Daltry has retired, Bike- WalkLee’s work just got harder. But there are still high hopes that with County Manager Karen Hawes at the helm and Commissioner Ray Judah’s subject-matter knowledge and leadership on the board the many policies and projects Mr. Daltry has guided into place will keep the momentum moving toward the development of a Complete Streets transportation network.
Coming from a human services background, Ms Hawes understands the diverse transportation needs of our citizens, especially those with limitations that make automobile ownership or driving a non-option. She’s made a commitment to improving LeeTran and to providing better access to those who depend on their feet to get around. BikeWalkLee looks forward to assisting Ms Hawes in her pursuit.
As for Commissioner Judah, we’re sure he’ll continue to be BWL’s champion on the board, a board that has indicated it is also committed to making the things Mr. Daltry envisioned become reality sooner rather than later.
Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails.
— Dan Moser is a league cycling instructor/trainer and program manager for the Florida Bicycle Association who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and f itness. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 334-6417.