Bicycles Not Appropriate for Everyone

A reader argues that bicycles are not adequate to meet our transportation needs.

By Letter to the Editor
Published February 09, 2007

Re: Can the bicycle save civilization?

Although I generally agree with you, what about those who can't ride? I don't mean those who don't know how, but those who are physically incapable of doing so?

My father is 83 years old and can hardly walk, but he can still drive. If it wern't for his car, he would be housebound. I'm sure he isn't the only such person.

Also, bicycles may be OK for people living in cities, but what about people living in the country?

The farmer in Iowa, the rancher in Montana or South Dakota; surely you aren't telling them to ride a bike to town on market day, particularly in winter! And surely you aren't telling them to get rid of their tractors, combines, etc., which also run on the internal (infernal?) combustion engine.

Also, what about terrain? I live in West Virginia, which is not called 'the Mountain State' for no reason. There are some streets here in Charleston with a more than 19 degree slope; I'm in pretty good shape, but it is not easy to go up those hills.

Are you suggesting that we abandon dwellings in the hills and all live on the flatlands? WV is not a populous state, but we haven't enough flat lands for that.

I try to ride my bike whenever I can, and I discover that I can do it more than most people think; and I believe that a lot of people could use their bikes more than they do, and that there should be incentives for them to do so.

But to abolish the car would do a great deal of harm to those whose bodily condition makes bikes impossible, or who live in places where bikes are not practical.

The idea that using biofuels will divert food crops falls down as soon as one considers that biofules can be made from ANY vegetable matter, even ones that are not good for food, and from plants that will grow on marginal land.

I mean, if we used kudzu as our ethanol source, Georgia, Alabama, and the Carolinas would become the new Saudi Arabia. That stuff grows so fast that after a good rain you can actually see it growing!

Bruce Alan Wilson,
West Virginia

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted February 16, 2007 at 13:05:09

I agree with all your comments.

In addition, how many people want to ride their bike in -10 degree weather? How many people who ware business attaire (and there are quite a few) will ride a bike to work? How many people have a shower at work they can use to clean up after the bike ride?

In Canada, bike riding is only feasible a few months of the year and limited to a very small segment of the population. People who advocate more bike lanes are living in fantasy land. (I have yet to see anybody use the bike lanes that were installed in a couple of nearby areas where I live in Hamilton).

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By Ted Mitchell (registered) | Posted February 16, 2007 at 20:56:44

quoting Letters: "But to abolish the car would do a great deal of harm to those..."

That's the right line of thinking: doing harm.

So if drivers can see harm done to them, why can't they see the egregious harm done by their cars or the way they are driven? Double standard?

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By rgelderrgeld (registered) - website | Posted February 21, 2007 at 17:46:30

I, too, have been bike commuting year-round and I agree with everything said by Ryan regarding how much better I feel by so doing. Its better on my health, better on my wallet, better on air quality, better on traffic congestion and better on the students I teach (....I arrive at work in a better mood, like Ryan).

Granted, there are some for whom cycle-commuting is not a viable option. However, I would suggest that cycling, or at the very least public transit, is something that a heck of a lot of other people ought to be considering. Even with the 5 foot snowbanks, Hamilton is a great city to cycle year-round.

I would suggest only that the public works department make the clearing of bike lanes a higher priority after snowstorms, a case in point being those traversing the King Street bridge over the 403, which were still buried several days after the storm - and which were covered in a sheet of ice this morning (February 21st).

Bike on, brothers!

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By A. Bolish (anonymous) | Posted February 24, 2007 at 16:05:44

I think the argument that seeks to abolish is a bad one. This is a democracy (so to speak) and not everyone can or wants to ride a bike. That said, there is much we can do to promote cycling, transit as alternatives to the car.
A senior who can't walk but can drive kind of scares me as a cyclist/pedestrian. Accessible transit would perhaps be a safer option for all, if it is available.
The car as symbol of uber-mobility is a myth: grid lock, accidents, breakdowns, repairs, gas prices, insurance, parking all add up to a big, expensive, wasteful pain for the driver and the community.
No, everyone will not be forced to give up their cars. But fund good transit, build bike paths, and more people will see the light and make changes. (Employers too, with showers, bike storage, transit passes for employees, etc.)


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