Saturday, May 25, 2013

CARbon

Yesterday I came across this bike lot in Tokyo; it was next to a large apartment or condo complex. 

The convenient bike lot reminded me of a recent disappointment with the apartment complex where I live, in a town outside Philadelphia.  When I asked the complex owners where one parks their bikes I was told “bikes are not permitted around the building, they must be carried up to one’s own apartment.” My apartment is too small to comfortably fit a bike (and I don’t feel like carrying it up 3 flights of stairs)…luckily there is a bike rack 1/2 mile down the road in front of a college dorm that pertains to a public university, so I can legally park my bike there.

I guess it sounds naive, but I wish every town and suburb in the United States could have a convenient proportion of these bike lots.  (Car reliance is predominately a problem in the United States.)  Less driving would imply a lot of social improvements — for health and well-being, for the environment, for culture, for sustainability, for families, for saving time and money, for interacting with differences, for reducing bloody wars…etc.

This ties in with a book I just started reading called Walkable City by Jeff Speck.  Here's a passage from it (taken from David Owen's Green Metropolis) that recaps one of the main ideas thus far -- it's not one car that's harmful, rather the entire national (American) individualistic lifestyle of relying on an automobile everyday. This triggers major local and global harms (much of which we don't see because we have distanced ourselves from the harm we produce).
“The real problem with cars is not that they don’t get enough miles per gallon; it’s that they make it too easy for people to spread out, encouraging forms of development that inherently wasteful and damaging… The critical energy drain in a typical American suburb is not the Hummer in the driveway; it’s everything else the Hummer makes possible — the oversized houses and irrigated yards, the network of new feeder roads and residential streets, the costly and inefficient outward expansion of the power grid, the duplicated stores and schools, the two-hour commutes.”
There is a very positive trend, however—according to their research, the younger generation in the United States (the “millennials”) is moving into the cities, where they can use their legs, bikes, and public transport.

Update: found this wonderful bike parking structure in Kyoto:

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