Hello all! Where do I begin?
I’ll start my story with the creation of the first bicycle. Just kidding.
I’ve taken on the 30 day car-free challenge because I needed some way to proove to myself (and others) that it is possible to live in Memphis as car “less dependent.” I say less dependent, and not car-free because I think that the way that Memphis is set up as a city makes it very difficult to live without a car. I’ve tried my best to not use a car during the challenge, and I’ve been very successful so far, but there will always be those times when you have to hop in your trusty steed (your car) and drive somewhere.
The one time this month when I took my car instead of public transportation was when my girlfriend and I were running late, and as we were rushing to the bus stop the bus drove by. Needless to say we had to shamefully walk back to my house and crank up the ‘ole gas guzzler. Now many might say “Oh, but Spencer the 50-Poplar runs every 15 minutes.” This is true except that every day of the week after 5:30 the 50-Poplar only runs every hour. So instead of waiting an hour for the bus, we made the 5 minute commute by car.
I also had to use my friend’s truck to haul 1300 lbs of soil from Home Depot to school for our school’s garden. Try taking that on your bike or in the bus. There are some circumstances where cars (and trucks) are absolutely necessary.
I’m by far not an advocate of cars, but I do recognize their necessity in our society. Bikes and busses are great in cities where roads and trails are adequate, but we simply don’t have the proper infrastructure for that in Memphis. I would like to quote a blog by the same name of this challenge. David Fullerton wrote in his blog titled “Car Free Memphis” :
“Let’s have buses running east, west, north and south on every major street 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, if it is necessary.
Let’s have bike lanes running the full length of all major streets, like the Union, Poplar, and Summer Avenues.
We can be a world-class city, but not without redesigning our entire city to be Car-Free friendly.
In a city like this, there would be adequate bus shelters, restrooms, bike shops and pit stops for resting weary bones whereby people are not treated like a vagabond.”
I agree with David. Without an absolute redesign of the streets and transit system of Memphis there will never be any success with transitioning people into a Bike/Ped lifestyle. We’ve come far over the last few years, but adding more infrastructure will only bring in those who want to use it.
People will do anything to seem cool. If we make biking a trend in Memphis it’ll be picked up faster than the newest pair of Jordan’s. It needs to become a trend. The days of driving to the McDonald’s that’s only a half a mile away to sit in the drive-thru and idle for 25 minutes need to be over. I say need to be over instead of are over because I know that they won’t be unless we have something to spark a change. The average price of premium gas in the Netherlands for the week of April 12th-18th is $5.10. If gas were that much in Memphis we’d have fleets of busses running down Poplar hauling people to East Memphis to work their 9-5 jobs. Everybody who lives in a 3-5 miles radius of every school and work place would bike there.
We have a long road (get the pun?) ahead of us. Not only as a neighborhood, a community, a city, a state, a region, but also a nation. There needs to be a new attitude towards cars and pollution and biking.
Bikes are no longer for recreation only. They are a means of transportation. We cannot sustain ourselves by burning millions of tons of gasoline and oil each year.
As cliche as it is, I’m going to finish my post with a quote.
My absolute idle (wordplay anybody? (idol)) said that:
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” -Albert Einstein Thank you for reading, Spencer Kaaz