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« Toxic Metals | Main | My Parkinson’s »

Is it time to opt out of the culture of speed?

All over the United States and indeed the world, people are riding bicycles. Forget about saving the planet, that is not the reason, it is a satisfying and civilized way to travel. Faster and more efficient than walking, and for not much more energy input. Compared to driving a person is burning calories rather than gasoline.

A person riding to work each day on his bicycle is traveling for free, he gets there in only slightly less time that his colleague who drives. In some congested cities the cyclists gets there faster. He has not had to allot time to exercise or pay gym fees. When he gets to his destination he has fewer problems with parking.

Many more people would ride bicycles but they are afraid of being hit by cars. There are still those who will try to intimidate and bully anyone in their way. The whole “Share the Road” concept is flawed in that it implies that the roads are for cars and cyclists are asking drivers to share space with them.

This is not the case, public roads are just that, “Public.” They are there for people to travel from their home to where ever they need to be. The right is for the person to travel, not according to the persons’ mode of transport.

There is no pleasure in driving anymore, it is the myth and the lie being sold to the public by the auto-makers.

Look at any car ad on TV and what do you see? The obligatory slow motion shot of a car sliding sideways in a controlled skid, cars driving at break neck speed on deserted streets and highways.

This is not reality, on today’s congested roadways. Not only is driving fast impractical, it is downright dangerous. And what useful purpose does it serve? There is a legitimate argument for being allowed to maintain high speeds for long journeys on freeways that traverse miles and miles of open countryside.

However, when freeways approach cities and become congested, there is a definite need to slow to the same speed as everyone else. It is the driver trying to maintain his high rate of speed under these conditions that not only cause accidents, but cause people to brake and in turn lead to the stop and go traffic conditions that are all too familiar.

The best thing a person can do is to realize that getting from A to B is a necessity, so if you can’t make it a pleasure then at least make it stress free. Opt out of the culture of speed, slow down and relax.

Speed limits need to be lowered to 20mph in crowded city centers where there are many pedestrians and cyclists. Would such a speed limit have a great impact on people’s over all drive time?

In most cases drivers simply accelerate to race from one traffic light to the next. On long stretches of highway, traffic lights can be timed so someone driving the speed limit can have green lights all the way through a town.

The faster cars go the more space is needed between each car. Therefore, people moving slower but continuously in a procession can travel closer to each other. This means traffic is moving slower but on any given stretch of highway it is carrying a larger volume of vehicles. So is the overall flow of vehicles per hour that much less? Bottom line is, people still get to where they need to be.

The world is becoming more and more crowded. Populations are exploding everywhere including the US. Every person who rides a bicycle is taking one more car off the road, making more room for those who choose to drive.

Wouldn’t life be a little more pleasant if everyone slowed down a notch? So what if it took you five or ten minutes longer to get to work, at the end of each day would that make a huge difference? Of course wishing for this is wishing for Utopia, but who would argue that it would be better if less people had to die on our roads.

The cities across America that have adopted a “Bicycle Friendly” program, have found that when more people ride bicycles the overall speed of traffic slows. With that comes less fatalities, not just for cyclists, but across the board for pedestrians and motorists too.


Previously posted May 2012 

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Reader Comments (11)

Driving in Singapore was an experience. Everyone drives exactly the same. The same speed (exactly the posted limit) and keeps spacing, and signals all moves.
The result is that traffic moves smoothly even though it is 3 times the density of L.A.

August 27, 2018 | Unregistered Commenteredstainless

Do the math. A 12 mile commute traveled at 30 mph it will take 24 minutes and at 35 mph will take 20 minutes a whopping savings of 4 minutes and at 40 mph it will take 18 minutes a saving of only 6 minutes!

August 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel

Traffic will improve when you cannot use your PHONE for any reason while moving in a vehicle. As long as A-holes are allowed to TEXT or TALK ( blue tooth included) there will continue to be an increase in accidents and fatalities for all road users. People won't police themselves and in today's world of " it's all about me and Fuck everyone else" they are more interested in that "electronic leash" then ANYTHING ELSE. I have lived in Los Angeles for almost 58 years and have seen all the changes. Granted, SOME areas where the "bicycle friendly" community exists it may slightly safer, but I'd bet if honest statistics were available we would see how "driving distracted" is the main reason for the increase in accidents / fatalities. It will never happen if know one will police themselves. Put away the phone and pay attention.

August 27, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterBrian

20 MPH speed limits are being rolled out in some towns in the UK. However, in many places they aren't policed, so drivers ignore them.

The culture of speed exists here too. Programs like Top Gear and The Grand Tour encourage impressionable drivers to go fast.

In some Scandinavian countries, sports / luxury cars are heavily taxed, encouraging road users to buy less powerful models or cycle.

August 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterStephen McAteer

Just the Facts ma’am:

Kids don’t grow up riding bikes.

Schools don’t have bike riding instruction or rodeos, nor racks to lock bikes (oh, would, if they did, kids ride to school?). No.

For the bike-sharing (scam) business: people prefer electric scooters to bicycles.

Bike Friendly Cities: That is a (State) designation given a city that meets certain requirements and ideals. It does not mean that city coordinates with neighboring cities when implementing bike paths, lanes, and other street markings. Also, and this is Huuge, there is no money allocated for education. In other words, no required programs teaching drivers and riders what lane markings mean.

In So. Cal it is too hot to ride a bike to work or anywhere. I ride my bike for training, wearing special clothing made to sweat in, and shower after, also rinsing or washing my clothing. In winter early darkness discourages riding.

It is too hilly in most areas for people to want to ride a bike.

You can’t carry much on a bike. Take groceries: no one is going shopping with their bike.

I have never seen a family, or a group of friends going to dinner on bikes.
Where you going to park the bikes? People are already pissed with bikes on sidewalks. And, you have to deal with the drug addicts and homeless ripping off your ride, even if you lock it.

I take the Sprinter (train) to work with my MTB, and have to deal with bizarre passengers, overcrowding of bikes and riders, and this in North San Diego County. I see few “normal” people riding with their bikes in tow. I do get compliments, “Nice bike”, though.

In the end, no one is going to stop driving to ride a bike.

August 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Many new cars have so many electronic devises that control what the car does, So logically, it should be safer to ride a bike on the roads?????? Our Volvo has warning sensors that beep beep bloody beep whenever anything comes close to it OR if we get to close to it. Some cars computers even read the street signs and speed limit signs!!! Would not surprise me to see this on bikes in the future. Bike computers that warn you if you waver off course and get to close to another rider etc!!!! Maybe even when you need to take a pee!!!

August 28, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterjohn crump

"In So. Cal it is too hot to ride a bike to work or anywhere." - I biked for most of my 3 years in South Florida - average temperature 95 & high humidity for most of the year. Didn't own a car.
"You can’t carry much on a bike. Take groceries: no one is going shopping with their bike." - I did all my shopping on a bike in Florida too. You can get cargo bikes if you need to carry more.
Bikes may not be as convenient as cars sometimes but you can make them work if you want to.

August 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterStephen McAteer

The percentage, number of people commuting by bicycle has stayed the same for decades.

So why, with all the recent promotion and "awareness" campaigns, haven't the numbers changed?

In the 80's Carpooling never took off either, despite good intentions. And in spite of gas prices going up (and oil embargoes).

All to get people to do something they don't want to? So who is behind this? Certainly not the people.

People are already riding bikes in Norway, Denmark, and other European countries because it evolved naturally, not politically.
That hasn't happened in the US and never will.

August 28, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Politics is certainly a big part of the participation rate of Scandinavian countries you mntion. One doesn't spend money on cycling infrastructure for decades without political will. The increase of cycling (if any) is not merely cultural preference.
Raising costs for drivers involves politics. Banning motor traffic from city centers involves politics.

American culture is "exceptional" in that it appears to be mostly convenience and marketing driven.
You can bring a horse to water (or, Kool Aid) but you can't make it drink.
Fortunately expense and concern for a shifting climate raises the issue in the minds of many younger people. Youth helps with taking up cycling, too.

Glad that YOU ride despite your exposition of so many negatives.
I ride because I find it fun much of the time, it saves me money, and it keeps me more fit than if otherwise.

August 31, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterKnott Steve

LOL I came to this article thinking it was about utility/transportation cycling, that more cyclists need to get it out of their head that bikes must be ridden as fast as possible all the time -- I've already opted out of that culture of speed!

These are good points too though

August 31, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRubeRad

Stephen McAteer already gave good responses to these, but I thought I'd add my take too...

"In So. Cal it is too hot to ride a bike to work or anywhere."

Not if your work has a shower. I live in San Diego and bike to work daily year-round. I made a choice to live in a smaller, more expensive house, so I would be within easy cycling range of work (only 5.5mi).

"You can’t carry much on a bike. Take groceries: no one is going shopping with their bike."

I have 4 grocery stores within 1mi of my house, and I can carry quite a lot of groceries in my two 3gal buckets and bungee-netted onto my rack.

Practically "No one" ever does this kind of thing though. There are some people with legitimate disabilities who are truly Unable to cycle; most people though suffer from a combination of laziness, weakness, and poor housing location choice (on the part of both consumers and city planners).

August 31, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterRubeRad

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