By Wigdan Al-Guneid, June 2, 2014
In the decades following its invention in the 19th century the bicycle became a very popular way for people of all ages to exercise, explore, and commute. After the introduction of cars in the U.S., however, bikes took a back seat. Cars gave people a different kind of power and freedom, and quickly turned bikes into an item used strictly for leisure or exercise.
Since that time American cities and lifestyles were changed forever. Suburbs spread out to sprawl endlessly away from their core downtowns. People started spending more and more time behind the wheel, more than ever! This turned out to be a bad idea for human beings as we are social and active creatures by nature. Suburban isolation turned obesity and depression into epidemics in this country as it decreased social interaction with our neighbors and increased car dependence. Here in Brevard county, we are no different than most of America. Most of our roads are geared toward cars rather than bikes. Roads that have bike lanes are limited to certain areas and not vitally connected or wide enough for both walkers and bikers to use. Most importantly they are not safe! Bike lanes are not well connected, they are not wide enough, or well shaded with trees.
However, there is a movement that has begun to re-think the cities and towns of America pushed by a genuine interest for a better environment, and a healthier and more economical lifestyle for the modern family. The shift in the economics of the American family encouraged many to re-think the car-centered lifestyle and move toward a new way of life centered on being healthy, green, and environmentally friendly.
Biking is central to this lifestyle. Bikes are green, they use 0 gallons of oil, and emit 0 carbon dioxide. Riding a bike every day is enough to burn a great sum of calories without the need to spend a portion of the day at the gym, and it is very economical. It’s easier to maintain, you don’t need to pay for insurance like a car or spend money on gas.
On a bigger level, shop owners love bikers, as they increase foot traffic around their stores, and they bring great energy with them to the place, which makes for better business. Ever wondered, why people love exploring the streets of Amsterdam, Portland, or Chicago so much? It’s because these cities have made great efforts to make their streets bike friendly, pedestrian friendly, and well connected.
Almost 100% of Brevard is car-friendly, but can we say the same thing for other mediums of transportation?
Bike lanes are not well connected, roads like Highway A1A are great examples of streets with dangerous bike lanes. Some of them merge into the car’s lane, others just simply stop at the entrance of a building and then continue as grass. If you are a biker, you know exactly what I am talking about. If you are a parent walking with a stroller I am sure you feel this pain each time you walk around with your baby.
Photos from Google map of Highway A1A, and Pineda Causeway and Trinity Street.
Do you have a picture you’d like to share with us? Please send it. We are putting together a photo journal that helps us visually understand our roads, and change our county to a better place!
Wigdan Al-Guneid has called Central Florida her home since 2012. She is an architectural designer interested in urbanism, cities, and the public good. Read her blog here: http://wigdanguneid.wordpress.com/about/