How do you get around on the paths between buildings? Most of the paths are concrete and in Western culture, gas vehicles are the dominant presence on our paths. Walking is secondary. In fact, everything else is secondary.
Increasingly I am seeing many more ways of getting around – besides on foot: some officially motorized, some human powered. I think there is a shift happening. I know from happenings in my own city that there is also strife over such things as the addition of bicycle lanes to the roads.
But this musing isn’t about bicycle lanes, it’s about the many different ways to travel on our paths and what is considered appropriate on our ‘roads’.
Diversity on the paths
I’ve seen electric bikes and electric or gas stand–on scooters both buzzing along with little high-pitched motors. Now there are electric moped-like scooters, 3-wheeled motorcycles, Smart Cars and also hybrids (which I realize are automobiles, but different than the usual). A few weeks ago I even saw someone driving one of those motorized 4-wheel scooters and it was enclosed! Good idea in the rain. Some people drive these in the bike lanes but he was on the sidewalk. I couldn’t help thinking how much it seemed somewhat like a tiny car or go cart of sorts.
One Thunder Bay fellow designed a 3-wheeled bike that he propels with an electric motor. Here’s the cool thing: his electricity comes from 3 solar panels, which he has placed behind him on the bike! Really innovative, if you ask me! And another fellow in Canada is doing the Power of One Solar Car Project. He is demonstrating clean and sustainable energy by traveling around the country in it. And, he is setting records with it, too!
I also know of people who are running their regular diesel engine vehicles with vegetable oil and eventually we are going to see more electric cars and perhaps even ones propelled by compressed air! (Biofuel from corn isn’t something I like because that’s food.)
On the Internet a few years ago I came across 4-wheeled bikes called surreys by one company and actually there are others that make them too. I try to imagine having one and taking it out on the streets in my town. Because it would take up more room than a regular pedal bike but still not go as fast as a motorized car, I wonder how the car drivers would react? I think it would be a great way to get around.
Purpose of Paths
Why am I musing about modes of transportation? Recently, I read a statement that got my gears going:
“Our roads are not here for automobiles. Our roads are here for people to get around.” Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City, at a ribbon cutting ceremony
Because of that statement, I’m looking at roads differently and thinking of them as pathways rather than roadways. Being aware of all the different ways of getting around now makes me re-consider the dominance of cars and trucks. Things are changing. We are re-evaluating the use of fossil fuels. And, people’s creativity is coming out. They are trying new ways of getting from place to place. And, they work!
We all pay so we should all have a say
Given we all contribute to city taxes – even some of the rent money to the landlord will find its way into a tax payment – shouldn’t everyone’s say about the pathways count? Right now, the voices of people who drive cars seem to be heard the loudest and so they pretty much “own the road”. The rest seem barely tolerated. I think our cities and towns should reconsider their pathways and how they could be used to better serve everyone who pays for them. And I know I haven’t even mentioned rapid transit.
Despite the fact that proponents of fossil fuel-based vehicular traffic do not seem to want to let go of their dominance over our pathways because they can sell us oil, ultimately we all own the paths. And many people are getting creative in how they choose to get around on them. Many of these new ideas are much better for the environment and for our health. And, they look like a lot of fun, too!
One thing we would all benefit from, though, is a little more respect and patience for each other when we pass each other on these paths. And, let’s celebrate the diversity of ideas and the innovative thinking!
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