NEWS BLOG (WSAU) There’s a major biking / walking event that’s coming to Stevens Point. It’s called Ciclovia. It’s happening on Sunday, September 22. (More information here: http://www.uwsp.edu/hphd/adventuretours/Pages/CicloviaWI.aspx )
The event involves inviting making a city more bike and pedestrian-friendly. A 7-mile loop of city streets is set aside for people in non-motorized vehicles. The event is also a sales opportunity for businesses along the route, and a chance for various groups and causes to market their ideas to people along the route. There’s no reason to thing this won’t be a nice, family-friendly event.
But this year’s event is a ‘soft launch’. In 2012 bikers and walkers will be sharing the streets with cars. The goal next year is to shut the streets down for a non-motorized-vehicle-only event. And that’s where my support ends.
I’ve seen these types of events before. When I lived on Long Island the Cross Island Expressway would be shut down for three Sundays each summer for a similar bike/walk afternoon. I had several co-workers who roller-bladed during the event; they had a great time. All well-and-good until you're trying to drive home from an afternoon at Jones Beach. Shutting down a major roadway makes end-of-the-weekend traffic impossible. In Westchester County there’s a similar summer program on the Katonah Parkway. For an afternoon cars are forced off a main road and onto narrow side-streets. There are other events in Portland and Madison where bikes and walkers displace cars and trucks.
We're all supposed to share the road. A city street doesn’t necessarily belong to automobiles. Cars need to share space with people who are biking or walking. But cars are our primary mode of transportation, and these events take major thoroughfares out of circulation for most people who are just trying to get from one place to another. There’s a subtle message behind events like Ciclovia. Walking and biking are healthier; they are to be preferred over fossil-fuel powered single-occupancy vehicles.
I ride a bicycle, and I enjoy it. (One look at me, you’d see that I should ride even more.) But there are sometimes that I need my car. Who do these people think they are to tell me, even for a few hours, I can’t get there from here?