There is nothing that makes my heart’s yearning for liberty beat stronger than a bicycle ride through the Sunday Morning Aire
The biggest challenge of our times is keeping a healthy environment that will last and help human beings flourish for a long time to come. If America is going to get serious about being a world leader in this respect then we have to make a full commitment to addressing transportation sustainability. Our current transportation environment puts a serious chill on the free and safe movement of people by basic modes such as bicycling and walking. Bicycling and walking are obvious assets for our physical needs and our economic ones, plus hugely significant for the uplift they provide in our spiritual, emotional and intellectual well being. What are the barriers prohibiting people to move as freely on a bicycle and by feet as we get around in our automobiles? What can we do to better support and encourage citizens to feel confident and strong making strides and taking rides? How can we better realize mobility freedom and treat people with dignity now matter how they choose to get around?
The old order of car-centered destinies is being balanced by an emergent desire to have complete streets and roadways that include bicyclists and pedestrians with both infrastructure accommodations and a culture of egalitarian sharing. Self propelled travelers are building a dimension in sustainable transportation based on John F. Kennedy’s articulation of American values–whether or not “we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated”–raising expectations that walkers and bikers travel with first class priority just as motorists experience. This new shared road paradigm diffuses power across transportation modes and incentivizes responsible freedom. Why would we expect anything less than for people to want viable options to utilize the transportation system as walkers and bikers and have full access to all the benefits the pursuit of happiness entails? The yearnings we feel in car culture for security, self expression, mobility, and connection are expressed through biking and walking with equal zest and exuberance. Seeking fulfillment by moving freely is a fundamental liberty with deep roots, and we must evolve and rebalance our transportation system to respect the opportunity to engage in beneficial bicycling and walking. Transportation freedom involves us.
Full equality in transportation planning doctrine and equal protection under the law, a Constitutional right, have not yet been realized. Bicycles are given full status as vehicles on the road but most States have “far to the right” clauses that create confusing dualities. Discriminatory legal codes sap oxygen from a secure riding environment by articulating rights in the negative, placing bicyclist legal status on defensive ground and empowering those who see cyclists as a subordinate class. Even with clarified laws, driving educators and the public have a long challenge ahead building an inclusive culture that accounts for the after waves of long practiced bias and neglect that left walkers and bikers out and ignored basic needs and legalized prejudice. We can overcome this inheritance and make transportation sustainability and equality a central matter of everyday life by looking forward and upwards and making policy and law centered on our common understanding of human dignity and what it means to be human wanting to move freely under one’s own power.
Folks advocating for a multifaceted and holistic view of the transportation system are not promoting a cause but are everyday people who’ve encountered significant impediments going about a regular life that includes substantial walking and biking. Bicycling and walking clearly call for across the aisle support as quality of life issues. We can see that they are integrated into our conceptions of building a stronger and more sustainable America going forward. Using our ingenuity we can create a lifestyle that makes us early adopters of transportation principles that define our values and help liberty shine beyond the status quo, making our claims to leadership in being generators of attractive lifestyles easier to support. Integrating good opportunities for biking and walking into our street life is important for our self esteem and world image for defending rights and dignity and promoting freedom, health and happiness.
What can we do now? Raise expectations for those people in power to implement change. Hold elected officials accountable for establishing better safeguards to protect pedestrians and bicyclists, and for overseeing the allocation of resources for planning measures that distribute investment throughout all transportation modes, not favoring the stronger establishment of one mode over another, but empowering everyone. Invest law enforcement protection equally to all human beings regardless of transportation status. Work together to promote a balanced transportation environment that promotes self determination and equal opportunity rather than limiting us to one default choice, whether or not we want to do it. We must work the democratic process to lift the expectations of how bicyclists and walkers are treated, and ensure demeaning and bigoted treatments are no longer within the boundaries of acceptable human relations. We insist on accepting that the human spirit’s motivation to move should be freely expressed in diverse ways. The transportation environments we build are reflective of this diversity, and expand the human spirit, not diminish it. Our mobility is important physically but just as much symbolically of what it means to be free. Ring your bicycle bell and let’s get moving. Walkers and bikers are not beyond anybody’s comprehension. We are everybody. The need to move and associate freely by your chosen means is a basic human right and cannot be segregated away, and deserves to be undifferentiated and dignified by the State and people. Let’s live it daily.