Ride and Shine: Bicycling Infrastructure for a Healthier Middle Class

Reading and researching things I’m curious about helps me cobble together an understanding that informs the conversations I have and things I see in the course of everyday living.  This interview with Larry Summers on Charlie Rose touched on a convergence of subjects I’m interested in.  By focusing on basic investments in bicycling and walking infrastructure, we could do a lot to strengthen the prospects of the middle class and give people a ladder to improve their health and access to opportunity.

Quoting Larry Summers with Charlie Rose:
“There has been a big redistribution that has worked to the detriment of the middle class.”
“If the income distribution in the U.S. was the same as it was in 1979, there would be a trillion dollars more in the hands of the lower 80%, or $11,000 per family.  And there would be a trillion dollars less in the hands of the top 1%.  That would be $750,000 less on average per family in the top 1%.”
“We have a lot of fundamental infrastructure investments we need to make and making them is a major source of middle class jobs…it takes a big burden off our children.”

Walking and biking infrastructure sets us free in the place we live and helps us get more face to face time all over town with our neighbors.  It’s like a big community mixer.  That’s how you meet people, interlock neighborhoods, and encourage youth, adults, all of us, to exercise.

2015.2.5 ABQ bike map 018

Better bicycling and walking infrastructure is for every body.  We have a chance to implement bike infrastructure 2.0.  The next phase of development is redesigned and improved based upon what we have learned and are rapidly learning to welcome and encourage new generation bicyclists and promote more mobility options.  Bike infrastructure directly builds up a healthier middle class and a more vibrant, sustainable community.  Plus bicycling and walking helps us awaken our sense of place by teaching us more about where we live and the people we live with.  Bicycling expands our knowledge and empathy.  Nothing wrong with mixing in a little fun and enjoying the sun on your way to going somewhere.  Win win win.

Bike and walk infrastructure makes it safer for kids to get to school, enjoy parks, visit their friends.  Everyone wants to feel safe and confident on the road and throughout all of our neighborhood streets.  Here in Albuquerque on Central Ave east of San Mateo there are so many people walking and biking for everyday transportation, and we could do more to recognize their core initiative and support affordable and active transportation.  Shining dignity on the street is good for our morale.  Biking and walking celebrates our common humanity by empowering health in our most basic interactions.  We evolve and adapt to places by moving.

One of the points Larry Summers makes is neglecting infrastructure is a serious burden to our children, let alone a bummer for people who feel excluded from the economic recovery.  We are literally building a new economy and a place like east Central Ave. could be revitalized with quality manufacturing jobs, improved streets, and better livability.  Infrastructure improvements are a pathway to personal and economic health.   Start with the basics.  These challenging times are a great opportunity to invest in the city and citizens of Albuquerque, to help us get our legs going and see where that might take us.  Increased exercise in the public domain means people can interact more and exchange ideas and get to know each other.  That coupled with more blood flowing to our brains from increased activity is a potent combination for building a new healthy economy that graces the place we live.  Go Albuquerque!

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