Blog post by Roland Oehme
ANNAPOLIS, MD — I attended the annual Maryland State Bicycle Symposium in the beautiful capitol of Annapolis on February 22. This annual event is open to everyone, and encourages the public to learn the latest in bicycle advocacy issues statewide.
During the symposium, I sensed an appreciation for past accomplishments as well as a strong desire to increase bicycle safety and awareness, and improve bicycle facilities and infrastructure.
In the United States (with the exception of a few regional examples like Portland, Oregon) most people cannot use bicycling as a safe and convenient commuting method. Bicycling is still rather an anomaly, used by only a few strong souls to commute and by suburbanites who recreate by first driving to bicycle trails– and they frequently have to drive many miles, since trails are not always located where people live.
This despite the fact that bicycle-friendly communities in any setting, whether urban, suburban, or rural, promote a stronger connection to local places and people, a healthier lifestyle, and cleaner air.
Have you ever wondered why visiting Americans become enamored with European cities? In general, Europe’s cities are much more compact, and therefore bicycle-friendly, than our sprawling American urban centers. Bicycling to work and to run errands is a normal part of life for many Europeans, and it is possible because public policies are always updated to allow for easy bicycling.
In fact, many European cities (like London) are realizing that they can achieve an even better quality of life by limiting or completely restricting car access to city centers and enhancing the bicycle and pedestrian access. Bike commuting is very feasible in many parts of Asia as well.
Many at the symposium were asking: can our cities place the same value on walking and bicycling as these other places do?
Carol Silldorff, executive director of the organization that runs the symposium, will give her perspective on some of these issues tomorrow. Check back for an in-depth interview!
Roland Oehme is a green and healthy living landscape architect and writer. Read his blog at: http://www.greenharmonydesign2007.blogspot.com/.
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