A few years ago, I lived in Deer Valley, a part of Phoenix designed for cars intersecting the I-17 and Loop 101. Ironically, only a gas station was within reasonable walking distance from where I lived, reminding me who was boss there. It sucked. A few years later, I moved to Tempe and have found what a city designed for people felt like without having to wait for peak oil to force it into Phoenix. People in Tempe still drive, but only if they want to; Extensive bike lanes, light rail, and Orbit give people choices. The city is small by design and features a walkable urban center that isn’t just a shopping center surrounded by a massive parking lot.* Tempe is home to Bike Saviours, TBAG**, and the only light rail station with a full-service bike cellar. Many people here own a bike instead of a car and use it just as often. I intent to be among them. There are several reasons for this:
- Cost - Given what I pay for car insurance, oil changes, fuel, car washes, and yearly maintenance costs spread out over 12 months, I could instead buy a nice bike every month without putting a dent in my income. Or, I could just buy a nice bike once and rake in the savings.
- Carbon - Commuting to Phoenix in my car gives me a view of that city from the highway, and it looks gross. A small atmosphere of brown air visibly hovers around it and I can smell it on the highway. I’d rather not contribute to this problem as much.
- Carbs - At the moment I drive to a gym for cardiovascular exercise. Sometime I don’t because I don’t have to. Now I will have to, and that means
more room for scones and cupcakesa healthier lifestyle with less money spent on heart attacks.
- Coolness - I like bikes. They’re an example of simple, polished engineering. That makes them cool. Care are explosions shoehorned into being over-engineered beasts of transit that can fail in a thousand different ways.
- Community - Deer Valley was plagued with social isolation; People drove to someplace designed to not spend much time in and return as quickly as speeding cameras would let you. This was life there. It was boring and predictable (unless there was a traffic accident). Riding a bicycle is slower and prolongs your exposure to more of your neighbors in a situation where you could easily have a conversation or just say Hi and thus, you end up actually meeting them. Riding on a circulator, bus, or light rail can also have a similar effect. There is a reason why Arcology’s foundation is the premise that cars don’t belong inside a city.
* We do have one of those too though, for newcomers and visitors to shop.
** Tee hee hee