Systems and Sustainable Transportation

…in which I look at transportation as a system — not as bits and pieces — and ask others to join me.

Something’s been on my mind lately. (Well, when isn’t that the case?)

A lot of people have mentioned the rise of the so-called “bicycle culture” here in Phoenix.  I’m not sure what that means, though: what is bicycle culture?  If it’s not a hipster movement, the bicycle culture advocates for bicycle transportation as the mode of transportation in urban environments.

Don’t get me wrong: I love bicycling—even in the desert.  I have a bicycle that I use to get around central Phoenix that I’ve christened as Kierkegaard, after the Danish existentialist philosopher.  The picture here is of my bicycle at one of the light rail stations here in town.  It is my equivalent of a car since I don’t have a car.  I agree that there needs to be better bicycle infrastructure in this city and around the world.

Actually, I should come out here and share this with the world: I don’t have a driver’s license.  In fact, I’ve never had one.  I am sure that I’m going to have to get one at some point; for now, it’s a point of personal pride that I’ve gotten this far without needing one.

As I see it, bicycling is part of a greater system: sustainable transportation.  I think that this is where the bicycle culture people are missing a key piece to their advocacy.  The other two components of that sustainable transportation system are public transportation and walking.  It’s not about promoting one modality over the other or saying that one is superior to the other.  It’s about recognizing that sustainable transportation is a system and that all modalities are connected to each other.

I have taken Kierkegaard (the bicycle) on the trains here many times when my final destination is just outside of the reach of my pedaling power.  Bike to train to bike to destination: it’s about the journey and the destination.

We’ll go farther together than separately.