Until today, the only thing I knew about Utrecht was that a treaty was signed there a long time ago. Not quite as long ago, I was an ace at 11th grade European history, but have sadly since forgotten just what the Treaty of Utrecht ended. Turns out it was that Europe-wide clusterfrock known to us now as the War of the Spanish Succession. But, as a Pentecostal Irish bus driver once told me on a trip to the site of Michael Collins’ death, “that’s an awful lot of ugliness, and I think it’s time we get to forgivin’ each other just like the good Lord forgave us.” Well said, friend.
Today, Utrecht is the fourth largest city in The (We’re Not All Holland) Netherlands. And a third of their traffic takes place on bikes. Transit accounts for most of the rest, and this is the beautiful, healthy, clean, safe result:
So I ask you: How do we do it in the US? Do we start in towns ravaged by natural disasters and rebuild them with these kinds of goals in mind? Do we somehow incentivize cycling and mass transit at local, state, and federal levels of government? Tax credits? Insurance incentives?
Young Americans want to live in walkable, bikable cities and even walkable, bikeable suburbs. How do we push this growing desire, the increasing cost of gas, and the increasing concerns about emissions and obesity toward a real tipping point? In the Lehigh Valley and beyond, Car-Free.org is a great organization currently working to bring like-minded folks together around these. Check them out, buy a shirt, take a class. If you don’t live in the area, that’s okay, too. I understand that our good friend Steve at Car-Free/CAT is more than willing to talk to you about starting a Car-Free.org chapter in your area. If you’re a leader in a similar local or regional group, Steve wants to talk to you, too.
I want to see fewer cars, more transit, less emissions. I want to see more bikes. Don’t you?