Editorial: Commuting Science Fiction

CARS ARE TRANSPORTATION? Cars are time machines. Cars collapse space and time like no other form of transportation. You could get somewhere by foot, horse, train, or boat before the car, but it might take you hours, days, or weeks. We’ve become addicted to that time travel, so much so that when our car trips are slowed by even a couple seconds it pisses us off.

I try to keep that in mind when I get buzzed, honked at, or flipped off while riding my bike to work. Granted the vast majority of cars are quite courteous, but it’s hard not to wonder about the truck that cuts me off and then peels out to show it’s disgust at my presence, or the Prius with the “Share the Road” license plates that buzzes me, cutting through my lane while passing. (Actually happened to me on Earth Day this year!)

But then I remember: cars are time machines. They carry an unspoken promise of delivering their drivers to a certain place, quickly. And nothing is more frustrating than losing a second or two passing a cyclist or waiting for a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

I’m not being glib. I know the feeling. I own a car and when I’m in it my intellectual musings about our modern transportation psyche take a back seat. I want to get where I am going. Now. It takes concentration to stay out of a crosswalk until a pedestrian has left. Operating a car has an aggressive effect on our state of mind. I’ve seen it happen in even the most unlikely drivers.

But we have no right, as drivers, to that expediency. We have no right to violate pedestrian and cyclist rights to gain a few seconds. We have no right for unlimited and unrestrained use of resources to support our automobile time travel.

A solution? It’s not just more new bike/ped infrastructure. We need more education and participation. Drivers in our town need to be educated better to respect the rights and safety of pedestrians and cyclists-and realize they aren’t being slowed down that much. Cyclists need to get in the street and ride more. Every responsible new cyclist in town increases visibility and awareness and makes it safer for those of us who are already riding. Please support Bike to Work Week Spokane May 12-16.

Visit: www.biketoworkspokane.org

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