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While Europe is dealing with congestion and greenhouse gas buildup by turning urban centers into pedestrian zones and finding innovative ways to combine driving with public transportation, many American cities are carving out more parking spaces.

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One Response to “ | The Dutch Way: Bicycles and Fresh Bread”

  1. Eva Kosinski says:

    A lot does have to do with the culture. We have some very different views on how transportation should be done here in the US. Because we try to centralize it all by government mandate, there are lobbyists at every turn from the car companies, the construction industry, the civil engineers, all of whom have jobs that depend on keeping cars on the roads. And the unions, which have become huge campaign contributors, always try to keep as many jobs as possible in the auto industry. When the choices aren’t quite so scripted, people do what’s logical — not what costs the most in money and in air quality.

    It’s still pretty tough to cart around artwork or give people who are elderly rides to their doctors appointments on bicycles, and sometimes it feels (to those of us who are old farts) that there’s a presumption that everyone’s in good health, and they’re all young and can spend the time it takes to get really good at riding (at least to cover some of the commuting needed around here), and they don’t consider anyone outside the younger set.

    But we’ve got to be a bit careful about assuming the same urban model with pedestrian focus will even work here. We do NOT have the same respect for private property, concern for others, and sense of responsibility that you find in other countries (we’ve all seen some of the worst cycling examples pretty close to home — the catch me if you can, nyah nyah, holier than thou because I ride types who make everyone else on a bicycle look bad). We also value our privacy a good deal more here and whether or not that’s a good thing, it’s there.

    So far, what I’ve seen is the big developers jumping on the smart growth bandwagon, not because it’s the right thing to do, but because they can get tax increment financing from the already well-taxed public, and don’t really have to use their own money. I’d love to see communities get to make their own decisions (by their actions) rather than have all of this dictated by legislation at the federal level (with all the lobbyists in line for their take). I suspect if Boulder got to do things independently, the generally environmentally-friendly culture would come up with such things without subsidies and the iffy cozy relations between corporate types and elected officials.

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