This recent discussion of bikes for disaster planning reminds me of an idea to promote bikes for transportation under the guise of emergency planning.
Quick Quiz: Who wrote this proposal for a bicycle civil defense drill?
Here’s an idea. We have had gasoline supply crises, both local and national, in the past, and we are likely to have more in the future. A supply crisis means the filling stations have no gas to sell. To prepare better for such situations, DOT could require all metropolitan areas over a certain size to develop a plan which would designate a grid of streets “Bicycles Only” during the gas shortage. Only local residents and businesses would be exempt. The grid should be dense enough to permit bicycle access to most points in the city.
Then to test the grid and make people aware of it before a crisis, the plan could be put into effect on some holidays. Think of it as a type of civil defense drill. Once people who do not normally cycle on streets do so while the plan is in effect, they may become comfortable with it. Potentially, they might press their politicians for a better urban cycling network that would always be available, not just in drills or fuel crises.
I ran this idea past Joline Molitoris of Ohio DOT shortly after Columbus had experienced a local fuel crisis, and she loved it. She said she would have used her bicycle for many trips if she had known she could ride safe from cars. I suspect many other people would have the same reaction.
See if you can guess correctly without cheating by searching for this text on the Internet. Your choices are:
- Republican politician James Schlesinger, Secretary of Defense under Nixon and Ford, and America’s first Secretary of Energy under Jimmy Carter. More recently, Schlesinger has been raising awareness on the issue of Peak Oil, though he is also a climate change denier.
- Jonathan Parfrey, Executive Director of Climate Resolve, Los Angeles Water and Power Commissioner, and a member of the CicLAvia Los Angeles Open Streets board.
- Paleoconservative pundit William Lind, former Director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism at the Free Congress Foundation and military science theorist who coined the term “Fourth Generation War” (4GW) to describe warfare’s return to a decentralized form. Lind also advocates for rail transit over highway spending for urban transportation.
- Colorado Department of Transportation Executive Director Donald Hunt, who previously chaired the design team for Salt Lake City’s light rail system and served on the Memorial Core Transportation Study team in Washington, D.C.
- Gabe Klein, Commissioner for the Chicago Department of Transportation and a former Executive Vice President for ZipCar.
Which of these might have thought of a drill like this? Can the various open street events be thought of as disaster preparedness?