You seem to assume that biking is in the cards for everyone. Not so. It DOES depend on where you live. My 50 mile each way commute takes about an hour. To use public transportation (ride bike to bus/train ride, stop to stop, take bike to work) would take approximately 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 hours each way. No thanks. My family reaps the benefits of the larger house and better schools and the less dense population without the commute. For my part, I listen to 25 books or more per year (thank you public library!) and have a relaxing travel. I ride my bike for fun and exercise. I am thankful that I don't have to rely on it for commuting. Cars are a great solution!
Might not a lot of changes in driving habits have been significantly affected by the high fuel prices we have experienced in the US since around 2003? I pulled available data from the US Energy Information Administration on gas prices between 1990 and 2013. After averging all areas of the country and plotting it by date, it was rather startling.
What you are describing happened not only in the Bay Area but in other cities in America (and in other countries) and is described in this book "http://www.amazon.com/dp/1621064867" ; the American car culture didn't happened naturally, but was orchestrated by car manufacturers. An example ? They bought public transportation systems just to replace electric rails systems by their own buses. Then, they removed buses and so forced people to buy cars. Et voilà. The same who are now telling us they are green, sustainable etc ...
"Do you have a shower at work? " Hi Bert22306, yes, i have the chance to have a shower at work. I agree it would be more difficult to commute with my bike without. But, but, don't forget we are living in a world especially designed for cars (and on purpose). So, if i take my work location as an example, it's no problem for building huge underground parkings (on two levels) but there's only two poor racks for parking bikes and two showers (mainly used for those who are jogging).
"Biking? Get real!" ; I'm riding my bike everyday, summer and winter, by night, 45km (30 miles) a day no problem for now. As i said in a former post, it's a matter of equipment and i have to say it is not cheap. But once you have it, it's doable. My average commute time is much lower than by car, i enjoy speeding all those poor drivers alone in their cars in the traffic jam, listening for the tenth time to the same jingle. I don't mind being wet or cold. My health has improved by orders of magnitude.
In the Netherlands for example, not necessarily a warm country in winter, bike represents near 50% of commutes. But since the sixties, infrastructure is designed for bikes and pedestrians, not for cars. In the end, that makes a big difference. Want to know why? My guess is they don't have a car industry to protect.
So i would conclude by saying that cars are not a solution but a real problem.
Some of these utopian descriptions of the wonders of mass transit are going to sound hollow to a whole lot of people.
For mass transit to be viable, people need to live in dense urban environments. If they do not, then mass transit will not be remotely useful enough. It may work during peak rush hour periods on work days, to get and from work, but it won't even allow for a side trip to the food store after work, never mind during weekends and holidays.
I've always obsessed about living where I don't have to depend on driving. The problem is, it seems to me that no one else out there obsesses about this. So for example, when we moved to our current close-in suburbs address, I first made sure that public transit had plans to serve our community. And they did. It was even popular, at first, so that service was available all day long, during work days (never weekends though!).
Then evidently my neighbors started losing interest. They had given whatever "proof of virtue" they thought was required, and bus ridership dropped. The more it dropped, the more the county slashed the schedule. Until now, it's virtually useless, so I have to drive to the Metro stop (less than 4 miles, sometimes I've walked it), to get on mass transit. Which I do every work day.
Biking? Get real! Do you have a shower at work? Or do you inflict yourself on your co-workers for the entire working day? We have hills, often wind, hot sticky days in summer and frigid days in winter, and so on. Come now.
...It would be sad if all of the commercials now instead show a dad handing his kid...a bus pass.
I laughed out loud when I read that sentence. It's well put. and it is so true, isn't it?
But of course, instead of a buss pass, there is always a bicyle! I remember the first summer when I learned hot to ride a bicyle, what an exhliration tht was! I realized then that I could go anywhere with my bike without my parents' supervision.
But of course, decades later, when I lived in Silicon Valley, I realized that kids these days riding their bikes -- especially in Calif. -- are in fact supervised by their mother (or father); bicycling seems to be a family excursion, rather than kids getting away from their parents and enjoying the first taste of freedom.
@Betajet - I'm with you. I occasionally have to drive to my employer's office in the centre of Sydney - usually for technical work so I have to take tools and/or equipment, and I drive. 200Km, usually 3-1/2 to 5 hours each way depending on the traffic. We recently got a daily train service and not long ago I had to go to Sydney for a meeting - no tech work - so I used the train. 3-1/2 hours each way, so as good as the best drive, and no stress. It was great. Wish I could do it more often - I am working on a backpack tool kit!
seaEE wrote: The scene of the American teen on the threshold of independence has always been the dad tossing his son or daughter the car keys. It would be sad if all of the commercials now instead show a dad handing his kid...a bus pass.
That would be very comical, since your American teen would have been enjoying the freedom of riding buses, light rail, high-speed transit, and bicycles by himself or herself since elementary school. Kind of like dad taking his son aside to tell him about the "facts of life" years after the son had learned all the facts and myths on the Internet.
I very much valued the freedom of public transportation and walking when I was a child and teen-ager, and valued the freedom of not having to ask parents for a ride. This morning my aged mother and I remembered the time I managed to get home by myself from downtown Madison, Wisconsin in a heavy snowstorm when it was impossible to get a car out and bus service was spotty. People dependent on cars for their sole transportation were indeed imprisoned.
Today, I enjoy freedom every day I can avoid driving. I live in a city that's very difficult to get around in by car, so bicycling, walking, or transit free me from the hassles of finding parking and wasting time sitting in traffic.
I guess we all have different views of what constitutes freedom and what constitutes imprisonment.