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The Elkridgean Cyclist - Going on hiatus Part 2

Learning from "The No Impact Man"

Well, typing is even more difficult than I thought it would be. I need to figure out how to set up voice recognition on my computer like I have on my phone! My surgery went fine, but I'm cooped up here on the most beautiful Veterans Weekend we've probably ever had! I spent my recuperation reading "No Impact Man" by Colin Beavan. It was a little preachy but also very intriguing, about trying to live with little or no impact on the environment. I am so not likely to follow many of the rules, but I have to say, I prefer one of my husband's big white hankies to tissues, and I wish I could ride my bike safely more places, or at ALL right now. Here is a quote that particularly struck me.

“Suburbia, the great American experiment in the solitude of ‘a man’s home is his castle,’ is pretty much a failure. Not the live-outside-the-city part—that can be good. But the spread-the-houses-far-apart-and-have-no-central-community part. And the build-to-make-the-place-good-for-cars-instead-of-good-for-people part. And the you-can’t-walk-to-the-grocery-store-or-get-to-know-your-neighbors part.

"Suburban living forces us out of our families and out of our communities, away from our jobs and into our cars. It also forces cars, carrying suburbanites to work, into our cities. We leave the cities to get away from traffic and air pollution; so we move to the suburbs, then climb into our cars and drive into the cities and cause the traffic and air pollution we meant to get away from in the first place.

"What if we built villages we could walk in, and connected them with good, comfortable convenient public transportation, thus reducing the need for cars? And what if, by reducing the need for cars, fewer of them drove into the cities, so that the kids could play on the street, and in turn we didn’t feel the need to move out of the cities—to places where we’d need cars?

"What if, in other words, we could find a way to make what’s good for the planet good for us, too?”

-No Impact Man, Colin Beavan

The first paragraph hits the nail on the head for me. I live on a more rural street, so it IS hard to get to know the neighbors, but it is no different from when we lived in a development off Ducketts Lane - we rarely saw anyone, and those we saw were more likely to complain about our cats going in their yard, and call Animal Control on us. So we moved farther from I-95 noise to a place where our cats can be legally free because they stay on our large chunk of land rather than going "at large." (Though in concern for the song bird population, my next feline friends will be indoors only.)

If bike-riding were safer here, how many people would be willing to ride 3-5 miles, load their groceries onto their bike and ride 3 to 5 miles home? Despite my injury having been sustained on such an excursion, I'm looking forward to it. It was a freak accident, really. It could have happened anywhere. But few people are like  me. It goes back to my original blog premise. People are only going to do enough work to accomplish the task at hand. My task is to enjoy bike-riding while getting another unappealing task completed. A side benefit is to the environment.

The third paragraph harkens closely to the Columbia model. There are trails connecting almost every neighborhood to almost every shopping center. Snowden Square, notwithstanding... but still, there are still a lot of SUV drivers there. The trails are not always the safest, either, because crimes often occur along them. Certainly the buddy method needs to be applied in their use. But if the culture to use them as designed had profligated, there'd be more people on them, more safety features, less pollution, less traffic.

Why the failure to use the features Columbia has as intended? Why the failure to follow its lead in newer Howard County Development? Are SUVs more important than our planet? What gives, and how can we change to make our lives better and our planet healthier? Something to think about, anyway. Right now I'm going off them grid to take a nap!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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