Wednesday, September 17, 2008
I was recently asked for my nomination for the North Texas Clean Air Coalition's "Commuter of the Year". Historically, these kind of awards (if not this one in particular) have often gone to someone who makes Herculean efforts at commuting: 20 miles (one way) by bicycle, 50 miles by bus and train, 12 miles up hill (both ways) through 12" of snow, 10 miles on inline skates into gale-force winds, etc., etc. The stuff of Superman.
But what does that tell the Jimmy Olsens of our culture, the Everyman citizens who admire these extraordinary feats? It tells them that, A) these truly are extra ordinary feats, and B) only Superman can perform feats like these ("Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings with a single bound! Commutes by bicycle 60 miles a day!").
Inspires normal folks to want to try it, right? Wrong.
I would like to see someone who rides their bike less than two miles to work almost everyday, because they made the concerted effort to buy or rent close to work, be recognized by awards like this. Or someone who moved into the city center to be close to work and walks to the office everyday. Or perhaps someone whose lifestyle change involved abandoning suburbia for an urban experience. Maybe someone who has gone car-free, or a couple who have become a one-car family.
Someone who embodies the Everyman, for therein lies the future of effective bicycle transportation.