Why not bike?
As you can tell from my car-free tracker, I’ve been doing a lot of walking (averaging around 2 miles a day). A few people have asked me why I would choose to walk over riding a bike. To be fair, you can go double the speed and double the distance in less than half the time on a bicycle.
Let’s just say I have a bit of a mental block on the whole biking thing. At this present moment I don’t have great access to a bike, and, as a novice bike rider, biking feels scary. I feel uncomfortable riding on some of our roads and streets. The bike lanes are narrow, and people drive aggressively. It's not rare to read about cyclist deaths in the newspaper.
That's not to say that this is how it always has to be. Between the new Active Transportation Plan being implemented by the city and the regional Veloweb, it seems like our focus continues to shift to two wheels. I'd say that since Fort Worth adopted the Blue Zones initiative kicked off in 2015, it feels like the awareness of biking and the priority we have been giving it in our city has increased significantly.
I recently learned of a company who re-located their corporate office to a more transit-friendly location and have encouraged their employees to bike to work by replacing the office gym with bike lockers and showers. There certainly are benefits. Research reported in the British Medical Journal reported that "commuters who cycled to work had a 41% lower risk of dying from all causes than people who drove or took public transport. They also had a 46% lower risk of developing and a 52% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, and a 45% lower risk of developing and a 40% lower risk of dying from cancer. Those are pretty good stats! Bikes go most places a car or pedestrian can go, and, compared to a car payment (or even a monthly bus pass), owning and maintaining a bike is about as cheap as it comes." (via Forbes)
Walking > Biking?
If it sounds like the lack of safety for cyclists makes it feel like you are trading a healthy-heart for the potential to be car-murdered, that is not the point I'm trying to make. However, it would be wrong of me if I did not point out how it's not like walking is any safer.
In fact, between 2008 to 2017, the number of people struck and killed while walking increased by 35 percent. Over that period, nearly 50,000 pedestrians were killed, which equates to more than 13 people per day, or one person every hour and 46 minutes. Texas took on almost 10% of those deaths (4,831) ranking us as the 8th most dangerous state in the country for drivers. The City of Fort Worth had 249 pedestrian accidents in 2017 and 21 fatal pedestrian accidents.
What I’m trying to say is, both biking and walking have their risks. But, DRIVING is risky too. Really the point I'm trying to make is that you run the risk of being car-murdered no matter how you get around. And that, to me, is something that must be addressed.
That is exactly what the Vision Zero initiative is setting out to do. Through infrastructure and code improvements we could decrease the number of traffic deaths to zero. Looking at the designed environment, conducting audits of dangerous intersections (for vehicles AND pedestrians AND cyclists) and making slight improvements for the safety of all is just a drop in the bucket, but could lead to a safer city for all of us. Not just looking at how streets move traffic, but how they affect pedestrians, cyclists, residents and business and making smarter choices about different modes beyond vehicle traffic is imperative (shout out to the work city planners have been doing with Complete Streets). The more we move towards streets for all, the safer our community becomes, the easier it is for folks to get around safely and make alternative transit choices. It all works together.
Car-Free Counter - 04/19/2019
Miles Walked = 37.2 mi Bus Rides = 13 Rides Received / TNC Rides = 28