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Monday, January 28, 2019

Light in the Tunnel

I hate to moan about our four weeks (or thereabouts) of winter, but I’m glad to feel the air warming. As I have said, my apartment is much better suited for the warm weather: lots of windows, ceramic tile floors, high ceilings, and a balcony.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Growing Pains for a Bike Paradise

The Street in Question

This made the front page of Levante, the local newspaper that usually isn’t carrying on a war against cyclists like the other daily, Las Provincias.

They aren’t asking the right questions. First of all, the bike path hasn’t yet opened; it’s under construction. What has it collapsed? As I live near this street I’ve seen it first hand and nothing has collapsed. Has traffic slowed a bit? Yes, but so what? Is the purpose of city streets only to provide drivers the unlicensed ability to drive at the highest rate of speed allowed?

What these poor excuses for journalism never ask is how does this new bike path un-collapse bike traffic. How many more bikes will now pass down this same street? As the old saying goes, when one door closes, another opens.

I was discussing this new addition to Valencia’s bike path network in a bar recently and someone mentioned that ambulances will now be hindered on this one lane street. There are lots of one lane streets in Valencia, and it seems absurd to make urban design dependent on the flow of the occasional ambulance. I lived on the street in question for three years and can’t recall an ambulance passing by. My point is that ambulances will do their job, even when attending to emergencies on this street.

But I’m most insulted by the assertion that cars should be our greatest priority in urban design. On a Friday evening I made my way down Calle Col√≥n which has recently added a bike path along the left side of this one-way thoroughfare. Has the bike path slowed automobile traffic? Undoubtedly, but pedestrian traffic has increased exponentially, a fact never mentioned in the war against bikes being waged by the local press (as I mentioned above, mostly in Las Provincias).

There are a couple of choke points on this street where cars have to turn left into an intersection with a green light for pedestrians. Neither of these two problem areas have anything to do with bikes, but bikes take the blame according to the shoddy journalism in Las Provincias. In my personal experience on a bike, I’ve found that cyclists are much more civil than drivers and pedestrians, but that doesn’t seem to make for fun copy in the cycle-hating press.

What other questions aren’t being asked in these shallow critiques of Valencia’s new aggressive expansion of bike paths? How many people will be able to commute faster to the city center when this particular bike path is finished? How will the diminished access to cars affect the air quality of the city center? How will this alleviate the problem of parking in the center if more citizens choose to effect their commute on a bike? How will the long-term use of cycling improve the health of the people choosing this transportation option?

I could go on and on, as the advantages of bicycles over cars are almost infinite. I just can’t believe that in the local press there is almost no defense of cyclists. The good news is that our current mayor rides a bike to work and understands the benefits of bikes—our former mayor probably never went anywhere except in a tax-payer paid limousine.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Unhappy Camper

Since my apartment really isn’t cut out for winter, I liken life here at home during these cold weeks to camping. I have a gas heater in my office where this morning I really needed it to practice piano, otherwise there are no amount of exercises that would thaw out my digits. I need to buck up for another week or two in order to see the other side of winter, the mild side.