Bike Lanes to Heaven

They write letters — this (or, rather, their edit thereof; I have yet to see the final version) ran in our local Valley News Bugle Gazette Herald Times Tribune:

Going across the Ledyard Bridge recently, I pointed out to my 10-year old the freshly striped bike lane leading up the hill to the village of Norwich. “Wow, does that mean it’s finally safe for us to bike to Hanover?” He quipped.

Yes, much safer, thank you. Effectively calming traffic and addressing the need of commuters trying to get to Vermont from Hanover and beyond without adding yet another car to rush hour congestion, that modest bike lane allows kids and adults alike to ride without fear of getting flattened by a logging truck or a car racing to get to the Interstate mere inches from our wheels. Now that it’s finally a paint-on-pavement reality, the notion of dropping a lane appears more than ever to be the right thing to do: one lane of cars comes down from Hanover… one lane of cars goes up to Norwich. With proper timing of the lights, this huge improvement in the safety of bicyclists should come with little impact on vehicular traffic. Models have shown as much, and the some weeks of monitoring will likely confirm it, too.

With the bike lane in place at long last, we now have a safe, properly proportioned connection between the rural New England towns of Hanover and Norwich, one that better reflects the transportation and infrastructure needs of all the Upper Valley’s residents, not just the cars and trucks. (My condolences to drivers who enjoyed using the two lane drag racing strip to break the sound barrier before reaching Route 5.) Our kids will grow up with the freedom to choose how they wish to get around our community, and we are now all more likely to survive if we elect to bike to and from school, college, or work — or simply for exercise or the sheer fun of it.

A heartfelt thank you to everyone in Norwich who worked long and hard to make this happen, and to VTrans, for daring to realize their stated goal of actively accommodating alternative means of transportation in Vermont.

Now, the battle continues. Apparently there’s already a few grumpy drivers in town who refuse to acknowledge that a petty little bike lane really isn’t the end of the world.

If you’re not really changing things…

Don't, okay?There’s a reason why it hasn’t happened for 50 years,” said Sir Change-a-Lot as he was trying to explain why he and his pathetic buddies in Congress are preparing for epic fail on health care reform. Yeah, duh, because instead of properly addressing the fundamental flaw in the system — the little detail of for-profit insurance companies raking it in at the expense of, well, all of us — they’re all pussyfooting around with variations on pseudo-reform.

Talk about rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

This whole approach is a little like an abused child finally going to the authorities to report her stepfather and ask for help. “Well,” says the judge, “that does sound very bad. We’ll certainly have to do something about it.” But then he continues, “Let’s see what your stepfather thinks would be the right thing to do here.” And, sorry, but when the stepfather then says with a smirk, “well, your honor, what if I only rape her on the weekends from now on?” the judge really shouldn’t just say, “but gently, okay?”

And so it is: as long as the insurance companies are allowed to take part in the process of “fixing” the system that they’ve owned and abused for decades, they’re going to fix it to their advantage — it’d be silly to assume they’d say, “you know, we’ve been sucking this teat for so long, maybe we should just quit while we’re ahead — waay ahead — and call it a day.” Notgonnahappen.

But, clearly, Sir Change-a-Lot is so fixated on his consensus and bipartisan kumbaya, and he’s blessed with fellow “democrats” who are so far in bed with lobbyists, donors and their own warped egos that they couldn’t reform health care if their life depended on it. And theirs doesn’t. Ours does. And we’re so fucked.

(Amazing graphic from here)