On Boxing Day, the family took their bikes out for a spin. We rode to the city along Linear Park. It is great fun once you're on it (putting aside the lack of width in places) but oh my goodness, it is such a hassle to get there. You can travel in moderate safety for about 400 metres max before you hit a main road. Nobody in the family relished the thought of cars speeding past them so they all went onto the pavement. That meant they had to stop and fart-arse around at every single intersection before crossing the road. Then to top it all off, we had to carry the bikes down some stairs to reach the bike path. Apparently the ramp was removed some time ago. A health and safety issue? Only one entrance to the entire Linear Park bike path that I know of actually has provision for wheeling your bike down next to the stairs. Frankly, I was very cross by the time we got to the path and I spent a lot of the rest of the journey composing a whiney blog post in my head.
A few days later, my dear friend Ermintrude (not her real name of course) came over. She was very impressed with the Mojo bikes. She tried them for size and said, "I would ride around if I had a bike like this". She then saw herself reflected in the window and commented on how fabulous she looked on the bike - and rightly so. The conversation continued and alas became the same old story. Where would you ride? People would consider alternatives to endless car use if they were safe and viable. This subject has been done to death.
Ermintrude did say that she would start riding the bike regularly, with my wife, once the children left home. So in about 25 years, if you see a couple of women (who look great for their age) on rusty old Mojo Dutchies wobbling around North Adelaide holding the handlebars with one hand and with a vodka martini in the other, I think I'll have a pretty shrewd idea who they are.
Some people may claim they enjoy driving everywhere. I say bully for them. But not everyone does. For many people, the car is just an applicance. They need it and use it but it is not part of them. For the small sample I have spoken to that is exactly how they would describe their relationship with their cars.
I actually think many would rather not be forced to drive everywhere, to have two or more cars and spend a large chunk of the family budget feeding their appetite. Who knows? They might even like the idea of a Christiania or Bakfiets cargo bike instead of a second car:
Nobody is really giving them the chance though.
Our Governments like to tell us they are committed to more democratic methods of getting around. Some are more than others and some are making great progress. However I fear nothing will happen until the bull in the china shop is either tamed or kept in its own cage.
I wonder how effective it would be running for Parliament. A number of people have a go each year for a spot in the upper house. Nick Xenophone did exactly that on a 'no pokies' platform and now he is in the Senate. If I could licence a few of Mr Amsterdamize's pictures as election posters, it might perhaps plant a seed. Unlikely I would get enough votes to get a seat (at least I hope I wouldn't - being a politician is not my dream job) but I might be able to bribe one of the other candidates if they want my preferences :)
Picture from Amsterdamize on Flickr