Yesterday at the Bikestation, there was a reporter from Time magazine. She was doing a story on bike parking/valet services. There were a few cyclists in there and we told her our experiences and insights about bicycling in Los Angeles.
One question she asked was that if we could ever envision Los Angeles like China, streets teeming with bicyclists. My gut instinct was, no. But I began to wonder, why not? I think the difficulty to see that sort of vision for the US is tied inextricably with our vision of "progress." For many, riding a bike is not equal to driving a car. It is trading down. It is step down the ladder of success.
But what if the tool for change we've been looking for has been under our noses all along? Progress may not be ethanol (where it takes 3 barrels of oil to produce one barrel of corn-based fuel). Progress may not be hybrids which still use gas and tremendous resources to produce. What if it's not a newer and better car at all, but the bicycle?
The idea seems so simple that it is radical and mind-blowing, but is it really? It is similar to the trend to eat food that (gasp!) is natural and organic and not genetically modified (or "made by nature", as the innane Vons commercials like to remind us). It is Occam's razor writ large, so large in fact that we can't see forest for the trees.
It's sort of like being in such a rush to get out the door that you can't find your keys, but they've been in your pocket or purse all along.