Is Infrastructure Destiny?
Today is National Ride Your Bike to Work Day. I have a bike but I chose to drive in my “Share the Road” license-plate embellished car today. Why? The route from home to office, though short, is treacherous. Bike lanes and even sidewalks are a rarity in my city and when I ride, it is alongside fellow cyclists as well as trucks, cars, vans, and the occasional tractor-trailer. I need an infrastructure that supports cycling and walking.
I chose my neighborhood because it was close to the highway that leads to my husband’s workplace and because, despite its lack of sidewalks, it is a walk-able neighborhood. More than 10 years later, my husband has moved to a home office and I’ve joined a gym and taken up cycling to get more rigorous workouts. We are within a few miles of the grocery store, our kids’ schools, and our church but it’s not feasible (to me, at least) to walk or ride to those places.
In the past couple of years since getting a new road bike and having my neighborhood annexed, I have started to think about how geography, municipal services, and even my personal infrastructure (e.g., house, yard, utility services, and transportation) shape much of my daily life and my personal finances.
First, I am thrilled to have recycling pickup and not have to drive 20 minutes to the recycling station; property taxes are up but my garbage pick-up bill has been dropped and my fuel expenses lowered. I could buy a pricey downtown condo and walk to parks, great restaurants, and entertainment venues; or I could stay put in my reasonably priced neighborhood where I need to take the car almost everywhere. So, quality-of-life tradeoffs can be measured in real dollars.
Still I envision living in a tradeoff-less community (that is, one I could afford) with sidewalks, bike paths, restaurants, parks, and more. If you live there now, let me know so I can start planning my next move.
(formatting changed, 6/15/2007)