When I write it’s not about the bicycle, it’s about the infrastructure, I’m really arguing that riding a bicycle would be a whole lot more enjoyable if we paid less attention to boutique bicycle parts and more to the quality of the riding environment.
Of course there’s a reason that bicycle magazines tend to pay more attention to bicycle parts than the big picture: short-term cash flow. I understand that. Their business model is based on helping bicycle manufacturers hawk their merchandise.
Fortunately, the Internet gives us access to a wider range of information – to a richer diet of ideas, if you will.
Here are three websites I like to read for their insights into the built environment. None are bicycle sites, though they may touch on the topic from time to time. Instead, they offer insights into the world we ride our bicycles through and opinions on how to improve it.
Depending on the day, The Infrastructurist, subtitle: America Under Construction, delivers commentary on or links to infrastructure stories ranging from high-speed rail, oil imports and solar power to New York’s bike lanes, pre-World Cup/Olympics construction in Brazil, and the demolition of urban freeways. The site is edited by Melissa Lafsky, the former editor of the New York Times’s Freakonomics blog and former deputy web editor at Discover magazine.
Strong Towns contends that “our desire for independence has made us dependent. On automobiles. On cheap energy. On transfer payments between governments. On debt.” The site is critical of current land-use patterns and economic development strategies, favors infrastructure maintenance, and even provides space for recovering engineers. If you’ve ever said to yourself there must be a better way, you might find Strong Towns interesting.
Jarrett Walker writes Human Transit, “a blog about public transit planning and policy, by a consultant with 20 years experience in the field.” I came across this site as I was looking for information on intermodal transportation. (Intermodal transportation is when you combine modes of transportation to move from A to B. Examples include bike-bus, car-bus and car-ferry-train.) Jarrett discusses both the technical and community values (or emotional) sides of public transit and warns his audience that “developing great transit must never be left entirely to the experts.”