Despite all the crabbing and caviling of the knuckledraggers, spewing their spurious warnings of a “war on cars” even as they continue to arrogate all public space, and the lion’s share of tax dollars, while blithely mowing down pedestrians, bike riders, and even other motorists who get in their way…the world is changing. History is, in fact, leaving car culture behind. It isn’t a war; it’s evolution. The dinosaurs are afraid of the monkeys, but it isn’t the monkeys that are killing them off; it’s simply evolution. The human world’s attitude towards transport is maturing.
To shift metaphors as smoothly as a Mercedes shifts gears: homo americanus is getting out of the motorized baby carriage and learning to stand—and travel—on its own two feet. A late bloomer, to be sure; the Dutch and Danes figured it out decades ago. Better late than never.
The photo above is of the Ralphs supermarket on the Miracle Mile. Yes, right along Wilshire Boulevard, a markedly bike-unfriendly street at present. Yet there are five bikes locked to the railings at the eastern entrance to the store’s portico. There’s another bike that I didn’t photograph at the western entrance, and yet another locked to the sidewalk bike rack in front. The riders aren’t lycroids out “training”; they are neighborhood folks stopping by to shop, or who work in the store. It’s actually a minor problem, all those bikes parked there, as hordes of neighbors also walk to this store. The market’s parking lot is underground and matches the footprint of the store; it is never full. The store itself is always full. And that’s in keeping with the years-long trend of Americans driving less. I know you’ve probably seen the charts, but here’s a link for those who haven’t, from Streetsblog.
Down the street one block is the Wilshire Courtyard, an office complex with an outdoor bike corral of its own that is usually close to full, as well as more bike parking in its underground garage. And the sidewalk bike racks all up and down the Mile are pretty generally occupied, especially in front of office buildings.
The beat goes on. The “different drummer” is now setting the pace for change.
Welcome to the future!