Tuesday, September 4, 2007

4 Wheels to 2 Derided as Half Measure

To Ease a City's Traffic, Shifting From 4 Wheels to 2 - Adding bike paths and bike racks will encourage recreational biking. This may be a good thing, but it won't cut auto traffic, it will only make it worse, unless Mayor Bloomberg comes up with the missing ingredient in his new plan to replace autos with cycles.

The missing ingredient - a shower and a place to change. The bike won't eliminate the auto unless you can use it as transportation. Try biking to work in NYC in July. Are you prepared to spend a day at the office without a shower? Want to go shopping - cycle to Bloomies and see what kind of stares you get if you try on a dress. Without a shower you are going straight home after your bike ride and the cycle remains stuck in recreation mode, unable to shift gears into transportation. The Times feature avoids this issue deftly - the lone biking commuter interviewed for the story works as an artist.

So, 4 wheels to 2 won't really accomplish much, but effective or not, this is the path NYC is choosing. If you're looking for gestures instead of results, Mayor B, why not go all the way, 2 wheels to 1 - distribute free unicycles with complimentary riding lessons. Import a troop of unicycling mimes to lead the trend and claim it's also part of the war on noise pollution.

Congo by Rail: Filthy, Crowded and Dangerous -This feature on the gradual collapse of rail transport in the Congo has it all. There's a hero, Ilunga Mutuda, chief engineer at the Kamina station, who keeps repairing locomotives even though he hasn't been paid for four months. "I continue to work because I love my country," says Mutuda, "I'm a Congolese citizen, if I stop working I penalize not just myself but also my brothers." There's the "villain" - the police chief at the Kamina station who hasn't been paid for twenty-nine months. "Sometimes I do bad things" says the Chief, in a hall of fame quote, one As Good As News fears is more than a classic understatement. Then there are the real villains. Remi-Henri Kuseyo, Minister of Transportation and the top management of the railroad company. As the Congo's primary transportation system erodes into an ever more dangerous, more dysfunctional disaster, no one will do anything. Potential donors are afraid to step in because of the "inefficiencies" in the system. How much will these officials need to rake off before some money actually reaches the rail employees and equipment? This "inefficiency" is the kind of question that would slow down any donor or lender.

1 comment:

Bee said...

i totally bugged out on that new york times story for the same exact reasons you did! i thought i'd be the only person to notice!!!