It’s a Bike, no a Bus, it’s a Train; yes, it’s Mass Transit!

After a week in Europe, you have to ask the question, “Where did our city planners go wrong.” The US road system is a terrible mess. Our supply of high horsepower fuel hungry vehicles is an even worse situation. It isn’t really worth answering the question about the planning. And no, you can’t blame it on supply and demand. Some things, shouldn’t be left to simple economics. What is done is done. Decisions made decades ago helped launch the takeover by the automobile. The urban blight and suburban sprawl, especially common in the Northeast United States is getting worse. The environment continues to take a hammering because of our reliance on automobiles and trucks fueled by oil. The effects of driving everywhere are showing in American waistlines too. We are a terribly unhealthy society. We don’t walk anywhere.

In Switzerland, France, and Italy, you see trains everywhere.

In Switzerland, Italy, and France (especially in the Alps), they have their problems with autos too. The much narrower and winding roads are inundated with traffic. You see a lot more scooters and motorcycles, but for the most part, they are also driven by combustion engines. We didn’t get to Zermatt, Switzerland, and that is a huge regret, because I was so excited to take photos in a village that has no cars. They simply don’t allow them. You either get there on foot, by bike, or by train.

Bikes are common means of transportation in Europe.

Much is made of mass transit in Europe. It is clearly superior to the systems in the states. Of course, these national systems take heat for being costly benefits of a welfare state. However, it is impossible to picture all those people moving about behind the wheels of even more cars. In the US, if you ride your bike to work, you must be a freak. If you try to walk anywhere but in a city center, you must be poor or crazy. Maybe both. After all, cars signify wealth and status too. In Geneva, they have buses, trams, and trains. People combine multiple modes of transport. Walking is usually part of the equation. Frequently, bicycling is too. Less cars makes it “safer,” though that is a relative term, because the streets seem just as congested.

By no means is bicycling in Europe safe. Sure, there is a recognition and respect for cyclists that you don’t get in the US, but shoulders on the roads are non-existent. We saw cyclists (without helmets of course) riding switch-backed roads in the French and Swiss Alps in scary conditions. There was no room to pass them and they were either squeezed between guardrails, or precariously close to the cliff edge. These cols look so romantic during Le Tour de France, Le Tour de Suisse, and the other big races that traverse the Alps, but the police close the roads for the cyclists. What you don’t see outside the frame of the video are the huge traffic jams caused by these closures. After spending a week here without a bike, I thought I would go crazy, but now I realize I might have been the sane one. I was imagining how beautiful those Alpine valleys were before the advent of roads.

In Raising the Bar, Clif Bar founder, Gary Erickson, talks a lot about the  Alpine adventures of his 20’s and 30’s. He frequently refers to the “red roads” and the “white roads.” He revisits the metaphor of heavily trafficked roads (red) and those less traveled (white) throughout his book. Again, after a week spent in and around Chamonix, I now fully understand what he means.

This gets MUCH better mileage than an SUV!

Still, recreational cycling is much different from cycling as a commuting solution. The number of bikes at the typical village or city train station is telling. This is a broad generalization, but it seems as if people are better off when they don’t have to drive everywhere. The infrastructure benefits, your personal health benefits, and the environment benefits. Many European countries are closer to “walking societies” than the US. When we should be borrowing ideas, we are ignoring them. Our planners build fake town centers that are really malls. They are all geared towards cars. The parking lots expand. The intersections get busier, and no one walks anywhere. What a shame.

We hear that this little model will be introduced in the US soon.

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@thecubscouts #pinewoodderby never gets old. Pack 157 Bolton, Connecticut #cubscouts So that little injury caused by my @renocxnats crash on Saturday afternoon wasn’t so little after all. It’s a broken leg (fibula). Prognosis is good, but it hurts like heck. My blog post report with blow by blow details is linked in my profile. #cxnats #teamhorstsports @horsteng #crossspikes #crossisboss - - -

This #lifedeathcyclocross stuff is true!!!! I crashed out of the Singlespeed Championship @renocxnats (on the dreaded off-camber) but not before having more fun. @artroti43 raced on the frosty course ❄️ at day break. 🚴🏽 We met a lot more @horsteng #crossspikes customers. I hung with little bunny hopper 🐰 Miles, the Junior 11-12 year old Silver Medalist.🥈I cheered for Nic, who represented @the_ccap in the Junior 15-16 age group. @sportstert and Iva came down from Tahoe to cheer LOUDLY for me. 🎺 I got my badly sprained ankle taped and iced. I had a beer. 🍺 I’m even looking forward to my red eye flight home ✈️ . Best of all, I’ll see @trailrunningmom and the kids on Sunday. I can’t explain the sensation, but despite the pain, I’m ready for next #Cyclocross season to begin... after some rest. #teamhorstsports #cxnats #horstengineering @parkavebikeshop #crossisboss #lifedeathcyclocross #crossiscoming You could say that at least for this week, I’m married to my #bicycle - - -

@renocxnats #cxnats @seven_cycles #sevencycles #teamhorstsports #horstengineering #crossspikes @horsteng #chapelofthebells #Cyclocross #lifedeathcyclocross Good day representing @horsteng at @renocxnats in the 45-49 age group. It’s a great course. The wind was blowing hard, but the sun finally came out. I’m happy with 37th place but should have made a move to get to 29th, which was 30 seconds ahead. That’s a long way when you are going flat out and cramping. 4,500 foot elevation was a factor. I’m disappointed that they cut one lap of my race when I wasn’t close to getting lapped by the leaders. You train this hard and come all this way; and you want to get the most racing for the $ and time invested. They only let 25 riders do the full six laps. The only positive to come out of that was that I watched fellow New Englander @adammyerson execute a perfect final sprint to win the Stars and Stripes again. Teammate @artroti43 had a good ride too. 
@seven_cycles #sevencycles #horstengineering #teamhorstsports @bicycleseastct #crossspikes #cxnats #renocxnats #Cyclocross #crossisboss @therichardsachs didn’t have the race he hoped for but it was still great to see him @renocxnats and “pit” for him. He said he officially started his second off season, but first of 2018. @artroti43 and I played soigneur/mechanic for 90 minutes, but minus the massage! atmo #renocxnats #richardsachs #teamhorstsports @horsteng #crossspikes #hauteframebuilding #Cyclocross #crossisboss #lifedeathcyclocross I previously hadn’t published this image, but it recently received an Honorable Mention in the 2017 @appalachianmountainclub Photo Contest for the People Outdoors category. Check out my blog (link in profile) for the interesting story of his photo (shot with this iPhone 6s), a trip report from this amazing Maine adventure, and past contest history. I love this image of two of my favorite women. I’m barred from submitting images to the 2018 contest, but I’ll be back in 2019. #appalachianmountainclub #baxterstatepark #katahdin Congratulations to Master Park, the Park Family, and the entire team at Park’s U.S. #Taekwondo at the Grand Opening of the new facility in the former VFW building. Our kids love it! So much better than being next door to the pawn shop and liquor store.😊#tkd 🇺🇸🇰🇷 This morning, the @trinitycollege Main Quad was bathed in beautiful sunshine ☀️but it was frigid and the wind was blowing! ❄️ The chapel was packed with an overflow crowd to celebrate the (shortened) life of a lovely friend. She will be missed. #circleoflife 🌏

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