I was recently reading local commentary over on Carson Now titled, Driving is Interesting and an Adventure in Carson City. The title is sarcastic, the article really expressing the author’s frustrations with driving in our city. While the points made in the article are valid, they’re certainly not unique to Carson City. This is simply the reality of driving a car in an urban environment. And to be fair, Carson is actually pretty easy to drive in when compared to somewhere like the Bay Area.
Another interesting thing about the article is the comments. All the comments are apparently made by expert drivers. But is this really likely? We’ve taken driving for granted as our first choice for personal transportation for so long now, that we fail to see ourselves as the cause of the problem. It’s always the other guy. But really, we are not stuck in traffic, we are traffic. In other words, anytime you drive your car down the road or try to park it, you are part of the very problem that is frustrating you.
What started out as a promising idea for personal mobility in the early 20th century, has now become one of the biggest challenges of our time. Trying to accommodate millions of personal cars on our roads has led to many problems including financial burden, air and noise pollution, health problems, traffic congestion, unsafe streets, thousands of “accidents” with many fatalities, environmental disasters, and a strain on our natural resources. And since we rely on many other countries for our oil, some of them not so friendly to us, it has even become an issue of national security. We build more and more parking lots, roads, highways, and freeways, but it never seems to be enough. A new road is built while another one is neglected to crumble away.
The title of my article is Riding is Interesting and an Adventure in Carson City, but it’s in no way sarcastic. This is really the way I feel. Since 2007, I’ve made biking and walking my primary modes of transportation, saving the car for multi-occupant trips, long distances, or heavy cargo. I love starting and finishing the day with a bike ride. When biking a short distance seems overkill, I’ll walk. On busy days inside, it helps me get the outside time I need. Fresh air, exercise, scenery, and a chance to see people in the community face to face. More aware of the change in seasons, enjoying the sights and smells of whats currently blooming, baking, or brewing, getting up-close and personal with the wildlife that walks and lives in our city. Every ride is a mini-adventure. All this with very little time penalty for not driving a motor vehicle, extra money in my wallet, and I arrive at my destination in a good mood.
There’s never a shortage of space in the bike lanes, bike paths, and quiet side roads. Parking is never an issue, and I often get to park my bike right in front of where I’m going. Getting stuck in traffic or a parking lot is pretty much non-existent thanks to the maneuverability and portability of a bicycle. And as long as I follow the traffic rules, I get the space and courtesy I need from other road users.
So what can we all do to make driving more pleasant in Carson City? Drive less, drive smarter, and use alternative forms of transportation if you are able. Fewer cars on the road makes it nicer for everyone.
Here are some suggestions for using your car less:
- For trips a mile or less, walk! You’ll be surprised at how quickly you get there, and the things you’ll see along the way.
- Trips of 2 – 3 miles are easy on a bike, and often just as fast as driving.
- Use a basket, rack and pannier, or bike trailer to increase your cargo carrying capacity.
- Use public transportation. Carson City has a nice bus system, and with today’s gas prices, it’s likely that it’s more affordable than driving.
- Incorporate biking and walking with public transportation to extend your range. Bus stops have bike racks, and most of the buses are outfitted with a bike carrier.
- Keep a bike at the office for errands throughout the day.
- When you must drive, share a ride with someone else.
So is riding a bike for transportation practical for everyone’s situation? Certainly not. But many of us are able if we simply made the choice to do so. Often the barriers to riding are not physical challenges. There are many myths to overcome, such as it’s too hard, too dangerous, too dirty and sweaty, silly cycling clothing will be involved, or that there will be a loss of social status without an expensive vehicle. None of these things have to be true. It just takes some education, practice, and the courage to give it a try. Driving in urban centers will not get much better if you’re already frustrated now. One thing I can assure you though, is that riding is interesting and an adventure in Carson City. Ride your bike, have some fun, and leave the frustration behind!