2wheels: The Return
Edward Genochio's bicycle expedition from China to England
September 2005 - November 2006
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Horseman Stole My Bicycle!
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- 'But Isn't There a Bus?' - details here.
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- The 2wheels expedition blog
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Why I'm supporting Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity
Some people have better things to do than ride a bicycle from England to China and back again, I know.
A lot of people in the UK would love to cycle or walk over shorter distances, though - but they are put off by the lack of facilities and the fact that when it comes to transport in Britain, the Car is King.
45% of children in Britain would like to cycle to school, but only 4% do.
They, and their parents, are worried about dangerous roads... dirty air coming out of the back of the car in front... the lack of somewhere secure to keep your bike.
So what happens?
They go to school by car.
Then the roads are even more congested, more polluted, and more dangerous.
The cyclist and the pedestrian are becoming not just endangered species, but pariahs too.
And so we sit in cars, we sit our kids in cars. That old-fashioned idea of walking more than 50 yards or so fades out of our collective consciousness.
And so we and our children grow obese and unhealthy.
And so we miss out on the simple joys of getting "out and about" and exercising.
And so our towns and cities and even villages become nothing more than barricaded prisons, we're hemmed in by roads, penned in like animals, we can't cross the street because we're kept "safe" by safety barriers - those damn "safety barriers" that allow cars to speed through our communities while we have to take a 200 metre detour to cross the bloody road, for heaven's sake, what kind of world do we live in?
I'll tell you, we live in a world criss-crossed by high-speed death lanes (oh yes, sorry, they're quite safe, like mine-fields, so long as you keep well off them!), high-stakes bowling alleys with 2 tonne 50 mph car-shaped bowling balls, and the skittles are - well, guess who? You and me and the kid next door.
Cars are great things, no mistake, they bring freedom and mobility unparalleled in history.
But let's think about it a bit, let's design our communities and cities and towns and villages - and our lives - so that the car serves people, rather than terrorises, imprisons and enslaves us.
Sustrans are pretty sussed up.
If reading about my 2wheels bike expeditions has encouraged you to get your bike out a bit more, let me know! Even if it's just one journey to the newsagent's that you would otherwise have made by car. It makes a difference. It makes a big difference if half the people in your street do it.
Don't get me started on TVs and mobiles telephones.
People, stand up!
We are not slaves!
You don't have to rage against The Machine.
But it might be a good idea to have a few quiet words with it, before we all find ourselves cringing and cowering and bowing down before it.
It is machines that are there to serve people, not people to serve machines.
I could go on.
This gets me worked up a bit.
You should see what's happening to Shanghai, where I've been living for the last 6 months.
What's the car ownership figure here? I can only guess (maybe someone can let me know?) but I doubt that much more than 10% of households own a car here. Compare that to England, where it's what, something like 70%? And the USA (United States of Automobiles) where it must be around 115%.
And yet Shanghai is already becoming impossible to live in. It's a morass of lethal roads prowled by lethal drivers. Thank god they're at a traffic-jammed standstill half the time. God help everyone when Shanghai has as many cars per head as Los Angeles. I'm getting on my bike in September and heading out of town. I may be just in time.
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If you've spent too long staring at your computer screen today, why not go for a nice bike ride?
If you're not sure where to go, try Sustrans.
|Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005 Edward Genochio
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