Monday, February 15, 2010

Model City for Cyclists

According to this story at BikeRadar.com, members of England's parliament - the "All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group" - are visiting Cambridge to learn how the Cambridgeshire County Council has created a cycling-friendly and -safe community.

They couldn't have chosen a better place. Cambridge is the most cycling-friendly place I have ever been. My family and I lived there for half a year in 2000, while I was on my first sabbatical. It was there that I fell in love with cycling again. I did not drive a car for the entire duration of our visit. Among the first things we did when we arrived in Cambridge was to purchase used bicycles, which became our sole method of transportation around town. In fact, bikes are a faster, more efficient, and safer method of transportation than cars, even in the rain.

We did everything on bikes, from the (almost) daily grocery shopping to visiting friends in outlaying villages at night. I have a specific memory of riding back to college with my wife after a visit to friends in Grandchester, the road lit only by the moon. I also recall riding back to college after a banquet at Peterhouse College at 2 am, wearing full tux and gown, in the rain! And I can still remember by heart the route my daughter and I rode each day from Clare Hall (our college) to the Newnham Croft Elementary School. I wonder, how many parents are lucky enough  to ride with their kids to school on bikes in the US?

Cambridge is a wonderful place for a whole host of reasons, not least of which is the cycling culture. If I had a chance to live there (which I nearly did a few years ago), I would never own a car.

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