Part of this newspaper’s mission statement says it is our intention to have a positive impact on our communities and make them better places to live. Never does this seem more important than in tough economic and socially challenging times. People are looking for answers, and the bottom line is the answers are not coming out of the government. The answers are coming out of people like yourselves, people like ourselves, people who see other people suffering and want somehow to alleviate their pain.
Need an example? This week we watched Congress refuse to act on bills that would have immediately lowered the price of gasoline at the pumps—which would probably lower utility bills this winter and grocery prices. Some seniors citizens may well die this winter because of political game playing: House Republicans stopped the bill to release 70 million barrels from the 700 million barrel Strategic Petroleum Reserve unless Democrats would consent to voting on opening up new offshore drilling leases. Democrats countered by requiring a three-quarters vote on the reserve release. And in the Senate, more of this bullshit game-playing doomed a bill that would have stopped the oil speculation that has also increased prices.
Congress will adjourn for the summer having done nothing to alleviate this crisis.
And come this winter, some people—people who live on fixed incomes—who’ve already had their savings exhausted by months of economic crisis and who can expect to drop even further behind because of this unconscionable game playing, will have to choose among medicine and heat and food.
So, what do we have to offer? Tips on how to dry clothing without using electricity. Methods of making cheap and environmentally sensitive cleansers for the home. Ideas for how to keep the house or apartment cooler without using the air conditioner.
Seems really inadequate.
Enhancing awareness and the use of bicycles in the Truckee Meadows fits into our mission statement like almost nothing else we can do: Bikes can save hurting families money. Bikes can help decrease the carbon load this community contributes to climate change. Bikes can help people live longer, more healthful lives. We need to accomodate bikes more and cars less.
It’s time to open a real dialogue in this community. There are examples throughout the world on how to enhance bicycle commuter routes. Sidewalks can be widened to get bike riders off the streets (see page 17). Street parking can be eliminated on one side of the road or the other to make bike lanes and separate human-powered traffic from mechanical traffic. Laws can be made or modified to enhance safety for bicyclists and motorists.
Reno can become a model to the rest of the country. We really can, but it’s going to take a commitment on the part of entire community, not just the bike activists, but also the City Council, the Regional Transportation Commission, and the motorists.
But we shouldn’t do it just because it will benefit bike riders, or because it will help decrease the Truckee Meadows’ carbon footprint, or because economic times are desperate. We should do it because a decreased use of petroleum products, less traffic, and a healthier population will benefit our entire community.