Someday it will dawn on mankind – en mass (one can only hope) – that cities were not made for cars, no way and no how.
This dawns on thousands of people each year, maybe millions. OK, I’m guessing. But if it occurred to me – an average dude with average dude smarts – then I can’t be the only one.
Most cities were designed in the age of horses and even in days when not everybody had one of those. Most transportation, historically, is summed up as a resigned trudge, otherwise known as walking. Now, millions of technological fantasies in the future, most people would never dream of walking to work on a daily basis even if that walk would lose them 20 pounds and they could live longer and spend less as a result.
Well, there are fun ways to get around that keep the air clean, put oxygen into your bloodstream, clear your head, and keep our industrious planet from choking on our inexorable march towards turning Earth into an uninhabitable toaster oven. You know, that global warming stuff we keep hearing about. Here are some fun options for the car-less crowd for getting around your city or college campus.
One fast, fun way to zip around your college campus or through the city jungle is using high-performance roller skates. Talk about staying in shape and talk about fast and fun!
City rollerblading is huge in some unlikely places, like Manhattan, where skaters take advantage of gridlock by zipping between cars that are stuck in their own cloud of exhaust. However, rollerblading is still no match for getting knocked around by a car, so one must be extremely skilled and cautious (helmets, knee pads and elbow pads) before heading out into moving traffic. However, if you have sidewalk space or you are cutting through Central Park, even New York is inviting to the rollerblade crowd.
Yes, the bicycle was ready-made for city life, a fact that Europe has embraced, while U.S. cities lag far behind. For example, Copenhagen, Denmark, listed by Wired magazine and by Biking Expert website as the most bicycle-friendly city in the world, builds bridges designated for bicycles only and has a Cycle Super Highway with 26 lanes for bicyclists. (Before you overreact, remember bicycle lanes are not as wide as car lanes.) These special lanes can help prevent accidents by keeping bikes and cars separate.
Biking Expert’s Top 20 Bike-Friendly cities include 17 in Europe, one in South America and only Montreal and Minneapolis, Minnesota in North America. Pathetic.
Yes, a skilled skateboarder can use those lightweight toys for transportation, as well as for doing tricks in a playground. Again, the proper helmet and padding is highly recommended and even mandated by some city ordinances.
And don’t try to hang onto the window or the bumper of a passing car, like movie stars do to show how clever they are getting around the city. That’s for the movies. Don’t try that at home.
If you think skateboards do not fit your style (do you have to wear those wool caps and a sweatshirt to skateboard? – better double check), then you might try a few modern alternatives that are finding an audience around the country.
These choices include the RipStik or the Wave, which is a self-propelled skateboard that moves forward by shifting your weight forward and back with a slight twist, which is that the board’s two wheels lean in opposite directions, compliments of the middle of the board that twists. Once you get the hang of it, you don’t have to kick as you ride, like you would on a skateboard.
Another option is the Freebord that is designed to imitate snowboarding, except on concrete, the board’s wheels much wider than a traditional skateboard. Then there’s the Streetboard that pivots in two places, rather than one, like the Ripstik.
There’s also the Mountainboard with extra large wheels and an extra-large platform to stand on, allowing for off-road skateboarding if you happen to like cutting across the parks in your hometown.