To conclude the extensive Wheels Keep Turning, I would like to cover some topics that have not been thoroughly discussed yet. The possible conversations that we could have regarding sustainable transportation go on and on, but I will close with just three: feeding ourselves to adapt to an active lifestyle, bicycling education, and gender and mobility. Why these three matters? Personally, these topics caught my eye because they branch out from the original discussions of infrastructure, campaigns, and evaluation. Let us see how that is true . . .
Everyone is well accustomed to dieting fads and meal prepping. Different meal plans work for different types of people; the same is true for active commuters. If you already avidly bike, this section most likely will not be news, but may spark some new recipe ideas. More specifically, I want to acknowledge those of us who do not bike or walk to work daily (yet), but are interested in giving it a go. Unfortunately, you cannot jump right into biking daily when you have driven to work for years. Physically speaking, it is something that takes time, just like any other form of exercise. One major factor in prepping your body to bike is what you are eating. One excellent source to consult is Bicycling Magazine’s “Bicycling’s Go Faster Eating Plan.” The article breaks down, by time of the day, meal/snack suggestions. Another key tip the site gives is “Ride-Specific Fueling Guidelines”: pre ride and endurance ride snacks. If this site’s recipes are not your speed, try Livestrong’s “Nutrition Plan for Cycling.” This topic is important to me for a few reasons. I am the kind of person that jumps into something new when I am excited about it. For people like me, we need to stop for a minute and think about the bigger picture, in this case prepping your body first. Secondly, health should be a high priority for everyone – nothing else matters if we do not have our health, my mom always says. While feeding your body right can seem like a chore at times, once you do some research and establish a plan, you will be on the right path to becoming a biking pro!
The second topic I feel needs addressing is bicycle education. While I mentioned this as a brief solution in many of my previous posts, it deserves the spotlight for a minute. The League of American Bicyclist’s “Smart Cycling” does a fantastic job in this field. Their mission statement reads “to reach people of all ages and abilities, improving skills, building confidence, and teaching others.” We cannot expect communities to increase their biking populations without making riders more confident first. With a lack of understanding by other road uses comes aggression towards bikers, discouraging riding. I think that even before infrastructure and program implementation must come the education. No initiative will gain massive support if people are unaware, apathetic, or hostile towards the cause. The league strives for country-wide education through, but not limited to, classroom guidebooks, smart tips, videos, and in-person classes. With resources such as these, there is no reason not to become educated about biking. If you take anything away from Wheels Keep Turning, it should be to educate yourself before forming an opinion/taking a stance on a topic. Like with healthy eating, mass education is a difficult task, but one of the most worthwhile acts to promote sustainable transportation.
Lastly, and most interesting of all to me, is the subject of gender and mobility. As an advertising major, I spend a good amount of time analyzing demographics and psychographics to determine target audiences. The research compiled in the article “Culture, equity and cycle infrastructure” examines the underlying reasons for low women cyclist populations in the UK. The numbers stem from an underrepresentation of female, who lack the adequate resources to cycle. This underrepresentation exists because of negative stigmas, explained here – “For example, not only might you, as a cyclist, be seen as unable to afford a car, you might also now alternatively be seen as a humourless eco-warrior, a health freak, a middle-class cultist trying to impose your values on others – the list goes on” (“Culture, equity and cycle infrastructure”). Adding to these negative stereotypes, biking is seen as unfeminine. The article goes on to discuss infrastructure, its problems, and solutions. However, the take-away is the power of stigmas. By stigmatizing half of our population, very little progress can be made. Research such as this article point out the deeply ingrained conceptions in our culture, which is extremely attention-grabbing as well as noteworthy.
This is just the surface of healthy eating, bicycle education, and gender on the roads. More work is needed in each field to improve and grow within communities and nationally. I hope that through this blog people will find a few topics that resonate personally and decide to take a stance. Let your wheels keep turning to make a change in the world of transportation.