Hiking up our (out)skirts and pedaling ourselves

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To be a city is to compete, even unwittingly, in something of a beauty pageant. Cities vie for precious and limited resources with other cities. Those resources might be high-income bracketed professionals looking for a home or a large corporation looking for a tax-friendly location to build a new store, facility, etc. As a city, it is important to be attractive to the would-be investor. One of the most attractive qualities in a city is its modernity, which, in the 21stCentury, means being clean and green.

One place to showcase cleanliness and “greenliness(?)” is in both open, uninhabited space and park space. The Baldwin Hills, on the outskirts of town, provides a great source of both. Another area to advertise a city’s “environ-mentality” is in the field of transportation. Combustion engines are a relic on modern streets, just as VHS players and CD players are dinosaurs of entertainment technology. So, what is the latest advancement in the transportation industry? It’s energy-efficient, no-emission, calorie-burning bicycles. This is not to suggest that a bike is for everyone or that cars ought to be banned from the streets. This is merely to point out that there is a viable form of locomotion that ought to be encouraged whenever possible.

A bike-sharing program, as articulated by Howard Cohen in this week’s Bike Safe column, is not only a great means of moving toward a less-polluted world, but a financially rewarding one as well. A city committed to providing its citizens and visitors with a mode of transport that allows them to slowly peruse its streets, accessing shops and attractions with ease, is a 21st Century model of sustainability, and will have many suitors vying to live and work within its boundaries.

Of course, a bike-sharing program is only one small feature of a very complex master plan required to modernize the American cityscape. Alone, the effect might be nothing more than cosmetic. But this is, as previously asserted, a beauty pageant. And when was the last time you saw a Miss America contestant get crowned who wasn’t wearing a little lipstick or mascara?