The following post is the text of a short presentation the author gave at the Reno Bike Summit in early 2013.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in the late 80s and early 90s, Cuba was left without the resources to run and fix its vehicles. Their need for transportation — to go from here to there — did not change, but their transportation context had. Without parts and gas, they imported a million bicycles from China and Voila! A biking culture was created.

One example of that culture is that the entire right-hand lane of every two-lane road is available for slow-moving vehicles such as horses, carts, and bikes. When my wife and I biked across the island in this culture, we both felt safer and more empowered as cyclists than in any other place we'd been.changing the context of transportation 

Cuba's bike transformation was the result of a change in context induced by external forces. It was a disruptive event that forced them to adapt. Here in America, a land of such excess, no such sudden disruption looms (nor could it be predicted, I believe). Our transportation context is centered on the car. Our culture and economy are “driven” by the car. So, how do we create a culture of transportation that is dominated by bicycles?

I propose that the quickest, most effective, most inspiring way to do so is for all of us bicycle users (in whatever capacity) across the country to voluntarily change our transportation context. To create our own artificial disruptive event by giving up our cars.

By a show of hands, how many of you biked here tonight? (6 or 7 hands go up out of 120 people in attendance, followed by spontaneous applause.) I'll return to this question at the end.




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