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B.R.A.G.G. is on the lookout for positive mentors who can share their passion for Trail running and riding!

February 14th, 2013 | Author: Sam
Category: Get Involved, Kid on Bikes

B.R.A.G.G. (Bikers and Runners Against Gangs and Guns) is a new local program that may be perfect for you. The mission of B.R.A.G.G. is to affect the lives of underprivileged youth by means of positive mentoring. This is to be achieved through physical activity and the building of self-esteem through involvement in the community and achievement of goals. B.R.A.G.G. needs your help. Think of this as being a big brother/sister with a focus on the sport that you are passionate about.

As a mentor the weekly commitment will be on Wednesday evenings from 6-8pm from March to September. There will likely be some weekend runs/races for the kids to be involved in as well, this will be more clear as the season moves on. We will meet at different local off-road trails where the kids will bike and run. It does not matter if you are particularly fast or skilled, just be a positive influence on the kids. Consistency will be huge part of this program. If you cannot make it at least 80% this may not be the program for you. Thanks to local sponsors and donors the children will receive a bike, helmets, running shoes, and healthy meals.

Please consider helping out with this program and making a huge difference in the life of a child. If you are interested or have any further questions please contact miah@trekomaha.com.

 

Mobility in the Face of Parking & Waiting

February 4th, 2013 | Author: Sam
Category: Advocacy, Bike Commuting, Bike Philosophy, Uncategorized

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a Creighton basketball game with a friend. When she turned to go into a parking lot charging $8, I yelled, “No! Stop!” I assured her we could find street parking for free. A few blocks a way, she parked her car, and we walked over to the game without paying anything. In Omaha, I’ve heard a lot of people complain about paying for parking. Many people will patiently explain that if the Old Market had more (free!) parking, more people would go there. As a person who rarely pays for parking, I can’t say if this is accurate or not. What I do know is that these perceived problems with parking challenge our shared concept of automobility .

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of automobility, have a look at a post from last year. There I defined automobility as, “the expectation that personal transportation, especially a car, is normal.” Olle Hagman addresses some of these issues in his article in Mobilities, titled, “Morning Queues and Parking Problems. On the Broken Promises of the Automobile.” He focuses on waiting in lines (e.g., in traffic) and parking problems to ground his claim that “we have never been auto-mobile.” I think his ideas about congestion are informative, given our interest in conceptualizing different modes of transportation in Omaha:

“Both queues and parking problems are consequences of the success of the car. They are the results of congestion, which in its turn is an unintended side effect of a car-based transport system. The private car is one of the most significant objects of wealth in modern societies. As a commodity, a convenience, and the base for the modern transportation system, it epitomizes both the ‘goods’ and the ‘bads’ of modernity (Hagman, 2000). It is a sign of wealth, on a personal as well as on a national level. It signifies the modern human ability to turn natural resources into wealth and conveniences. But, it also signifies some typically modern risks (Beck, 1992; Giddens, 1991). Most debated, perhaps, are the risks of environmental degradation or health problems caused by (air) pollution and the (almost ‘industrial production’ of) deaths and injuries in road accidents, but there are other consequences too, such as congestion. Congestion, then, is just as much an inevitable ‘modernity risk’ as air pollution is. It is an unintended side effect, an inescapable consequence of car use, which is reflected in society through the ‘boomerang effect’ of modernity. Congestion does not share all of the fundamental characteristics of the most typical modernity risks, which are invisible to the senses and dependent on scientific knowledge and definition (Beck, 1992). Congestion is visible. To understand the effect of congestion one does not need scientific interpretation.” (64)

Hagman’s argument hinges on the production of congestion that accompanies increased car use. Using a sociological approach, Hagman reports that people like having cars because they experience freedom of movement (reminds me of another post relating to the idea that transportation is freedom).  The freedom to go where they want when they want. However, as the number of people who use personal vehicles increases, so does congestion. Hagman states, “In some senses parking problems and morning queues are the equivalents of each other. They both indicate imperfections within the system of automobility. Both of them are consequences of congestion, which, in turn, is a consequence of the desirability of fast and free movement” (69). These modern technologies make moving great distances (and even moderate distances quickly) attainable and expected, adding to the perception that we are auto-mobile. However, Hagman’s conclusion explains why an intermodal approach to transportation is appropriate.

“The promise of the automobile was to give its user both autonomy and mobility, that is, to be both ‘auto’ and ‘mobile’. One of the fundamental differences between the queue and the parking problem is that the queue only restricts the freedom to be ‘mobile’. It still allows drivers to be autonomous subjects within their cars, or ‘auto’. In contrast, parking problems restrict the ‘auto’ function of the drivers while forcing them to be ‘mobile’ when they really want to stop and get out of their cars. This, perhaps, may help us understand why queues are more tolerable than parking problems.” (70)

He suggests that the personal vehicle does not allow us both autonomy and mobility. To have both would mean that we would need a car that disappears after we are where we want to go so that we didn’t have to find a place to park. This is an excellent point! It also highlights the role that public transportation can play in helping people be mobile. After one disembarks the bus, it goes away. We don’t have to worry where it goes, but think only about if/when it will return. Similarly, a bike helps us be auto-mobile. As a bike rider, I love not having to pay for parking, going where I want to go, and leaving when I want to leave.

As my friend and I drove around that night of the basketball game, looking for a parking spot, I grumbled a little to myself, thinking that if we had just ridden our bikes, we wouldn’t be having this problem.

Source: Olle Hagman, “Morning Queues and Parking Problems. On the Broken Promises of the Automobile,” Mobilities 1, no. 1 (2006): 63-74.

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