Tag Archives: why bike?

the meaning of infrastructure

Via Streetsblog, House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner was recently quoted about the prospect of adding more money into the proposed federal stimulus plan:

“I think there’s a place for infrastructure, but what kind of infrastructure? Infrastructure to widen highways, to ease congestion for American families? Is it to build some buildings that are necessary?” He stated. “But if we’re talking about beautification projects, or we’re talking about bike paths, Americans are not going to look very kindly on this.”

Via the OED, infrastructure is defined as:

A collective term for the subordinate parts of an undertaking; substructure, foundation; spec. the permanent installations forming a basis for military operations, as airfields, naval bases, training establishments, etc.

A collective term for the subordinate parts of an undertaking… Which might just suggest the question of what we’re undertaking (Though thinking about training establishments and what I’ve heard of Cub Camp or the Wolfpack Hustle or reading the description of this makes it possible to think about Los Angeles as really having some of the best bicycle infrastructure in the whole world if only we realize it like these rides do).

Part of me wants to write to Rep. Boehner to suggest that he pull his head out of the gas tank he’s been inhaling, but part of me wants to try to rise to a different challenge: What is it, precisely, that I am undertaking when I get on my bike? Alex has a really thoughtful post up at WestsideBIKEside about embracing the challenge of being a bike activist in Los Angeles, and he makes a really thoughtful point:

When we feel victimized as cyclists, we should remember that this is what we want.  We ride where we want!  We all choose to bike for many reasons, and part of that deal is that we’re going to deal with some crap.  It’s a small price to pay for independence, fitness, fun, and a totally different worldview, free of the oppressive confinement of a motor vehicle.

I’m not a bike activist. I like to ride, I like to write about riding, and I like to think about what it means to ride a bike in Los Angeles. But even though I can’t really consider myself an activist, I want to think that it’s worthwhile to ask of myself if there’s something more that I’m riding for, whether it be global warming or simply saving money on gas. It’s not anything I have an answer for, but maybe I’m learning to ask better questions about biking in Los Angeles; maybe I’m beginning to put some words to this undertaking of mine (of ours?), some way to say that investing in cycling infrastructure isn’t just about making the roads look pretty – investing in infrastructure is about asking questions of the horizons we face, asking in a really honest fashion, What is it that we’re undertaking?