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PT and the Greater Good

Would You Give Up Your Car?

Published July 5, 2011 3:35 PM by Dean Metz

Earlier this year, I noticed rows and rows of bicycles chained to racks throughout London with a kiosk at the head of each rank. These were the first share-time bikes I'd seen. There were racks nearly every other block. The idea is that people rent a bike in one location, ride to their destination and leave the bike at a nearby rack. Done. Transport for London and Barclays bank have created this joint venture to decrease car use and support bicycle use.

I was recently in Barcelona, Spain where a similar program was hugely successful. I saw business people, tourists, repairmen with tool belts, and families using the shared bikes. There are also programs in the States in some of the larger cities like New York and Washington, DC. For those times when one really needs a car, there are similar car-sharing schemes. Europe is actively discouraging car use as evidenced in this recent article in the New York Times.

The potential health benefits are huge! Not just on an individual level, but a societal level as well. Less pollution leads to fewer COPD exacerbations. Less stress leads to fewer cardiac conditions. Increased activity improves general health and well-being, resulting in a decreased drain on resources.

I would use a bike or mass transit to work if I could. I did that for 30 years in NYC so it is not a new concept for me. I hate the fact that I have to drive 12 miles to my office every day. If my office was near the metro, I would ride that to work, but it is another 20-minute bus ride from the metro station and I can't afford three hours out of my day for commuting. Even at the equivalent of $8/gallon of gas, I still drive my 120 miles a week. I pretty much only drive for work though. I walk to the shops and we walk when going out to the films or dinner. We use the train system to get around England.

What would it take to give up your car where you live? How (or should) PTs endorse this idea?


When I lived in Holland bike paths were a way of life.  We rode for miles without the immediate need for a car. There is also an excellent rail system there. When I lived in Vegas in the early 90's I used to bike out to the mountains, in less than a year housing tracts were built and traffic increased so for safety reasons my biking declined.  In Southern California there is a rail system but not one going in the direction I worked. Someday I'll talk about my carpool story.   Since most cities are not set up to handle bikes I find it safer to ride in a car.  I have had things thrown at me, been cursed at, and run off the road while riding to classes to complete my degree.  It isn't worth the risk anymore, but I loved it while I did it.  If only we could adopt the best of what each country has to offer, for our health, we would all live much longer.  

This also brought up memories of bike rentals when we visted Ameland (an island North of Holland).  Four of us managed to get on one of those sturdy, durable bikes that never seemed to fall apart or buckle no matter what we did to it.   Great Post and thanks for the memories.  

Jason Marketti July 6, 2011 12:55 AM

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About this Blog

    Dean Metz
    Occupation: Staff Development Specialist
    Setting: New York, NY – Newcastle Upon Tyne, Great Britain
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