Bicycles, perhaps?

You may recall that last year there was considerable talk about a bicycle program for Brandeis students. We would all pay a small fee, and would then get access to bikes, so that we could ride all over town and annoy the Waltham traffic. So what happened? As far as I can tell, there isn’t any bike program. If there was, I’d be riding one right now, instead of sitting on my fat lazy ass in front of the computer.

Maybe this thing was never proposed. Maybe I’m imagining it. But I’m fairly sure it was promised, and yet seems to have somehow sunk to the bottom of the sea. I think it might have been the baby of Michael Kerns, actually, which may be why it never came to fruition. Seems like nothing ever gets done around here without Kerns.

Whatever the explanation, there is no reason why this great program shouldn’t go forward. Hell, this thing has been talked about for years. An editorial in The Hoot back in 2005 proposed turning us all into bike-riding communists:

“Approximately fourteen years ago the Cuban government was faced with a transportation crisis… Castro saw bicycles as the solution and promptly ordered over one million bikes from China. The program became a success overnight… While the situation today in America is not as dire was it was in Cuba years ago, the United States is faced with what is being called a gas crisis thanks to a heavy reliance on polluting vehicles for transportation. Brandeis should adopt about a bike program that will save the school money, improve the environment, strengthen the Brandeis community, and appease the criticisms from the student body regarding the long walk across campus.”

I’m not sure writer Kevin Montgomery made his case in the most persuasive manner possible, pitching the program as a way to become more like Castro’s Cuba. But the point remains a strong one. Brandeis could use some bikes. Bike programs have a long and storied history, starting with the Dutch anarchist movement in the 1960’s, which proposed free white bicycles for all the residents of Amsterdam to use. For more on bike programs, see the Wikipedia article on them: Look, there are lots of them! Because people care about the environment! And Brandeis is apparently supposed to care about the environment, too. That’s why I’ve been made to feel guilty every time I drink from a water bottle instead of the nasty-tasting Castle water fountain, isn’t it? Well, if we can get that program moving, then surely this bike thing isn’t impossible. Maybe one of the million environmental clubs on campus can take this issue up.

Even if we are tragically lacking our great Kerns, we must not be disheartened. This program was a super idea, and we must not let it die. If we are to preserve the foundations of our democracy, we must give bikes to the masses.


4 thoughts on “Bicycles, perhaps?”

  1. Primarily, cycling is and has always been…just fun and practical. That’s it.
    I appreciate that nowadays people will start riding (and organizing rides) for environmental, health and economic considerations, but those are just a few of the secondary benefits.

    I don’t think promoting or labeling it primarily ‘green’ etc is very helpful. It always gets too political, exclusive (‘progressive’), fringy, etc, dividing more than helping grow the number of people riding. You see the results of that every day; stigmatized car drivers get even more frustrated/crazed, accidents, more protest, more divide, insane, LESS progress.

    It’s all a distraction.

    What to do?

    Just ride, invite your friends, ride together, relax. Show people how normal it is. No fuss, no butt-naked-riding (however much fun that is), just do it. More will follow. Don’t build a critical mass out of protest, but do it for sheer numbers. Aim for leveraging the playing field with policy makers/city planners. Eventually (take it from me) any gov body will HAVE to accommodate you. There’s no way around it.

    My tip: If you can, if you really can, toss the helmet and lycra, dress normal and get out there.

    Enjoy and cheers,

  2. Right now I’m in the Environmental Studies class Greening the Ivory Tower, where the main focus of the class is a semester-long campaign dedicated to increasing sustainability on campus. There is a group of us in my class who are very interested in working with the SU in making this project a reality. We have briefly spoken with Dennis Finn, head of grounds and maintenance, who said that he could not only find space on campus (such as a Ziv garage) to store the bikes, but he actually had some bikes he might be able to donate to the project. (He also said the SU had never spoken to him about the project and this was the first time he had heard about it). I contacted Paul Balik and he said that the project has lost steam this year but would love to work with people to make it happen. Hopefully we will be meeting soon. This project would also probably require funding from the administration, so the most important initial step to take is showing strong student support (keep writing and talking about it)!

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