January 1, 2010
As we pedaled north out of Bangkok, Thailand, I remember chuckling when I realized the symbol in what I had assumed was the bike lane, represented a scooter. My thoughts ran the gamut from anger to sadness.
Was this some sort of joke by a rogue road crew?
It didn't take me long (and several more scooter symbols) to discount my practical joke theory. It made sense. Kat and I had rarely seen a bicycle in Bangkok and hadn't passed anyone pedaling on our chaotic ride out of the city. We HAD seen tens of thousands of scooters.
The sad truth is that while many countries are making progress on bringing back the bicycle as viable transportation, in many developing countries ... the trend is just the opposite. People are trading in their bicycle for a scooter and (when they can afford one) a car.
But the point I'd like to make about the above photo, is that it only takes governmental decision and a can of paint to turn your bicycle lane into a scooter lane. A walking/biking trail can be opened up to ATVs. And decades worth of bicycle advocacy can vanish.
That's why organizations like the Adventure Cycling Association are so important. And believe me ... numbers count. Imagine what could be accomplished if the Adventure Cycling Association represented a half a million members instead of 45,000?
Is that the question of an unrealistic dreamer? Maybe. But consider this -- the American Automobile Association has over 50 million members.
If you are a bicycle enthusiast or a Facebook fan, consider becoming a member of the Adventure Cycling Association. If you are already a member--thank you.
Your membership counts ... literally.
Photo by Willie Weir
SIGHTS AND SOUNDS is posted every other Friday. Willie Weir is a columnist for Adventure Cyclist magazine. His books, Travels with Willie and Spokesongs, will inspire you to hit the road, and might change the way you approach bicycle travel. He lives in Seattle with his wife Kat. You can read about their adventures at http://yellowtentadventures.com.