Infrastructure: A Whole Lotta ‘What Ifs’


As cyclists, infrastructure should be very important to us. If we want better bike infrastructure, we have to support other types of infrastructure as well, public transit in particular. Sometimes I like to think what our country would be like if different decisions had been made after World War 2. Why? Because the car-centric, suburban developments that led to widespread alienation and fluorescent lit shopping malls are the result of decisions made after World War 2.

When the war was over, the US economy had been pulled out of the shitter and suddenly we had all this money. What did we do with it? We bought cars. We built monotonously-similar houses in the suburbs and we started commuting 40 miles to work each day. People were told this was the patriotic thing to do. According to whom? The CEOs of Ford, Chevrolet and Chrysler, I assume.

But what if we had not done this? What if, instead of building those crummy, alienating suburbs and exurbs, we reinvested in our cities? What if we had made sure that every city had an efficient subway, light rail or streetcar system? What if, instead of building all these roads that led out of cities and into exurbs that used to be farmland, we poured all that money and engineering into a high-speed rail system? Seriously, how great would it be to hop a train and go from Jacksonville to Richmond, VA, in 2 hours? Pretty freakin’ sweet.

If we had not made this ludicrous decision to build suburbs at the expense of cities, we could have modern, efficient modes of transportation, streets and bridges that aren’t crumbling, and large swaths of farmland and forest untouched by so-called progress. We also would have bustling commercial centers in downtowns, rather than dead suburban shopping malls.

How great would that be?

I know, I know, I’m a dreamer. But, hey, I’m not the only one.

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