"It never gets any easier. You just go faster." ---Greg Lemond
"Don't buy upgrades. Ride up grades." --- Eddy Merckx
"You drive like shit." ---The Car Whisperer


My email to David Brooks of the New York Times

Dear Mr. Brooks,

I have recently become a big fan of your writing.

Your recent columns, "Ben Franklin's Nation," "Run, Mitch, Run," and "The New Normal," resonated with me greatly. Indeed, the middle class need to reclaim our dignity by distinguishing ourselves by what we spend on, rather than what we have to spend. I, too, hope for a measured approach in ensuring the inevitable austerity is less painful.

I suppose you might call me a progressive-realist. I work for a Chicago nonprofit that advocates for better biking, walking, and transit for our citizens. Not the typical resume of a Republican. And I don't identify as such, but I am a fan of Mitch Daniels.

Mitch Daniels played not a small part in the passage of Indiana's landmark Complete Streets bill late last year. Complete Streets is the concept that most new public roadway development considers all possible users. Daniels realizes there are great gains to be achieved by reclaiming a portion of the public space for the use of all.

These are gains in energy efficiency, quality of life, and public health that will positively affect the bottom line of governments across the land.

Our current infrastructure, heavily car-centric, is much like a third-rail entitlement program, eating up increasingly more of the budget and creating dependency (on low energy prices).

Several recent studies have shown the huge dividends of investing in bicycling, walking, and transit-oriented development, especially in fuel savings and lower public health burden.

The American Journal of Public Health reported last November - covered by NPR - that in cities with high rates of active transportation, obesity and diabetes rates are 20% lower or more. Treatment of type 2 diabetes claims $1 in every 100 dollars spent in this country, and each sufferer can incur additional lifetime healthcare costs of up to $400,000. One in three born after the year 2000 will contract it.

A brand new study by the Journal of Physical Activity and Health found that by 2040, bicycling investments in Portland, OR in the range of $138 to $605 million will result in health care cost savings of $388 to $594 million and fuel savings of $143 to $218 million.

Finally, the Chicago Tribune reported that the city's Bike 2015 Plan is indeed working: they've built the lanes, and the cyclists - finding increased safety - have come. Business Week cites findings that such infrastructure cuts cyclist injuries by half. Mayor-elect Emanuel has pledged to increase the rate of bike lane development in Chicago from 8 miles per year to 25, and has promised to open the Bloomingdale Trail - the sister of NYC's much celebrated and successful High Line - before the end of his first term.

It is my hope that you will weigh in with your support on these solutions that Indiana, Chicago, and many other towns across America are implementing to cut loose the stranglehold that car-only infrastructure has on their budgets, their health, and their public space.

Thanks for reading.

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