Transportation Mindsets

Tom Vanderbilt has a really interesting post about a bicyclist in Connecticut who the author shadowed on one of his daily 65-mile commutes to work. Vanderbilt writes...
I traveled from Northern Westchester County, to Joe’s office in midtown Manhattan (I then continued home to Brooklyn), via a carefully chosen, if not always evident, path that wound through bucolic gated communities in Greenwich, Ct., underneath the concrete underpasses of the city’s edges, to the delivery-truck laden warrens of the Bronx. I was admittedly intrigued by the unusual nature of the commute itself (for me, it was around 65 miles, one way) — in articulating a kind of “secret” way to get into the city...
When you ask people if they'd consider commuting by bike to work or to run errands or for any other reason, many of them will think about it, then ultimately conclude that it's not safe or not easy to go about their lives by bike. I think a lot of that's the result of the 'motorist mindset' and the fact that it's hard to think about getting places using routes other than those you would take in a car.

(from vpickering on Flickr)

If you pick two points, an origin and a destination, and ask a motorist and a bicyclist to make the journey - chances are that they'll take completely different routes, with the bicyclist traveling the same streets as the motorists only when absolutely necessary, or when the major arterial road has bike lanes that are able t safely accommodate bicyclists.

When someone gives me a ride someplace, I'm often reminded that there are whole sections of the city that I rarely or never see, because, unless these places are a destination, they're only places that you would pass through in a car.

Bicycling infrastructure is awesome and makes getting around cities a lot easier; but that's especially true in cases where street systems were originally designed exclusively for the use of cars. When there are plentiful side streets and secondary roads available, regardless of whether they have bike lanes painted on them, they're often the best ways to get from point A to point B.