Creative Communities: Bicycles for Sustainability

 

At the heart of creativity is the use of imagination or original ideas, especially in the “Ability to produce something that is new and useful” Gryskiewicz.  Very often, creativity is not something entirely new, but instead a collection of existing parts in a new and useful configuration, much like Steve Jobs many “inventions.”  The “inventions” of Apple when you plumb the depths of the technological origins, are actually a brilliant collection and combination of previously existing technologies.  The creativity came in the harnessing and re-use of these technologies in an elegant and very useful way.

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The I-phone and I-pad (Pixabay)

The same could be said of our modern economic challenges.  Our primary challenge heading into a new era in United States government focuses anew on the plight of the white working class.  Truth be told, though on the surface it would seem that the concerns of inner-city poor are very different, they are actually different sides of the same coin.

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Einstein (Pixabay)

Einstein wrote, “If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.”  The 55 minutes of thinking about a problem is defining it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what’s the problem?:

The middle class is disappearing.

                                                            Why?

Manufacturing jobs are disappearing.

                                                            Where did they go?

13% disappeared due to trade deals, 88% were lost due to automation. – Ball State University Study.

                                                            How do we replace that type of job?

                                                            So why are these jobs great?

You don’t need a college degree to do one.

They can pay up to $30/hour with seniority.

They provide full benefits.

                                                         What kind of jobs don’t need a college degree?

Service jobs, but those jobs don’t pay much and they don’t come with benefits usually.

So the jobs are there, they don’t pay well, they don’t have benefits.

The real question becomes…

How do we value-add existing jobs for workers?

How do we create jobs that pay well and have benefits?

How do we lower the cost of living for people who have low-paying jobs?

It would be nice to wave a magic wand and get McDonald’s and Walmart pay their employees a living wage, the politicians are already fighting over that.  Short of forcing them to, corporations aren’t going to be told what to pay their employees.

When it comes to creating jobs, the country seems to be stuck in neutral when it comes to creating jobs that working class people can actually transition into successfully.  Particularly when you’re talking about the frustrated people of the Rust Belt.  Getting companies to move to the devastated towns of the North near-East cities like Buffalo and her sisters along the Great Lakes, it’s a difficult sell, clearly.

That leaves us with the remaining challenge that we the people might actually have some influence over.  Lowering the cost of living for people with low-paying jobs.

The transportation department of Denmark has recently reported that providing protected bike lanes actually lowers cyclists cost of living significantly.  (Source: Transportvaneundersøgelsen, DTU Transport, http://ftp.iza.org/dp1938.pdf).  It turns out when people feel more comfortable riding their bikes, they are more likely to use them for everything from commuting to work riding for errands and entertainment.

With cycling education, protected lanes and workplace support, cycling could become more of an option, even here in Buffalo.  Even in the winter.  Copenhagen’s climate resembles the Pacific Northwest of the U.S. so it is milder than Buffalo, but it still gets cold and quite wet.  To combat the cold and the wet there are some amazing cold weather gear manufacturers:  45nrthPearl IzumiGore, and Carhartt.

Imagine you aren’t cold or wet while you’re riding.  Imagine you only ride when there’s no snow on the street.  In Buffalo, as much snow as we get here, it’s really difficult to ride only about a week a year.  Generally, there will be a big snow and the streets are a mess for maybe two days.  After that though, the main thoroughfares are plowed down to the pavement.  That leaves about 47 weeks per year that are actually bike-able for even novices.

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Practice Makes Profit!  (Pixabay)

 

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