This summer, police officers in Fort Worth will be watching for kids wearing bike helmets — everyone under 18 is required to wear a helmet while cycling, per city ordinance. Kids without helmets will be given a helmet on the spot and educated about the law. Kids spotted wearing helmets will receive coupons for ice cream. The free helmets were donated through the Hard Hats for Little Heads program.The best bit is what is only implied: that people over 18 aren't required to wear a helmet.
Meanwhile, apparently Dallas has a bike plan, a bike lane somewhere around the city, and a Complete Streets plan in progress that hasn't been terribly inspiring (though the jury remains in deliberation -- but as always, skepticism rules the day in the meantime).
The Sun Belt is incredibly young. And being young, means the cities are incredibly malleable, moreso than just about any other place in the world with regard to the degree of transformation ahead over the next fifty years.
While that is a localized issue, the overarching one is the invariable competition amongst cities, particularly when it comes to attracting and retaining human capital. Furthermore, it becomes far easier to attract and retain said human capital when it doesn't have to spend a large chunk of its income simply on transportation.
Car-dependent cities apply a tax on its residents. Want to participate in the local economy? You have to spend upwards of 40-50% of your income on transportation (or lower of course dependent upon salary, but I'm talking baseline).
The worst part is that the majority of that money leaves the local economy. Where Dallas ships money outward, Fort Worth is in the midst of empowering its citizens by removing the shackles of car dependency. Since it costs, on average nearly $9,000/yr to own and operate a vehicle, that is money Fort Worthers can put into housing improvements, starting new (local) businesses (which keeps yet more money in locally), saved or invested in whatever way the individual chooses.
As I've calculated before, Dallas County could keep over $4 billion per year in the local economy if:
1/2 of the 343K households with 1 car could rid themselves of it.And 1/2 of the 321K of 2 vehicles could lose 1 of their 2.Then every other type of household with more than 2 vehicles per household could choose to get rid of just one car.Every new bike lane Fort Worth adds is like a paper cut to Dallas's right arm in the competition amongst cities. Unfortunately, every one Dallas doesn't add, it's administering paper cuts to its left. We might be worried about death by a thousand cuts if we didn't enjoy it so much. Such masochists we must be.
Interconnecting and empowering. Such a novel concept. When the public sector focuses on empowerment, via integration, you begin to see the full flower of local expression. The successful cities for the next century, the 21st century, are building the foundation for that success at present and with urgency. They will maximize local and global connectivity. Meanwhile, the cities that lose in this competition, and make no mistake, there will be losers, will be stuck in the mindset of 20th century regional connectivity, the kind that prevents local + global from flourishing.
Let's dig up Lewis Mumford to close us out:
“the multiplication and massive collective concentration on glib ephemeralities of all kinds, performed with supreme technical audacity…are symptoms of the end…when these signs multiply, Necropolis is near, though not a stone has yet crumbled.”