1.22.2009

Posh to be Poor? Transportation

Over the last few years there has been a surge away from motorcar transportation towards public transportation and the bicycle. This can in part be attributed to the sustainable movement as well as the growth of our urban cores. In 2008, the number of people living in cities eclipsed rural dwellers for the first time. As cities become more dense, the efficiency of traffic becomes increasingly important and for residents, it becomes faster to take public transportation. Now, aside from public transportation, the bicycle is also seeing a boom in popularity as a primary mode of transportation for many city dwellers.



The bicycle is rapidly becoming the popular mode of transportation in large urban cores. It is cheap, you can find a decent used bike for 25 bucks that will get you around the city fairly well. Bikes are easy to maintain and aren't subject to expensive repairs as they age. No need to buy insurance either, or fill up on gas. These qualities make it a very attractive option for those who are strapped for cash. Also, it is environmentally friendly due to the lack of emissions and lower embodied energy than the automobile. So, this is an important turning point as people begin to look away from a more expensive, more convenient mode of transportation, to one that is significantly more affordable. In fact, New York city saw a 35% increase in people biking to work in 2008. Unlike public transportation though, biking has become a trend with thriving organizations such as Critical Mass advocating for increased ridership. It has become cool to ride a bike as demonstrated by the many celebs recently caught on 2 wheels. Lance Armstrong may have sparked a national movement toward road bikes, but the many bike messengers roaming our urban cores have sparked a fixed gear revolution. Once seen as tacky or radical, the bike messenger style has invaded western culture influencing clothing, style (messenger bag anyone??), and heck, transportation!



So why does this mean it's becoming posh to be poor? Well, because it's a move away from expensive transportation options, toward more affordable and accessible option. It's a move away from $30,000 SUV's toward $125 bikes (these are both averages of course.) Low income residence take public transit, they ride bikes, and they hop trains; 3 methods of transportation that will see a steep increase in 2009. As we enter into an age of frugality, where we find pleasure in the simple aspects of life, people will worry less about luxury and more about experience, an idea which has grown in prominence over the past few years.


Posh to be Poor? Introduction

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(Photo from SFGate The original full-sized color version can be viewed by clicking the photo.)
(Photo from Wikipedia The original full-sized color version can be viewed by clicking the photo.)

3 comments:

ligress said...

yeah, the cycling along with wearing the worst quality shoes you can find have been the trademarks of east london's culture.

GenghisKhan said...

Nice to see folks returning to the bike!

archaalto said...

for centuries in 1st world countries, it has been shameful to be poor. in many other places on the globe, being poor comes with neither shame nor pride-it is simply called LIVING. this living by necessary creates an absence of fashion, until outsiders take notice.

many of history's cultural revolutions have started within fringe groups and eventually become fashionable to the masses [hip-hop music, graffiti art, urban gardening, even multi-unit housing designs]. at one time, the bicycle was a novelty act, and now has come full circle out of necessity. celebrities making this type of fashion statement might not be a bad thing...let's just hope this fashion is affordable.