When I got the call from mom yesterday that they had arrived in Florida for the winter, it was snowing outside here. We had the heater on full blast and when I opened the front door a juniper fragrance from the neighbor’s wood stove trickled past my nose. In Florida my mom had to turn the air conditioner on, it was so hot, they said. I felt jealous for a fleeting moment, but mostly I felt the sting of sleet on my face from the pelting I took on my ride home. Maybe we had jinxed ourselves this weekend by joking about not having to pull out the indoor trainers to ride during winters here. But nah, today the sun clawed out from behind the vanishing clouds and the pavement was dry by mid morning. I could ride but I think it is a good day to rest. Instead I ran some errands by foot on the lunch hour. Got my 30 minutes of activity in.
I saw Klaus Schwab on the Charlie Rose show discussing the World Economic Forum’s agenda for their upcoming meeting, “Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” When we work on bicycling advocacy we often focus on government, but businesses are an able partner in forward looking solutions. Klaus told Charlie they are “looking at global issues in an integrated way”. This integration of disciplines blends in social, economic and physical science perspectives, but the ultimate shaper of “contextual intelligence” has to be history, philosophy, and the humanities as the main integer of understanding. I think in this age of science, tech, biology and ecology, a shout out to the humanities lends guidance and frames the story. Story puts us in the stream of wisdom and power. History helps us digest it. After all Klaus himself is using story to communicate, such is the power. The business perspective on issues of our times is crucial for harnessing resources and addressing challenges. Listening to Klaus I thought bicycling is certainly part of this revolution. It fits principles Klaus referenced, like this:
- Asymmetry–small means for achieving great ends. The bicycle is positively asymmetric.
- Networked World–change requires collaboration, partnerships and support of other components of society. Changes are combinations of variables. Bicycling and walking rise together, and depend on speeding up and increasing transit, and better managing cars.
- Systems Revolution–we are beginning to shift transportation from being almost entirely focused on one mode to balancing healthy choices with a focus on mobility for people.
There is a direct analogy to the World Economic Forum in the bicycling world. The World Bicycling Forum met in Columbia last year. From Nine Lessons from the World Bicycle Forum in Medellín, Colombia regarding bicycling as a catalyst for sustainable development:
“The transformative power of the bicycle for creating equitable, healthy and clean cities is well known by many advocates, activists and policy makers alike. We now need to work together globally to scale up the bicycle’s transformative power to encounter the worldwide mobility and liveability challenge in a rapidly urbanizing world.”
We do have some pretty big challenges ahead of us, and I think better including bicycling will pay dividends. Here are some photos I’ve gathered as I peck away at our local cycling stories.