Bike-Powered Disaster Response Gets National Spotlight

One of the most memorable stories of last year’s tsunami in Japan was the 83-year-old woman who escaped the waters by riding her bike.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Americans saw closer-to-home images of how bikes can help people in the face of disaster. We heard stories about New York City commuters who hopped on their bikes for the first time in years, when the subways were shut down but workplaces were back up and running.

Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland notes that the resilience of bikes was on display on MSNBC earlier this week:

It’s been a good year for the idea that bikes are the ultimate disaster response vehicles.

At the end of MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show last night, host Rachel Maddow shared the story of how partial subway service is being restored to the Rockaways, a section of Queens that was devastated by Sandy. During the segment, as Maddow described how the Rockaways have been cut off from the rest of New York, I was pleasantly surprised when she mentioned bicycles.

Said Maddow: “After the storm, the Rockaways got so hard to reach that some bicyclists pedaled in supplies. I think partly to prove that they could do it, but partly because with gas supplies short and rationed, biking still worked.”

There’s more coverage coming, Maus says, as well as a video from Portland’s Bureau of Emergency Management about the role of bikes in disaster response.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Alex Block rebuts Kaid Benfield’s reasons for supporting DC’s height restrictions. And Streets.mn says that using the “passenger mile” as a basis for comparing modes is bound to produce skewed results that make cars look better.

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