Monday, November 14, 2011

Bikes at War: Juno Beach and Homelessness

Earlier this year I came across this image of bikes on D-Day. Veteran's Day is also Remembrance Day in Canada. Here are Canadian soldiers unloading bikes at Juno Beach on D-Day.

Here's the full image from The Atlantic. Click to enlarge.

The bikes weren't actually effective, and may have contributed to greater casualties. They ditched them pretty quickly.

The image came to mind again when I was downtown and saw the bikes locked up at the Union Gospel Mission.

Data from a 1999 report, and duplicated in data from 2005, suggested that a quarter of all homeless people are Veterans.

For many of these people - and they are usually men, as you would expect - a bike, and perhaps also a trailer, is essential mobility. And even if they don't bike, they likely walk. And if they don't walk, they may be disabled.

No matter what problems with addiction, mental illness, or PTSD they might have, it would be a cruel argument to say they don't deserve access to a transportation system that offers robust alternatives to driving a car.

One of the scoring criteria in the plan accounts for environmental justice:
Does the project benefit minority and/or lower-income residents (many of whom tend to bike, walk, and use transit more than the broader community)?
At the Planning Commission hearing Jen talked about social justice.

An easily and safely walkable and bikeable city for those who, after doing what most of us will not do and indeed cannot really imagine, should be a small thing we do willingly.

For more on Juno beach see here and here. This chat thread has more images of the bikes on ship and being unloaded at the beach.

For a more particularly American take on bikes and the military, see also the 25th Infantry Regiment Bicycle Corps.

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