January 22, 2009
How easy can this be? The bicycle is quite simply one of the best inventions ever made. With almost no extra effort, it enables us to travel at four times the speed of walking. In Copenhagen, Denmark, 33% of all journeys to work are by bicycle. In Davis, California, the number is 17%. Here in Victoria, Canada’s cycling capital, it’s only 6%.
Davis (population 64,000) started planning for cycling 40 years ago, and has two full-time cycling coordinators. It was the first to paint bike-lanes on the city streets, in the 1960s, and the entire university campus is closed to vehicle traffic. With over 100 miles of streets with bike lanes, trails, and other bike routes, and 25 grade-separated intersections keeping bikes and cars apart, Davis shows us what’s possible. As a global warming solution, cycling has to be one of the easiest, cheapest, and most effective. Operating a car costs $7,000 a year. A bike costs $120 a year. A US study found that 40% of all trips are within a 10 minute bike ride, and 54% of commuters live with 10 miles of their work, a distance that takes much the same time for cars and bikes.
Cyclists are generally more fit, more alert, and more productive at work. They are also happier, and have fewer hospital visits. For shopping and deliveries, there are bicycle trailers of every size, and if you can’t manage the hills, adding an electric motor ($350 to $1,400) will costs you just 1 cent per 20 km for the electricity.
How should we proceed? Every community should have a Bicycle Advisory Committee, and 25% of each community’s transport budget should be invested in measures to encourage more cycling until it reaches a goal of 25% of all commuting trips being by bike.
The best way to get there? BC’s cycling advocates need to be far more pro-active and involved in promoting cycling as a solution to global warming.
First published in EcoNews: A monthly newsletter funded by your donations that dreams of a world blessed by the harmony of nature, the pleasures of community, and the joys of personal fulfillment, guided and protected by our active citizenship.