Even if you will never ride a bike in your life, you still see benefits from increased levels of biking. More bicyclists mean less congestion in the streets and less need for expensive road projects that divert government money from other important problems. Off-road paths, bike lanes, sidwalks and other bike and ped improvements cost a fraction of what it takes to widen streets and highways. It’s proven that bicycling and walking increases people’s health and reduces obesity, which will translate into huge cost savings for government and a boost for our economy.
Policies that are good for bicyclists actually benefit everyone on the streets. Good conditions for bicycling also create good conditions for pedestrians. And what makes the streets safer for bikes, also makes them safer for motorists.
Higher gas prices (which have topped four bucks for the third time in four years) means more Americans are looking for other ways to get around. Bikes offer people more choices in transportation. This is especially true for people whose communities are not well served by mass transportation or where distances are too far to walk to work or shopping.
Study: City bike sharing programs save lives, reduce carbon emissions
Public bicycle sharing schemes such as Barcelona’s “Bicing" program or London’s "Boris Bikes" save lives and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to a study on Friday.
Bike schemes are becoming increasingly popular in cities around the world, with more than 360 already running, but their main aim is usually to ease congestion rather than boost health.
Researchers at the Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona found in a study, however, that around 9,000 tons of carbon dioxide pollution are averted and some 12 lives saved each year by Barcelona’s scheme, which was introduced in March 2007.
“Active transport policies such as bike sharing systems promote physical activity among the population and are a good means to improve public health and also reduce expenses in public health services,” said David Rojas-Rueda, whose study was published in the British Medical Journal.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week and says this could be done by walking for 30 minutes five times per week, or by cycling to work every day.
The researchers said this initial assessment suggested it was important “to encourage cities to change car use by cycling and stimulate the implementation of bike sharing systems in cities to improve the health of the population.”
Check out the rest of the article, including details about London and Barcelona’s bike share systems, here. For an overview of the rapid growth of bike sharing programs around the world take a look at National Geographic’s recent article, 'Bike share Schemes Shift Into High Gear'. Ride on!
(Photo credit: Inhabitat)
'To Curb Driving, Cities Cut Down on Car Parking'
From National Geographic:
Bit by bit, for the past 40 years, the city of Copenhagen has done something revolutionary: The Danish capital has reduced its parking supply. Cutting the total number of parking spaces by a small percentage each year stands in stark contrast to the more common pattern of cities adding more and more parking to accommodate private cars.
But in a few pockets around the world, momentum is growing behind efforts to bump out large parking lots, curbside parking, and garages in favor of services and infrastructure for pedestrians, cyclists, and public transportation.
“There’s no demand for parking, per se,” said parking policy expert Rachel Weinberger, assistant professor of city and regional planning at the University of Pennsylvania. “There’s demand for access to a location.” If a private car is the only way to access a given restaurant, shopping center, workplace, or neighborhood, she argued, then “that translates to demand for parking.”
Cities around the world are recognizing that managing parking is an effective, if indirect, means of addressing concerns about energy and traffic congestion—indeed, climate change. In fact, according to research from the Paris-based firm Sareco, people choose their mode of transportation for urban trips based on the parking conditions at their origin and destination.
Check out the rest of the article here.
(Photo credit: National Geographic)