It’s no secret that American cities are trying all kinds of things to encourage bike commuting. Some are building bike lanes even if it means taking space away from cars. Some have authorized bike-share programs. Some are requiring workplaces to designate bicycle parking or, failing that, compelling them to allow bikes inside the building.
All of these efforts have resulted in varying degrees of success. But there’s a hidden factor in some decisions to ride or not to ride to work — or, if not quite hidden, at least overlooked by most statistical analyses of bike commuting — and that’s the presence of office showers and changing facilities. In an upcoming issue of Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment, Ralph Buehler of Virginia Tech quantifies just how important these seemingly small amenities can be.
"That moment of realizing that you’re a grown-up - for my generation, that was when you got your driver’s license or car. For young people now, that moment comes when you get your first cellphone."
A quote from Tony Dudzik, senior policy analyst at a California-based think tank, in the recent Reuters article, ‘America’s Generation Y not driven to drive’. The article explores the story behind an important emerging trend:
From 2001 to 2009, the average annual number of vehicle-miles traveled by people ages 16-34 dropped 23 percent, from 10,300 to 7,900, the survey found. Gen Y-ers, also known as Millennials, tend to ride bicycles, take public transit and rely on virtual media.
More than a quarter of Millennials - 26 percent - lacked a driver’s license in 2010, up 5 percentage points from 2000, the Federal Highway Administration reported.
And, it’s not just about cellphones. Check out the rest of the article here.
Andreas Røhl describes his experience as the City of Copenhagen’s Bicycle Programme manager. Andreas manages Copenhagen’s Bicycle Programme and recently joined Urban Systems Ltd. for a temporary term in their Metro Vancouver office. He is participating in a range of active transportation projects throughout Western Canada, including the development of an Active Transportation Master Plan for the City of Vancouver.
With the City of Copenhagen, Andreas focused on bicycle policies and strategies to improve conditions for cycling, and recently led the completion of the Copenhagen’s Cycling Strategy as well as the City’s Design Guidelines to Great Cycle Roads. In addition to his in-depth knowledge of cycling infrastructure, Andreas has extensive experience with cost-benefit analysis, cycling education, and promotional campaigns.
New data highlight that bicyclists in the United States save at least $4.6 billion a year by riding instead of driving…
The average annual operating cost of a bicycle is $308, compared to $8,220 for the average car, and if American drivers replaced just one four-mile car trip with a bike each week for the entire year, it would save more than two billion gallons of gas, for a total savings of $7.3 billion a year, based on $4 a gallon for gas.
Is there anything cities can do to encourage cycling? Portland, for instance, has twice as many bike commuters per 1,000 people as Washington. But maybe that’s just because Portland has nicer weather or more young people. It’s not clear that there’s an actual policy issue here.
Yet in a new new study (PDF) in the journal Transport Policy, Ralph Buehler and John Pucher suggest that cities might actually be able to influence how many cyclists are on the road. Perhaps all they have to do is — and this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise — build more bike lanes and bike paths.
Buehler and Pucher found that the presence of off-road bike paths and on-street bike lanes were, by far, the biggest determinant of cycling rates in cities. And that’s true even after you control for a variety of other factors like how hot or cold a city is, how much rain falls, how dense the city is, how high gas prices are, the type of people that live there, or how safe it is to cycle. None of those things seem to matter quite as much. The results, the authors write, “are consistent with the hypothesis that bike lanes and bike paths encourage cycling.”
Check out the rest of the article here. You can read more coverage of the study here, here and here.
For walking is the ultimate “mobile app.” Here are just some of the benefits, physical, cognitive and otherwise, that it bestows: Walking six miles a week was associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s (and I’m not just talking about walking in the “Walk to End Alzheimers”); walking can help improve your child’s academic performance; make you smarter; reduce depression; lower blood pressure; even raise one’s self-esteem.” And, most important, though perhaps least appreciated in the modern age, walking is the only travel mode that gets you from Point A to Point B on your own steam, with no additional equipment or fuel required, from the wobbly threshold of toddlerhood to the wobbly cusp of senility.
If walking is a casualty of modern life the world over—the historian Joe Moran estimates, for instance, that in the last quarter century in the U.K., the amount of walking has declined by 25 percent—why then do Americans walk even less than people in other countries? Here we need to look not at pedometers, but at the odometer: We drive more than anyone else in the world. (Hence a joke: In America a pedestrian is someone who has just parked their car.) Statistics on walking are more elusive than those on driving, but from the latter one might infer the former: The National Household Travel Survey shows that the number of vehicle trips a person took and the miles they traveled per day rose from 2.32 trips and 20.64 miles in 1969 to 3.35 and 32.73 in 2001. More time spent driving means less time spent on other activities, including walking. And part of the reason we are driving more is that we are living farther from the places we need to go; to take just one measure, in 1969, roughly half of all children lived a mile or more from their school; by 2001 three out of four did. During that same period, unsurprisingly, the rates of children walking to school dropped from roughly half to approximately 13 percent.
In a city as densely populated as Paris, driving your own car around is about as good of an idea as speaking English to every French person you encounter. Fortunately, Paris and similar cities are setup with substantial public transit systems. But for those moments when you need a car or bike, Paris has you covered.
Vélib’ is a new bike-sharing program that started in 2007 and has since grown into a city-wide alternative transit system. There are now almost 20,000 bikes that live at about 1,200 bike stations. These stations are scattered all around Paris’ city center, on average about 1,000 ft from one another. This kind of availability allows for quick and easy transportation, without having to hunt down bikes or places to lock them up.
If something bigger than a bike with basket is required, Paris also has an extensive car-sharing program called Autolib’. Launching in December 2011, Autolib’ operates similarly to Vélib, but for cars. Bolloré’s Blue Car is the vehicle of choice because it is cheap and all electric. The design comes from Pininfarina, an Italian design firm noted for their work with Ferrari.
At launch, 250 cars were placed around Paris in small convoys. All the cars connect to a terminal for charging and accounting. The terminal is used to rent and unlock the vehicle. Drivers can go up to 150 miles on a single charge and speeds can hit 80 mph — but don’t ever expect to go that fast around Paris. These cars are more for commuting, when you need to carry a lot of things, or need to go somewhere that public transit doesn’t go. .
When drivers are finished, they bring the car back to an Autolib’ station and plug in. The car can fully recharge in 8 hours. The 30 kWh lithium-polymer battery is designed with frequent use in mind and can stand to last a long time.
“Unfortunately for car companies,” Jordan Weissmann notedat TheAtlantic.com a couple weeks back, “today’s teens and twenty-somethings don’t seem all that interested in buying a set of wheels. They’re not even particularly keen on driving.”
Now a major new reportfrom Benjamin Davis and Tony Dutzik at the Frontier Group and Phineas Baxandall, at the U.S. PIRG Education Fund, documents this unprecedented trend across a wide variety of indicators.
Theirtwo big findings about young people and driving:
The average annual number of vehicle miles traveled by young people (16 to 34-year-olds) in the U.S. decreased by 23 percent between 2001 and 2009, falling from 10,300 miles per capita to just 7,900 miles per capita in 2009.
The share of 14 to 34-year-olds without a driver’s license increased by 5 percentage points, rising from 21 percent in 2000 to 26 percent in 2010, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
Young people are also making more use of transit, bikes, and foot power to get around. In 2009, 16 to 34-year-olds took 24 percent more bike trips than they took in 2001. They walked to their destinations 16 percent more often, while their passenger miles on transit jumped by 40 percent.
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.