When it was first coined, “Save the Planet” seemed like an innocuous proclamation, and something which wouldn’t be critical in “our” lifetime. The decree seemed sweet and hopeful, but in no way an urgent directive. Fast-forward to 2015. Despite continuing environmental regulations, the advent of a population explosion and undeniable global warming have placed a tight chokehold on the life and livelihood of millions of residents of planet earth.
Bicycles are experiencing not only a renaissance, but a genuine and necessary surge. The socially conscious are turning to bikes and electric bikes, not only as available alternative to automotive transport, but as a preferential mode.
To address the growing number of bike and electric bike riders, cities are adding to or promoting bike lanes. By using city-sanctioned bike lanes that follow the path of auto traffic, cyclists do not have to stray too far off a direct path to their destinations. The emphasis on supporting and encouraging bike and electric bike travel has already transformed once-urban cities like Amsterdam, Netherlands, a city in which 50% of transport is on two wheels. Not only is the environment cleaner in cities which have reduced the flow of automobiles, but thousands of pounds/Euros have been saved in transportation costs.
Consider this: e-bikes mean safer streets and less parking spaces – this can be nothing but a boon to local business. Safer streets, which, for example, are similar to the experiences of those who ride electric bikes Sydney, are not only safer for pedestrians, but the cyclists themselves.
The idea of Manhattan, New York city conjures up images of stacked cars, pollutants rising from the street, and car horns blaring – it presents a picture of environmental and noise pollution at its height. But that is not the case today, thanks to the tenacity of environmentalists. A protected bike lane was installed on legendary 9th in New York City and there’s been a 56-percent reduction in injuries to all street users, with a 57-percent reduction in injuries to cyclists and 29-percent reduction to pedestrians. Protected bike lanes were also added to Allen and Pike Streets, also in NYC, with excellent results: 35-percent decrease in both motor vehicle and bicycle crashes.
Other cities in the world are watching – and many are reacting. Fro the last decade, Buenos Aires experienced a transit revolution. Instead of focusing on the impact of the automobile, public transit concentrated on cycling, on people and the pedestrian infrastructure. Residents report faster commutes, more transit options and greater safety.
Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen
In Copenhagen, Denmark, people who ride their bike to work or school has increased to 41-percent, 5-percent more than two years ago. Reportedly, Copenhagers who opt for a bike or electric bike span a huge age range, from small children to the elderly, and everyone deems the “upgrade” as a very positive change. The bike lanes are in the process of being enlarged from three bikes across to four, and traffic lights are also being designed to accommodate the two-wheel traveler.
But perhaps the most impressive transformation has happened in Sydney, Australia, where there has been a 100-percent increase in bike transportation over the past three years. The 2013 Australian Bicycle Council conducted a survey and it was discovered that 31,600 electric bikes Sydney residents ride their bikes weekly. The city is in the process of building a 200 km bike network, featuring dedicated bike paths for increased safety. The Sydney Park Cycling Centre offers free “Cycling in the City” and “Bike Maintenance” courses. City staff is actually trained to offer expert advice, and can help cyclists plan routes and choose a bike to buy.
Bring on the Bike Lanes
With the phenomenal success these cities have experienced, one can only hope that other urban cities will take their lead and implement new policies and structures into their cities’ streets. Bike lanes! Let’s have more of them.