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Bike the Talk: The green solution to urban transport

When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man. And (unlike subsequent inventions for man’s convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became. Here, for once, was a product of man’s brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it, and of no harm or irritation to others. Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle.

Elizabeth West, Hovel in the Hills

70% of the world’s population now live in cities. And most cities in the world have evolved into automotive centric ones experiencing heavy traffic congestions, billions of hours of delays and gallons of fuel lost. The exhaust from automobiles chokes the air, and carbon emissions add to the worsening global warming problem. Automobiles also exacerbate the increasingly sedentary lifestyles of city people.

We need a radical yet simple solution to urban transport. We need to get back to our bicycles, especially for short distance commutes.  This talk explains why we need to do so:

Cities require a conscious strategy to develop a good biking culture, and here are some of the ways to do so:

1. Establish a good infrastructure with separate biking lanes in towns and cities making it safe to go on two wheels.  Suitable and safe parking lots should be made available near train stations, shopping malls and other public places.  Let’s see how Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital where 37% of the people bike to work,  has achieved this:

DUBLIN BIKE SHARING2.  Introduce novel schemes such as the highly successful bike sharing scheme in Dublin.   450 specially-made bicycles, available from 40 stations in the city, are free for the first half hour of use. The bikes are operated by credit card  The machine is free for the first half an hour, but costs half a euro ($0.67) for the first full hour, and 6.50 euros for four hours. The increasing charges ensure that riders don’t leave them lying around.  Contrary to expectations, only two bikes were stolen in the first 6 months of this innovative introduction.

3. Encourage biking through education campaigns such as this one:

4. Offer technological solutions to make biking easy and convenient. Check out this new cool, foldable “Yike Bike”

4.  Support the cause, and make it known to your urban planners that you wish for a safe, bike friendly city.

This effort by school children in Bangalore, India to go cycling to school is quite heartening. Imagine what a difference it would make if urban authorities or traffic police could make arrangements to cordon off some pathways during peak times for school children to commute safely.

Join the discussion group on Facebook called Everyday Traffic in Singapore, and look out for causes in your city and country.

Let’s the bike the talk, and encourage our city planners to do the same.  As Iris Murdoch says,  “The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart.”

Other links you may be interested in:

1. A fantastic list with 11 videos on the top 11 biking cities of the world which includes Amsterdam, Portland, Copenhagen, Boulder and others

2. According to People and Planet, ” From 1995 to 2005, China’s bike fleet declined by 35 per­cent, from 670 mil­lion to 435 mil­lion, while private car own­er­ship more than doubled, from 4.2 mil­lion to 8.9 million.”

Will China get back to pedal power?

3.  Can Electric Vehicles Change the World: Part 1/3 A Third Comeback?

4. Treehugger: Rush hour looks better with bikes

5. EWTT: Making Singapore Bicycle Friendly

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Posted by on Apr 29 2010. Filed under Green Transport. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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