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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Why 12 per cent of all trips in Vancouver are by bike – It’s simpler than you think [Green Energy Futures]


As anybody who has seen astronaut Chris Hadfield’s incredible images from space can attest, the single most prominent human-made features of cities like Toronto,Windsor or Edmonton are roads. As seen from space the new Anthony Henday ring road forms a dramatic necklace around our home base of Edmonton.
Ever since the 1950s the car has been the accidental architect of our cities. Billions of dollars have been dedicated to roads, overpasses, tunnels and other car infrastructure.
But this single minded dedication to making sure cars got to where they wanted to go as fast as they could has had some pretty serious unintended consequences. 
As our country becomes more and more urban it’s clear that while our cities will continue to grow in size and population there’s only so many roads that lead to the places people want to go. This leads to everyone’s favourite way to wile away a few hours a day – traffic gridlock.
The separated bike lanes on Dunsmuir in Vancouver. Photo by <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tree-tangled/4731876787/">Vanessa K.</a>
The separated bike lanes on Dunsmuir in Vancouver. Photo by Vanessa K.

As Andrew Coyne says in Macleans “Traffic is slowly strangling our cities.” Increasing traffic uses more fuel, increases pollution and commute times and Coyne quotes a German study which finds that “being in heavy traffic triples your risk of a heart attack within an hour.”
Enter the bicycle. It is the most efficient form of transportation on the planet. You can move five times faster than walking and go three times as far on the same amount of caloric energy. Cars use 50 to 80 times more energy than a bike to travel the same distance and as any public heath expert will tell you North America is suffering from rising obesity rates.

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