Monday, September 17, 2007

A bicycle-friendly city is environment-friendly, too

Image of bicycles in TorontoFrom the Toronto Star, 09.17.07:

Pity our powerful political leaders as they grapple with the complex solutions to global warming. They are so burdened by the task of reducing massive greenhouse gas emissions--such as those from our transportation sector--and so preoccupied by the cost of action, they probably don't even notice the cyclists they pass (or who pass them) on their way to work each day.

Getting people and goods from A to B accounts for about 50 per cent of all Canadian greenhouse gas emissions when activities like car-making, road-building and fuel production are added to tailpipe emissions. Each litre of gasoline burned to operate a motor vehicle produces 2.5 kilograms of greenhouse gases. Emissions from operating a bicycle, on the other hand, are zero.

The issues and obstacles associated with bikes are simple – quite unlike the solutions that generally occupy our leaders, including the illusory promise of GM's electric car (100 years after the first ones were produced); pricey hybrids (often shipped 10,000 kilometres from Japan); or the timeline for the start of the hydrogen revolution (itself dependent on a massive increase in renewable power).

First, more bike lanes, which require a mere 150 centimetres on the side of a road, would produce more bike riders. A 1998 Environics poll found that 70 per cent of Canadians would bike to work for distances that took less than 30 minutes if they had a dedicated bike lane. And where bike lanes have been created in Toronto, the number of cyclists increased by up to 42 per cent, presumably because of the huge untapped potential of Toronto's 950,000 adults who ride a bike. (Read more.)
Great op-ed by a Canadian environmental attorney, who makes the relevant point that Toronto is no colder than Copenhagen, where 30 per cent of citizens commute by bike.

Image: Web capture. Bike the Drive, 2006
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

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