What this blog is about

Bicycle commuting, bicycle touring, bicycle racing; bicycle ADVENTURING.
To the grocery store, up a mountain, across the country or to the finish line--
it's all an adventure.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Cycling for Everyone

If you care anything at all about commuting by bike, you have GOT to watch this presentation by John Pucher (professor at Rutgers University), Cycling for Everyone. 

Mr.Pucher shares with us the policies, structures and attitudes that make commuting by bike in Germany, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands not just safe and convenient, but also incredibly pleasant. 

It is a lengthy 70 minutes long, but divide it up into  30, 20 or even 10 minute chunks if you can't sit for an hour. Mr.Pucher is quite animated, though and there are lots of slides to accompany his presentation.

Here are some quick facts I learned:

  • % of total trips by bike in USA 1%, Italy & France 3%, Germany & Sweden 10%, Finland 11%, Denmark 18%, Netherlands 27%.
  • 90% of bike trips in Denmark are utilitarian.
  • The #1 reason people don't bike commute is the perception that it's unsafe.
  • Cyclists deaths per 100 million km cycled in USA 5.7%, Netherlands 1.2%, Denmark 1%. The Dutch do not wear helmets yet have the safest cycling in the world! It's bike policies and infrastructure that makes bicycling safe! Not just helmets.
  • The more cyclists there are, the safer cycling becomes. Drivers are more likely to be sensitive if they're a cyclist too and more aware if they know to expect cyclists. Demand for cycling facilities also increases.
  • On newly zoned "car-free" streets, merchants complained that they would be put out of business. What they found was business boomed and other merchants asked to be car-free, too!
  • For every hour that you ride, you add more than an hour to your expected healthy lifetime. Driving subtracts.
  • The average Canadian spends 2 months of their paycheck working just for their car! If you add the time spent working to afford a car to your commute, a bicycle is definitely faster!
Finland, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands have got it down! These are not poor, technologically behind countries. People can afford cars, but due to culture, government policy and traffic infrastructure/facilities- bicycle commuting is safe, convenient, fast and pleasant.

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