Chapter 2 REASONS FOR COMMUTING BY BIKE
five miles. In the US, 40 per cent of all urban trips are two miles or less. (These sort of short trips tend also to be less energy efficient as cars do fewer miles-per-gallon when engines ‘run cold’.) Test after test has shown that for short urban journeys during rush hour peaks, there is nothing – but nothing – to beat a cyclist. A four-mile journey in the center of London takes 22 minutes by bike, half an hour by tube, 40 minutes by car (even in a Ferrari), 62 minutes on a bus, and an hour and a half by walking. GREEN/PEACE Road transport is responsible for 22 percent of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions and it’s even higher in the US. Bikes are part of the solution, not part of the problem. The carbon footprint of a person on a bike is famously low. Bikes don’t have exhaust pipes, they don’t emit deadly pollutants, they don’t slurp war-mongering fossil fuels. ECONOMIC/CYCLE Congestion is defined as a ‘negative externality which arises when the volume of traffic exceeds the free-flow capacity of the link or junction and in such cases each additional vehicle causes delays to other vehicles and suffers in turn from a slower, and thus more costly, journey.’ Translation: congestion is a time and money sink. The loss to the UK economy is around £20 billion a year. The losses tot up through time and employee delays during a working day; cars emitting pollutants into the atmosphere and engines being used inefficiently; and health costs, including treating people with respiratory diseases, and absenteeism caused by stress. In May 2007, Measuring the economic value of cycling, a report commissioned by the Government-funded Cycling England, found that a 20 percent increase in cycling trips would yield a cumulative saving to the UK economy of £500m by 2015. A 50 percent increase would lead to a saving of £1.3 billion. Investment in cycling shows payback of at least 3:1. In other words, for every dollar spent on cycling, society gets back three dollars in return. SAVE/CASH No fuel bills. No depreciation. No parking tickets. No car tax. No insurance. No car park fees. No congestion charge. No train ticket. No toll fees. That’s if you ditch your car completely. That might be a leap too far but cycling to work could help get rid of your second car, saving you money. GROWING/SUCCESS Portland in Oregon has seen bike traffic increase by 190 percent since 2000/2001. According to the City of Portland Auditor’s Office, 18 percent of Portlanders use bikes either as primary or secondary vehicles. In 2008, Portland’s proportion of women bicyclists reached an all-time high of 32 percent, up from 31 percent in 2007. In New York, cycle use has doubled since 2002 and in 2007-8 the rate of increase accelerated, with numbers up by 35 percent. City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, who herself frequently cycles to work in New York, wants to double the number of bike commuters again by 2015. The city of Melbourne, Australia, has seen a 42 percent increase in the number of cyclists, 2006-2008. In London, cycle use has grown by 91 percent since 2000. London is now committed to spending a billion dollars on making the city more and more bike friendly. Success breeds success. As more and more people discover the many benefits of cycling, more people join in. It’s a virtuous circle. Or cycle.
“We have new customers who would have previously thought cycling in the city dangerous. The 40-plus folks are some of the latest converts. They’re seeing women in heels and guys in suits riding on the streets. There is a real ‘if they can do it, so can I’ feeling going around.” Charlie McCorkell, owner of Bicycle Habitat in New York
50 pages of bicycling to work goodness, presented by Momentum Magazine.