Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Britain Embraces the Bicycle

The Independent has an article today headlined "Revolution! Britain Embraces the Bicycle". You can read it here.

Here are a couple of snippets:
Britain is in the grip of a cycling revolution as clogged roads, concern at global warming caused by air pollution and the quest for improved fitness persuade millions to opt for pedal power.

After a decade of stagnation in the number of bicycle journeys, new figures show there has been a dramatic leap in commuters and leisure cyclists focused on Britain's cities and the burgeoning network of cycle routes. In London, trips by bike have increased by 50 per cent in five years to 450,000 per day while figures obtained by The Independent show use of the National Cycle Network, covering 10,000 miles of urban and rural pathways, rose last year by 15 per cent to 232 million journeys.
Of course, Britain is way down the list in number of trips taken by bicycle:
Despite the phenomenal growth, Britain remains near the bottom of the European league of cycle use with just 2 per cent of all journeys made by bike - beating only Spain, Greece and Portugal. The Netherlands tops the league with 27 per cent.
I think the United States is in the same ballpark, 1-2% of trips by bicycle.

Separately, there's an article about Why Copenhagen is so Wonderful for Biking. Basically, they made a commitment in the 1970s to promote bike usage, which had reached a real low.
There are many reasons why Copenhagen, a city of 1.8 million, is thronged with cyclists. But mostly it is because the bicycle holds the same status as public transport when it comes to planning and funding matters. Bike paths and routes are clearly marked and often separated from cars and white vans by raised kerbs. The bike lanes even have their own traffic signals and where they meet cars, bicycles have right of way...

Some 32 per cent of workers cycle to work, a figure that traffic planners want to increase to 40 per cent.

For visitors or occasional cyclists there is the City Bikes programme, funded by advertising. Cyclists pay a refundable deposit to have unlimited use of a bike.
Another cool feature; if you drink too much, you call a cab for a ride and they have a bike rack they can slap on and take the bike at no extra charge.

It's breaking out all over the Commonwealth. This article is from Melbourne, Australia.
Cycling has become so popular that VicRoads is recording the number of riders along the city's bike paths. Initial results show at least 4000 people are cycling in and out of the CBD each day.

Some routes have become so popular that cyclists are experiencing their own version of peak hour. The results also reveal that more people are riding bikes on weekdays than weekends.
G'Day, mate!

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