Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bicycling ahead

Urban bicycling is going to be safer when marked bike lanes are painted on the road or when lanes are physically separated from motor vehicle traffic. In some European cities, for example, bike lanes are elevated, being on the same level as the pedestrian side-walk next to it. Many cities now have an infrastructure that includes a network of bike paths under- or overpassing streets and highways. Sometimes, bike trails shortcut through parks or neighborhoods giving you an advantage in reaching your destination over others who got stuck in car traffic. Another encouraging sign of city-bicycling awareness is that municipal transportation systems, whether based on bus, light rail, train or subway, provide options to bring on your bike.
The bikeability of cities is typically evaluated with indexes. A recent article [1] explains, why measuring the proportion of female bicyclists might be a more significant indicator of the bicycle-friendliness of urban areas than bikeability indexes. Whereas the ratio of male versus female cycling trips is 2:1 in the U.S., in the Netherlands (with an excellent bicycling infrastructure) 55 percent of all riders are woman. The share of people in the U.S., relying on bikes for transportation, is below 2 percent, while it is 12 percent in Germany and 27 percent in the Netherlands.
Whoever is sitting on the bike deserves a safe urban environment whether bicycling for fun, to work or to his/her favorite destination in town.

Keywords: bicycle tracks, urban infrastructure, municipal planning, sustainable transportation, gender bias

[1] Linda Baker: Shifting GearsTo boost urban bicycling, figure out what woman want. Scientific American October 2009, Volume 301, Number 4, pages 28-29.

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