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Go Back: Home > Earth Island Journal > Issues > Spring 2014

Four Wheels Bad, Two Wheels Good

graphic depicting a bicycleSome good news: Bicycling is hot. In many cities, a bike is a must-have accessory for hipsters, while in the ‘burbs spandex-clad weekend warriors rule the roads as they imitate the Tour de France. Major cities around the world have launched bike-sharing programs, and in the US the number of people commuting by bike has gone up 60 percent in the last decade. Whether they’re eager for more exercise, passionate about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, or just desperate to stay out of gridlock, more and more people are hopping onto their bikes. Bicycle designed by Olivier Guin from the Noun Project

Sources: Copenhagenzine, League of American Bicyclists, CNN 3/3/2013

Amsterdam:
The Venice of the North is consistently ranked the world’s top city for bikeability by cyclist organizations. Biking is ingrained in the city’s culture, and the streets are packed with cyclists. The city’s pervasive 30 km/hour speed limit slows down automobile traffic and helps keep cyclists safe.
Portland:
Consistently at or near the top for American cities, Portland boasts 260 miles of bike lanes. Nearly 10 percent of Portland residents commute by bike, and the city has a vibrant cycling community that hosts an estimated 2,100 bike events annually. The city’s Create-a-Commuter program delivers bikes, equipment, and lessons on safety to low-income residents.
Rio de Janeiro:
As part of its civic improvements in preparation for hosting the World Cup and the Olympics, Rio has added bike lanes to the boulevards along its famed beaches. The city is steadily expanding its network of bike lanes and has launched a popular bike-sharing program.
Copenhagen:
Copenhagen, like many other European cities, is doing its best to challenge Amsterdam for the title as the world’s most bike-friendly city. At least a third of the city’s residents commute to work by bike, and the local government is aiming to get that figure to 50 percent. The Danish capital stands out with its network of two-wheels-only bicycle “superhighways.”
Tokyo:
This mega-city of 13 million people is working to make the streets safe for cyclists. Motorists are required to take a rigorous training class on how to drive around cyclists, and the city is consistently adding protected bike lanes. Since 30 percent of Tokyo commuters get around with a combination of bike and rail, the expansion of the city’s subway to 24-hour service is expected to boost bike ridership.

   

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