Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Bicycle Adaptation Strategy

I live in a location where many hundreds of cyclists ride by on a nice weekend day. Lance Armstrong really helped sell a lot of bikes around here. Most of these riders are "weekend warriors" only. A relative few of them ride bikes to work or to visit friends or to run errands.

Still, over the past year I've noticed a rise in the number of daily commuters riding by every weekday morning. And the Marin Bicycling Coalition reported a steep rise in the number of riders on Bike to Work Day.

Marin County cyclists broke the record this year by riding on the morning of Bike to Work Day – 3000 cyclists were counted at Marin’s 17 Energizer Stations on May 17 – almost 1300 more than last year! We know there were many more folks riding than were counted, and we applaud you too.
The Coalition also reports that over $30 million have been allocated for bike route enhancements to come. I assume plenty of analysis went into the decisions that granted those funds. It seems that the UK has done such an assessment on the national level.

As Treehugger reports, a study done in the UK found that "Spending money on encouraging cyclists could actually save the government money." The monetary benefits of less traffic congestion and better health could offset the cost of developing better bike-supportive infrastructure even if it led to only a 20% increase in the number of bike trips.
According to the report, each cyclist saves the NHS £28.30 every year, by not having as many heart attacks and other problems. Cycling in London is quite dangerous though, so the average cyclist probably costs the NHS some money in broken legs and other taxi-related illnesses.

Professor Stephen Glaister, an Imperial College London transport expert, warned that, "It is certainly a problem we face in London in that we have succeeded in encouraging more cycling but more cyclists are exposed to death and injury as a result."

Well, sure, but that's why you invest in building safer bike lanes and bike paths to reduce the risk to riders. You'll attract more people back into the habit if it you make it safer. Being a cyclist, I know from experience that one accident or near miss can spook you right off the bike.
The Department for Transport maintains statistics, which show a decline from 1997 to 2005 in cycling in the UK. The average distance travelled per person, per year by bicycle fell 7 miles to 36 miles.

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