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Sunday, August 31, 2008

More on bicycles as transportation.

There is an article in today's Washington Post about commuting by bicycle.

While the article is quite long, it can be summarized quite simply: bicycle lanes and secure parking are two of the keys to getting commuters out of their cars and onto bicycles. Bicycle lanes, as opposed to bicycle "trails", separate bicyclists from pedestrians and runners as well as from cars, buses and trucks. By reducing speed and weight differences, safety is greatly enhanced.

Unfortunately, in the USA, few cities have made a serious effort to make commuting by bicycle safe and attractive. Admittedly, dedicated bicycle lanes and secure parking are not cheap but the potential savings, in terms of reduced traffic congestion and pollution (including greenhouse gas emissions), seem to make this a worthwhile investment.

In addition to the public infrastructure investment, help will be needed from employers. Secure parking is a part of it but employees are simply not going to commute by bicycle if, having arrived hot and sweaty, they must spend the rest of the day in significant discomfort. Their colleagues may find the smell somewhat distressing too! Showers and locker rooms will have to be provided to compensate for the high heat and humidity of summers in most of the USA but the return on investment from a reduction in employer paid parking will offset much, if not all, of this cost.

Given the cost of gasoline, and the time wasted in rush hour traffic, a serious effort to encourage commuting by bicycle is a worthwhile component of a rational transportation plan that combines private vehicles with public transportation.

Read the full article here:

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