The sprawling cities of the modern world face many problems - most are polluted, congested, and plagued by social immobility. These are problems that urban cycling development can do much to counter.
Developing a coherent and effective cycling network has a number of benefits.
The people living within cycle friendly cities will become healthier through personal fitness levels and reduced atmospheric pollution (which has a positive effect on climate change, too). Copenhagen, lauded as one of the worlds most cycle friendly cities, reduces its emissions by over 90,000 tons of CO2 each year and has repeatedly been voted one of the world’s most livable cities.
Developing cycling infrastructure also makes economic sense. Overcrowded public transport systems are alleviated and the many useful business hours wasted in traffic jams can be eliminated. It’s for this reason that cycling has become popular in congested cities – London’s ‘Boris’ bikes have seen huge uptake within groups making regular short journeys. The same is true in Mexico City, where bikes travel an average of 6kph faster during busy periods.
Cycling also aids social mobility and cohesion, with routes cutting paths through areas representing all segments of society (rather than running above or below them). Even the least fortunate in society can participate within a cycling culture, something definitely not true of the isolation promoted by individuals traveling in cars.
In short, bicycles are superior economically, environmentally and socially. Northern European countries have been making moves to realise urban cycling’s possibilities for decades, and cities such as Beijing, Mexico City and New York have all made attempts to follow suit in recent years.
They’ve all realised that a cycling culture is self-perpetuating, and creates massive benefits for cities reorienting life towards the bicycle.
The Huez* team is enthralled by the possibilities of these cities, and the lessons that our own city, London, has to learn from them. It’s why we visit them, blog about them, and do our very best to share our knowledge of them with you.More stories