Saturday, August 30, 2008

Cycling's Widening Patchwork World

Another article about bicycling is scheduled for the front page in Sunday's Washington Post. Cycling's Widening Patchwork World: U.S. Lags Behind Two-Wheeled Boom describes some of the measures countries are using to encourage more people to use bikes for transportation:

"Commuters in Northern Europe have been lured out of their cars by bike lanes, secure bike parking and easy access to mass transport. At the same time, steep automobile taxes, congestion-zone fees and go-slow rules have made inner-city driving a costly pain in the neck. In the Netherlands, where such carrot-and-stick policies have been in place for decades, 27 percent of all trips are by bike."

We can do the same here in the states. It takes a commitment from all levels of government to start providing transportation alternatives for everyone, including good bike facilities.

"Germans are 10 times more likely than Americans to ride a bike and three times less likely to get hurt while doing so. On any given workday, more commuters park their bikes at train and subway stations in Tokyo (704,000) than cycle to work in the entire United States (535,000), according to the Tokyo government and the U.S. Census."

While the Census figures are probably quite low, especially now that gas prices are in the $4 range, the comparison with Tokyo is interesting. Among the many services the Japanese provide cyclists is a unique robot-controlled parking facility at a Tokyo subway station. See a short video about the system that was part of the Post article.

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