I wish the billionaires working to send us 44 million miles to Mars were focused on enabling 44 million (or more) Americans to ride a bike around their neighborhoods and towns safely and enjoyably.
Bike riding is the ultimate answer to climate change; it improves personal health and creates socially stronger communities.
Bike riding is the ultimate answer to climate change; it improves personal health and creates socially stronger communities. It fits perfectly with the upcoming smart multimodal mobility future. However, we sorely lack quality bicycle infrastructure in the United States today which is tragic.
People who commute to work on a bicycle, I’ve read, have a 50% reduced chance of getting heart disease and a 40% reduced chance of getting cancer. We also know 40% of Americans are obese as are 18% of children (age 2 to 19). Could there be more important reasons to enable everyone living in an urban or suburban area to be able to ride a bike in an appropriate environment? You would think there was already a robust initiative to improve biking infrastructure across the U.S., but there is not.
We only have to look across the Atlantic to see far more healthier biking countries. Several European countries have roughly 40% of the public riding a bike to work. What’s most surprising is that many of these bike commuters ride in the rain, cold, and even snow. Here in the U.S., we have only 0.6% commuting by bike on average, and in a warm weather city such as Los Angeles, that average is barely 2%. There are some pockets in the U.S. where more ride their bikes, such as Washington DC (5%).
I know what it’s like to ride a bike in the U.S., and you sadly have to put your life on the line, and it should not be this way. I’ve commuted to work on a bike in LA; Boulder, Colorado; Santa Fe, New Mexico; and Detroit over the past decade. I ride on the far right of the road. Sometimes there is a striped bike lane to ride in, often there is not. There is an endless line of big cars and trucks blowing by, and all it would take is for one of these drivers to be distracted for a moment and swerve toward me – and end my life. There should be little wonder why so few people bike in our car country. Tragically, 1,000 people died and roughly 500,000 were badly injured last year – just by riding a bike.
Protected bike lanes are the safest when there is some form of a physical barrier between cars and bikes. The problem is we have so few of them.