Copenhagen, already one of the best places to be a bicycle commuter (up there with the Netherlands, China, and Japan?) is building a network of bicycle trails to encourage even more people to commute by bicycle. Excerpts of the story:
For the superhighway project, Copenhagen and 21 local governments teamed up to ensure that there were contiguous, standardized bike routes into the capital across distances of up to 14 miles. “We want people to perceive these routes as a serious alternative,”
“Anything we can do to get less pollution and less traffic is going to mean healthier, maybe happier, people.”
within Copenhagen, biking was already the best option for many kinds of trips. “If you want to drive a car for a medium distance, you know you are a fool,” he said. “You are going to waste time.”
Danish statistics show that every 6 miles biked instead of driven saves 3 1/2 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions and 9 cents in health care costs. But many cite happiness among the chief benefits of bicycle commuting.
Cynics will say: it can’t work in Pittsburgh: too many hills, too many potholes, too little space, too much snow. I would answer: Pittsburgh should build more trails along the rivers, build trails along the busways, design a connected network of trails and paths, fill the potholes (good way to generate jobs), plow the trails in the winter (more jobs). Bicycle commuters save space, since a single occupancy car is such a space hog compared to a bicycle. Pittsburghers are tough. We’ll find a way! And we need the exercise.
I’m a cynic. If you had explained what we have now in Pittsburgh to me in 1999, I would have given many well-reasoned arguments as to why it would have no chance of working. I probably would have cynically laughed at the ideas.
Easiest way to do this in Pittsburgh is for volunteers to go door to door through the neighborhoods and ask people if they’d be willing to have their street be car free – no parking, no motorists, no moving vans, nuh-en.
String them together and, as the ynzrs say, “wala,” there’s your bike boulevard.