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Bicycling in Cities

Forget electric, fuel cell and solar powered vehicles, the answer to the world’s fossil fuel crisis is here and it’s been right under our noses for over 200 years. Bicycles aren’t just for the guys in tight spandex or your 10 year old nephew anymore. More Americans than ever are leaving their car in the garage and using a bicycle to run errands, commute to work or simply exercise

Cities like Portland, Seattle, and New York are at the forefront of the inevitable bike revolution. Considered the gold standard of “bike friendly” communities, Portland, Oregon has 180 miles of bike lanes and 79 miles of off street bike paths. On the other coast, New York recently set up the largest bike share system in the nation, featuring 600 stations and 10,000 bikes spread throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Even cities not traditionally considered “bike friendly” are finding ways to take cars off the road and make bicycling safer and more viable. Politicians and city officials are taking notice of the growing culture. Biking is a way for cities to kill three birds with one stone; more bikes means fewer cars on the road resulting less traffic congestion, less air pollution, and an overall healthier populace.

Substituting cycling for driving is a great way to save a lot of money. According to Commute Solutions, a round trip commute of 10 miles, feasible for even the most novice bikers, saves around $10 a day. With around 250 work days in the year, you’re looking at $2,500 in savings. Couple that with the average annual cost of owning and maintaining a car, $7,179, and we’re talking serious money. Suddenly the $500 price tag on that shiny new Trek doesn’t seem so steep.

Ditching your car in a commuter hell like Miami has seemingly endless benefits, blissfully gliding past the 5:30PM gridlock on US-1 can be a religious experience. But even with the addition of bike lanes and a city sponsored bike share program, some view a sprawling city like Miami as “un-bike friendly.” While a series of high profile hit and run accidents sparked outrage from the bike community, the fact remains that any means of transportation is dangerous. While bike lanes are a start, they will never completely protect cyclists from 3,000 pound steel machines traveling at 60 mph. There is a certain inherent risk in every outdoor activity that can never be eliminated.

Even if you cannot ride your bike to work, those looking to cut down on their car usage should start making some of their shorter trips by bike. According to the US Department of Transportation, 50% of the everyday trips Americans make are less than 3 miles. Whether you can use your bike as a car replacement really comes down to where in the city you live. Labeling a city like Miami as unfriendly to bikers because of its size is simply unfair. The growing number of bike lanes and paths means you’re only limited by your cardio. Always wear a helmet, stay alert, and pedal hard.

 

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0 0 570 20 November, 2012 Featured November 20, 2012

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