The only things worse than cyclists are tandem riders.
According to Lawrence Solomon, an executive director of Urban Renaissance Institute and one of Canada’s leading environmentalists, cycling used to be a great benefit to cities. In an op-ed for the Financial Post, Solomon claims that in the 1980’s, the bicycle “blessed cities with economic and environmental benefits,” as it reduced the number of cars on the road which in turn, eased traffic.
Solomon also writes the bicycle, “saved wear and tear on the roads, easing municipal budgets; it reduced auto emissions, easing air pollution; it reduced the need for automobile parking, increasing the efficiency of land use; and it helped keep people fit, too.”
Today, however, cycling is more negative than positive.
Excluding the obvious problem of Lycra, Solomon explains that bike lanes “now consume more road space than they free up, they add to pollution as well as reducing it, they hurt neighborhoods and business districts alike, and they have become a drain on the public purse.”
In the United Kingdom, London is a great example of how cycling has become a detriment cities.
The former mayor of London, Boris Johnson, created a “cycling revolution” in the form of a public bicycle hiring scheme. The scheme saw rentable bikes in docking stations spring up around the city. Although the concept was well received, it has now proven to be a large source of congestion for daily commuters due to the many bike lanes, which the Transport for London (TfL) call “cycle superhighways.”
These bike lanes, which are mostly underused, have forced traffic to move at a snail’s pace as cars are unable to use the entirety of the road to maneuver.
According to a City of London report, cited by Solomon, “The most significant impact on the City’s road network in the last 12 months has been the construction and subsequent operation of TfL’s cycle superhighway … areas of traffic congestion can frequently be found on those roads.”
The damage of the bike lanes was even brought up in a parliamentary debate when Lord Nigel Lawson said they have damaged London more than “almost anything since the Blitz.”
Due to the immense amount of traffic caused by bike lanes, the pollution levels of the city have risen. The main victims of this pollution, ironically, are cyclists.
Solomon, who cites a study by the London School of Medicine, explains that cyclists inhale 2.3 times more soot than people who walk. This is because cyclists “breathe more deeply and at a quicker rate than pedestrians while in closer proximity to exhaust fumes … Our data strongly suggest that personal exposure to black carbon should be considered when planning cycling routes,” the London School of Medicine report suggests.
Not only are cities spending a large amount of money on cycling schemes, Paris aims to become the “cycling capital of the world” by spending 150 million euros on the issue, bike lanes cost businesses money as they typically replace lanes that accommodate street parking, which can heavily impact businesses that rely on street parking to operate.
Oregon, which has a large number of cyclists, has attempted to fix the problem by implementing a sales tax on new bicycles. The senator who co-wrote the bill explained that legislators “felt that bicycles ought to contribute to the system.”
“In the U.K., cyclists are mocked as “mamils” (middle-aged men in Lycra); in U.S. inner cities they’re seen as the preserve of “white men with white-collar jobs” furthering gentrification,” Solomon writes. “Almost everywhere they’re seen as discourteous, and as threats to the safety of pedestrians.”
Granted, mocking cyclists is something every motorist has done since the first Model T.
Featured Image Via Flickr/Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious
Sources: Financial Post