Why it’s time cities paid more attention to cycling and walking

Cyclists on bike lane

Cities like Paris are blazing a cycling trail worth following, what with the Mayor’s plans to increase bike lanes from 700 to 1,400 miles by 2020. Now that should get the cycling juices flowing. Other cities are also very bike-friendly but several more can decide to make cycling and walking a friendlier endeavour. There are enormous benefits to it, not the least among them being;

It is good for the environment

A reduction in carbon-related emissions in the form of embodied energy and the fuel consumed by cars are only two benefits to the environment. Air pollution caused by toxic fumes produced by some cars is also likely to be reduced when cycling and walking are embraced more in our cities.

It reduces congestion

An increase in the number of cars on our roads has often been blamed for the high traffic congestion in a lot of our cities. You can see how slowly cars move in heavy traffic, and one can only imagine how much of a positive impact a comprehensive cycling policy can have on the dreadful traffic situation.  

It’s good for society

The more vulnerable in society like kids, the aged and the disabled can enjoy dedicated cycling and walking lanes without looking over their shoulders for oncoming vehicles. Further, cars play a part in the urban heat island effect. The role of cars in the urban heat island effect is also significantly reduced with fewer cars on the road.  

But then…..

As nice as it all sounds, the construction of more cycling lanes isn’t all there is to the story. Having to ride your bike for a mile or two to work could be quite an exercise, and you are going to need to shower just after dismounting. You see how challenging it could all get if your workplace offers no shower facilities, and there is none close by?  

Further, protection from the harsh sunlight (and the rains) should not be left out of the conversation. Cyclists and pedestrians alike will be exposed to the elements of the weather and that could potentially discourage people from abandoning their comfortable car ride for a bike. Shading, adequate lighting and security at night should be provided to make the whole experience a fulfilling one.

Finally, cycling and walking are not isolated concepts from the bigger picture. Citing homes, workplaces, leisure and community centres near one another is about the biggest factor that determines the mode of transportation required to meet these needs. Dedicated cycling and walking lanes are only a part of the holistic sustainable urban design process and not a standalone factor.

The takeaway? Providing more cycling lanes is an encouraging first step towards encouraging mainstream cycling to work, school, etc. But beyond the cycling lanes, there is the need for ancillary services like shading, security, parking, shower and changing facilities to encourage cycling and walking. It’s refreshing to see bike-sharing services pitching in to help tackle some of these challenges.

Do you love cycling? What is the experience of cycling in your city?

Photo by Adrian Williams on Unsplash

Some information sourced from https://www.thelocal.fr/20191016/why-paris-cyclists-are-more-numerous-than-ever

Boat Sekyere

Boat Sekyere

Boat is a valuer fascinated by sustainable urban land use planning. He was recently selected as a Local Pathways Fellow of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN Youth) - a global Fellowship of 128 young leaders who will champion SDG 11 in their cities. When he's not reading another e-book, he's out photographing an event (@rsbpictures) or cycling in his hood, binge listening to his favorite podcasts. Say hi at boat.cridbox@gmail.com

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