The city of Sydney, Australia recently constructed a separate lane for bicycle riders, which enables them to avoid the dangers of automobiles. Following the roadway addition (and some other measures), bike ridership skyrocketed by an impressive 82%.
Results from a new Sydney study showed that people are much more likely to ride bikes if they have separate lanes and don’t have to worry about being hit by automobiles or other people’s doors.
The Australian government is in the process of implementing its 2030 blueprint for a greener city. So far, as part of that, it has implemented a lot more bike lanes — 200 km (125 miles) worth. This approach is very different from that of the United States federal government, which, rather than building infrastructure, is mostly trying to green its transportation by setting minimum fuel efficiency standards for automobiles.
The Australian government surely realizes that bikes are very important to reducing its carbon dioxide and air pollution footprint, since bicycles emit nothing, require minor and low-cost maintenance compared to automobiles, and require no fuel. They are actually the most efficient main mode of transportation.
To top it off, bicycles are made with less material than automobiles. Automobiles require roughly 3,000 pounds of mostly finite materials such as steel, aluminium, copper, plastic, iridium, platinum, and many more materials (for their control electronics too). I’m sure bicycles require a small fraction of that.
So, from a material sustainability point of view, bicycles are also important.
Sydney’s government is also spearheading a program that increases ridership among its citizens in other ways — it wants 10% of the metropolis riding bikes by 2030. It is now in the process of building 55 km of bike lanes as part of that effort. Additionally, it has “decreased speed limits and extensive junction redesigns which give cyclists priority and improve visibility,” the Guardian notes.
One important element in the promotion of public transportation and bicycle reliance is safety. Public transportation vehicles such as buses and trains need to be adequately guarded and safe enough to give users peace of mind and keep them and their property secure.
Similarly, bicyclists should not have to ride among much larger automobiles, which often speed carelessly about. It is great to see Sydney addressing this core issue.