How Cities Can Tap Into a Growing Renewable: Pedal Power

Driving to the grocery store, a café, or to work in a dense urban area can turn even a short trip into an unexpectedly long commute. Congested streets, difficulty finding parking, and the stress of navigating downtown avenues all add up. While an annoyance for residents, there is also a real and significant cost to the environment. Slow-moving and idling cars pollute downtown centers, and are a blight to look at. City officials and urban planners attempt to address these problems by encouraging mass-transit use, yet it is possible that a simpler answer exists. One idea: encourage pedal power.

Only about 1% of all city commutes are made on bicycles, but in recent years this number has begun to grow. By increasing the number of bike lanes, and through the implementation of bike-share programs, cities can hope to drastically slash carbon emissions and trillions of dollars in expenses allocated to roads, fuel and infrastructure. Particularly appealing is the low price of making such a shift. By nudging residents to adopt cycling as a commuting option, a simple change in behavior can effect tremendous results.

While only one part of a greater climate solution, encouraging cycling as an option to residents can go a long way in improving driving, living, and environmental conditions in US cities. What is needed is strong leadership at the city level to push residents to adopt these new behaviors. To find out how your city can begin to advance climate solutions, check out the resources and join other leaders at Path to Positive Communities.

What If Cycling Became a Whole Lot More Popular?

By Laura Bliss | City Lab | November 17, 2015

About 1 percent of all urban trips are made by bike in the U.S. It’s a tiny share, especially when compared to stand-out cycling countries such as the Netherlands, Denmark, China, and Japan, or even the global rate, which is 6 percent.

Still, American cyclists are growing in number. What would the social impact be if that growth expanded dramatically—both in the U.S. and around the world?

Pretty significant, according to a joint report by UC Davis and the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. The world might be able to save $24 trillion over driving expenses, and trim CO2 emissions by nearly 11 percent, compared to a scenario where transit trends continued as usual.

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