The bicycle has been a part of global culture for more than a century as a form of recreation, fitness, and fun. It has evolved significantly from its rudimentary beginnings but still, the essence remains the same. The emergence of global warming, rising energy costs, traffic congestion and obesity have made cycling even more important than ever before. The bike is a green, healthy and inexpensive means of transportation that has been and still is looked over by a large majority of people.
The realization by society of the perils lying ahead compounded with a push by advocates and government for change has lead to great things for cyclists. The level of infrastructure development and socioeconomic change in recent years has spurred new ideas and initiatives never before possible.
Over the past five years or so, cities globally have allocated resources to developing cycling infrastructure. Through improved roadways, cycling paths, bridges and cycle share programs, the transition from transit or driving to a bike has never been easier. It is making cycling as safe, green and economical as possible that has changed the tune of people everywhere. Better yet, with key cities worldwide like Montreal, Melbourne and London getting the ball rolling the movement is now snowballing into a global initiative.
Cities were planned in a specific manner to work for cars, trucks, trains, planes and ships. Bicycles were never really considered in the urban planning process until recently. The addition of bikes to a traditional urban setting has been a bit of a David and Goliath story. Sharing roadways with cars, paths with pedestrians and finding no friends with either, safety was merely a dream. With recent shifts in government spending and cycling infrastructure development we are now seeing separated cycling paths, bike specific bridges, and we are coming closer to an acceptance of bikes in an urban setting. In many cases it can now be faster, cheaper, safer and greener to ride a bike than to hop in a car.
Making things even easier has been the addition of Bike Share programs to major metropolitan areas around the world. Whether it is called BIXI, CycleShare, CityCycle or anything else, the concept is the same. Government sponsored rental bikes speckled around the city which are simple, affordable, and easy to use. The function of these programs is as simple as getting more people on bikes. Making it easy for those who wouldn’t usually to get on a bike and experience cycling – it is that simple.
We may not live in a perfect world but we are also losing all excuses for not riding a bike. Around the world the bicycle is becoming safer, greener, easier and more affordable than ever before. So, what is the moral of the story? This month try to do something new on a bike. Try riding to work, getting groceries, running errands or just going for a ride. Chances are it will be a fun, healthy and inexpensive alternative.