BY: RHIANN MOORE
Although any automobile driver will tell you that cyclists are nightmares on wheels, they are actually doing a lot for the world around them. After all, with desperate needs to reduce air pollution and promote a healthy lifestyle – why is it that local governments keep failing to encourage the clear solution?
While many cities, like Copenhagen and Portland, serve as amazing examples for thriving bicycle communities, other major cities are failing to make cycling a comfortable and enjoyable way to get through the morning commute. Despite the fact that over 50 per cent of the human population knows how to bike, major cities like Toronto fail to keep up with the times when it comes to bicycle safety.
Bicyclist commuters have been proven to be healthier and happier, but there is a lot more to it than that. In a time when stable jobs are hard to come by, cycling offers massive job creation. There are presently more people working in the bicycle industry than in the mining industry and the more people cycle, the more jobs there will be. Whether it’s in bicycle production, services, tourism or other facets of the industry, there can be no doubt of the potential economic impact. And unlike many other job heavy industries, it doesn’t have to slow down to prevent air pollution.
It might seem like too hefty a goal to some, but Copenhagen (AKA The City of Cyclists) was once just another car-clogged busy city. But, they set their sets high and over a short period of time they were able to transform their city. Now 52 per cent of those living in Copenhagen bicycle to work. Cycling has become a part of their identity – they made sure it was safe, fast and simple and the people flocked to it. And why wouldn’t they? Cycling is healthy, affordable and environmentally friendly. Investing in cycling helps cut costs on transportation, environmental efforts and health budgets, but major cities fail to make it a safe way to travel.
Organizations like the World Bicycle Relief have also made a wonderful effort to bring the power of bicycles to developing countries, where they are making an even more dramatic difference. This allows children and adults to reduce their commute times by 75 per cent, allowing people to be more productive with less fatigue. For many people in rural and impoverished regions, walking is their only form of transport. Through cycling, they are able to have access to essential goods and services as well as gain independence, travel long distances and thrive in their day-to-day life.
With cycling proving itself as not only a viable option, but also an ideal one for jobs, transport, environmental impact and just overall health and happiness it’s time for cities to catch up. Even though cars and cabs might complain about the installation of bike lanes, the fact is they encourage a much preferable way of getting from point A to point B for both the cyclists and the air around them.