Pedaling in the World

I love my bicycle.  I love that I can ride it to the grocery store, library and yoga studio.  I love that I can work up a sweat in 15 minutes on hilly streets in our neighborhood.  But mostly, I have fun when I’m riding my bike.  I especially love coasting down the hill back to our house at the end of my 25-minute loop I do for my daily exercise.  Natalie often joins me on the loop.  I’ve even realized that bicycling together is a good way to teach traffic safety prior to driver’s training.

Here are some interesting facts about bicycling around the world (from AFAR Magazine, “Bicycles on a Roll” March/April 2012).

Studies show that more bike lanes mean more riders.  And proximity matters.  People living half a mile from a bike path are 20 percent more likely to get on a bike than people living a mile away.  Here’s a neat graph that shows how many miles of bike lanes each city has and what percentage of trips by bicycle are taken in each city.  Portland, Oregon is the top bike commuting city in the United States, with nearly 6 percent of residents biking to work. (Source: John Pucher, Rutgers University)

Unfortunately, bike ownership has declined sharply in China where bikes had been the primary mode of transportation.  As wealth has prompted the population to turn to cars, some cities have closed bike lanes and others have banned two-wheelers from downtown areas.

Number of Cars vs. Bikes in China:

1995:  4,200,000 cars and 670,000,000 bikes

2005:  8,900,000 cars and 435,000,000 bikes

(Source, Earth Policy Institute)

On an upcoming trip to London, we will be pedaling bikes through Hyde Park, thanks to London’s bike-sharing program.  We will be able to pick up bikes at one end of the park  (close to our hotel) and drop them off at the other end of the park (a few blocks from the V&A, one of our favorite museums).  I’ll take pictures and report back in a future post.

I found this 2 ½ minute bike safety video produced by the company that runs London’s bike share program both entertaining and effective in getting its safety points across.   When Natalie watched it, she nodded her approval and said, “It’s digestible.”  “Like a digestive?” I asked, referring to our favorite English biscuit.

Barclays Cycle Hire Code of Conduct

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