Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bikes VS Cars – Ride or Drive

There has been much debate in the mayoralty races in Canada’s largest city regarding the best way to get around town.

Some local wanna-be mayors are in full favour of adding bike lanes to busy Toronto streets, while others are opposed.

Those for them say they make it safer for cyclists, as it provides a lane dedicated to their chosen mode of transportation.

Those against say it takes away a lane from drivers, adding to traffic congestion.
Cycling in Canada isn’t a year-round method of travel. There are those brave – some might say crazy – souls, that will peddle their way around town in -30C wind chills, through the snow-covered streets in our typically Canadian winters.

However, even these rare cyclists aren’t able to hit their bikes during an ice-storm – it’s physically impossible to get enough traction on a standard bicycle when the sidewalks, walkways and roads are pure sheets of ice.

Cycling in Canada sadly is limited to the warmer months – spring, summer and fall. And even in these months, the challenges of Canadian weather can force even the most die-hard cycling enthusiast into a climate controlled car.

Try explaining to your potential employer why you are soaked, as you slosh into your chair during a job interview.

But does that mean we shouldn’t be investing in alternative modes of transportation for our urban centers?

Cycling is good for the environment, is good for exercise, and takes up a much smaller footprint on our streets, meaning it is generally better for traffic flow.

On top of all that, cycling doesn’t require oil-based fossil fuels from environmentally uncaring companies like British Petroleum (BP). BP still hasn’t fully stopped their leaking oil well which began polluting thousands of miles of wetlands along the Gulf of Mexico back in April. Scientists say it could take decades before the area is fully restored to what it was before the oil spill.

Not to single out BP – though it isn’t hard to do as their lack of planning is quite evident in their mismanagement of their own product’s storage, refinement and transportation. Other oil companies have had environmental accidents – some resulting in disasters like BP. Prior to BP’s fiasco in the Gulf, Exxon was known for its mega-oil tanker leak the Valdez in 1989 where about 750,000 barrels of crude oil slunk across Alaska to California.

Yes, taking away a lane of traffic from cars will aggravate drivers – as it should.
If more of us got pissed off at the cyclist whizzing past us, as we sat idling in our gas-based polluting automobiles, then maybe more of us would switch to cleaner peddle-power.

Unfortunately, many big city dwellers just curse, swear, and sometimes intentionally cut-off cyclists because they don’t see eye-to-eye with them. Road rage between a driver and a cyclist is never pretty. But in many instances it can be prevented by having a lane dedicated to cyclists.

And that’s why we need more – not less – bike lanes in all our towns and cities.

Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment