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Using Bicycles As An Alternative To AutomobilesOctober 21, 1996Ecology & DesignUniversity of ColoradoAbstract:This paper basically shows the reasons to use the bicycle as an alternative mode of transportation. It will points out the benefits of the use of a bicycle. It will also show what is being done to getrid of the negative aspects of using a bicycle fortransportation.Bicycling is one of the fastest growing forms of recreation. People are drawnto it for many reasons, being out in the fresh air, the thrill of speed, thephysical challenge, along with many other things. But there can be many moreuses for the bicycle. The use that this paper will focus on is transportation.The use of bicycles can greatly improve the economy of a nation. A comparisonbetween the efficiency of the transportation systems of the United Stated andJapan points this out.
In 1990 Americans spent 17.9 percent of the GNP ontransportation, whereas the Japanese spent only 10.79 percent on transportation.This difference of nearly 7 percent, gives the Japanese economy much more moneyfor investing in their future.Our Economy is not the only thing we should worry about, and it is also not theonly thing that can be improved by the use of bicycles. There are several majorproblems that could be drastically reduced by the increased use of bicycles.Traffic would be a lot lighter due to the extremely small size of bicycles. Itwould also greatly reduce the wear and tear on our roads and highways, andtherefore reduce government expenditure. But one of the most serious problemsit would reduce is that of pollution and smog in out larger cities.There are more benefits to biking, though. There are benefits that come at amore personal level.Biking greatly improves ones health. It can be a way to exercise without takingmuch times out of ones schedule.
The time one would spend biking to work servestwo important purposes. One, getting to work, but also as a great form ofexercise.Improved mobility in crowded situations. In downtown areas, biking to work mayactually save time. Cars crawl through congested traffic, while bicyclists ridearound it. The time it takes to park a car could also be factored in. Findinga parking space takes time and may be far away, while bikes are easy to lock andcan be locked close to any destination.Personal economics are also important. Cars are expensive to own and operate.On top of the high prices for new cars, one must also pay for insurance, fuel,and maintenance.
Not only is the price of a new bicycle much lower, they costalmost nothing to operate.Still with all of these benefits, many people choose not to consider a bicycleas a viable form for transportation. People feel that it is to time consuming,to inconvenient, and to dangerous. But there are things that can be done tochange these facts.How a city is designed will play a large part in whether or not people choose touse bicycle as a form of transportation. Many of America's large cities arenot very friendly to the bicycle commuter. City streets should be wide enoughto have room for a safe sized bike path that is separate from automobiles andpedestrians. This would improve the safety of bicycling.Another method that can be used is traffic calming. Traffic calming is a termthat has emerged in Europe to describe a full range of methods to slow cars, butnot necessarily ban them, as they move through commercial areas and residentialneighborhoods.
Traffic calming exists in certain downtown areas as a naturaloutcome of design initiatives to accommodate sizable special populations.Some the best examples of traffic calming are not in the United States. Trafficcalming was originally introduced in the Netherlands and Germany, but is nowbeing put to use in Denmark, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.In 1981, Germany set up six traffic-calming demonstration projects in variousplaces with varying density. The initial reports showed that there was areduction of speed from 23 mph to 12. The traffic volume remained constant, butthere was a 60 percent decrease in injuries, and a 43 to 53 percent reduction infatalities.In a recent survey, most people showed that if conditions where improved, morepeople use bicycles to commute. Things are being done to make things better.Private organizations are offering incentives and promotions, and our governmentis also making legislation to improve things.The need for bicycle and pedestrian provisions to be fully integrated into stateand local plans and transportation policy documents has assumed even greatersignificance due to the ISTEA and the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.States were not required to have long-range transportation plans until ISTEA waspassed, and Metropolitan Planning Organizations have had little or no controlover project selection until now. Because of this fact, in the past, Statehighway agencies have dominated the spending of highway and transportationdollars. Plans developed at the city level would often contain many worthytransit and non-motorized projects.ISTEA makes a number of important changes.
Both levels of government are nowrequired to produce annual transportation improvement programs and long rangetransportation plans.These plans "shall provide for the development of transportation facilities(including pedestrian walkways and bicycle transportation facilities) which willfunction as an intermodal transportation system." (Section 1024 (a) and 1025(a))State long-range plans are required to have "consider strategies forincorporating bicycle transportation facilities and pedestrian walkways inprojects where appropriate throughout the state." (Section 1025 (c)(3))State long-range plans are also required to have "a long-range plan for bicycletransportation facilities and pedestrian walkways for appropriate areas of theState, which shall be incorporated into the long-range transportation plan."People need to realize what the over use of automobiles is doing to our country.Our nations wealth is probably the greatest contributor to this problem.Americans generally feel that a car is a necessity and not a luxury. We arealso spoiled with some of the lowest gasoline prices in the world.Some suggest an increase in gasoline taxes to drive people towards the use ofalternative modes of transportation. Surveys shows that it would influence morepeople to not drive as frequently. But economists feel when the governmentimposes an intentional price floor on a common product, it can only hurt theeconomy.All of these things will help influence people to use alternative modes oftransportation. But when it comes down to it, everyone must make a personalchoice. Bicycles will probably never be as convenient as automobiles, and inthis writer's opinion, they shouldn't be. Commuting on a bike is a sacrifice insome ways, but we need to set our priorities straight. No legislation will dothat for us.Boulder is probably one of the best place to get into the habit of frequentlyusing a bicycle.
In this community bikes are generally a lot more convenientthan cars, in pretty much every aspect.Probably more than half of the time, I can get to wherever I want to in lesstime on a bike than in a car. Not to mention the time saved by not having tofind a parking spot. This is accomplished by the use of good bike routes,underpasses, and having the right of way over cars. I use my bike almost daily,whereas I would probably use a car about once a week.It is also a lot more economical to ride a bike than to drive a car, especiallyon campus. As I already mentioned cars require several expenses, whereas bikesrequire almost none. Also on campus, if you have a car, you must pay for aparking permit.I plan to use a bicycle whenever and where ever possible.
I think that everyoneshould own a bicycle and a least use it occasionally. I would like to informother people of how easy it is to use a bicycle for transportation.References1. United States, Integrating Bicycle and Pedestrian Considerations IntoState and Local Transportation Planning (Washington: The Administration, 1994)2. United States, Transportation Research Record, Pedestrian and BicyclePlanning With Safety Considerations (Washington: Transportation Research Board,1987)3. United States, Actions Needed To Increase Bicycle/Moped Use In TheFederal Community (Washington: U.S. General Accounting Office, 1981)4. Mike Hudson, Bicycle Planning (The Architectural Press: London, 1982)5. National Research Council.
Transportation Research Board. PedestrianBehavior and Bicycle Traffic (Washington: National Academy of Sciences, 1980)6. National Research Council. Transportation Research Board. NonmotorizedTransportation Around The World (Washington: National Academy Press, 1994)7. National Research Council. Transportation Research Board. NonmotorizedTransportation Research, Issues, and Use (Washington: National Academy Press,1995)8. John T.
Doolittle, Integration of Bicycles and Transit (Washington:National Academy Press, 1994)9. http://www.tnrcc.state.tx.us/air/ms/vexercis.htm10 . http://www.nd.edu/~ktrembat/www-bike/BCY/TryBikeCo mmute.html.
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