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Nature_and_Environment.93

Transportation Issues

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{Nature_and_Environment.93.12}: ... {wren1111} Sun, 09 Mar 2008 17:10:25 CDT (HTML)

A two-wheel solution to a more livable city "http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080307.re- boddy-0307/BNStory/RealEstate/"

For all the techno talk about magnetic levitation trains or personal rocket packs, the urban transport system of the future turns out to be bicycles. Sprockets and chains, seats and handlebars, this 19th century technology may be the best weapon we have for the long campaign to make livable cities in the 21st century. Bicycles take a fraction of the space and materials of cars or buses, are powered by the excesses of our calorie-rich diets, and have the huge advantage for those who ride them of extending both quality and length of life.

If the arguments for increasing urban bicycle use are this powerful, why are so many cities having such a hard time setting aside guaranteed bike routes and lanes — making them the transport mode of choice, for work and leisure?

Filled with Mao-era images of clouds of cyclists on every street, on my first visit to Beijing in 2004 I was astonished to learn that bicycles had been recently banned from many of the Chinese capital's most important streets. Rapidly-growing rates of car ownership had pushed the gas-guzzlers onto every broad avenue, to crawl along at a grid-locked snail's pace, with bicyclists pushed to side streets, or worse, onto smoke-belching buses. As part of the green-washed run-up to this summer's Olympics, Beijing authorities are belatedly getting more bicycle-friendly, but the damage was done.

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