Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Car Centric to Bicycle Centric

      I found an interesting paragraph in one of my textbooks from school, concerning the difference(s) that bicycles make in the city setting.
"An excellent study by John Pucher and Ralph Buehler at Rutgers University analyzed the reasons for these wide disparities among countries. They note that "extensive cycling rights-of-way in the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany are complemented by ample bike parking, full integration with public transport, comprehensive traffic education and training of both cyclists and motorists." These countries, they point out, "make driving expensive as well as inconvenient in central cities through a host of taxes and restrictions on car ownership, use and parking... It is co-ordinated implementation of this multi-faceted, mututally reinforcing set of policies that best explains the success of these three countries in promoting cycling." And it is the lack of these policies they note, that explains "the marginal status of cycling in the UK and USA."
     An excellent point is made in regards to giving bicycles right-of-way, instead of giving it to cars. Here in Fredericton, almost always, right-of-way is given to cars. Could we change this ideology while this city is still young? It is a possibility that in the near future, bicycles will begin to overpower cars in terms of quantity. Eventually, Fredericton will have to adapt to this massive change and I'm afraid not many are going to like it.
     The excerpt mentions "ample bike parking, full integration with public transport, comprehensive traffic education and training of both cyclists and motorists." I have to admit, Fredericton has conquered the first two. What is mostly needed in this city is the "training of both cyclists and motorists." I cannot count how many times per week I am cut off or completely ignored by cars, or how many times I see bicycles on the sidewalk or riding dangerously on the street. A massive campaign is needed to fix this dilemma.
     In cities like Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Berlin, they make driving "expensive and inconvenient." This being said, encourages the use of cycling or just plain walking. If we lose three parking spaces in downtown Fredericton, there is always a massive uproar. Is it necessarily a bad thing? God forbid you have to take the bus or walk.
     Finally, the last sentence mentions that cycling is not mainstream in North American society. In cities, cycling is not feasible due to urban sprawl and car centric streets.
"If you plan only for cars, then drivers will feel like the King of the Road. This reinfoces the attitude that the bicycle is backward and used only by the poor. But if you plan for bicycles, it changes the public attitude."

1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure cars and bikes need to be mutually exclusive, although it would be nice to see a shift in urban design, public policy, etc. I would like to ride my bike everywhere, but due to sprawl, I can't, so I do the next best thing: I drive when I have to, and when I'm close enough to where I'm going, I park somewhere, and I ride my bike the rest of the way in. I have a folding bike that I keep in my trunk though, so it's also pretty easy for me to switch from car to bike.