Among all machines and animals bicycles achieve the most efficient transportation of weight over a given distance for a fixed amount of energy consumption. Bicycles are non-polluting, inexpensive, take up little space, conserve resources, and enhance the health of those who pedal them. Wide spread adoption of bicycling as a daily mode of transportation will require secure and accessible storage facilities, changing and shower facilities in the workplace for bicycling commuters, a well-designed physical network to ensure safe bike travel.
Strategies and Greenhouse Gas Reduction
- Require the provision of bicycle storage, locker rooms and shower facilities for all major office building construction and remodeling projects in the downtown core. (700 ton GHG reduction)
- Develop a comprehensive-city-wide bicycle and pedestrian system that will enable residents to walk or bike to work. Coordinate the system with the 6 year street plan to identify opportunities to develop both systems at the same time. Identify sources of revenue that can be utilized to fund construction of the non-motorized transportation plan. (500 ton GHG reduction)
- Utilize more bicycles for patrolling of the downtown core. (110 ton GHG reduction)
- Utilize bicycles, electric scooters and/or Neighborhood Electric Vehicles for parking enforcement and meter reading. (12 ton GHG reduction)
Cost to the City
Inexpensive (2). Grava (2003), Urban Transportation Systems: Choices for Communities, argues that even under the most elaborate plans, bike systems require a relatively low capital investment on the part of municipalities including the creation of physical elements, paint demarcation, signage, upgraded pavement, and even the creation of rest areas and storage. The purchase of bicycles for municipal use is very inexpensive relative to other modes of transportation-ranging from $200 to $3000 per bicycle.
- Developers, builders, architects
- City planners and engineers
- Law enforcement
- Traffic Compatibility and Safety: Requires the creation of physical systems to facilitate bicycles on the road and locations for storage. This will require additional building considerations by city planners, developers, builders, and architects.
- Comfort and Fitness: Not everyone can ride a bicycle. Those that can may require facilities at their destination to provide a comfortable transition to the workplace (e.g. showers, lockers, and bike storage). These facilities will require consideration during building and remodeling by commercial property owners, developers, builders, architects, and employers.
- Reach and Speed Limitations: Law enforcement users in particular may have concerns about the use of bicycles due to limitations in speed and reach relative to automobiles.
- Absence of Pollution: Bicycles do not emit greenhouse gasses (they produce no air pollution except that emitted by their human users), nor do they create noise pollution.
- Exercise: Bicycles are not just a mode of transportation, they provide the health benefits that come with vigorous exercise.
- Access and Space Conservation: Besides walking, bicycles provide the most direct door-to-door service of any mode of transportation due to their small size and maneuverability. It is estimated that if five percent of single-occupancy motorists switched to bicycles all street congestion problems would disappear.
- Cost Savings: Bicycles have a low private expense relative to other forms of transportation. They are relatively inexpensive to buy and do not require the purchase of fuel. Public investments to facilitate bicycle ridership are also modest assuming they do not require the purchase of right-of-way acquisition.
- Private sector interests including developers and employers
- Law enforcement and other service provider users
- Adopt bike-friendly building codes for new commercial construction and remodels.
- Identify city-wide bike ways and select site-specific infrastructure strategies to facilitate safe bicycle ridership.
- Identify suitable uses for bicycles as a transportation mode for law enforcement and related municipal service providers.
Davis, California is generally recognized as the most advanced bicycle system in the United States. It was voted America's "Best Cycling City." In the ten square miles encompassing the city limits there are 50 miles of bike lanes, 52 miles of bike trails and 90% of all collector or arterial routes in the city have either bike lanes or trails. Davis estimates that 17% of all work commute trips in the city are made by bicycle. A description of the education, engineering, enforcement, and encouragement mechanisms are available in the Davis Comprehensive Bicycle Plan.
Columbus, Ohio has implemented a "Pedal Instead" program that provides free valet bicycle parking at public events. The service is volunteer run. In one year, volunteers have parked 2,193 bikes that had traveled 18,228 miles. If each of those cyclists had driven to the festival, they would have consumed an estimated 899 gallons of gas and created 17,170 pounds of CO2.
Minneapolis, Minnesota has adopted a zoning ordinance that requires new developments of over 500,000 square feet of new or additional gross floor space to include secure bicycle parking spaces, shower facilities, and clothing storage.
The Seattle Department of Transportation is completing its first Bicycle Master Plan this year. The plan will improve on-road cycling conditions, initiative a way-finding system, and double the number of bike lanes. The Seattle City Council is considering legislation to increase bicycle parking requirements in business districts.
Most cities that have adopted climate action plans have several bicycle related strategies. These include zoning ordinances to provide facilities, infrastructure and planning measures to provide bicycle networks, and even plans to provide free bicycles for travel within certain zones.