Green Living involves reducing one’s carbon footprint on the planet. One of the biggest carbon footprint creators is use of fossil fuel powered vehicles. While using public transportation and ride sharing helps, especially when traveling to and from work, many people want to do more.
Switching from 4 wheels to 2 wheels has many advantages. Car purchase, registration, fuel, maintenance, insurance, repairs and other vehicle related costs are eliminated or significantly reduced. Insurance costs can go down dramatically if a city dweller switches vehicle use from “work” to “pleasure”. Costs for garaging a vehicle a that is infrequently used outside an urban center can also save thousands of dollars.
Creating a bike network in an urban area is not an overwhelming task. Cities have been doing it for years, and the availability of a bike network attracts more bikers. Not only do people increasingly bike to work, exercise enthusiasts and tourists are more likely to visit cities where there are designated, safe and easily accessible pathways for travel that eliminate congestion, noise and wasted time.
Copenhagen, Denmark invested in separated bikeways back in the 1970s, after a staggering number of Danish children were hit and killed by cars. Now, 35 percent of trips in Copenhagen are done by bike.
London designers have gone so far as to propose a futuristic elevated bike tunnel where bike riders pedal through glass tunnels high above the city. Meanwhile, a bit of gritty paint and some physical separation from cars makes for a much safer and more civil bike commute.
Here are some tips to help get a bike network going:
Join with others in your neighborhood who enjoy biking. You already know them. You see them daily or weekly; they are your neighbors, co-workers, friends who tinker with bikes, employees at sports stores, and gym friends. Put up some flyers with an email address or Facebook page and start with a realistic goal of planning something small and doable in a limited time frame. A list of city and state bicycle advocacy can be found at peoplepoweredmovement.org.
Get in touch with City Hall. The Green Lane Project helps cities and towns usher in the next generation of bikeways. It’s no surprise that the cities that were chosen for the first round (Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Portland, Chicago, Austin, and Memphis) now have miles of green lanes in place. With the aid of the Green Lane Project, the number of protected bikeways in the U.S. grew from 62 in 2011 to 102 in 2012, with another 100 planned this year. Urge your Mayor to enter your city or town into the Green Lane Project 2.0; applications due in January.
Peopleforbikes is a movement to improve bicycling in America and unite one million people for biking. So far, more than 750,000 riders have joined. Peopleforbikes will use this massive movement to leverage for more federal and state funding for bike projects and help show decision-makers that bike riders are no longer a fringe group, but instead a united and diverse group of constituents who want safer bikeways. Sign the pledge at peopleforbikes.org.
Go online and begin by redesigning your street or neighborhood. Streetmix, a new site, lets you virtually reconfigure the street yourself. Add green bikeways, wider sidewalks, and more greenery and transform the busy boulevard near your house into a biking paradise. Once you have a design, send it to your bike advocacy group or city planners and help make that vision a reality.
Grants or private funding may already be available to help out. Private groups may be willing to make contributions in kind or volunteer labor in exchange for some advertising. Many youth groups are looking for service projects.
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