In the wake of Vancouver City Council’s unanimous vote to build a new, separated bike lane on Hornby Street, the anti-cyclist lobby is seething. The internet is suddenly full of a freshly unleashed torrent of seething hatred for all things cyclist.
It’s hard to comprehend. Harvey Enchin in the Vancouver Sun points out that improvements to cycling infrastructure have been supported in Toronto, even by businesses faced with losing some parking spots. He suggests that:
“the view of cycling in Toronto is pragmatic and in Vancouver, ideological.”
Pragmatically, increasing the cycling infrastructure in gridlocked downtown Vancouver is a no-brainer. But we are mired in ideological fights between zealots on both sides (including me!). The ongoing fights on the net suggests that we in Vancouver do indeed need to “grow up,” as Enchin puts it.
As Enchin argues, cycling infrastructure is being added globally as it makes cities more livable, and “no one can be against improving our quality of life.” Actually, the anti-cycling lobby is against this, based presumably on their knee-jerk anti-cyclist ideology.
So let’s just step back and look at the facts. Does cycling improve everyone’s quality of life?
Here I am indebted to pacpost, who has kindly allowed me to use the following post to examine this point:
Guest Post from Pacpost:
“In trying to inform myself a little more about the various advantages of cycling, I’ve been digging around Copenhagenize.com. Some of the excellent links I found:
Bike lanes have been found to be good for business:
Cyclists should be paid to ride their bikes!
Cities should actually be paying us to ride bikes, considering all the benefits we bring:
“In Denmark we’ve determined that cycling is much more cost-efficient than cars. Indeed, for every kilometre cycled the nation enjoys a net profit of 25 cents. For every kilometre driven by a car, the nation suffers a net loss of 16 cents. Due to a host of health factors, wear and tear/road maintenance factors, etc.
In Copenhagen a study has determined that for every kilometre cycled, the city earns $1.10. Pure profit. Based on the value of our cycling citizens living longer – 7 years – and being less ill whilst alive (subsidizing those poor motorists and their illnesses as we slog away at work with fewer sick days) as well as the value of health care costs saved.”
So there you have it: Bikes actively contribute to society; cars actively detract from it. And bikes are actually good for business. Finally, not mentioned by pacpost, but one of my key arguments:
Bikes don’t kill people, cars kill people. Apart from killing more than a million people a year worldwide, cars are the most common cause of death for children aged 10 to 19, worldwide.
So when you come right down to it, it doesn’t really matter whether you prefer driving or cycling: on purely pragmatic grounds, promoting cycling is the logical way to improve quality of life for all.