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How bicycling can save the environment…according to one report

A new report (commissioned by: Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI); European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF); Bicycle Product Suppliers Association (BPSA)) was just released showing that a 10 percent shift in urban cycling globally would save $25 trillion and cut carbon dioxide emissions by about 11 percent by 2050. A summary is here.

The report provides a thorough run-down of current cycling rates (by country) and possible projections. The focus on e-bikes is a welcome addition. After all, two-wheelers (a variation of e-bikes) are the most rapidly growing form of urban mobility in rapidly  developing cities of Asia and increasingly Latin America and Africa. The outstanding question, however, is:  are they often stepping stones to eventual full-blown automobility? Then, are their safety, nuisance, pedestrian-clash impacts greater than those of traditional cars? Motor-assisted versus pedaled two-wheelers are different worlds and present emerging issues, even in Holland.  And, while bikes are becoming more like cars and vice versa, things that resemble bikes still have huge social, cultural, and other hurdles to overcome. 

Here are other notable quotes from notable people about the report that can be found at a third party account of the article.

“The conclusions that if we could increase cycling for more urban travel we could reduce carbon dioxide is intuitively true,” Elliott Sclar, professor of urban planning at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, said. “The importance of the report is that it begins to put numbers on the order of magnitude concerning what such a shift could mean if it came to pass. The degree this can succeed depends upon the degree to which the political climate will permit us to move away from the present BAU (business as usual).”

Ralph Buehler, associate professor of urban affairs at Virginia Tech, called the report “daring” because it comes up with big-picture estimates of global bike use at a time when data on global cycling trends are poor, particularly for developing countries. “The nice thing is, it gives us a look into what’s possible,” Buehler said. “They estimate that bike trips will replace more carbon-intensive trips, and that’s where the carbon dioxide emissions savings will come from. I think the estimates sound reasonable to me.”

Susan Shaheen, director of Innovative Mobility Research at University of California-Berkeley, said the feasibility for a broad urban shift toward cycling depends on the city. “Increased investment in infrastructure that promotes safety and separation from automobiles would likely make scenarios envisioned in this report more plausible,” she said.

 

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