We are obviously fans of cycling in all its forms here at Le Knicks, and advocates for cycling as a key part of a successful and pleasant big city. We are also keen to try and take an objective and evidence based approach as the basis for our advocacy though. So it is our wont to look far and wide at case studies of the impact of cycling on physical and mental health for individuals, and also the impact of cities and how they function. Melbourne and Sydney being examples of car driven planning that are becoming more congested as both reach 5 million population. Which by the way is no bad thing in itself, but which call for cities built around great medium density housing and transport systems built around walking, cycling and public transport if they are to function and have good amenity for their citizens.
We have been lucky enough to travel a fair bit over the years and look at cities that see cycling as a valuable transport mode, as a panacea for obesity and as a tool for creating community. And also see cities where the car reigns supreme in planning as transport mode. Interestingly, we have also been to cities which went down the car path then changed direction as it became apparent that a car based transport system in a large city was destined to be inefficient at best and a complete disaster at worst. Cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen fit this category to the surprise of many. They were not always the bike based wonderlands they are now, rather being result of a change of focus from the 1960's.
More recently, London has also taken a major fork in the planning road and is now actively planning and funding a transport approach through the marvellous Transport for London authority, which aims for 80%+ of trips to be walking, riding or public transport. You can learn more here. And it is working, as a recent trip highlighted. Paris is also going down the same path, actively preferencing people over cars, which is entirely apt in the home of the Tour de France of course. Vancouver is also taking this route.
Coming back to Melbourne, our home, we have an interesting juxtaposition. Sprawl and low density car based on the one hand since the 1960's, it is also increasingly clear this is failing to cope with the needs of a world city. Inner city area's are becoming bike based with 30% of trips by bike in certain suburbs like Brunswick and Fitzroy, while in the outer suburbs the roads and system are so car focussed they actively discourage cycling - we think to the detriment of community, amenity, health and economic efficiency.
It is not just the large cities of course where we would like to see more focus on cycling. Regional towns need to get in ahead of the curve, and the spaces between them as well. Just imagine a separated bike path between towns as a standard in all planning and spending!
So, coming back to the evidence thing. We know cycling has huge economic, environmental, social and personal benefit. And numerous cost benefit analysis gives a positive return to the bottom line from cycling as opposed to the massive cost to the bottom line cars create. Don't take our word for it though. Feel free to explore this further through studies such as this one. And this is a fascinating read also
So, that concludes our proselytising for the day :-). We just think it is important to write from time to time to support our cycling fraternity and push the pedals on good urban design, so thanks for persevering!
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