Photos by Tom Abbott and EcoBici
Sep. 29, 2014 (San Diego) The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) knows that climate change is real. Moreover, several state laws mandate the reduction of green gas emissions, both in the short and long term. One of the ways to reduce emission is to reduce daily vehicle trips. Here is where bikes come in.
Currently, according to SANDAG, those who commute from home to work bike are about 0.06 percent of total commuters. These do not include those who also take public transportation. Still, SANDAG wants to increase these numbers, and to do this, they have decided to increase both road signage and design, as well as bike riding education.
The first step is for residents in the county to know where current bike paths take you. So here is the map, so you can see if you can get from point a to point b on your bike.
What are the benefits of you ridding your bike? Being active is considered critical to reduce obesity rates, as well as diabetes rates. One of the methods to increase bike riding is to implement bike-sharing programs in dense urban cores.
Mexico City started such a program in 2010. The city is one of the largest in the world, and has a few problems with air pollution. Sharing bikes is one of the many tactics the city has used to reduce air pollution.
The agency running the program has tested how effective this program has been. According to their data, 54.5 percent of users used their bikes, instead of other modes of transportation.
The system in Mexico City currently has 275 stations, with over 18 million total trips. Most trips are short bellow a mile each. The reduction in emissions has also been significant. Since the program started, up to 2012, the most recent statistics, 232 tons of emissions were reduced. It is projected that by 2020, 600 tons will not be generated.
Why is this important? SANDAG is considering a similar program. They are looking at models such as that provided by Portland, Oregon. This means you will be able to rent a bike at a station, ride it to where you need to go, leave it at that station, and never worry about that particular bike again.
If you use your own bike health and environmental benefits will also accrue. But, there are problems. One of those issues is how to correctly share the road. Anecdotally we all have seen bike riders run through red lights that apply to them, as well as crowd into vehicles. We have also seen vehicles crowd into bikes.
SANDAG is contemplating courses to increase awareness by both motorists and bike riders of the laws of the road with extensive educational programs. They will also expand the bike path and road network. These include the implementation of bike boulevards, which will be low speed roads.
The goal is to increase the number of bike riders in the region, which will lead to lower emissions.
The down side is that to achieve this, a lot of education still needs to happen, But if places like Mexico City, one of the busiest cities in the world, can do this, so can the San Diego region.
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