Thursday, November 15, 2012

The age of a bike?

Earlier this month, British newspaper The Times published an article announcing the end of car domination in large cities. Apparently, at least in London, car use has been on a few-years long decline and it seems that it has passed its peak.
Travel statistics in London, UK (Source: The Times)
The number of miles traveled by car each year has been shrinking since 2007, while at the same time travel done by bicycle has became much more common. There are probably 2 main reasons for this phenomena:
  1. Recession - people will not buy new cars if they can't afford them (expensive gasoline, high purchase prices, high maintenance cost),
  2. Frustration - people will not buy and use cars if they can't park them and have to drive them at snail speed (congested cities, lack of parking spaces).
So it basically narrows down to money and freedom. Since bicycle will cost you less and gives you more freedom (faster in heavy traffic, less maintenance, easier to buy and sell) the choice for those living in London's City is obvious. Will London follow Dutch or Danish example? We will see...

Meanwhile in Boston area...

This morning I had to drop off Elka at Harvard. We drove from Arlington to Cambridge using our favorite side streets and generally avoiding Massachusetts Ave., which is terribly congested at that time of the day. This was a rare chance (for me) to see how Cambridge and Somerville look like in the morning.

It's been a while since I visited Harvard Square the last time. I commute to work in the suburbs, outbound - riding my bike from suburban Arlington to even more suburban Burlington. And I was pleased seeing so many cyclists on streets of Cambridge. It should not be surprising but I was still amazed how much... better a city looks with many cyclists and pedestrians around, not just anonymous cars passing by at too high speed.

I left Elka at Harvard and drove back to Arlington. What a change! On my way to work I counted... one cyclist. That wasn't surprising at all. Normally, I don't see more than 1 or 2 of them on the road. Do bikes belong to downtowns only?

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