Given the rage that has been directed at me by drivers recently (especially by this one), I thought I would take some time to write a few posts about how cyclists make life nicer for all road users, and especially for drivers. I understand that driving a car turns nice people into raging monsters (watch Goofy Motormania for an amusing depiction of this by Disney), but I am hoping a healthy dose of driver education can help to mitigate the frustration of having a cyclist beat your car through the city at peak hour.
1. CYCLING REDUCES TRAFFIC CONGESTION
Most cyclists I know, including myself, also have cars. The average car on a Melbourne street contains approximately 1.3 people. Six bikes stopped at the traffic lights take up as much room as a single car, yet approximately four (almost five) cars have been taken off the road. The image above, from the Cycling Promotion Fund, shows the difference visually. It’s simple really, the less cars on the streets, the more room there is for the cars that are there and the better the flow of traffic. This is especially important for vehicles carrying out the productive business in a city, such as those of tradesmen and couriers.
2. BIKES DON’T DAMAGE THE ROAD
Bikes weigh about 100 times less than a car, and at least 160 times less than a truck, making them far less likely to cause mechanical damage to existing infrastructure. Fewer four-wheeled vehicles on the road means less damage and less congestion, both of which are going to reduce the cost of maintaining Australia’s roads. Which is important given that vehicle registration fees do not cover the cost of maintaining the roads, especially when the cost of traffic congestion is factored in.
3. MORE PEOPLE ON BIKES MEANS MORE EMPTY PARKING SPACES
The major reason I prefer to ride my bike instead of driving my car is that I absolutely loathe looking for parking spaces. While parking a bike at Melbourne’s busy bike racks sometimes isn’t easy, I always get a spot closer to my destination than I ever would if I were in my car. Not only is this good for me, it also means I am freeing up a car park for someone who did drive that day.
4. CYCLING REDUCES THE PUBLIC HEALTH BILL
It’s not only drivers who can appreciate the awesomeness of good public health – it is in the interests of everybody. Studies show that 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day makes a person healthier and at a lower risk of developing life-threatening diseases such as cancer. Riding your bike is a good way to get this exercise while you go about your daily business. It’s simple: less public money spent on preventable lifestyle diseases means more money spent on other good stuff for the community, like education and transport infrastructure.
5. BIKES REDUCE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS
Scientists almost all agree that the wild, and often outright ridiculous, weather that we have been seeing all around Australia recently is a product of the increased variability we believe is due to global climate change. Bikes are one of the most energy efficient forms of transport and produce almost no greenhouse gases. I am pretty sure this holds true even if it turned out that cyclists are more flatulent than drivers (which hasn’t been my experience… but who knows?)
6. THEY TAKE UP LESS ROOM AT THE DRIVE-IN
The Coburg drive-in can be a busy place, and with cyclists utilising the empty grass in front of the screen, there is more space for cars. This means more people get to enjoy the awesomeness that is the drive-in on a summer evening.
Please share this article with any of your friends who claim to be bike-hating angry drivers. Happy riding!