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If You Build Bike Lanes, They Will Ride

Tom Fernholz, Good
Science has verified something that may appear obvious at first glance: The direct connection between the presence of bike lanes and the number of bike commuters. The more infrastructure exists to encourage biking, the more people bike—and the more society reaps the public health, energy, and lifestyle benefits that come with an increasing share of people-powered transportation.

Beyond the availability of bike friendly-infrastructure, other hypotheses explain why people bike more or less—whether a city is wet or dry, hot or cold, has high gas prices, is densely constructed or sprawling, is populated with young or old people. All of these variables play some role in motivating people to get on two wheels, but until now, we didn’t have a good sense of which was the most important.

A new study [PDF] of 90 of the 100 largest cities in the U.S. helps answer the question of what makes a city bicycle-friendly—and it turns out that the most important factor affecting the number of cyclists is the prevalence of bike paths.
(27 April 2012)

Launching Copenhagens Bicycle Superhighways

Mikael Colville-Andersen, Copenhagenize
Last week, on April 14, 2012, the first stretch of Copenhagen’s new and long-awaited Bicycle Superhighway network opened and Copenhagenize was there for the bike ride.

It was back in 2009 that we first wrote about the plans for these bicycle superhighways. The boys at Trunk films made this cool film that includes the Superhigways project. The project has taken time to develop but now the routes are getting ready for use. In addition, when we first wrote about it, there were plans for 13 routes. That has now been increased to 26. 300 km of dedicated superhighway routes when the project is complete.

The 17.5 km Albertslund Route is the first one to launch. The route runs through a number of municipalities, including Copenhagen, Frederiksberg, Albertslund and Rødovre.

They are being called Bicycle Superhighways, but it’s worth noting that the routes follow existing, separated bicycle infrastructure. There will be some improvements on certain sections and various facilities will be added.

It has proved to be a logistical challenge getting so many municipalities to work together. Copenhagen is comprised of 550,000 people but the greater metro area is comprised of many different municipalities. Planning routes through them has taken longer than expected, but now the project is finally underway. I shudder at the thought of how many meetings were required and how many litres of crappy, municipal coffee were consumed. But I respect that sacrifice for the cause.
(24 April 2012)

Vehicle Sales Surge in U.S. as $4 Gas Makes Mileage Vital

Keith Naughton and Craig Trudell, Bloomberg
As rising gasoline prices became a pain in the pocketbook this year, Matt German decided it was time to buy a new car. So he traded in his hot-rod Ford pickup for a Ford Focus compact car and cut his fuel bill in half.

“I went from paying $80 every time I filled up to paying less than $40 and getting just as much distance out of a tank,” said German, 23, of Rochester, New York. “As gas prices were going up, I figured it was time to get out of that truck.”

The Toyota Prius C on display during the press preview day at the 2012 North American International Auto Show. Photo: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images
Rising gasoline prices have gone from bane to boon for the recovering U.S. auto industry. In 2008, U.S. gas prices hit a record of $4.11 a gallon and contributed to Detroit’s downfall, as truck and sport-utility vehicle sales collapsed. With gasoline again approaching $4, buyers are returning to showrooms to replace old guzzlers with new, fuel-efficient models.

“It’s really astounding that you’ve gone from $4-a-gallon gasoline devastating sales to $4-a-gallon gasoline supporting sales today,” Mike Jackson, chief executive officer of AutoNation Inc. (AN), the largest U.S. car dealer, said in an interview. “This is a real change in consumer behavior that puts us in a much better place than where we were in 2008.”..
(26 April 2012)