Apartment Life Blog

Pedal power: Bicycles on a roll in big cities

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With gasoline prices hitting $4.40 in parts of California and averaging $3.85 across the nation this October, there may never be a better time to bike to work or school.

But for those who need more persuading, consider this: every 6 miles biked instead of driven save 3.5 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions and 9 cents in health care costs, according to Danish studies.

European cities — in particular Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Paris and Berlin — have long been bicycle friendly. In Copenhagen, officials say half the residents there commute on bicycles.

This spring, Copenhagen opened an 11-mile “bicycle superhighway” to the western suburb of Albertslund, equipped with air pumps every mile, footrests and lights. With the superhighway, and plans for more like it, city officials hope to encourage even more bicycle ridership. Studies show it cuts health costs by keeping people more physically fit and reducing pollution.

Copenhagen officials believe the superhighway will convince more people to take two-wheel transit as a serious alternative to regular train or car travel.

In the congested Danish city, bicycles are simply more convenient than cars, many point out. That feeling is shared by a growing number of people in American cities, including New Yorkers.

In the past six years, at the urging of Mayor Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York City has added 255 miles of bicycle lanes onto streets previously dedicated to cars. In a recent poll by the New York Times, 66 percent of respondents said they were a good idea.

And in March, New York is scheduled to launch an ambitious Paris-like bike-sharing program, with 7,000 bikes at 420 stations.

Can a Manhattan “cycle superhighway” be far behind?

Henrik Dam Kristensen, Copenhagen’s minister for transport, speaks for many when he talks about the transformative power of peddling.

“When you have been biking for 30 minutes, you have a really good feeling about yourself,” he told the New York Times. “You really enjoy a glass of wine because you’ve earned it.”

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