May 20, 2009

Two Wheels to the World

Pedal power is getting new respect worldwide, as concerns about climate change and hard economic times make bicycling increasingly popular.

In Paris, “bike sharing” gives riders access to thousands of two-wheelers around the city, a service that is also gaining momentum in Mexico, Brazil and Canada. The women’s blog prettytough.com even calls bike sharing “the new public transportation.”

Bicycling is also getting a big push from Asian governments.

South Korea’s president wants to make his country “a bicycle heaven,” The Korea Times reports, while Time Magazine chimes in with news that Taiwan’s leader hopes to create “a cycling paradise” in his island nation.

Taiwan, which may be the world’s largest manufacturer of bicycles, has started the region’s first bike-sharing program in Taipei and Koahsiung, and is investing $20 million to build bike paths as a lure for tourists, Reuters reported.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak hopes to make the national bicycle industry one of the world’s largest by 2015, reports The Korea Herald.

As worldwide interest in biking grows, he may find the market to support that.

The Globe and Mail reported more than 250,000 Londoners are now biking to work, noting similar trends in North American cities like New York and Toronto over the last year.

Biking is common in many Western European cities, but at a recent conference in Brussels, the European Commission said cycling should become an integral part of urban planning throughout the continent.

That idea is being taken to heart in Bulgaria, where the mayor of Loukovit is urging the 11,000 residents of that town to use bicycles, notes The Sofia Echo.

In Africa, Nigeria’s Daily Trust newspaper reports that the government wants to create new police bicycle patrols to increase community presence.

The town of Davis, California, may be the leader of the U.S. pack, with more bicycles than cars, and bike lanes on almost all of its major streets, according to Wired Magazine.

National Bike to Work Day, which happened on May 14, may be a sign of the times in the United States.

The Seattle Times reports local participants increased from 4,000 to 10,000 between 2004 and this year, while The San Francisco Chronicle noted 150,000 riders taking an alternative two-wheeled commute — at least for one day.

–Ronnie Lovler/Newsdesk.org

Sources:

“Bicycle Riding Campaign”
The Korea Times, May 11, 2009

“Bike industry at a crossroads”
The Korea Herald, May 15, 200

“Taiwan pedals ahead with bike tours to lure visitor”
Reuters, May 19, 2009

“Nigeria: Bicycle-Riding Policemen Warm Up to Chase Criminals”
Daily Trust (Nigeria), May 12, 2009

“Bike-sharing: the new public transportation”
Prettytough.com, April 27, 2009

“Still Riding”
The Sophia Echo, April 20, 2009

“European Commission promotes cycling as a healthy way to travel”
Environmental Expert.com, May 13, 2009

“Rio de Janeiro sambas into bike-sharing”
jaunted.com, May 7, 2009

“Pedal power to the people – ride on!”
The Globe and Mail, May 2, 2009

“What makes a city bike friendly? Ask Davis, California”
Wired Magazine May 15, 2009

“Get on your bike: ride; Friday is bike to work day”
The Seattle Times, May 14, 2009

“Taiwan goes green with bike sharing”
Time magazine May 14, 2009

“Thousands pedal their way to work in the Bay”
San Francisco Chronicle, May 15, 2009

3 thoughts on “Two Wheels to the World

  1. I’m happy to read about innovative public policy, but this overview strikes me as too rosy; sometimes clever ideas aren’t all they seem. Newsdesk could dig deeper. The BBC reported in February that half the Paris bike fleet has been stolen, and these schemes have plenty of detractors in the cities where they have been tried. A walk through Paris leaves one first with the pride in humanity that such a thing could work, soon followed by the realization that it doesn’t.

  2. I think in India whole cities should be made vehicular traffic free zones. Only public transport and bicycles should be permitted on the streets and trucks and vans that transport goods. The car industry will be hit but who gives a shit. People in India who urinate and defecate on the streets should be severely punished and fined.India’s fiscal deficit will go down and prices of food commodities will go down. Of course this is never going to happen. It is just wishful thinking. India will get hotter and smellier and the people will all just choke to death one fine day because the pollution levels are the worst in the world and no one really cares. Everyone is busy making money and the people are filled with greed and the pseudo rich love to flaunt their wealth in a really vulgar way. Of course something needs to be done about the sacred cows and the not so sacred pigs. Of course the much maligned pig is more efficient in garbage and crap disposal than the Indian municipalities.
    alakeshwar