Author: Victoria Lin | Category: Education | Environment | Date: 08-22-2020
Bike lanes have been a popular discussion amongst environmentalists as an easily adaptable option that significantly reduces our overall carbon emissions. Currently, San Mateo County has approximately twelve bike routes after installing an updated biking/pedestrian safety plan back in 2011. These lanes are economically, environmentally, and safety-beneficial investments.
Surprisingly, an increase in cyclists may mean a growth in merchant sales. A study monitoring fourteen corridors in the U.S. found that people were likely to go back to grocery stores, or other convenience stores, because of the moderate exercise they could get in on the route to and from. (Science Daily) The increase in sales would greatly help our economy, thus backing that bike lanes are more than just environmentally-friendly. With people becoming healthier and our economy expanding, bike lanes seem like a no brainer addition to our streets. Now, how exactly do bike lanes help pedestrians and motorists in ways other than exercise?
Most notably, the separation of motorists and cyclists remarkably decreases danger levels for drivers, bikers, and pedestrians. It allows for more sidewalk area for people to walk on, while also controlling traffic and car-bike accident rates. By splitting the two(cars and bikes), drivers no longer have to worry about the potential of having to slow down because they are stuck behind a cyclist on a busy road. Bikers are also free to move at whatever pace desired without having to weave in between cars and likely crashing. For pedestrians, there will be a 56% decrease in contacting bikers on the sidewalk. (TerraCast Products) This statistic and logic will surely convince city councils to mull over constructing bike lanes, and we haven’t even talked about the obvious environmental benefits.
As more of the general public begins to pick up upon just how inadequate our present day cars are in our fight to a cleaner planet, companies are moving towards fully electrically charged vehicles. They still have a long way to go since most eco-friendly cars tend to be more expensive than our normal gas-powered vehicles. Gasoline, more specifically called crude oil, is a fossil fuel, which is a nonrenewable resource that we will run out of in the near future. In comes the proposition of adding bike lanes to local roads. Although it won’t completely cut the rapidly diminishing supply of fossil fuels we haven’t harvested yet, adding these lanes will encourage people to use their cars less. As a result, less gasoline use will also reduce the demand for garnering crude oil. The carbon dioxide cyclists breathe out is only 5.15% of the emissions produced from a vehicle. Cars release tons of carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide, alongside countless other toxins, into the air. More biking will contribute to potentially 6-14 million tons less CO2 in the air, and 700 million to 1.6 billion tons less of gasoline burned. (Adventure Cycling Association) Now as great as bike lanes are through their positive effect on our economy, environment, and safety, there has to be a catch right?
Admittedly so, the construction of bike lanes will require more land cleared to adapt to the wider roads. As a result, road construction would be slightly more expensive because of the extra land needing to be prepared. However, bike lanes aren’t meant to be in rather hilly or tree-saturated areas. To minimize the amount of land we clear, bike lanes should only be constructed along roads in towns because the area has already been previously cleared. Bike trails solve the issue of cyclists wanting a safe way to bike in vastly wooded or mountainous areas. The benefits of constructing these byways greatly outweigh the minuscule negatives. If we are strategical about where we place them and follow through with building them, it will be a step towards an effective eco-friendly movement.
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