In November 2014, the European cyclists federation published a study called ‘Cycling and urban air quality: A study of European Experiences’.
In the forward, the commissioner of the European Environmental Agency claimed, “There are still major challenges to human health from poor air quality. We are still far from our objective to achieve levels of air quality that do not give rise to significant negative impacts on human health and the environment” (2013).
Relaying the commissioner’s prognosis it is clear that the agency are addressing the issue of air pollution. Yet, how does pollution impact cyclists?
Pollution is problematic to cycling because exercising in pollution is dangerous for anybody’s health. I am a qualified personal trainer. I often take my clients out of the Origym and to an area with clear air away from the industrial sites. It is good to exercise in an environment with clean oxygen because it maximises the effects of your workouts. Still these areas are difficult to come by. This is why cycling is the solution to pollution. Mind the rhyme, it happened intuitively.
This article studies the relationship between cycling and pollution in some of Europe’s cities. “The ECF (European Cyclist Federation) supports all those who work on the promotion of cycling and strive to achieve better air quality in our cities. This study shows that potential effect of more cycling for cleaner air in our cities” (Dr Bernard Ensink).
This study regards cycling as a systemic way to develop environmental conscious throughout Europe. That is good news for our cyclists and environmentalists alike. Yet, cycling around a city can prove problematic and there are many factors that differ from rural bike ride. I am going to break down the ways in which the use of cycling is condoned as the main source of transportation in European cities. Put on your helmets.
The ECF have tried to increase cycling through two different methods. These two methods are aptly named the push measure and the pull measure. The pull measure aims to directly increase cycling throughout urban areas. The ECF directly encourage the population to change their usual transport modes to cycling. The ECF hopes to produce the amount of cyclists within the city.
They also use the push measure that aims to reduce the demand of other modes of transport. These factors aim to correspond to measures aimed to restrict the use of un-sustainable modes of transport. Motor vehicles such as care are a prime example. However, they do not direct the population towards the alternative of cycling.
Both of these methodologies vary in practice but they work towards a common cause. They educate people of the dangers of multiplying mitigation within urban cities. They also inform people of the alternatives to transport that would otherwise impacts the ecosystem negatively.
What measures are being taken?
The European Cyclist Agency has a number of measures in place that take advantage of push and pull tactics. These alternatives are even practiced or hypothetical.
One of these alternatives includes the Bicycle Share Scheme. There are over 700 bicycle share programmes in operation around the world. The initial and most successful programme was incorporated in Copenhagen in 1995. This programme was successful because it incorporated advanced information technology. Bike sharing is beneficial because it reduces the pollutants in urban cities because less people are using their cars. In fact, after a bicycle share scheme was implemented in Lyon. France, automobile share was reduced by 7%.
Sociologists have studied the main motivating factors for sharing bikes. The main reason was the matter of convenience. If a station is closer to a person’s home they are more likely to use the scheme. However, the researches also agreed that cycling is much more dependent on the city itself. Furthermore, some cities with a high population showed a more natural aptitude for cycling than others.
So if you are open to cycling through one of the landmark cities throughout Europe, you should look for a local bike-sharing scheme.
Here is a directory that lists a number of sharing schemes across Europe.
The ECA proposed a number of ways to make cycling safer in urban cities. Many people may not want to cycle due to un-reasonable safety regulations. The ECA devised a plan to regulate the speed of certain areas in European cities.
The intervention of speed management has rejuvenated the amount of cyclers in the city. For example, the implementation of 30km/h zones regulates the speed of drivers, the circulation of traffic and activity on the roads. Several European cities have adopted 30km/h systems. This limits the amount of air pollution because of the decrease in acceleration. Due to this the area is less containment for people partaking in exercise.
Barcelona introduced these 30 km/h zones in 2007 and had seen a 27% drop decline in cycling accidents by 2009. In addition to this, Bristol has included two streets with limits of 20 mph in 2011 and within six months, cycling and pedestrian activity increased by up to 12%.
Due to speed regulations city streets are becoming safer for cyclists. There is less accidents, less pollution and more accessibility.
Cycling and the city
As a regular cycler you may be used to cycling in a variety of environments. However, the city is hardly used by cycling purists because of the high concentration of obstacles and the limited safety that accompanies them. However, because of environmental awareness, cycling is becoming more accessible for the casual rider. Why not try to switch the rural areas for the urban areas.
This article was written by, Christopher Simon from Origym