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Advantages of Bikes in the City

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Studies
Wordcount: 1438 words Published: 18th May 2020

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Before the Second World War, the development of cars postponed bicycle transport as a priority. Nowadays, concerns about emissions of pollutants, health, heavy traffic, and fuel costs brought questions about the advantages of bicycle use. The first one is how cities could adapt their cyclists in their inner-city and how cities could prioritize the bicycle instead of the car. Some articles made a history review about the decisions from the Traffic Department in order to understand how actual mobility infrastructure was built. Some studies about cyclist behaviour and cycle flow have been made. The article verifies the benefits of bicycle transport approached the following statements: environmental organizations should spread the practice of cycling to raise awareness of environmental benefits, people should be encouraged to use a bicycle for a regular means of transportation to keep a physical activity and, consequently, to be healthy, city should be responsible to invest in bicycle lanes in order to decrease traffic, and bicycling habit should be implanted to improve the economic sector. This research reviews the literature on advantages for a city if many citizens use bicycle focuses on these four discussions.

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People should be involved in a set of strategies, which are developed by environmental organizations to reduce environmental problems. These organizations have an affinity for bicycling campaign because of low carbon footprint. According to Burk (2017), the presence of environmental organizations is important to publicize new bikeways and promote their use. Campaigns, awareness lectures and workshops should be used to motivate the practice of bicycling in the community. Support from political departments and private companies will also consolidate the importance of choosing a bicycle with a daily mean of transport.  To understand the effect of a bicycle compared to a motor car, Lindsay, Macmillan & Woodward (2011) collected data from the model applied in New Zealand urban areas and estimated average emissions per kilometre from a motor car. The prediction showed that if car traffic will decrease 223 million kilometres, it is possible to reduce 50,000 tons of CO² per year. It also has relevance for a healthy quality of air.

Besides health improvement due to air quality, bicycle transport has another important aim for humanity’s health. People usually choose the transport that will not use a physical effort and, hence, will be more comfortable. But, it means that people do not do physical activity. So, it results in sedentary life and permits the development of diseases. Taddei, Gnesotto, Forni, Guglielmo Bonaccorsi, Vannucci & Garofalo (2015), estimated the effect of bicycling around 30 minutes per day in Florence and concluded that it could decrease the type 2 diabetes, the acute myocardial infarction (AMI) and stroke. Consequently, it will reflect on reducing healthcare costs around €230 per frequent cycling users.

For these reasons, in order to change the idea that bicycle is only a recreational activity, there are other factors that should be considered by the city planning because besides it stimulates bicycling, it decreases the heavy traffic. Mertens et al (2016) discussed those cycle paths separated from traffic with hedge or white lines make the cyclist feel safer and it may encourage bicycle transport. According to Burk (2017), understanding and planning user’s preferences will also provide bicycle infrastructure to attract riders and to keep this mean of transport active. Constructive elements are substantial to bicycling, and social practice developed by the environmental organization will have an effect on the cultural habit.  So, the bicycle lane is the most important strategic provided by the city because it enables bicycle transport under any conditions. For example, when the places begin to get distance, the automobile becomes the mobility solution. Emanuel (2012) brought this prediction of the Future Stockholm guidelines, wrote in 1945, about the usefulness of the bicycle. This guide predicts that car traffic will implicate in congestion and, consequently, will deter the bicycle users only in the central parts of the city. In this way, investing in the cycle path is substantial to enable future mobility practices.

In addition, the economic aspects may be motivators for bicycling practice. Emanuel (2012) affirms that during the crisis in Sweden, bicycle transport was an alternative because public transportation had the price elevated and the inconvenient schedule, turning it at an incommodious alternative of transport. Nowadays, due to the problematic public transport, the heavy traffic and the higher cost of the automobile, some cities have been installing the practical share bicycle system with lower costs such as the model for environmentalism and health awareness. DeMaio (2009) reported that the cost of this system may be reduced with the correct distribution of bike quantity among the stations according to demand, with a simple instructional of installation of the station without the need of civil constructions, and with incorporation solar panels or rechargeable batteries. Besides, the high price of fuel has been another factor to use the bicycle instead of the automobile. For example, Gotschi (2011) collected the average of miles travelled by bicycle in Portland (Oregon), using the data from the Portland’s metropolitan traffic model, and estimated the fuel consumption that could be saved by bicycle use. The author estimated that, in almost 50 years, 2.200 million miles could be travelled and it reflects in $143 million of fuel saved.

In conclusion, bicycle use could bring many benefits for a society in terms of environmentalism, improvement of health and traffic, and, consequently, economic outcomes. For these reasons, it is necessary to spread awareness of the importance to implement bicycling and to include this aim in the city planning.


  • Aldred, R., & Jungnickel, K. (2013). Matter in or out of place? Bicycle parking strategies and their effects on people, practices and places. Social & Cultural Geography, 14(6), 604–624. doi: 10.1080/14649365.2013.790993
  • Burk, D. (2017). Infrastructure, Social Practice, and Environmentalism: The Case of Bicycle-Commuting. Social Forces, 95(3), 1209–1236. doi: 10.1093/sf/sow100
  • DeMaio, P. (2009). Bike-sharing: History, Impacts, Models of Provision, and Future. Journal of Public Transportation 12(4), 41-56. doi: 10.5038/2375-0901.12.4.3
  • Emanuel, M. (2012). Constructing the cyclist: Ideology and representations in urban traffic planning in Stockholm, 1930-70. Journal of Transport History, 33(1), 67–91. doi: 10.7227/TJTH.33.1.6
  • Gotschi, T. (2011). Costs and Benefits of Bicycling Investments in Portland, Oregon. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 8(S1). doi:10.1123/jpah.8.s1.s49
  • Lindsay G., Macmillan A., & Woodward A. (2011). Moving urban trips from cars to bicycles: impact on health and emissions. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 35(1), 54-60. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-6405.2010.00621
  • Mertens, L., Van Dyck, D., Ghekiere, A., Bourdeaudhuij, I., Deforche, B., Weghe, N., & Cauwenberg, J. (2016). Which environmental factors most strongly influence a street’s appeal for bicycle transport among adults? A conjoint study using manipulated photographs. International Journal of Health Geographics, 15, 1–14. doi: 10.1186/s12942-016-0058-4
  • Romanillos, G., Moya-Gómez, B., Zaltz-Austwick, M., & Lamíquiz-Daudén, P. J. (2018). The pulse of the cycling city: visualising Madrid bike-share system GPS routes and cycling flow. Journal of Maps, 14(1), 34–43. doi: 10.1080/17445647.2018.1438932
  • Taddei, C., Gnesotto, R., Forni, S., Bonaccorsi, G., Vannucci, A., & Garofalo, G. (2015). Cycling Promotion and Non-Communicable Disease Prevention: Health Impact Assessment and Economic Evaluation of Cycling to Work or School in Florence. PLoS ONE 10(4), 1-22. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0125491


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