Montreal has long been a stronghold of Bicycle use, but it could be stronger. In Amsterdam, more citizens use bikes than cars. Nearly 30 percent of Dutch commuters always travel by bicycle, and an additional 40 percent sometimes bike to work (Source, pdf). Montrealers use bikes less than 2% of the time.
Public policies that make biking more attractive are:
- dedicated bike paths
- dedicated parking for bikes
- full integration with public transportation
- education of motorists
- the high cost of motoring through taxes, parking fees etc.
The bicycle has many attractions as a form of personal transportation. It alleviates congestion, lowers air pollution, reduces obesity, increases physical fitness, does not emit climate-disrupting carbon dioxide, and is priced within the reach of the billions of people who cannot afford a car. Bicycles increase mobility while reducing congestion and the area of land paved over. Six bicycles can typically fit into the road space used by one car. For parking, the advantage is even greater, with 20 bicycles occupying the space required to park a car.
Few methods of reducing carbon emissions are as effective as substituting a bicycle for a car on short trips. A bicycle is a marvel of engineering efficiency, one where an investment in 22 pounds of metal and rubber boosts the efficiency of individual mobility by a factor of three. On my bike I estimate that I get easily 7 miles per potato. An automobile, which requires at least a ton of material to transport one person, is extraordinarily inefficient by comparison.
The bicycle is not only a flexible means of transportation; it is ideal in restoring a balance between caloric intake and expenditure. Regular exercise of the sort provided by cycling to work reduces cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and arthritis, and it strengthens the immune system.