Given that this is National Public Works Week and National Bike to Work Week and in sticking with our May theme of climate change, I thought it would be worth taking a minute to emphasize the important role that Public Works plays in making biking to work possible and what kind of greenhouse gas reduction benefit we might actually get if more people did it.
Potential GHG Reductions
For many cities in North America, the transportation sector is often the largest emitter of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the toughest area to address. Any actions to get people out of single occupancy vehicles is a step in the right direction when it comes to reducing GHG emissions.
In November 2015, the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy and the University of California, Davis released the findings from a study that sought to determine the potential for and the benefit of increasing bicycle use in cities around the world. While the specific benefits to any individual city will vary, their findings suggest that if we used bikes instead of cars for 10% of our trips, globally GHG emissions from vehicles would drop by about 11% and a savings of $24 trillion on infrastructure costs would be realized. You can access the full report here: https://goo.gl/6FmjhN.
Role of Public Works
From the road conditions, to signage, shared lane markings, and lighting, public works has its hands all over every mile of your ride. Like everything, these road improvements come at a cost, but it is important to consider the benefits. In addition to reducing GHG emissions, biking supports a healthy lifestyle, and reduces traffic congestion and associated impacts to air quality.
If you are not sure how to balance the costs and benefits, you can use this tool to estimate costs, the demand in terms of new cyclists, and measured economic benefits: http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/bikecost/step1.cfm. See the full report behind all this data at http://goo.gl/BStIwO.
Bike Friendly Cities
In August, PWX will be held in Minneapolis, one of the top biking cities in the country. I have always been impressed that a city in such a cold climate continues to grow its number of urban cyclists. The City insures this by continuing to commit budget to constant improvements and additions to their bike facilities. Interested in checking out what Minneapolis has to offer? Sign up for the PWX Wednesday Workshop tour of their bike facilities. You can also learn more about what Minneapolis is doing at the links below.
From bike share programs to rails to trails, cities across the continent are shifting away from viewing cars as the only means of transportation. A multimodal approach is more sustainable and is frankly what more and more people want these days. People want options. Join the C4S APWA Connect Community at http://infonow.apwa.net/welcome.htm (click on InfoNow and click on C4S) or reference @APWAC4S in your tweet to tell us what your community is doing to celebrate Bike to Work Week!
Chair, APWA Center for Sustainability (C4S)