Cycling, as a means of transportation, is growing in popularity in cities all over the world; with good results… and bad. But what if cyclists didn’t need to share the road at all?
What would happen if all commuters ditched their cars and replaced them with bikes? How would it affect infrastructure?
How much healthier would you be? And could this save the world?
It’s no secret that cars burn a lot of fuel, and are horrible for the environment, and… well, you get the idea. But have you ever thought about just how much space they take up?
Here’s what 30 cars on a street look like. Quite a lot huh? Take a look at what 30 cyclists look like in the same spot.
Notice the difference? First, let me state the obvious. Fewer cars on the road means cleaner air. Around the world, there are over a billion cars in use. 276 million of those cars are in the United States. The majority are passenger vehicles, and then there are several million motorcycles, trucks, and buses on the road.
These vehicles account for 30% of the greenhouse gases in the United States. We’ll need to keep the trucks for transporting things like food. And we’d keep the buses too, so that people who aren’t able to bike can still get to work. We’d want buses for long distance travel, too.
Now, take away almost 200 million cars: including your Hondas, Jeeps and yes, even Ferraris. They’ve all got to go.
A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide every year. Taking them off the road would significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as smog.
Take a look at the city of Copenhagen. It has some of the cleanest air in the world. And it’s no coincidence that they have more bikes than cars in their city.
Over 40% of people in Copenhagen bike to work, while over 80% in the United States drive. Although you can fit more people in a car than you can on a bike, people rarely take advantage of this while commuting. Roughly 70% of car-commuters drive alone.
Compare that to a single person biking. The space that each of them take up speaks for itself. And think of all the money you’ll save! In 2018, people spent about $2,500 during the year on gas. Not to mention a car you won’t have to buy every decade or so, saving you more than $10,000. Now, that’ll be extra cha-ching in your pocket.
With no cars on the road, hundreds, even thousands more people could ride freely through the streets; reducing traffic congestion and gridlock in major cities. And think how much safer it would be with barely any motor vehicles on the road.
Check this out. A traffic planning software company looked at how long it takes 200 people to travel, all on the same road using different modes of transportation. Due to traffic congestion, cars were the slowest mode of transportation by a significant amount of time.
But don’t worry, with thousands of bikes on the road, it won’t be like a Tour de France free-for-all. We’d build super bike-highways, and we’d have traffic lights for bikes. And just like the bike traffic lights in Copenhagen, these lights will be synced to the average speed of cycling in the area so that once you hit your stride, you won’t have to stop.
No matter how the roads are planned, it’s almost guaranteed they’ll be safer than driving. According to the World Health Organization over 1.35 million people die each year due to crashes on the road. Think of how much safer we’ll all be.
What about people who can’t bike, or are too far away from their work? Well, that’s where public transportation comes in. With the increased amount of buses on the streets, it still won’t compare to the amount of space and emissions that cars take up.
When you break down the numbers, a bus carries an average of 40-60 people while commuting and a car only carries one. To carry the same amount of people a bus carries there would need to be 40 cars on the road, taking up more space and using more fuel than just a single bus.
And for all the people who can bike, think of how buff your quads will get. You don’t get that from driving.
Another thing you don’t get? A ton of burned calories! On average an hour driving will burn 120 calories, compared to 480 calories that you’ll burn after an hour of biking. I guess you can kiss your gym membership goodbye. Not only that but you’ll also live a longer. A 2015 study showed that communities who bike to work as opposed to those who drive have a decreased early mortality rate by 40%.
Despite all these benefits, there may be some downsides. Will everyone want to bike in the winter? What if you get injured? And what about the environmental effects of people taking more showers after biking all day?
- “What If Everyone Swapped Their Cars For Bikes?”. Savedge, Jenn, 2014. MNN – Mother Nature Network. Accessed January 1 2019.
- “How Would The World Be If Everyone Rode Bikes Instead Of Driving Cars And Motorbikes? – Quora”. 2017. quora.com. Accessed January 1 2019.
- “What Would Happen If We All Swapped Our Cars For Bicycles? – Total Women’s Cycling”. Irvine, Heather, 2014. Total Women’s Cycling. Accessed January 1 2019.
- “These Animated Videos Show Just How Much Space Cars Waste In Our Cities”. Sorrel, Charlie, 2016. Fast Company. Accessed January 1 2019.
- “Ninety Percent Of Americans Drive To Work”. Dews, Fred. 2013. Brookings. Accessed January 1 2019.
- “How Much Air Pollution Comes From Cars?”. Brinson C. Linda. Howstuffworks. Accessed January 1 2019.
- “Copenhagen’s New ‘Intelligent’ Traffic-Light System Will Give Bicycles Priority”. Jaffe, Eric, 2016. Citylab. Accessed January 1 2019.