Bikes are an impractical, unsafe solution to environmental and spatial issues

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September 19, 2017

Isaiah Cordova

icordova@uccs.edu

    As the environment becomes more of a concern, cities may be looking for more efficient ways to curb pollution caused by cars and other industrial sources.

    In many urban areas today, bikes seem like the end-all be-all solution to this problem.

    Bikes are one of the most environmentally friendly means of transportation, but they can still be inefficient when it comes to the number of people that use them to get from place to place every day. Bike lanes can also be unsafe for cyclists that interact with other motorists on the road.

    Moving people from suburban or even rural areas to these major centers of commerce requires fast moving vehicles. This is where bikes fall short of public transport and high-occupancy vehicles.

    According to the Victorian Transport Policy Institute, a single biker demands at least 50 square feet of space to maximize safety and efficiency to get to their destination.

    On the other hand, a standard car requires at least 1,500 square feet to move one person, while buses require about 75 square feet of space to move up to 200 people at once.

    HOVs, like buses, are far more space-efficient than bicycles on city streets. However, these numbers are only effective in high-population city centers.

    Privately owned automobiles are the majority on the road, but they take up inordinately high amounts of space on roadways and pollute the environment.

    To implement a more environmentally friendly mode of transportation, bike lanes have been encouraged in Colorado Springs.

    But bike lanes are often too thin to even fit a bike; a typical lane is 5 feet wide, according to the Federal Highway Administration. It is a prime example of city officials doing the minimum amount of work in order to claim the title of “bike-friendly.”

    Bike lanes can also be dangerous for cyclists. The solid white line between cyclists and other motorists leads uninformed drivers to think that bikes belong solely in the bike lane, which prevents cyclists from safely crossing over the road to turn left.

    Many drivers also do not know how to properly cross the bike lane, which distinctly endangers cyclists by putting them in the path of a speeding vehicle.

    If the bike lane is shoved over this far so it can be to the right side of the road (as most bike lanes are), then bikers run the risk of riding through debris, including broken glass and other hazardous materials.

    It is also largely unknown by drivers that every lane on the road is a bike lane. Cyclists are only required to remain in the right-most lane unless they are turning left, according to ColoBikeLaw.com.

     In suburban communities, reallocating space on major roadways to encourage people to use public transportation and carpooling would allow for a more efficient transport system and a more environmentally-friendly society. This is a more realistic solution compared to biking around everywhere.

    And all of this to not speak of trains and similar options. Utilizing energy-efficient rail systems more than doubles bus capacity at peak travel times and minimizes space utilized.

    There are far more efficient means of transportation than bicycles, which means that a lot of progress in this arena is misplaced. The changes made to the road system endanger cyclists more because drivers are largely unaware of procedures.     

    Don’t get me wrong; bikes are far better than cars, both for the environment and for congestion, but they are not the best in terms of safety and practicality.

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