Bikes have already changed our relationships to each other and the urban environment, but consider the potential for so much more.
Imagine a future where cities go beyond bike lanes and build the urban environment around bikes. What would a bike highway look like? What would city life be like without cars? Imagine a healthier city — no more kids in the Bronx with asthma — and reduced automobile fatalities.
The biggest opportunity here is that given what we know about how bikes change our social dynamics, how would this play out on a mass scale? Amplify that with sensing and tracking technologies on board the human battery-powered bike platform and the possibilities are endless. Handgrips that monitor your pulse and heart rate multiplied by millions will help us better understand the people who live in entire neighborhoods, and the pace of life from a global perspective. Such data will inspire exciting design solutions.
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Brussels Express, a documentary by Sander Vandenbroucke, looks at how commuters and messengers can make a dent in the city’s overwhelming traffic.
Young people are also making more use of transit, bikes, and foot power to get around. In 2009, 16 to 34-year-olds took 24 percent more bike trips than they took in 2001. They walked to their destinations 16 percent more often, while their passenger miles on transit jumped by 40 percent.
Part of the reason for this shift is financial. The report calculates the average cost of owning and operating a car as north of $8,700 dollars a year, and that was before gasoline passed $4.00 per gallon. In the wake of the financial crisis, many underemployed young people have decided that they either can’t afford a car or would rather spend their money on other things. The report cites a Zipcar/KRC Research survey, which found that 80 percent of 18 to 34-year-olds stated that the high cost of gasoline, parking, and maintenance made owning a car difficult.
But money doesn’t explain everything. Sixteen to 34-year-olds in households with incomes of more than $70,000 per year are increasingly choosing not to drive as well, according to the report. They have increased their use of public transit by 100 percent, biking by 122 percent, and walking by 37 percent.
The shift away from the car is part and parcel of a new way of life being embraced by young Americans, which places less emphasis on big cars or big houses as status symbols or life’s essentials.
Read more at The Atlantic Cities. [Image: Shutterstock]