“This anti-bike hysteria must stop”
Clover Moore, the Lord Mayor of Sydney, has some tough words for her city’s anti-bike-lane extremists:
The anti-bike argument is strange when you consider the social and economic benefits. Before we started building the network, we asked AECOM, a Fortune 500 company, to do an economic analysis (PDF) to see if there was benefit in providing bike lanes. It showed huge benefits – delivering at least $506m in net economic benefits over 30 years, roughly equivalent to a $4 return on every dollar spent. Now, compare that to the $2 return delivered by Sydney motorways.
Thousands of people on bikes are thousands who aren’t in their cars or in public transport adding to congestion. There will always be cars traveling to and from the city centre but if tackling our growing congestion problem is not taken seriously, Sydney will be left behind.
In London, the biggest ever census of bike use in the city found that bikes now account for 24% of all road traffic in central London during the morning peak, and on key routes bikes even outnumber all other vehicles.
In May, New York started a bike-hire scheme. Within three days more than 20,000 people had registered and by August, more than two million trips had been made using the scheme.
The NSW government has set an ambitious target of doubling local and district trips by bike by 2016 and the City’s work to build a network of safe, separated cycleways will be essential if they want to meet that target. We expect the hysterical anti-bike ranting to continue for a while longer but as we’ve seen this week, they will increasingly become lone voices drowned out by tens of thousands of happy riders. You can’t stop progress.
Mike Bloomberg has done an admirable job in beating back the tabloid hysteria over bicycles. (His masterful performance at the Citi Bike launch press conference in May comes to mind.) The real question is whether our next mayor can continue to move the city forward while staring down the people who would rather see New York left behind, to use Moore’s words, when it comes to the economic, social, and health benefits of safer streets.