I was born, and currently live in Olomouc a small city in the Czech Republic. Situated on a flat land, it is a perfect city for cycling. Yet, there are so many cars, plaguing the streets with stinky fumes, taking up space on the roads and requiring huge parking lots.
Many people want to have a car- it provides comfort- they get you from place A to place B with minimal effort, warm and dry. It is also fast- most production cars go above 160 km.h-1 on a motorway. They can carry a lot of load- 5 people, skis, groceries and suitcases. They are very universal; made to fit the motorway and the city. But let’s be honest, the average car in the city moves at 30 km.h-1, occupied by a single passenger, who travel 15km to get from home to work, equipped by a handbag or a briefcase. In other words, they are not being used efficiently. They also allow us to commute much larger distances to work, and that is also detrimental.
What is the logic of using 1500kg of metal to move 70kg of meat?
There is not much logic, it is a matter of comfort and habit, which really, transfers into an addiction. Just like any addiction, it has got many negative effects, but before you can relief yourself from this addiction it is important to realize it and admit it.
Using cars for urban transport is like using a watering can to carry your drink instead of sports bottle when you go for a jog. The container should not be heavier than the content.
I have loved cycling even before I lived in the Netherlands. It is a very practical mean of transport. First of all, it is healthy to keep exercising. Many workers nowadays spend the whole day sitting, maybe walk a few meters to the coffee machine or the meeting room. It is fast, as bicycles are light and agile, you can park them next to your door and at the door of your destination, which saves you walking time. There are hardly ever traffic jams concerning bikes, thanks to cycle paths, you can sometimes also avoid traffic lights, so when you get moving, you can keep moving ahead until your destination. It is environmentally friendly and low energy- when cycling at moderate speeds typical for a city traffic, about 31 W.h.km-1 are required, making cycling 10-20x less energy demanding than cars. Bikes are also damn cheap to buy and maintain.
What do we need?
There need to be more facilities to safely and efficiently park bicycles. Then we need more dedicated paths for cyclists, so they feel safe. An alternative to a highway toll, the urban toll – pay to drive in a city. Cycle-sharing like P&R. Good weather proof cycling clothes, which enable you to cycle at any weather. Most of all be less lazy.
Bike towers? What do you think of this idea? It seems cool, just fits too few bikes, compared to the low-tech Dutch bike parking lots.
I am not a car hater, I think quite the opposite. They are functional works of art, but are not in my opinion used correctly and as a result of that, many bad things happen. Let’s be Homo sapiens about it and open our minds to change. It’s for the greater good.