May 08, 2006

Bicycle is king of the road as gas costs rise

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Via Velorution, I read this interesting piece from the International Herald Tribune. My sense of the changes in London is that bombs on the tube have been as much of a contributor to the sharp uptake of cycling as the congestion charge.

London may be the greatest success story in the new wave. When Mayor Ken Livingstone introduced a congestion charge in 2003 on vehicles entering the city center, a surprising side effect was a 28 percent surge in cycling in the first year. The city says overall cycling mileage has doubled in the last five years and it aims to achieve another doubling. In some cases, merchants who were initially nervous actually saw sales rising as the population of more fluid bus and cycle lanes fed them more customers. What has also been discovered worldwide is that accident rates have dropped wherever cycling has gained momentum, as cars are forced to slow down and as they become more accustomed to sharing the road. "We're seeing a lot of people willing to try this and now it's getting safer as we get critical mass," said Silka Kennedy–Todd, an official in London's transport office. "The number of accidents has roughly fallen in half as the number of cyclists has doubled.

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