by TIM FERNHOLZ, GOOD Business editor
Science has verified something that may appear obvious at first glance: The direct connection between the presence of bike lanes and the number of bike commuters. The more infrastructure exists to encourage biking, the more people bike—and the more society reaps the public health, energy, and lifestyle benefits that come with an increasing share of people-powered transportation.
Beyond the availability of bike friendly-infrastructure, other hypotheses explain why people bike more or less—whether a city is wet or dry, hot or cold, has high gas prices, is densely constructed or sprawling, is populated with young or old people. All of these variables play some role in motivating people to get on two wheels, but until now, we didn’t have a good sense of which was the most important.
A new study [PDF] of 90 of the 100 largest cities in the U.S. helps answer the question of what makes a city bicycle-friendly—and it turns out that the most important factor affecting the number of cyclists is the prevalence of bike paths.
That makes sense to me: When I lived in Washington, D.C. last year, I rode my bike to work and nearly everywhere else, despite the city’s crushing summer humidity and chilly winters. Now that I’ve moved to Los Angeles, which boasts temperate weather basically every day, I barely ride at all—the absence of road shoulders, much less real cycle paths, makes bike commuting here a rather dicey prospect.
Read full post here.