We have now entered into Bike Month (http://www.toronto.ca/cycling/bikemonth/index.htm) and it’s time to start leaving those polluting cars at home. A few weeks ago I attended a Bike Lecture on building a cycling culture in Canada by learning from the Netherlands. The guest speaker was Hans Moor, a representative with the Netherlands Embassy. It was an interesting discussion so I’ll share some of the factoids.
- 84% of the Dutch population owns 1 or more bikes
- With a total population of 16.5 million people in the Netherlands, there are 18 million bikes
- 26% commute to work by bike, 45% take cars (around 90% of Canadians are still taking cars)
- Gas costs approximately $2.50CAD/L in the Netherlands
- 9% of Canadian incomes are now spent on gas; this used to be 4% a few decades ago
So as you can see, we have some work to do here in Canada. Some argue that they don’t have the time, yet they drive to their gym to ride a stationary bike for an hour, while paying for a gym membership. For a commute 8km or less, it may only take an extra 10 minutes each way. Since you’re supposed to get at least 20 minutes of exercise each day, you’re done! No need for gym memberships.
But then your counter-argument is that Canada’s weather doesn’t allow you to bike all-year round. Well if it’s the cold that you’re complaining about, put on a jacket and scarf. You actually stay quite warm when the thermometer drops below zero from the level of activity. Of course it’s not safe to be biking on ice and snow but you can still bike for 9 months of the year.
Scared of biking on the road with cars? That’s a valid point and the solution is bike lanes throughout our cities. Just look to the Netherlands for ideas on bike-friendly cities. Call or email your local municipalities to let them know you want bike lanes. They are more inclined to consider this in future projects when the public community is asking.
You can actually save a fair amount of money and get in much better shape too if you consider commuting by bike. No gas, tolls, car repairs or gym memberships required. It’s a win-win scenario.
Check out these links to see how SolidWorks is helping design the next generation of bicycles:
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