Car Keys or Bike Helmet—Which Do You Reach For?
Bicycle travel makes good sense. The benefits – from cost savings to healthier lives and the environment – have long been extolled. Yet while some cultures have embraced cycling (50% of Copenhagen’s commuters travel by bicycle), a paradox exists in North America. In spite of the known benefits, Transport Canada states that most Canadians travel in vehicles to get to their destination, and the same goes in the US where transportation costs (the bulk of which are auto related) account for 20% of a family’s budget, second only to housing.
So what is stopping us?
This question is clearly at the root of a growing number of initiatives aimed at increasing cycling culture at a global and local scale.
Close to home, the City of Vancouver’s Greenest City 2020 Action Plan, places cycling as a “preferred transportation option” high on their target list. Similarly, the non-profit societies, Bike to Work BC and HUB, (which just wrapped their annual Bike to Work Week initiatives) have achieved success with ongoing efforts to improve cycling and increase ridership.
Grass roots efforts are also emerging. Students involved in CityStudio (a multi-school collaborative “studio” that creates ‘Greenest City’ solutions) have recently erected two bicycle repair stations at Science World and Woodwards. These kiosks have basic tools for cyclists to use, free of charge.
Even fashion is helping the cause, giving a boost to cycling’s ‘chic-factor’ with creations like the innovative Hövding – an ‘invisible’ helmet. Hidden inside an understated, stylish, custom-designed collar, an airbag-style helmet deploys in seconds. A trigger mechanism is controlled by sensors that pick up abnormal movements made by cyclists in accident situations. Rigorously tested and repeatedly lauded, Hövding marks a new wave of innovative—and stylish—options for cycling safety.
Fortunately, the needle is moving. Locally, TransLink confirms that cycling is now the fastest growing mode of transportation in Metro Vancouver.
Is anything stopping you?
[Top Image: Courtesy of Hövding]