Make us your home page

Bay Buzz

The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Study: Minor increase in bike use would save U.S. trillions



As the 25th anniversary of the Pinellas Trail approaches, it's important to remember that when it debuted, only three other locales had something like it. Now, more than 1,000 cities do.

With bike share programs now provided by Tampa, and perhaps soon in St. Petersburg, bike use should only go up, here and nationally.

And that would be very good news, according to a University of California, Davis report released this month.

Right now, city dwellers worldwide use a bike for 6 percent of their trips. If that climbs to 11 percent by 2030, and then 14 percent by 2050, carbon dioxide emissions would be cut by 7 percent to 11 percent, the report concludes. The increase in cycling would save the U.S. a total of $6 trillion over the next 15 years and up to $24 trillion between 2015 and 2050. 

It cited certain cities as models of how to encourage greater bike transit, including Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and many cities in India and China. Not too many U.S. cities made the list, where cycling still lags far behind the world average. While the world average is 6 percent of urban trips by bike, the U.S. averages only 1 percent of trips. Even the recent popularity of bike share programs is barely budging that number. 

The authors provided a game plan for governments to boost cycling:

-- Rapidly develop cycling and e-bike infrastructure on a large scale;

-- Implement bike share programs in large and medium-size cities, prioritizing connections to transit;

-- Revise laws and enforcement practices to better protect people cycling and walking (of if you're the Tampa Police Department, don't do this;

-- Invest in walking facilities and public transport to create a menu of nonmotorized transport options that can be combined to accommodate a wide variety of trips;

-- Coordinate metropolitan transport and land-use plans, so that all new investments result in more cycling, walking, and public transport trips and fewer trips by motorized vehicles;

-- Repeal policies that subsidize additional motor vehicle use, such as minimum parking requirements, free on-street parking, and fuel subsidies;

-- Encourage cycling and active transport via pricing policies and information campaigns;

-- Adopt policies such as congestion pricing, vehicle kilometers traveled (VKT) fees, and development impact fees to charge a price for driving that accounts for negative externalities;

-- Dedicate fuel taxes, driving fees, and other transport-system revenues toward investment in sustainable transport.




[Last modified: Thursday, November 19, 2015 3:10pm]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours