CYCLING INTO THE FUTURE
Cycling to counter climate change / air pollution
Air pollution, a man-made problem is currently among the world’s leading health risk claiming millions of lives every year. As move to counter these, all governments should start investing in the pedal power to improve the air quality.
The Bicycle, according to the United Nation, is simple, affordable and environmentally therefore making it not only just a means of transportation but also a tool for development. Taking to two wheels fosters sustainable consumption and production while also having a positive impact on climate.
Moreover, biking enhances access to education, health care and sport; and the synergy between the bicycle and the cyclist raises a more intimate and immediate awareness of the local environment.
Despite the benefits of investing in pedestrians and cyclists saving lives, help protect the environment and support poverty reduction, the mobility needs of people who walk and cycle, mostly urban dwellers, remain to be overlooked.
However, the price paid for mobility is too high, especially because proven, low-cost and achievable solutions exist. A critical part of the mobility solution for helping cities break the link between population growth and increased emissions, and to improve air quality and road safety.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), safe infrastructure for walking and cycling is also a pathway to greater health equity for the poorest urban dwellers, by providing transport while reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, diabetes, and even death.
From reducing transport emissions and road deaths to tackling obesity and noncommunicable diseases, improving rural connectivity and empowering women and girls, bicycles can make a crucial contribution.
A while ago, China was once considered to be the “Kingdom of the Bicycle,” with bikes dominating city streets across the country, but over the past four decades, China’s dramatic economic prosperity and urbanization has seen many people move to motor vehicles as their primary means of transport, contributing to a marked deterioration in air quality.
Currently, cars have replaced bicycles as the primary means of transport in many Chinese cities but, with air pollution a major problem for the country, the bike is making a comeback, thanks to digital technology, and some 21st Century thinking.
In Hangzhou, a city in eastern China that was once described by the Italian explorer Marco Polo as “the finest and most splendid city in the world,” air pollution has had a devastating effect. According to data backed by the World Health Organization (WHO), Hangzhou’s air pollution is well over WHO’s safe level.
However, in a bid to improve public health and the environment, the Hangzhou authorities have put a fresh emphasis on cycling, which, allied with digital technology, is helping to cut pollution with other neigbouring cities following suite.
Over the past decade the local government has been working on bike friendly infrastructure including marking specified of lanes and traffic signals for the cyclist while providing about 86,000 public bikes. With only a smart card, one is able to access all forms of public transport ranging from bikes to buses.
The Asian economic giant aims to promote its model not only across China but also throughout the world. Due to these initiatives, cycling has become a popular choice for both local citizens and tourists, and the efforts of the Government-run company have been rewarded with international recognition, such as the International Ashden Award for Sustainable Travel in 2017.
As proven to make a huge impact just like China, all governments should borrow a leaf and start putting in place strategies that will incorporate cycling as a way of reducing the emission s from the transport industry and help improve the air quality.