Cycling Adds Redundancy To A Transportation Network

Written by Boston Biker on Feb 18

I sometimes have odd thoughts on my ride into work.  Today’s were mostly around how nice the sun was, and how great it was to be riding, but as I locked up my bike (after an effortless commute), I realized something.  Bicycles add a lot of redundancy to a transportation network.

These thoughts were peculating in my mind because nearly every person at my job has complained about their commutes lately.  Be it by bus, by T, by car, or walking (the only people not complaining are the ones riding bikes…hmmm.)  Seems that if you dump enough snow on a city that has a lack of redundant transportation options and everything comes crashing down.

If the T is delayed, and the bus can’t run, and your car is stuck in a snow bank, you basically have the option of walking, or taking your bike.  While walking is a fine and useful form of transport, if you want to get some place really fast you will take the bike. Plus no one shovels the sidewalks.

The amount of infrastructure it takes to keep bikes “running” is relatively small, you don’t need to even plow the entire street, just a slim strip down the middle.  In a perfect world without on-street parking, you could have the roads clear enough for bikes in a relatively short period of time.  (as one commentator said “I still don’t understand why my tax dollars go to subsidize a nice paved parking spot in front of every car driver’s house. If people don’t have enough space on their own property to store all of their possessions, maybe they should just get rid of some of them?”)

Currently Boston has very low bicycle ridership, below 10% on even the best days.  But if we could get 15-30% of our population riding regularly (and making sure we put forth the minimum amount of effort needed to keep the infrastructure clear for them in the winter), we could dramatically reduce the burden on our public transportation infrastructure.  This would free up space for more people to take the bus, or the train, or even for folks that absolutely needed to drive (especially folks like fire/ambulance service).  These numbers are not as crazy as they might seem, as many places around the world have experienced this level of ridership (even in snowy places).

Increased redundancy means we are better able to handle extreme weather events (like say 6 feet of snow in a month), would have decreased levels of air pollution, less use of fossil fuels, and a whole host of other economic and health benefits.

The amount of money it would take to build and maintain a vibrant bicycle infrastructure would be peanuts compared to what we currently spend to just pay the interest on the dept the MBTA has.  This problem is well within our grasp, using technology that has already been demonstrated successful by other cities.

Or we can just keep doing the same thing, and having the same problems.  The choice is ours.

 


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Posted in advocacy, bostonbiker, Commuting | 1 Comment »


One Response to “Cycling Adds Redundancy To A Transportation Network”

  1. By William Furr on Feb 18, 2015 | Reply

    I wish I had your effortless commute for a bike ride in all this snow. I have been scared off my bike by the ice, snowbanks, and angry, crowded drivers, and I consider myself to a confident cyclist.

    This is a route that was perfectly ride-able, even easy, until the snowstorms.

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