Swedes Get Free Bikes if They Promise to Drive Less


Car traffic cripples cities and destroys them. For the last hundred years the common solution to transportation issues was to cater to car drivers and this has left us with endless traffic and awful pollution. The solution today is a mixture of public transit and encouraging people to ride bikes.

In France, they are paying people to ride bikes. They figure it’s cheaper to pay cyclists than to pay for car-only infrastructure.

In Sweden, they want families to get rid of their large vehicles and hop on bikes. In an interesting pilot study people who promise to drive less and ride their bicycle instead will get free bikes. This will lower demand on roadways while improving the health of participants.

Sweden faces some of the same infrastructure problems as the U.S. Most cities have been planned with cars in mind, so cycling to Ikea to run an errand might not seem easy.

“In some cases, it can be challenging to use a bike to, for example, do your shopping, or take your children to preschool and then get to your workplace in the morning,” Waern says. “And while this is absolutely true in some cases, the fact of the matter is that this can be more a mental barrier than an actual one. Most people can, with the right bike and a bit of planning, manage to do all these things and more.”

The project hopes to start to break down those mental barriers by sticking with each participant for six months.

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Reducing Highway Size Doesn’t Negatively Impact Congestion

Nobody likes being stuck in traffic and in the recent past the solution was to build more roads (or add more lanes). Ironically this makes traffic worse as an increase in traffic capacity means more people will drive places. These narrow-minded solutions are still applied in some places like Toronto where Crack-Mayor removed bike lanes. Hopefully the next time transportation options are being looked at crack-voters will come to understand that the best way to make traffic flow better is to not cater to car drivers.

Whenever some city proposes taking lanes away from a road, residents scream that they’re going to create a huge traffic snarl. But the data shows that nothing truly terrible happens. The amount of traffic on the road simply readjusts and overall congestion doesn’t really increase.

For instance, Paris in recent decades has had a persistent policy to dramatically downsize and reduce roadways. “Driving in Paris was bad before,” said Duranton. “It’s just as bad, but it’s not much worse.”

So where did those other drivers go? Many of them switched to public transit, which in Paris has increased by 20 percent in the last two decades. Other trips have simply been avoided, or done on foot. It’s not just Europeans who are eager to get out of their cars. San Francisco removed a highway section, called the Central Freeway, that carried nearly 100,000 cars per day in 1989. The boulevard that replaced it now only carries around 45,000 daily cars and yet they move. (Yes, I’ve been stuck in traffic on Octavia Boulevard, but it’s not like you never get through.) Perhaps the biggest success story has been in Seoul, South Korea, where the city tore down a highway that was considered a vital roadway corridor, carrying 168,000 cars per day. After replacing the cars with a river, parkland, and some smaller roads, traffic didn’t get worse and many other things, including pollution, got better.

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San Francisco Fluctuates Parking Prices, Reduces Wasteful Driving

Car culture in North America has led to massive subsidies for car drivers that go pretty much unnoticed. One of these subsidies is in the way of “free parking,” which is anything but free. Cars occupy space during the day that could be used for productive means or green space, instead cars sit unused with nobody inside of them most of the time.

In San Francisco they have changed their municipal parking system to reflect market demands for parking space. The result is a drop in people who “cruise” looking for parking spaces. Therefore, car drivers have become a little less destructive in the city.

According to a study published last month in Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, the program has worked. San Francisco’s occupancy goals have been met, and “cruising” for parking — driving around and clogging up streets after you’ve already reached your destination — is down by 50 percent.

The group of researchers — who represent the University of California, Santa Cruz, Carnegie Mellon and transit consultancy Nelson\Nygaard — analyzed the 256 blocks subject to SFpark and compared them to a 55-block control group. With access to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s data, the team had a total of more than 2.4 million data points during metered hours to analyze.

Using a model to simulate a driver looking for parking (the model “cruises” down a street and, if it doesn’t find any open spaces, takes a series of random turns until it does), the researchers estimated that the blocks under SFpark saw a 50 percent reduction in cruising. They also found that the program met its goal of a 60-80 percent occupancy rate for spots. Under the program, if occupancy was below 60 percent, parking rates were cut by 25 cents. If more than 80 percent of spots on a block were occupied during metered hours, rates were hiked by the same amount.

Read more at Next City.

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Walking or Biking Through Neighbourhoods Makes You Like Them More

Walking or biking through neighbourhoods will increase the likelihood that you think positively of that space. A bunch of research has concluded that people have an increase tendency to positively judge an environment when exposed to it using more personal means of transportation. Whereas people who opted to drive a vehicle through neighbourhoods tended to have negative feelings.

The moral of this? If you want to feel like you’re in a positive community all you need to do is not drive through it.

Walkers and drivers had very different reactions. Walkers from the affluent neighborhood had positive things to say about the low-income neighborhood, while drivers held negative views. In general, the affluent neighborhood reacted the most strongly (both positively and negatively) to the low-income neighborhood, while those in the low-income neighborhood rated both areas similarly.

The differences partially confirmed the researchers’ hypothesis, explains Birgitta Gatersleben, an environmental psychology professor and lead author of the study. Generally, humans are pretty good at judging threats or a situation’s trustworthiness in just a few seconds. This is called “thin slicing,” referring to the thin slices of reality we can consume and digest quickly. It comes in handy in the wild, say, if you’re trying to decide whether to approach a pack of lions, or, more realistically, a very angry Apple Care customer.

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4 Theories Why US Teenagers Are Driving Less

Cars are horrible for the environment and car infrastructure can have very negative impact on local economies so it’s nice to see enthusiasm for driving diminishing in younger generations. American teens are less likely to have a license and less likely to want to own a car than previous generations.

Does this mean the end of car culture in the States? Maybe, but for now all we do know is that their lower driving rates are already having an impact on energy policy in the states.

Growth in “vehicle-miles traveled” (VMT)—that key gauge of America’s love affair with the automobile that once reliably ratcheted up year after year—will slow dramatically, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) says in its new Annual Energy Outlook. The EIA slashed its projected annual VMT growth rate to 0.9 percent, a drop of 25 percent compared to its forecast only a year ago.

The change is partly due to slower population growth, but also because of a generational shift confirmed by at least four studies in the past year. In the United States, young people are not only driving less than teens did a generation ago, they aren’t even getting licenses.

Put that demographic trend together with the dramatic increase in fuel economy expected in the years ahead, and U.S. energy consumption to fuel cars is expected to drop one-quarter to 12.1 quadrillion Btu by 2040.

Read more at Nat Geo.

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