There is a gender gap in our cities and it’s all thanks to car-centric design. Everybody knows that cars destroy urban centers and cause a lot of harm to public health. but you may not have thought of the impact cars have on gender. As cities look to modernize themselves by returning streets to people they need to also think about how different people use transportation in the city. Part time workers are more likely to be women and that often means more trips per day than their typical male counterparts. Designing cities through a gendered lens means that the city can accommodate multiple modes of transportation beyond the male-dominated rush hour.
“The discussion on inclusive mobility is gathering steam,” said Ricarda Lang, deputy chair of the German Green party. “Feminism is not a stand-alone topic, but a perspective that we also apply in the area of urban development and mobility.”
The issue is more complex than cars versus bikes. In some cities, women cycle less, likely because lanes aren’t wide or secure enough, especially with kid carriers — underscoring the importance of transport design. But there’s no denying car-centric systems face strain.
Numerous grassroot initiatives are demanding restrictions on personal vehicles. One of the most radical is in Berlin, where activists are pushing for a referendum that would all but eliminate private autos in the inner city in favor of walking, cycling and public transport.
Urban highways occupy a lot of space that can otherwise be used for parks, housing, offices, or anything else that produces economic benefits. The post war highway building boom in North America destroyed communities (in the USA highways were built to purposefully isolate black communities), fuelled car-dependent suburban developments, and plunged cities into debt to finance the construction. Now, we pay the price for the thoughtlessness of previous generations with unsustainable developments, polluted land, and large swaths of our cities taken over by tarmac.
No more. Cities are removing their highways instead of going further into debt to maintain them (Toronto is an exception to this). As a result new land is essentially being created and new vibrant, prosperous communities are popping up.
Rochester’s Inner Loop, completed in 1965, is one prominent example. This freeway destroyed hundreds of businesses and homes while separating downtown from the rest of the city, theNew York Timesreports. And in recent years, local officials have been trying to undo the damage.
In 2013, Rochester spent roughly $25 million to take out an eastern segment of the freeway. Apartment buildings have since been built in its place, and smaller roads once separated by the Inner Loop have now been reconnected, facilitating the easy transportation of walkers and bikers in the area. Following the $25 million removal project, over $300 million of private investment was brought into the city,according to aRochester City Newspaperarticle.
Riding bikes has gotten more popular over the course of the pandemic due to the fact it’s a safe outdoor activity. Popularity of commuting by bicycle has also increased thanks to initiatives done throughout many cities to increase infrastructure supporting bicycling. All of this has led to demand for bicycles which far exceeds the current global supply. This is a good thing, the more people riding bicycles the better.
Things are pedal to the metal all over the country. Whether it’s Calgary, Toronto or Halifax, bike shops are slammed, with a surge that started in March 2020 and has not let up — and a backlog that some experts say won’t be cleared up for months or even years.
That’s provided a surge in demand for bikes. Market research firm NPD Group says Canadian numbers aren’t tracked, but in the United States, sales of bicycles increased 75 per cent in 2020 compared with a year earlier. For the first two months of 2021, the increase year over year was 130 per cent.
Bicycles are the best form of urban transportation and more people should be out there riding on two wheels. In Toronto, like many North American cities, cyclists in the city are predominately white males (for a variety of reasons). With people stuck at home due to the pandemic there has been an increase in interest in cycling, particularly thanks to reduce vehicular traffic. Thanks to safer roads more people who identify as BIPOC are riding, and the group BIKEPOC is there to encourage even more riders. In 2019 Keiren Alam launched the group to create a more welcoming and diverse cycling community!
2021 will hopefully be a turning point for cyclists in Toronto!
Before the pandemic, Alam hosted monthly rides and workshops on skills like fixing flat tires. Her events were put on pause once the pandemic hit, but Alam organized fundraising rides for Black Lives Matter Toronto in July 2020. Shortly afterwards, she launched BIKEPOC’s bike match program to pair donated bikes with people who had difficulty accessing them. “A lot of people need bikes and the demand is clearly there,” Alam says. “We’re in a pandemic and people are still trying to get to work and are avoiding the TTC for safety.”
BIKEPOC partners with local community bike groups like Charlie’s FreeWheels and Bike Chain to build and repair donated bikes. They completed 20 bike matches last year, getting bikes in the hands of women, children and people of colour. After a winter hiatus, Alam relaunched the bike match program in mid-March and, in two days, she received applications from over 25 people in need of a bike. That’s in addition to the people who signed up last year but still haven’t been matched. “We have a lot of demand and not a lot of bikes coming in or getting donated because there’s a massive shortage of bikes right now.”
Flying isn’t so popular right now due to the pandemic and many airlines are financially hurting, and in France they are helping the Air France. Due to ineffectiveness in the private company the French government stepped in and doubled it’s stake with one key condition: the airline eliminates some of its routes. Short flights of 2.5 hours or less will no longer be permitted in France as the carbon output of one of those flights is 77 times that of a train. Train service in the country is good, but with the additional passenger load the service will improve with expansion.
Given how horrible plane travel is for the environment all of use should be grateful for France leading the way on this smart transportation policy.
The measures could affect travel between Paris and cities including Nantes, Lyon and Bordeaux.
The French government had faced calls to introduce even stricter rules.
France’s Citizens’ Convention on Climate, which was created by President Emmanuel Macron in 2019 and included 150 members of the public, had proposed scrapping plane journeys where train journeys of under four hours existed.