Published on June 16th, 2020 | by Cynthia Shahan
June 16th, 2020 by Cynthia Shahan
New York City is experiencing a high in bicycling as urbanites avoid mass transit and reinvent their traveling methods across the city. Citi Bike has long been a choice of urbanites who choose fresh air and exercise, whether taking one to Battery Park, Central Park for a picnic, or to volunteer at the community gardens. Now it’s more popular than ever.
This past weekend NYC was nearly on bicycle overload. Many urbanites had to go up to 4 or 5 Citi Bike docks to find a space to return their bicycles — the docks were packed in West Village.
City folk are refiguring their needs for mobility. I was delighted to notice in 2014 NYC’s Citi Bikes created a beautiful choreography in the city, so I am happy to report now on its growing success of Citi Bike.
It is the time to expand further, so that bicyclist have more places to dock, more lanes, wider lanes. One more suggestion: make sure there are bushes and greenery growing high between the bicycle lanes and the street. Some stretches include stunning riverscapes under massive bridges and delightful greens in the garden, but others run right next to the streets where congested, polluting traffic whizzes by, forcing bicyclists to inhale exhaust nonstop. There are too many long stretches where good cardio is mixed with toxic exhaust.
Greenery will help. Better yet, another idea — policies keeping out gas cars and adding incentives for emission-free vehicles like the electric scooters Citi Bike now offers.
The time is now for urban planners and the city council to jump to it. Find a way to meet the growing demand for a healthier lifestyle. Catch the window and create more greenways, wider greenways, ban gas cars in certain areas at least, or charge them extra to drive there.
“Local air pollution within urban environments is highly detrimental to human health,” says Professor Marianne Hatzopoulou of the University of Toronto, and the lead researcher for Clearing the Air, which was published by Environmental Defence and the Ontario Public Health Association.
“When you have an electric vehicle with no tailpipe emissions, you’re removing a wide range of contaminants — from nitrogen oxides to fine particulate matter — from the near-road environment and shifting them to power plants. The net effect remains a large improvement in air quality.”
In fact, a wide range of studies has found that electrification not only shifts the location of emissions, but reduces them overall.
“If you bring it down to an individual level, each electric vehicle replacing a gas-powered one brings nearly $10,000 in social benefits,” Hatzopoulou said. “Those benefits are shared by everyone, not just the people buying the cars.”
Here are some quick facts from the report:
If all cars and SUVs on GTHA roads were electric (EVs), this would prevent 313 premature deaths per year and provide $2.4 billion per year in social benefits.
Newer, cleaner trucks would prevent 275 premature deaths annually and provide $2.1 billion per year in social benefits.
Electrifying all public transit buses would prevent 143 premature deaths per year and provide $1.1 billion per year in social benefits.
A single EV replacing a gas-powered car brings approximately $10,000 in social benefits shared by everyone, not just EV buyers. This does not include health care costs, so the true benefits are likely much higher.
If all cars, SUVs, and public transit buses were electric, this would reduce over 8 mega tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year. This is equivalent to the output of two coal plants, or about half of the reductions needed to meet Ontario’s 2030 carbon emissions reduction targets, or about 16 per cent of all the greenhouse gas emissions from the GTHA in 2017.
Hatzopoulou’s study looked only at the Toronto-Hamilton metropolitan area. New York and many other areas, especially urban areas, will find essentially the same health and financial benefits.
As much as I enjoy and appreciate my BMW i3, I’d always rather be bicycling than driving.
All photos and bicycle video on NYC greenway by CleanTechnica
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