Research Rest-Stop │ Bicycling at a Speedy Rate

Every Wednesday, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities (MOTU) highlights some interesting research related to or innovations in transportation, sustainability, or energy.

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According to a new study by the Brussels-based European Cycling Federation (ECF), Europe could potentially reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation vehicles by more than 25 percent if European nations had as high bicycling rates as the Danes. In Denmark, the average person bicycles almost 600 miles annually. The European Union bicycling average is 120 miles per person per year, while, in the United Kingdom, it is 46 miles per person per year.

A 2008 report done by researchers from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Rutgers University, and the University of Massachusetts-Boston, finds that, as of 2000, Europeans bicycled roughly 120 miles per person annually, while United States residents bicycled approximately 25 miles per person per year. This report helps to put into perspective how incredibly high the Dutch numbers are. Compared to the rest of Europe, the Dutch, on average, bicycle many more miles than residents in other European countries. Compared to the United States, the Dutch demonstrate how staggeringly high their bicycle rates are.

While bicycling rates per person annually in the U.S. do not appear high in comparison to other European cities, they are growing. In Philadelphia, for example, bicycling rates are on the rise. According to a May 2011 report released by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, “over the last decade, significant numbers of Philadelphians have shifted to bicycle commuting and positioned Philadelphia as an excellent big city for biking.” Philadelphia is continuing to add numbers of bicyclists to the streets. Between 2000 and 2009, rates for bicycling as a commuting mode increased 151 percent. These rates are likely to increase even more in the coming years, as cities across the United States, including Philadelphia, look to support a mix of transportation modes.

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