Cities Journal
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13 Ways American Cities Can Reduce Energy Use

11-bicycle route-flickr-National Park Service
Photo credit: National Park Service / Flickr

3. Bicycle Routes

Two hundred years ago, the invention of the steam-powered engine heralded a major breakthrough in mechanical power. No longer would it be necessary for people to use their own two legs, or animal power, to get from one point to the other.

Flash forward to today, and many city planners have decided to go full circle, encouraging residents to use their own two feet to get them from one spot to the other instead of burning countless tanks of fossil fuels in order to get across roads and highways. Many nations have led the charge in providing bicycle routes for citizens in order to minimize traffic congestion, smog, and energy consumption.

The city of Copenhagen, Denmark, is at the forefront of the bicycle revolution, with their transportation department claiming to have nearly four hundred kilometers (about 250 miles) of bicycle paths criss-crossing through the city. Has it paid off?

Certainly so: more than one in three Danes ride their bike to work, with a massive bike share project providing free transportation to anyone in need of their own set of wheels. It’s even become so ingrained in Danish culture that kindergarten kids have their own biking class, so that from a very early age they decide to go for a bike ride rather than a drive.

Cities can transform their transportation infrastructure to accommodate bikers fairly easily: often it may only be necessary to designate a bike lane on existing roads, but larger routes may need their own separate bike path. While cities will have to expend energy in order to provide raised paths above highways, it’s a small price to pay in comparison to the countless barrels of oil that can be saved by encouraging even a small percent of the population to take their bike rather than get behind the wheel of a gasoline-powered vehicle.

Huge cities with major traffic and pollution issues like Los Angeles have eagerly adopted a bike pathing system intended to get more and more of their citizens off the busy roads and onto the back of a bike whenever they need to get from point A to point B.

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