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Want to Fight Climate Change? Swap Out Your Car for a Bike

Bijgewerkt: 2 nov 2019

A new report warns that we need to reduce our carbon footprint before it's too late. Here's how bike commuting can help.

You’re probably well aware of cycling's numerous health benefits. But its impact on the planet can make life better and safer for all people, not just individuals aiming for a healthier lifestyle.

That’s according to a new report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The panel’s scientists determined that if the global temperature rises by 1.5°C or more by 2030, the worldwide risk of events like extreme droughts, wildfires, and floods will increase exponentially.

The bad news: If no changes are made, the global temperature could rise by as much as 3°C—double the rate that scientists agree would already be catastrophic. But everyone from governments and large corporations to private citizens can take steps to fight the effects of climate change. The IPCC suggested ways to reduce our carbon footprint—and cycling for transportation is one of them.

There’s a lot of existing evidence that replacing car trips with bike trips would benefit the environment. A 2015 study by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy concluded that a dramatic increase (about 20 percent) in cycling worldwide could “cut carbon dioxide emissions from urban passenger transport by nearly 11 percent in 2050.”

“One thing that can be done is cities planning and implementing complete street policies—things like funding infrastructures, building protected bike lanes, and talking to citizens about what would make them feel safe,” Whitaker told Bicycling. By using bike lanes and other infrastructure to better connect neighbourhoods with schools, offices, and shopping centres, she said, cities and towns could encourage more people to ditch their cars and bike instead.

Bike lanes in Amsterdam

Countries can also play a role, not just by funding bike lanes and bike parking but also by allowing cities and towns to make rule changes, like lowering speed limits, to make the roads safer for cyclists. 

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