Promoting the bike as a clean and efficient alternative to the personal automobile is a practical way for cities to reduce traffic congestion and smog. To simultaneously confront those problems as well as climate change and an emerging obesity epidemic, government leaders and advocacy groups are working to bring cycling back to prominence in the urban transport mix.
A number of European cities have set the standard for bicycle use and promotion, via pro-bike transportation and land use policies, as well as heavy funding for bicycle infrastructure and public education. In Copenhagen, for example, 36 percent of commuters bike to work. The city plans to invest more than $200 million in bike facilities between 2006 and 2024 and estimates that by 2015 half its residents will bike to work or school. In Amsterdam, cycling accounts for 55 percent of journeys to jobs that are less than 7.5 kilometers (4.7 miles) from home.
The government has pledged to spend $160 million from 2006 to 2010 on bicycle paths, parking, and safety. And Freiburg, Germany, a city with 218,000 people, has allocated roughly $1.3 million annually for cycling since 1976, now some 70 percent of local trips there are made by bike, on foot, or by public transit. Governments elsewhere are following Europe’s lead. Bogotá, Colombia, boasts more than 300 kilometers of bikeways, the most for a city in the developing world.
In Australia, the state of Victoria has amended planning laws to require all new large buildings to provide bike parking and other facilities such as showers and lockers. And in November 2007, South Korea’s Home Affairs Ministry announced a new pro-bike campaign to alleviate increasing traffic and air pollution and to cope with soaring oil prices. As it expands bicycle infrastructure, the government aims to substantially increase bike ownership by 2015, from one bike for every seven citizens to one for every four. ,