Saturday, July 18, 2009
Contributor to Global Warming?
Chevy Tahoe hybrid, or Thule trunk-rack.
One of the problems we've long recognized with bike paths is the large numbers of people who will drive cars to the trails, unload a bike, and then ride. We have seen that people will drive three miles to ride a bike ten miles. From a purely "recreational" perspective, there is no problem in this activity. But from a transportation perspective, there are immense problems with it.
All bicycle facilities that are constructed with transportation funding are supposed to have a primary transportation benefit, usually either congestion relief (fewer cars on the roads) and/or improved air quality (fewer "cold starts" of cars).
In the case of too many trails, we are probably seeing a negative impact on both air quality and congestion relief (by generating more automobile traffic). The Katy Trail is a prime example. Out of the estimated 1200 users a day, only 6 are identifiable as commuters (about 1/3 of the .03% mode-share cyclists have as on-street commuters in Dallas), although I presume the actual number is higher (just as is the on-street mode share). The adjacent parking lots are well represented with bike rack equipped automobiles, as are the parking lots at White Rock Lake and along White Rock Creek.
Perhaps this is unavoidable from a recreation facility standpoint, but it's inexcusable from "green bicycle movement" perspective. My small efforts to combat this has been to oppose the construction of parking lots adjacent to urban bike trails, unless the trail's built with park funds.
I have no problem with the recreational use of trails, or the construction of trails for recreational purposes. I do have a problem with thinking they are going to make a serious impact of bicycle-commuting or air quality/congestion relief in Dallas, as they too often support the mindset that the streets are unsafe, and thus become a self-defeating transportation element.
So, if you are carrying your bike a short distance to ride it... stop it. Disembark, leave your car in your driveway, and ride your bike to the trail (or even just in your neighborhood). Use your bicycle as a vehicle, not just a toy.