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The Space Between Bikes and Cars

Biking advocates in Latvia
Biking advocates in Latvia

This week was big for the auto world with the Mondial de l’Automobile 2014, or the Paris Car Show starting this week and the unveiling of new cars and all. On the other side of the road, presumably 1.5m away, is the humble bicycle.

It’s ironic that one of the biggest problems in the developing countries, which are supposed to be poor, is traffic congestion in their cities. Some government officials have gone so far as to propose banning private cars on a city’s main thoroughfare during morning rush hours. It’s a good thing that a head that wasn’t too clogged with smog, came up with a better alternative – promote biking.

To show just how wasteful cars are of space, cycling advocates in Riga came up with a brilliant idea to demonstrate how much cars hog the road. Last September 22, as part of International Car Free Day, bike advocate Viesturs Silenieks and cycling group Divrintenis wore car-sized frames for their morning bike commute, contributing quite a bit to traffic congestion during rush hour.

Since cars usually have few alternatives when dealing with traffic, despite Waze and all, a bike commute may take just as fast as driving to work. It usually took me an hour to get from home to my former office 35 kilometers away (approx. 21 miles). When I took my bike to work, it took me an easy hour and a quarter through private roads. Sometimes, I even breezed through traffic snarl along the route when there were ongoing road works or there was an accident.

It’s no accident that two centuries after the first velocipede rolled through the streets of Germany, the bicycle is a very relevant means of transport. As this Latvian cycling group demonstrated, it’s good for traffic flow, as well as for the environment. It’s also great for the health, and may even help you prepare for the Ironman in Kona (the bike leg of which was ongoing as of press time).

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