Cycling movement gathers momentum… expect perhaps in Rome

We have noticed a significant increase in the number of articles about cycling, and the infrastructure being installed around the world to support this mode of transport making it a more attractive form of commuting and transportation.

We’ve come across a debate In the US on building standards, with one critic claiming that giving building ‘green points’ for the inclusion of a bike rack has nothing to do with the green performance of the building. TreeHugger explores this, finding that the energy used in commuting to the office is 30% greater than that required to operate the building itself, with over 77% of Americans driving alone to get to work (versus 0.4% who cycle). Whilst the bike rack may not affect the direct energy output of the building envelope, TreeHugger argues that location, transit and bike facilities are more important than energy efficiency alone.

An article published on ‘’ explores learnings from a visit to Holland – which has the greatest percentage of transport trips by bicycle in the world (27 per cent of all trips; versus the US at less than 1%). The key lessons the article draws from the Dutch example are:

  • Start bike education early. In primary schools, over 95 per cent of children ride a bicycle to school, with special teachers sent to schools to conduct bike classes.
  • Bikers – and bikes – need to feel safe. Governments are working to separate bike lanes from streets used by cars and trucks, and providing safer parking solutions for bikes to reduce theft and crime.
  • It’s never too late to be a bike city. Even the more automotive–heavy cities in the Netherlands still see a high percentage of trips made by bicycle.

It is a fascinating read and one we would recommend to all traffic and urban planners.

And finally, we come to Rome. Unlike in many other cities, such as Paris and London, that are embracing the bike sharing movement, Romans do not seem to have caught on with the same level of enthusiasm. The 150 bikes are green and very light, with a metal basket in the front and a platform on the rear wheel to put packages on, and are available over 15 different locations.

Unlike London, where the first half hour is free, it is strictly pay as you go. The price is €0.50 per half an hour and a € 5.00 registration fee. The Romans love their little cars and park them everywhere. Given their notorious contempt for pedestrians, bicycle riding in Rome is proving to be a challenging and daunting idea. There were few bicycles to be seen in the docking stations, although quite a few motorcycles were parked there, and few to be seen on the streets.

Hopefully the Romans can come to embrace the concept and perhaps draw some lessons from the Dutch!

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