13 October 2009

Inspirational John Pucher

Screengrab of John Pucher's seminar at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver
Dr John Pucher's latest paper is quite brilliant:

Infrastructure, Programs and Policies to Increase Bicycling: An International Review.

Co-authored by Jennifer Dill of Portland State University and Susan Handy of UC Davis, it highlights the efforts and results of a number of international locations who are working towards increasing cycling as transport.

I've blogged previously about a seminar with John Pucher from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver right here. It's a lengthy videocast, but well worth it.

The newest paper is impressive for it's amazing amount of scientific references. Truly a thorough work, as well an an inspirational one. It's available for download from Pucher's Rutger website, under publications.

This is from the introdution:
"Bicycling is healthy. That is the conclusion of an increasing number of scientific studies assessing the impacts of bicycling on levels of physical activity, obesity rates, cardiovascular health and morbidity.

"The combined evidence presented in these studies indicates that the health benefits of bicycling far exceed the health risks from traffic injuries, contradicting the widespread misperception that bicycling is a dangerous activity. Moreover, as bicycling levels increase, injury rates fall, making bicycling safer and providing even larger net health benefits.

"Perhaps due to the increasing evidence of the health benefits of bicycling, many government agencies and public health organizations have explicitly advocated more bicycling as a way to improve individual health as well as reduce air pollution, carbon emissions, noise, traffic dangers, and other harmful impacts of car use.
"Countries and cities with high levels of bicycling and good safety rates tend to have extensive infrastructure, as well as pro-bicycle policies and progams, while those with low bicycling rates and poor safety records generally have done much less."

Just our cup of tea. Well worth a read.

There are also some stat boxes near the end in the reference area that highlight the increasing mobility in cities choosing to embrace bicycle culture. It's not really a newsflash, but increased bicycle infrastructure reduces injury, as well as all the health and societal benefits. So let's build those cycle tracks.

Total number of bicycle trips almost quadrupled from 1975-2001 (275% increase).
Bicycle share increased from 5% of trips in 1990 to 10% in 2007.
38% decline in serious injuries 1992-2006.

Increase in bicycle share of trips within City of Paris from 1% to 2.5% in 2007.
46% increase in bicycle trips from June to October 2007 after introduction of Vélib bicycle sharing program.

Bicycle share increased from 25% of trips in 1970 to 37% in 2005.
40% decline in serious injuries, 1985-2005.

Bicycle share increased from 25% of trips in 1998 to 38% in 2005 for 40+ age group.
70% increase in total bicycle trips 1970-2006 (36% of work trips in 2006).
60% decline in serious injuries 1995-2006.

Muenster, Germany

Bicycle share increased from 29% of trips in 1982 to 35% in 2001.
One serious injury per 1.03 million bicycle trips in 2001.

Freiburg, Germany
Bicycle share increased from 15% of trips in 1982 to 27% in 2007.
204% growth in bicycle trips 1976-2007.
One serious injury per 896,000 bicycle trips in 2006.

Odense, Denmark

Bicycle share increased from 23% of trips in 1994 to 25% in 2002.
80% increase in bicycle trips 1984-2002.
29% decline in injuries 1999-2004.

Groningen, Netherlands
Stable 40% bicycle share of trips since 1990.
50% decline in serious injuries 1997-2005.

London, UK
Doubling in total number of bicycle trips from 2000 to 2008 (+99%).
Average annual growth of 17% between 2003 and 2006, after implementation of congestion charging.
75% increase in bicycle trips to school 2000-2008.
Bicyle share of all trips rose from 1.2% in 2003 to 1.6% in 2006, an increase of 43%.
12% reduction in serious bicycling injuries from 2000 to 2008.


Andy B from Jersey said...

It is such a shame the man is considered a bicycle superstar but nobody in New Jersey ever seems to take notice of his research (Rutgers is the public University of New Jersey). New Jersey is a state that is practically sans bicycle lanes or any other bicycle facilities. A real shame too since we are an older and densely developed state, that by its innate nature, makes traveling by bicycle convenient and easy even without any bicycle facilities.

Anonymous said...

Most people in New Jersey don't live within cycling distance of their workplaces, but they DO live with cycling distance of public transportation. The problem is that New Jersey public transportation, such as the PATH train between New York and New Jersey BANS bicycles during rush hour. This means that a commuter either has to get a folding bicycle or own two bicycles, one for commuting to the bus/train station in New Jersey, and another for commuting from the destination station to work.

Mikael said...

indeed, andy b.

regarding new jersey, 50% of americans live within 8 km of their workplace. i would think that a densely populated eastern state was one of those where workplaces were closer than in, say, wisconsin.

but two bikes is a good option. How about two of these babies. Two cheap and cheerful transport tools.

Andy B from Jersey said...

I'm fortunate to live an easy 2.4 bikable miles (4km) from my job and do so just about every day.

I just did a big report about bicycle access on NJ TRANSIT with the assistance of John Pucher (and boy did he make me work hard!). I think the peak direction restrictions during rush-hour are reasonable and fairly standard even on systems like San Fran's BART. Even with my Brompton I had trouble with bumping into people as I took the train into NYC last week for the Walk 21 Conference, particularly on the PATH train.

The big and easy thing that needs to be done to make NJ TRANSIT more bike friendly is to install higher quality and more secure bike parking at the stations. Also Deutsche Bahn style electronic rental bikes at select stations could really help people make that final mile to work connection.

Either way, there are many things that can be done to improve the cycling environment and health as John Pucher makes clear in all his papers. Unfortunately, many senior transportation planners in New Jersey are not familiar with his work and Pucher lives right here!

PS - If you didn't already know, John Pucher doesn't own a car and doesn't even drive! I like that he practices what he preaches.

veloslo said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ingo said...

There is a hugh amount of german and dutch language studies on the increase of accident rates due to separated bicycle facilities such as bike lanes and bike paths that he simply ignored, see e.g. http://bernd.sluka.de/Radfahren/Vortragsfolien.html for more information. His selection seems to be very biased towards finding pro-bike-path results on a quick first view.

Mikael said...

sounds cool, veloslo! keep in touch.

ingo... that's funny. the man has a list of references as long as the River Elba and you find him 'unreliable and biased'.

the vehicular cyclists are really getting desperate, hey? :-)