Building The Global Cycling Infrastructure For Energy Security
This week, the G-8 Leaders have been meeting in Hokkaido, Japan and they have been discussing the need to take an aggressive stance on reducing CO2 emissions. The emerging message coming from Japan is that energy conservation has become essential because of a limited supply of future oil and the negative impacts that burning fossil fuels are having on the environment. One country, The Netherlands (Holland), has taken a leadership position in energy conservation by installing cycling paths and cycling roadways throughout its cities to provide a zero emissions transport infrastructure for their citizens to use.
A visit to a city like The Hague in Holland will demonstrate how effectively the Dutch have integrated the use of bicycles with the electric trams and railways to promote efficient utilisation of energy, and they continue to improve upon this infrastructure. Children ride their bicycles to school and commuters either ride directly to work or park their bicycles at the train station and then ride the train to work. The bicycle pathways run parallel to automobile roadways or cut across sections of the city on dedicated bicycle roads. In The Netherlands, more people ride bicycles than drive cars, and cycling as a mode of transport happens even during the chilly winter months.
Investments in the cycling infrastructure in The Netherlands have included cycling underpasses, cycling traffic lights, cycling car parks and the closing of city centres to just pedestrians and cyclists. For some, the Dutch emphasis on cycling as a mode of transport may seem excessive, but another viewpoint could be that the Dutch have installed an energy security infrastructure that more cities throughout the world need to give serious consideration.