A Comparison Of Bicycling Infrastructure And Governmental Programs In Toronto And San Francisco Essays Example
In the last decade, many North American cities, including Toronto and San Francisco, have implemented bicycling commuting programs and improved their cycling infrastructure. This has been in response to a growing community of cyclists, higher fuel costs, and a consensus that alternative forms of transportation can help the environment by reducing carbon emission associated with operating motor vehicles (Pucher, 2005; Cervevo and Duncan, 2003). Cycling can also contribute to increased health outcomes, lower rates of obesity, and help solve “car dependent urban sprawl” (Cervevo and Duncan, 2003, p. 3). Both Toronto and San Francisco have a strong cycling culture, and programs that encourage safe bicycle commuting. However, when comparing the two cities, in terms of number of cyclists, amount and quality of infrastructure, and organized cycling programs, it is clear that Toronto is a more bicycle friendly city.
According to a research study almost half of Torontonians engaged in cycling and sixty percent of households owned bicycles (City of Toronto Cycling Study, 2000). Almost a quarter of Toronto residents are bicycle commuters, who ride to work, school and shopping (Pucher, 2005). The Toronto city government has an official Toronto Bike Plan, and created a city-wide cycling network, which promotes safe, practical and fun bicycling (City of Toronto Cycling Study, 2000) The government also has a safety program that focuses on education and promotion to encourage safe cycling. In 2011, the Bike network expanded, encompassing over 750 miles of bike path (Pucher, 2005). A major goal of the program was to ensure that all Toronto residents were within a one mile range of a bike path, so they could safely navigate their routes (Pucher, 2005). The city also installed bike racks on buses, and installed three thousand bike ring stands so cyclists could safely lock up their bikes. The city of Toronto publishes a map of the cycling network that makes navigating city streets safe and easy. As a city and community, it is clear the Toronto is at the forefront of a movement to make cycling a major part of city living.
However, the city of San Francisco also takes bicycling seriously, with a cycling culture, including colorful bicycle messengers, that make the city famous for cycling. Almost twenty percent of residents bicycle resident, slightly less than Toronto (Bicycling in San Francisco, n.d.). San Francisco also has a city wide bicycle plan, instituted in 2009, nine years after Toronto created a similar program. The city also has a safety program, which operates clinics and passes out free bicycle lights and helmets to promote bicycle safety. San Francisco has installed 1,500 bike racks, roughly half the amount of Toronto, and only has 144 miles of bike lanes, which is roughly 1/5 the amount Toronto has designated for cyclists (Pucher, 2005).
Furthermore, San Francisco has a number of problems associated with cycling that make it difficult to get around the city. There are very steep hills, and automobile traffic congestion, a lack of bike lanes on most streets, and a lack of a unified cycling network deter many San Francisco residents from bicycling (Cervevo & Duncan, 2003). These structural impediments make cycling in San Francisco more difficult than in Toronto. Toronto on the other hand, has a very organized and clear unified cycling network, that links together the entire city.
In conclusion, cities around the world are implement policies and programs that make cycling easier, safer, and more attractive to residents. Toronto has been on the cutting edge of these developments, creating a city wide plan in 1995, fourteen years before San Francisco initiated a similar program. Toronto has more residents who engage in cycling, and also has more bicycling infrastructure than San Francisco, with more bike lanes, paths, and buses that have bike racks. Both cities are clearly encouraging their residents to get out of their cars and use bicycles to safely navigate the city, but Toronto started earlier, and has invested more resources into their programs. It may not be a bike race, but if it was, Toronto is clearly winning.
Bicycling in San Francsico. (n.d.). Retrieved April 15, 2015, from http://www.sfmta.com/getting-around/bicycling
Cervero, R., & Duncan, M. (2003). Walking, bicycling, and urban landscapes: evidence from the San Francisco Bay Area. American journal of public health,93(9), 1478- 1483.
Pucher, J. (2005). Cycling trends & policies in Canadian cities John Pucher & Ralph Buehler. World Transport Policy & Practice, 11(1), 43-61.