In a year full of an endless barrage of harrowing climate disasters, more attention is on shifting entire countries to electric cars than ever in an attempt to mitigate the damage to the climate before it’s too late.
The European Union has promised to phase out fossil fuel new car sales by 2035, Canada has promised the same, and Norway hopes to do so by 2025. More countries are making similar promises every day, and there’s more choice than ever for those shopping for an electric car for the first time, which is great progress toward cleaner cities.
But, simply replacing cars with more cars, even if they’re dramatically better for the environment, feels like a missed opportunity to reinvent cities — do we really want to lock in private vehicles dominating our roads forever? Why are we relying on the electric car to save us, instead of talking about the dramatic rise of powerful, capable, electric bikes as a way to replace them altogether?
In most of the world, our cities are crawling with cars and the infrastructure that we dedicate to them. Roads, motorways, and parking garages are everywhere. Few people give this much thought until they visit a city designed for bicycles, like Amsterdam, where I lived for five years before moving to Toronto, Canada. In The Netherlands, the bike is the default, and few people even consider driving (or owning a car) within their own city.
For cities, electric bikes are a no brainer way to address climate change and both reduce emmissions as well as create a more livable city. They take a fraction of the space that a car would on the road while driving and parking, allow you to bypass traffic jams, and are good for your health. But, despite their benefits they receive little attention compared to the breathless coverage in the technology industry of…