Back in 1991, a photographer was commissioned by the City of Münster's Planning Department to take photographs of 72 people travelling in their city by bicycle, car and bus; the message the images portray is quite clear, yet 24 years on and the scene in the centre is still the one we see in most cities around the world. The series of photographs were entitled "Waste of Space".
There is, however, a lot of hope for us all in forthcoming years since the advent of genuinely viable E-bike conversion kits.
So effective were the iconic images from Germany in 1991, they have been replicated a number of times since. Below, with the use of computer graphics showing 200 people and again the images are quite striking.
And again below, the message recreated by the Cycling Promotion Fund in Australia.
Even if five percent of people were prepared to forego the undeniable additional luxury & comfort of the car it would be a great start towards less congested & polluted cities for everybody. Plus, the five percent who took to their bikes would soon become healthier and happier in life. Not to mention the cost savings.
It is understandable why, in hilly areas such as Brighton & Hove, people have chosen to use the car over cycling; after all there are some really stinky hills to be scaled in most directions.
However, with the arrival of lightweight, affordable & reliable electric bike conversion kits, the recent change in UK e-Bike law (April 2015) allowing electric bikes up to 250 watts to be used on UK roads for free, the continued investment in cycling infrastructure by Brighton & Hove City Council, then the arrival of a new era where cycling becomes more accessible to more people as a form of transport is upon us.
With the addition of a mid-drive electric conversion kit, bikes that commonly sit dormant for months, sometimes years at a time, that get just a handful of outings a year, are transformed into a very practical, usable and enjoyable way to get around.
The struggle of carrying children or heavy luggage on the rear of a bike can present stability and acceleration issues, particularly when pulling away at junctions and roundabouts. Electric pedal assistance improves both stability and acceleration, but most importantly it improves safety for the rider.
Even with a loaded bike, the system can laugh in the face of steep hills and punch it's way through otherwise power-zapping seafront headwinds.
The potential for more people to find travelling by bicycle in Brighton and Hove agreeable could mean that we start to see a shift in the choices people make about how they get around our wonderful city.
More Smile per Mile.
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