Category Archives: Traffic

Cycling is time-effective

Cycling saves time is one of the advantages of using your bike to go to work, study or buy. Pieces of news and research television documentaries have demonstrated it. If you have not noticed it, think about it or just do the following to check it:

– Determine your start and end points

– Make the comparison between these three alternatives:

  • Get in the car, sit in traffic, queue to get into the car park, pay to park, park your car, and arrive to the end point
  • Walk to the bus stop, wait for it, get on bus (pay), watch the roads throughout the window, leave the bus, walk to the end point
  • Get on your bike, filter past traffic, lock your bike, walk to the end point

I promise you if you do the three experiences, you will discover that using your bike is the fastest ,specially in cities, as well as cheaper. Moreover, you will fight against climate change and practice sport. Furthermore, cycling contributes to reduce obesity and protects your body and your mind.

The XVI Iberian Congress

The XVI Iberian Congress: “Beyond mobility” on bikes and cities took place in Cascais, Portugal, from May 2nd to 4th, 2019. This annual event started back in 1996 thanks to the support of ConBici (Spanish Coordinator in pursuit of Bicycles) and FPCUB (Portuguese Federation of Cycle Tourism and Bicycle users). The Covid-19 made it impossible in 2020, and there is the prevision of continuing with it in Barcelos (Portugal) and Barcelona (Spain) in 2021 at the time I write this post.

Audiences enjoyed speeches about a variety of subjects such as improving communities to strengthen the bike movement, better accessibility, how bikes enhance economy, EuroVelo (the European bike line net to cross from one country to another without stopping pedaling), environment and health, raising cycle tourism or Velocity 2021. Moreover, participants uplifted their mood in the bike ride and local cuisine in the 3-days congress.

It concluded in:

  • The need of norms and laws in the bike building process to ensure security

  • The debate proposed bikes as part of economic accessibility and a boom of local economy in comparison of the car counterparts

  • The challenge of bikes in Africa, with special attention to the lack of bicycle infrastructures and the stigma of relating this way of transport with poverty

  • Transporting senior citizens in bikes, fro instance cargo bikes, helps benefiting local communities

  • Promoting bike use in schools makes societies less dependent of car and petrol

  • Such change is importantly improved when favorable laws and figures of reference, mainly parents, contribute

  • The congress also pointed out the need of technician training to create well prepared persons who design bike infrastructures

  • Another spot was the lack of reliable studies regarding the economic impact of bike on society and the hope of the BooST “Boosting Starter Cycling Cities”  project will solve part of it

  • Moving from car cities to decarbonized cities

  • Promoting open data acquisition in regards of sustainable mobility

  • Intermodality

Bicycle architecture biennale

Architecture is everywhere in human settlements, cities and villages, and has been developing since human beings left caverns according to needs, available resources or their being styles. Regarding bicycles, architecture plays an specific role in easing displacements in bikes. It had to be tortuous riding from one place to another centuries ago, where there should not be proper roads as we know them now. Thanks to architects, engineers and intelligent people infrastructures have been improved and they are still evolving.

Similarly as architectures specialized in buildings or bridges, some of them have decided to redirect their careers into bike infrastructures. They deal with problems such as what road surface is better for bicycles riding on it, bike line on the sidewalk or on the road (better on the road), how to connect two bike lines at different height, and so on. Analogously, bike-specialized architects hold events to share the best projects on this subject.  For example, the Bicycle architecture biennale took place in June 2019 by the hand of BYCS (the organizer) as part of the mission 50by30, which aims at reaching 50% of shifts by bike by 2030. On this occasion, improvements on roads were taken into account as well as on buildings. Yes, it can sound like an utopia the fact of allowing entering bikes into a flat from streets with particular improvements having with bikes on mind. But it was also an utopia for cars in the past century. Who knows if it will popularize in this century.

Finally, architects, designers and urban-planners debated about an eternal issue: What is better: functionality or aesthetics?, without coming to an agreement.


Quite commonly, car drivers and decision makers are afraid of street congestion when politicians announce walking and cycling improvements. In particular, figures show that more than 40% of decision makers think so and this perception increases when dealing with cochistas. Take into account that congestion refers to everybody, independently of the way of transport they use or even without vehicle (i.e. pedestrians).

Reckoning from a higher height, a bike presents a horizontal surface no where near as width as a car. If we consider that the mean number of persons a car moves is 1,3 and that at least 4 bicycles take up the space of a car, then one can see decision makers are wrong. Indeed, documents have been published to demonstrate it. For example, the Civitas Flow project launched the 15 quick facts for cities under the European H2020 program.

This document is divided into four sections with examples from Europe and the U.S.A.:

  • The effect of walking in congestion

  • The effect of cycling on congestion

  • The effect of vehicle access restriction on congestion

  • The potential of walking and cycling to reduce congestion

The specific actions to reduce congestion range from narrowing roads to reduce crossing distance for pedestrians, pedestrians improvements to reduce bus travel time, cycling improvements to reduce car traffic and faster public transport (and commercial revenues), cycle highways reduce time spent in congestion and motor vehicle journeys, bike share programs eases congestion, new bike lanes shorten automobile travel times (thanks to smart traffic engineering) to neighborhood access restrictions lead to less motor vehicle journeys a day, short daily journeys could be walked in less than 10 minutes (or rode in even less time), millions of daily journeys made by motorized modes could be cycled in less than 20 minutes, and school street programs could avoid thousands of cars off the road during peak periods. All the facts presented in the document are real despite the utterly opinion of some people. By the way, pedestrian and bike safety is improved with the implementation of these ideas.

Stickers fight

As the bicycle has been using more and more in the last years, drivers from the privileged group (car drivers) have been get used to it. Nevertheless, there is still a number of them who believes the whole street is for them. Sometimes cars do not respect bike or pedestrian lines, putting lives in risk. If only they would realize the potential damage their machines can cause. Moving a one-tonne car at 50 km/h (30 mph) or more is likely to produce death to a pedestrian in a car accident. Protests have been producing around the world from violent to peaceful ones. Between these lasts, the use of stickers is popular from Russia to Mexico. In the next video you can see how it works and the car drivers reactions.

Changing habits

Let me tell you a story that has been repeating from the past century. We have a street and car stuck occurs often. Suddenly, one visionary says “Eh, we must improve the number of car lines so that cars won’t be in stuck anymore”. And then the street passes from two car lines to four ones at the expense of space for pedestrian. As a result, the number of cars also increases and car stuck comes in a few days. In this case the problem is even greater because space for pedestrian has been reduced and the more cars, the more pollution and noise.

One common argument of those who are blind to the improvement in sustainability produced by bikes lines, is to say that car lines reduction would be make everybody worse off. Note that the everybody in italic means “only themselves”. As the story I have explained earlier indicates, improvement in car infrastructure only causes more cars on streets. On the other hand, making bike lines on roads (and then reducing at least one car line) makes citizens better off as air quality improves and noises reduce. Moreover, as bikes take up less space as cars do, it is common that pedestrian space increases as bike line is built.

When car lines are reduced, dimwit car drivers blame against bike infrastructure instead of changing the car for the bike, the public transport or just walking. Replacing a habit by another is costing but if only they be open-minded enough to realize that everybody (now meaning each and every person) get better and improve their health.

Sidewalks and bikers

One of the main problems when surveys are done regarding urban mobility is the conflict between bikers and pedestrians. Riding on sidewalks (outside bike-lines) is fined in a lot of countries. The bike is logically considered as a vehicle and thus it should move on pavement or bike-lines. Bikers who ride their bikes on sidewalks probably do it because:

– They act as pedestrians, following the same paths and mental schemes as if they were walking. But not, they are riding and this can cause problems due to the higher speed than human step and/or the potential accident caused by the fact that it is an almost noiseless transport.

– This kind of bikers also can present fear to ride on pavement. This fear is understandable in some cases specially in avenues in which cars and motorcycles do not usually respect the speed limit. This reason makes it difficult to convince those bikers to move to the pavement since the more bikers on it, the more calmed traffic we will enjoy. In order to avoid going around in circles, government actions on sustainable mobility should calm traffic and, at the same time, bikers should take the pavement.