Friday, June 30, 2006

Cycling Trends & How Cars Kill

Friday was pretty much perfect!
No disturbances Thursday night, got out of the house in good time and had a long gorgeous ride with the sun rising above me. And I’m digging my route home – leaving UOIT and heading down to the Whitby Go Station, riding it to Danforth, and riding home from there.
In case you’re wondering, I don’t ride to the Oshawa Station because there’s basically no safe way for a cyclist to get close to it.

I just found something pretty cool on the web. In 2005 Pucher and Buehler from Rutgers did a report called
Cycling Trends and Policies in Canadian Cities.
Oshawa, surprise surprise, was the lowest city in its category (by population), with only 0.5% of people travelling by bike. Victoria was the highest at 4.8%. Saskatoon was at 2.5%, Ottawa was pretty good at 1.9%, and Toronto was at 0.8%.

There's something these bare stats really don't reflect though. There IS a cycling culture in Toronto, by which I mean you see other cyclists on the streets there, and there are a fair number of bike lanes. Oshawa however... geeze, 0.5% is actually generous. Except for kids on their bmx's on side streets, NOBODY bikes in Oshawa. I wonder if being the home of General Motors has anything to do with this??

And here's one more thing, it's a March 2006 report from the City of Toronto's Health Officer, on the effects of

traffic on health
If you look through it, you'll read all these ways that cars kill. People in the U.K. who live close to roads have a 7% higher rate of stroke mortality than people who live far from roads. In Los Angeles proximity to traffic has been shown to cause low birth-weight babies. In Italy proximity to traffic has been shown to cause leukemia in babies. In Denmark professional drivers (i.e. taxi drivers and truck drivers) have higher rates of cancer than non-drivers. The World Health Organization estimates that in Europe half of all deaths attributed to air pollution are actually caused by traffic pollution.
And then there's what we all know about ... 3000 some traffic fatalities in Canada a year, and all the global warming problems.
Cars are like Ninjas - they'll find some way to kill you!


Meg said...

I just found your blog and I'm quite fascinated.

What advice can you offer a beginning cyclist on climbing hills? I got slayed this morning on my ride. Background? I have a hybrid, I often have a baby on the back, and on a good ride I average 13-14 mph 15-20 miles. Slow. But I can't let these hills kill me.

Any words of wisdom for me?

ducati said...

Meg, keep your "cadence" up. Cadence is essentially the speed that your legs are moving/pedaling. Most newcomers to riding tend to pedal at a slow cadence, which forces you to put a lot of effort into pedaling. A higher cadence will be less difficult to pedal, and you'll last longer (especially on hills, if you haven't developed your cycling muscles yet). Try this: when you're pedaling, every time your right foot hits the bottom of the stroke say "one potato... two potato..." When you say the next number (two, three, four, etc) your foot should be hitting the bottom of the pedaling stroke. Say the potatoes pretty fast, and you get a good idea of what proper cadence is.

If you have a geared bike, you will probably need to shift down a few gears to maintain that cadence on hills. Don't worry that you slow down, just do it. I bet you'll feel better after a ride.