Tag Archives: Copenhagen

Bicycles and the city

Many cities are investing in bicycle infrastructure such as expanded bike lanes or subsidized bicycle sharing programs, and this is increasing bicycle traffic. InfraNet Lab blog writes that in Montreal and New York City ridership has increase about 30% since 2008. London has more than doubled since 2000. London’s new large capacity bike lanes have lead to a 70% increase in cycle traffic into the city reports UK’s Bikehub in one year.

This big city provides a list of a few example cities, and Streetfilms, which is a NGO that creates short films on how transportation policy can improve city life,  has a number of films on urban bicycling and bicycle infrastructure.  For example,

Cycling Copenhagen, Through North American Eyes

There is lots of discussion over how to do incorporate bicycles in cities is intense and diverse. For example,

1) James Schwartz argues that it is good for urban businesses.

2) Canadian sustainability write Chris Turner on bike lanes (parts 1, 2, and 3)

3) Evan Osnos in his New York blog post Bicycle lanes of Beijing compares the history of bike lines in Beijing with recent debates over bike lanes in new york

But an article on Sustainable Cities Collective by Kasey Klimes The Real Reason Why Bicycles are the Key to Better Cities argues that urban cycling is important, not just because it’s healthier, uses less energy and pollutes less than other transport, but that they provide a means for becoming engaged in city life. Klimes writes:

Invite a motorist for a bike ride through your city and you’ll be cycling with an urbanist by the end of the day. Even the most eloquent of lectures about livable cities and sustainable design can’t compete with the experience from atop a bicycle saddle.

“These cars are going way too fast,” they may mutter beneath their breath.

“How are we supposed to get across the highway?”

“Wow, look at that cathedral! I didn’t know that was there.”

“I didn’t realize there were so many vacant lots in this part of town.”

“Hey, let’s stop at this cafe for a drink.”

Suddenly livability isn’t an abstract concept, it’s an experience. Human scale, connectivity, land use efficiency, urban fabric, complete streets… all the codewords, catchphrases, and academic jargon can be tossed out the window because now they are one synthesized moment of appreciation. Bicycles matter because they are a catalyst of understanding – become hooked on the thrill of cycling, and everything else follows. Now a new freeway isn’t a convenience but an impediment. Mixed-use development isn’t a threat to privacy but an opportunity for community. And maybe, just maybe, car-free living will eventually be seen not as restrictive, but as a door to newfound freedom.

The real reason why bicycles are the key to better cities?

Some might call it enlightenment.

And BBC reports on research that suggests that cyclists are happier people.

Hopefully the indirect consequences of this regrowth of urban cycling will be positive. I know I’ll be looking at the city differently on my bike to work.

Interaction of agriculture and climate change: opportunties of synergistic policies

Agriculture and Climate Change: An Agenda for Negotiation in Copenhagen by Gerald Nelson, a new report from IFPRI, argues that due to the substantial impacts of climate on agriculture and agriculture of climate, agricultural policy should be coupled to climate policy.  SciDev.net reorts Put agriculture at heart of climate talks, says report

Mark Rosegrant, director of the Environment and Production Technology Division of IFPRI, said that the effect of climate change on agriculture was “uncertain and variable around the world. But one thing is very clear: that the poor and developing countries are more vulnerable.”

Developing countries have less rainfall, are more dependent on agriculture and face greater obstacles to adaptation, he said.

IFPRI has made provisional estimates that the global yield of rain-fed maize will decline by 17 per cent and the yield of irrigated rice will drop by a fifth by 2050 as a result of climate change. Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia will be the worst hit, according to the new data.

But the way agriculture will suffer as a result of climate change is only half of the story, the report argues. Its role in influencing climate change is also being ignored, despite the “huge potential to cost-effectively mitigate greenhouse gases through changes in agricultural technologies and management practices”.

Agriculture contributes about 14 per cent of annual greenhouse gas emissions. But by changing the types of crops grown, reducing land tillage and switching from annual to perennial crops — as well as changing crop genetics and improving the management of irrigation and fertiliser use — greenhouse gas emissions could be cut.

The report suggests several potential negotiating outcomes (for more information see the report):

  • Fund cost-effective mitigation in agriculture and research on promising technologies and management systems
  • Fund low-cost systems for monitoring agricultural mitigation
  • Allow innovative payment mechanisms and support for novel institutions for agricultural mitigation
  • Allow funding mechanisms that recognize the connection between pro-poor development policies for sustainable growth and sound climate change policies
  • Allow funding mechanisms that recognize and support synergies between adaptation and mitigation
  • Provide funds for agricultural science and technology
  • Provide funds for infrastructure and institutional innovations
  • Provide funds for data collection on the local context of agriculture

A report from Copenhagen

Climate change blues: how scientists cope a report from the recent Research Congress on Climate Change in Copenhagen:

Being a climate scientist these days is not for the faint of heart, as arguably no other area of research yields a sharper contrast between “eureka!” moments, and the sometimes terrifying implications of those discoveries for the future of the planet.

“Science is exciting when you make such findings,” said Konrad Steffen, who heads the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) in Boulder, Colorado.

“But if you stop and look at the implications of what is coming down the road for humanity, it is rather scary. I have kids in college — what do they have to look forward to in 50 years?”

And that’s not the worst of it, said top researchers gathered here last week for a climate change conference which heard, among other bits of bad news, that global sea levels are set to rise at least twice as fast over the next century as previously thought, putting hundreds of millions of people at risk.

What haunts scientists most, many said, is the feeling that — despite an overwhelming consensus on the science — they are not able to convey to a wider public just how close Earth is to climate catastrophe.

That audience includes world leaders who have pledged to craft, by year’s end, a global climate treaty to slash the world’s output of dangerous greenhouse gases.

It’s as if scientists know a bomb will go off, but can’t find the right words to warn the people who might be able to defuse it.