I was pleased to see the News’ coverage of biking in New Haven (“Bikers navigate obstacles”, Dec. 1). It’s an extremely exciting time to be a biker both in New Haven and beyond. Yale’s new bike-sharing program and the growing interest in bicycling in the city is part of a worldwide movement towards healthier, environmentally-friendly and bikeable cities.
In 2007, Paris was one of the only cities with a real bike-sharing program. But in the intervening two years — a short span of time — cities from Montreal to Washington, D.C., to Hangzhou, China, have installed fleets with more than 1,000 bicycles. There are now hundreds of European and Asian cities with bike-sharing programs and New York, Seattle and dozens more will soon climb on board.
There are still kinks regarding maintenance and theft that need to be worked out. But the explosion of bike sharing has also brought technology that is improving by the day and very soon these programs will be completely theft-proof and break-proof.
Cities in the West know that there are too many cars — the primary source of pollution in most American cities — on the streets today. Cities in emerging economies like Shanghai or New Delhi know that their city infrastructures cannot handle the 20 to 30 percent annual increase in cars and the toxic doses of pollution it brings. Bike-sharing programs not only provide a reasonable alternative but well-placed bike stations can encourage the sustainability of public transportation systems.
And biking has benefits beyond stemming pollution. There’s nothing more exhilarating than biking down a trail with a close friend, streaks of setting sun streaming through the trees. During my freshman year, because of my bike, I was able to see a city — from the manors to the project housing, from the parks to the polluted waters— that would have gone by too fast in a car, but feel too far for walking. It encouraged me to get to know and then love New Haven.
So if you ever feel like it, buy a bike or rent one from the Yale College Council-Yale Student Environmental Coalition bike-sharing program. Go on the bike rides sponsored by Yale Outdoors or the bike-sharing program, and find out about the vision of bike-sharing yourself.
The writer a junior in Jonathan Edwards College, the co-founder of the Yale Bike Share Program and former co-coordinator of the Yale Student Environmental Coalition.