What if someone offered you the opportunity to improve your health, help the environment, have fun, save money, accomplish your daily tasks, and easily find a parking place all at the same time? It’s no gimmick; this opportunity does exist, and it comes in the form of bicycle riding. What’s more, during the coming months bicycling in Claremont will become even more convenient.
Switching to a bicycle for shorter trips, errands, or getting to work or school has many environmental, health and economic benefits for Claremont residents.
From an environmental perspective, research shows that shorter trips in motor vehicles are the most polluting,. Short trips are big contributors to our smog problem since emissions controls on motor vehicles don’t begin to function until later in a trip. A Worldwatch Institute study showed that a short 4-mile round-trip bike ride could keep as much as 15 pounds of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Around 40% of car trips that Americans take are within this distance.
Improved health is another benefit to bicycle riding. Bicycling means less smog and fewer particulates, which can cause respiratory and cardiovascular health issues. In addition, bicycling is a wonderful form of cardiovascular exercise. People who engage in regular exercise enjoy better health, better sleep, and have better mental health, plus reduced risks of heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers, stroke, obesity, and depression. Over 50% of the adult population in California does not get the recommended amount of physical activity each week. Bicycle riding can help reduce both the number of people who are sedentary and the concomitant burden of disease.
Traffic congestion and parking issues can also be reduced when more people use bicycles. Bicyclists can breeze by cars inching their way along a crowded street. Parking, especially in the busy Village area of Claremont, can often be a challenge with a car. Autos take 6 to 20 times the space of one bike, both in terms of parking and on the roadways.
Bicycle riding can also have economic benefits. A bicycle costs about $120 a year to maintain, whereas a motor vehicle can cost several thousand dollars per year for maintenance and gas. A bike requires only calories for fuel, and most Americans get plenty of the calories needed to power a bike.
Changes to promote bicycling earned the City a Bronze Level award for Bicycle Friendly Communities from the League of American Cyclists in 2008. In the coming months, bicycling in certain parts of Claremont will become even more convenient and easy. The City has been awarded a number of grants to improve bicycling access in Claremont. Bikestation Claremont is already up and running in the Claremont Depot and features storage space for many bicycles, plus tools and services to perform basic bike maintenance — all to promote the ease of multimodal forms of transportation (i.e. bicycling to the station, dropping off your bike, and hopping on the train to get to work).
Further improvements slated for the coming months include the introduction of the Bicycle Priority Zone (BPZ), which will stretch from Arrow Highway north to Foothill Blvd and from Towne Ave east to College Ave. The BPZ will emphasize safe bicycle routes and parking and encourage bicycling for recreation, commuting, shopping, and as part of multimodal and sustainable transportation. The BPZ will also include 100 bicycle racks, way-finding signs, designated bicycle routes, sharrows (“share the road” markings on designated bike routes), and bike detection loops to help trigger stoplight changes at intersections.
Future plans for bicycles in Claremont include the incorporation of the Citrus Bikeway, a multi-city bicycle route that will facilitate bicycling for recreation, commuting, and shopping. Both the Citrus Bikeway and the Claremont BPZ will ultimately be folded into a national bicycle route that will be utilized by local groups, families, and individuals for recreation and sustainable transportation.
Interested? Come to a Sustainability Dialog on Monday, June 7, presented by members of the Claremont Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee, Hear more about Bicycling in Claremont, and construction of an integrated set of bikeways throughout the region. The Dialog will be from 7:00 – 8:30 PM at Pomona College’s Hahn Building, 420 N. Harvard Ave., Claremont.
Demystifying Sustainability is an initiative of Sustainable Claremont (sustainableclaremont.org).