It's a slow uphill pedal - but at least we're moving

Could the new elevated bike lane on Market Street get more people on their bikes? Debbie Chisholm, one of our volunteers, is a regular cyclist through the city and says it's an ideal topic for our Climate Action Film Contest


I’d consider it a success if I arrived to work in London without being honked or sworn at. My daily cycle commute through narrow roads into the heart of the city was never dull, that’s for sure.

So maybe it’s that the novelty hasn’t quite worn off yet or a severe case of delayed jet leg but, having recently moved over here, it’s a breath of fresh air how much safer I feel. Perhaps it’s the wider roads and bigger cycle lanes (or maybe it’s the run of cycle-friendly weather) but the drivers seem more patient and I don’t feel like I’m preparing myself for battle every time I put my helmet on.

Don’t worry, the traffic fumes haven’t completely gone to my head - I’ve started to see the flaws and hazards in cycling around and across this lovely city. The infrastructure is far from perfect. The deaths of two cyclists earlier this month brings that starkly home.

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Market Street cycle counter (right)

It goes without saying that cycling is fantastic for the environment, but one of the reasons people are unenthusiastic about swapping their car for a bike is the safety issue.

That’s why it’s great to see the work beginning this week on the cycle lane on Market Street – the first in San Francisco. The elevated lane (which sits above the road but below the sidewalk in height) has already proved its success in cycling nirvanas like Copenhagen, so fingers crossed it has a similar effect here. City planners will be evaluating the project to see if it will be suitable for other parts of town. It's projects like this that could give people the confidence to dust off their old cruiser and pedal to work.

Of course, I'd be mad to think that armies of people will get on their bikes just as a result of the Market Street upgrade. But it is a small step in the right direction.

The battle to get people out of their cars and in the saddle was covered excellently in this year’s Festival opener Bikes vs Cars. They follow the individuals around the world that are fighting to create change. Their fight is a tough one - today there are one billion cars in the world, by 2020, that number will have doubled.

Will the number of people cycling have doubled too? It’s a nice thought.

Film can be a powerful tool for change. Are you a keen cyclist with an environmental story to tell? We’re looking for entries to our Climate Action Film Contest.

If you’d like to get involved but not sure where to start, check out our How To Guide on creating short films.

 


The  Climate Action Film Contest is presented by SF Green Film Festival, SF Department of the Environment, and The Mix at SF Public Library.

THANK YOU to our contest sponsors: ARUP, Google, Wells Fargo, Autodesk, and the Business Council on Climate Change.