Transport policy must respond to climate change

Research conducted by the VU university in Amsterdam and published in the Tijdschrift Vervoerswetenschap, an academic journal concerned with transport, has revealed that climate change will have a very limited effect on bike usage in the Netherlands.

The study, entitled "Fietsen door wind en weer," posits that the bicycle is the form of transport most sensitive to the weather, collating data that shows how the number of cyclists is 30 percent higher on summer days than on days when it freezes.

While this conclusion seems logical enough, the study further suggests that the effect of climate change, even with the most extreme forecast of world temperature changes and increased precipitation applied, will not affect cyclists behaviour too drastically.

In fact, the influence of technology, societal demographics, economics and lifestyles will have more of a bearing on the behaviour of fietsers. In particular the influence of the e-bike could affect the choice whether to cycle or not more drastically as this particular mode of transport offers the rider much more protection from the cyclists' enemy number one: the wind.

Despite this though the researchers feel that the potential for climate change should be included in any future discussions on transport policy.

The study suggests increased frequency of public transport during bad weather as well as more comfortable waiting areas for those who are making a transfer. They also cite population demographics as a rationale for the improvement of safety in the cycling infrastructure, as the expanding elderly population take to their bikes during the summertime.

Last year the possibility of heated bike paths in the future was touted, so the Netherlands is evidently already looking at ways in which to respond to climatological changes. With the tweewieler so ingrained in the Dutch psyche it seems that the infrastructure will have to change with the weather, despite any reservations about the real effect the changes will have.

Mark McDaid


Mark McDaid

Mark hails from the Emerald Isle but has been living in the land of cheese and deep-fried-indiscriminate-meat since February 2009. He can often be found trying to read through a...

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