No one will deny that our (Belgian) cities are excessively saturated in terms of vehicular traffic. This harms not only our mobility, but also urban health. Shared bikes can greatly contribute to the solution: they are light, do not take up any space, do not pollute, and are affordable for everyone.
You know the typical conversations about the future of mobility: self-driving cars and electric cars are the future solutions to our mobility problem. “Although it does contribute to reducing CO2 emissions, it does not solve the problem of the lack of space and the need for active commuting,” co-founder of the Danish bike-sharing platform donkey republicErdem Ovacik, from the beach. He wants to conquer Belgian cities with a fleet of orange bikes. Self-driving vehicles and electric cars will also need parking spaces and will inevitably lead to traffic jams. Light vehicles such as bicycles, e-bikes, steps, scooters and ultra-lightweight vehicles are the ideal alternative. Bicycles and e-bikes, in particular, are great at tackling the emerging public health problem of lack of exercise.”
Although Ovacik does not advocate a complete ban on cars from the streets. “In my view, they are only used for people who really need them, such as people who need care or residents with a physical disability. That is why we must make the use of cars, parking spaces and spaces in the city more expensive or less convenient, for example Prioritizing bicycles over cars is already well advanced in Copenhagen – although far from optimal – and we would like to promote this in the rest of Europe, focusing mainly on Scandinavia, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany and France”.
Less crime and insecurity
Besides, a bike-friendly city offers other advantages that you might not immediately associate with two-wheeled bikes. There is less crime and insecurity than in car-dominated cities. Studies have shown that people feel safer on a street where cyclists rule. Because it makes it easier for them to make eye contact. In addition, it also has an economic impact: people who visit cities by bike stop more along the way and visit small neighborhood stores more often. This contributes to the survival of independent and traditional shops rather than the culture of malls. Therefore, there are clearly more shops in a bike-friendly city. People also feel more fair, it’s great to be able to meet the mayor on a bike at a traffic light for a little chat. These are all additional factors that come into play.”
Donkey Republic recently won a contract to develop an electric bike sharing system in the Antwerp Transportation District. By the spring of 2022, there should be a total of 1,650 shared electric bikes roaming there. Earlier, Copenhagen was already allowed to supply Brussels, Kortrijk and Ghent with orange two-wheeled bikes. “And now you want to know which city I preferred to explore by bike,” he laughs. “Although I loved driving around the center of Antwerp, the suburbs seemed to me to be anything but cycling. I got lost in Brussels and noticed the infrastructure was not geared for cyclists. No, then my preference went to Ghent. Nice city to discover by bike “.
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