The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) every 5 to 6 years reviews the science and solutions of climate change. The latest report, the 6th Assessment, was published in 3 parts authored by 3 working groups in 2021 and 2022. The reports provide an important review of the climate crisis and solutions. Increased behaviour change in transport behaviours and uptake of cycling, including e-bikes and other forms of micro-mobility, are essential solutions, especially for cities and urban areas.
One of the IPCC sixth assessment authors, a co-chair of Working Group I, Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte, collated all the information in the 3 working group reports (2021-2022) on the importance of transport mode shift and cycling as a solution to climate change.
A recent Melbourne study published in March 2022 (Pearson et al) highlighted that there is a huge number of people who own a bike and are interested but concerned with cycling. The lack of dedicated cycling infrastructure deters these people from being active cyclists. There is also a gender bias in this. It highlights the need for local councils and State Government to invest in separated cycling infrastructure which will bring multiple benefits in more people cycling, and reducing congestion, reducing transport emissions. The researchers concluded: “Our results show the potential for substantial increases in cycling participation, but only when high-quality cycling infrastructure is provided.”
“Global greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector have increased by around 2% per year between 2010 and 2019, and account for around 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activities.” says Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte.
“Shifts to bikes and e-bikes is a modest, yet cheap, option to reduce greenhouse gas emissions #mitigation” says Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte.
“In fact, cycling is one of the lifestyle changes with the largest potential to reduce our individual carbon footprint.” says Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte.
“Each option to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can have other co-benefits or trade-offs with other dimensions of sustainability, related to sustainable development goals #SDGs” says Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte.
“And shifts to bikes and e-bikes (and walking) comes with many co-benefits!” says Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte.
“Using bikes and e-bikes is affordable, and can support gender equality related to mobility” says Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte.
“Cycling and walking is good for heath too.” says Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte.
“Active mobility with safe and convenient infrastructure provides direct physical health and well-being benefits, helps reducing air pollution, and coping with heat stress 🌡️ (an adaptation measure!).” says Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte.
“Cycling goes hand in hand with sustainable cities and communities, and urban forms designed to facilitate cycling.” says Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte.
“Climate resilient development is the process of implementing adaptation and mitigation measures to support sustainable development” says Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte.
“Cycling is part of climate resilient development!” says Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte.
“Transport demand reductions and mode shift are feasible options in strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions” says Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte.
“Established cities have a potential for transformation by focusing on creating modal shift” says Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte.
“Rapidly growing cities can include active mobility in their design” says Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte.
“Solutions include planning cities so that multiple destinations (work, schools, services, leasures…) are accessed within a 10 mn walk or bicycle ride” says Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte.
“Improving green infrastructure connectivity for cycling is an urban nature-based solution : people are willing to cycle longer on safe tracks and with green surroundings.” says Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte.
“There are known barriers for cycling uptake, for instance related to habits, housing costs, and lobbying to privilege the status quo” says Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte.
“In particular, urban development patterns designed for cars” says Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte.
“Multiple approaches can enable cycling uptake, such as investiments in infrastructures, inclusion in local transport plans, or bike-to-work campaigns. This requires participation, discussion and debate.” says Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte.
“Bike sharing programmes can help – in particular when management is also optimised to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” says Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte.
“Behavioural change in a short time and at a massive scale is possible, with adequate enabling conditions.” says Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte.
“The time for action is now – and every choice matters including strategies to support 🚲🙂 !” says Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte.
That is the global climate science indicating the need for more emphasis on active transport (cycling and walking). This information should be essential reading for urban planners, such as in Moreland and City of Melbourne for changing the urban environment to encourage more walking and cycling. This is what needs to drive more investment in specific walking and cycling infrastructure.
Local Melbourne research on potential for cycling increase.
The study by Pearson et al (March 2022), The potential for bike riding across entire cities: Quantifying spatial variation in interest in bike riding, provides justification for separated cycling infrastructure to encourage people interested in cycling to start doing so. This is particularly important for women interested in starting to cycle.
The researchers conclude that “Our results show the potential for substantial increases in cycling participation, but only when high-quality cycling infrastructure is provided.”
The research noted that:
Over half of participants owned a bike, however only one in five rode a bike at least once per week. Most participants were classified as Interested but Concerned, demonstrating a high latent demand for bike riding if protected bicycling infrastructure were provided.
On gender the research found that more men owned a bike, rode at least once a week. There were also less women who were Strong and Fearless or Enthused and Confident as men, but the proportion who were Interestyed but concerned was comparable for both men and women:
A higher proportion of men than women in the sample owned a bike (63% vs. 52%), rode a bike at least once per week (28% vs. 12%) and rode a bike solely for transport (8.3% vs. 5.9%). The distribution of Geller groups differed between women and men (x 2 = 79.7, p=<0.001) (see Fig. 8). While the proportion of No Way No How participants was higher in women (19% vs 12%) and the proportion of Strong and Fearless (1.6% vs 4.0%) and Enthused and Confident (1.6% vs 4.7%) participants were lower in women, the proportion classified as Interested but Concerned was comparable in both women (78%) and men (79%).
The research also found a correlation between income and propensity to use cycling.
In this study, a higher proportion of people in the lower income categories rode a bike for transport purposes, and rode four or more days per week, compared to people in the higher income groups. Similar findings have been shown both in Australia and internationally, where there was an association between increased household income, and a decreased proportion of people riding a bike for transport…. To support lower income groups in bicycle-commuting and reduce health inequities faced by low socioeconomic groups, high-quality and protected bicycling infrastructure should be provided equitably to support local travel and connections with public transport.
The research also highlights that painted bike lanes just don’t do the job of satisfying safety and moving substantially more people to cycling. Painted bike lanes are used as a cheap transport bureacrat option which doesn’t actually increase safety and still leaves substantial numbers of people interested but concerned:
While painted bike lanes are a lower cost alternative to providing bicycling infrastructure, these do not constitute physically separated bicycling infrastructure. Research conducted in Melbourne that measured passing distances between motor vehicles and bikes identified more close, and potentially unsafe, passes when a person riding a bike was travelling in a painted bike lane compared to on-road (Beck et al., 2019). Similarly, a previous study identified that 22% of all on-road bike riding crashes occurred while riding in a painted bike lane, highlighting their insufficiency in protecting vulnerable road-users (Beck et al., 2016). In addition to the risk of substantial injury that painted bike lanes pose for people on bikes, they are not supportive of new bike riders, or low-stress traffic environments, with concerns about safety on the road and interactions with motorists being a major barrier to participation in bike riding (Daley and Rissel, 2011; Heesch et al., 2012; Twaddle et al., 2010; Akar and Clifton, 2009; Dill, 2009). As indicated by the findings of this study, removing interactions with motor vehicles through a physically separated bicycle lane could substantially increase participation in bike riding in Melbourne, while maintaining the safety of vulnerable road-users.
So you have the global climate science saying we need to increase active transport to reduce transport emissions, and local research saying more separated and dedicated infrastructure is vitally needed to move the great number of interested people to actually taking up cycling. Encouraging people to cycle once or twice a week, or for short trips is important in terms of emissions reduction, reducing congestion and providing environmental and health co-benefits.
Comparing NSW and Victorian Government active transport funding
Keep in mind Melbourne is falling behind Sydney in cycling infrastructure rollout and budgeting. NSW has an Active Transport Minister, Rob Stokes, with a five year budget for cycling and walking of $980 million, an amount which Stokes wants to double.
Victorian State Government budget 2022 on cycling: “There is roughly $21.8 million allocated for active transport, with the Department of Transport earmarking a number of bike projects across metropolitan and regional Victoria.” says Bicycle Network, who also highlight some cycling infrastructure being built as part of major road projects and upgrades. It seems the Victorian state government is far behind in funding active transport infrastructure as compared with north of the border.
- The IPCC 6th assessment reports are available in full. The information in the slides was based on a cycling keyword search of the three Working Group reports . https://www.ipcc.ch/assessment-report/ar6/
- Full powerpoint slides can be downloaded from a third party Sharebox site via Dr Valérie Masson-Delmotte (196MB)
- Pearson et al (March 2022), The potential for bike riding across entire cities: Quantifying spatial variation in interest in bike riding, Journal of Transport & Health, Volume 24, March 2022, 101290, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214140521003200