Why Canadians cycle more than Americans: a comparative analysis of bicycling trends and policies studies the cycling habits of Americans and compares them to a much more active cycling community of Canada. The paper’s main focus is the evident difference between the popularity of cycling in two counties despite the intuitive advantage America has in terms of climate. The initial assumption is that warmer climate of the USA is beneficial for cycling culture. Pointing to the opposite result, the authors then focus their research on reasons for this phenomenon. They argue that such factors as shorter trip distances, higher urban densities and mixed-use developments, lower incomes coupled with higher prices of cars and costs of car parking and maintenance, and advanced cycling infrastructure, resulting in training programs and safer cycling conditions, all contribute to the observed result to varying degree (Pucher and Buehler 277).
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The study is based on qualitative and quantitative analysis of the data, taken from credible sources. The data is exhaustively analyzed and presented in tables and charts. Each chapter deals with a separate assumption and looks at the data to find a correlation. Some of the tables contain meta-analysis (Pucher and Buehler 275), which contributes to the overall objectivity of the research. The authors further strengthen their initial assumption by comparing the statistical data with that of Western Europe, where the cycling culture is significantly better developed than in both Canada and the USA. They highlight the correlation between the same causes and effects. The conclusions the authors draw from their analysis is that while certain factors, like urban density and car taxation, are not likely to be altered, some other, like governmental policies promoting cycling culture, introducing cycling education, and developing infrastructure may yield results. The authors point out, however, that such policies have been introduced in the past, and did not lead to a result comparable to that of Canada. The reason for that is that these efforts on the government side are unsystematic and on a relatively small scale. They, however, point out that this is a preliminary research and does not have sufficient data to answer the question definitively.
The authors’ conclusion is, as they state, “good news” (Pucher and Buehler 265). According to the findings, environmental and sustainability issues can be dealt with if properly addressed. However, reading carefully through their conclusion one can see that this situation is an interconnection of social, economic and cultural factors and is not the one to be effortlessly altered to produce the desired result. This particular research shows that cycling can be promoted, although it doesn’t show how beneficial it would be considering all the factors that need to be changed. Is it going to be worth it if the price for that is higher taxes for automobile industry? How about lower incomes? Even ecologically unsustainable society is an ecosystem of a sort, albeit not a particularly desirable one. In that light, the authors’ findings are challenging for anyone who approaches the problem in a dualistic way. Even cars and urban sprawl, the favorites of the environmentalists, do not fall easily into “things to be eradicated” category.
In all, the information presented in the paper reflects the general knowledge of the environmental studies. The factors that hamper cycling in the US, as well as Canada, when compared to Western Europe, are essentially the same that are responsible for other sustainability issues. However, it also adds to the understanding of complexities regarding implementing environmental policies.
Pucher, John, and Ralph Buehler. “Why Canadians Cycle More Than Americans: A Comparative Analysis Of Bicycling Trends And Policies.” Transport Policy 13.3 (2006): 265-279. Print.