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When the Environmental Sustainability Plan came before Los Alamos County Council last fall, several councilors scoffed at the concept of trails being an element of sustainability. They could not see trails as anything other than recreational.
A study by Shreya Dave, a graduate student at MIT, disputes that assumption. Dave’s study concluded that an ordinary sedan’s carbon footprint is more than 10 times greater than a conventional bicycle on a mile-for-mile basis, assuming each survives 15 years and you ride the bike 2,000 miles per year (or slightly under eight miles per weekday).
Granted, the majority of those commuting to work by bicycle use the roadways, and would prefer improved access on the streets. But other segments of the population would gladly utilize trails if a the county offered a better designed system.
The Los Alamos Monitor’s questions sparked comment around the issue on the Los Alamos Bikes blog (labikes.blogspot.com/2013/11/commuter-trails.html).
Khalil Spencer (who also sits on the Transportation Board) initiated the debate.
Spencer pointed out that Los Alamos’ location on several distinct mesas limits the number of easy ways to move between them. Currently, major roads offer the only feasible options.
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