Isabella Gronchi Prof. Grimaldo Persuasive Speech Nº2 5 March 2012 Good Afternoon President Ricardo Martinelli, MOP, and ATTT board members, I have summoned you here today to propose an urban project that will reduce the traffic problem we’re dealing with these days and the number of pedestrians who are victims of motor vehicles. I propose we build a network of sidewalks and bike lanes all over the country, especially in the city. I’m sure most of you have noticed the increased amount of traffic and the fact that each passing day it gets worst. As I left The City of Knowledge last Wednesday to go home, I encountered exaggerated lines everywhere I went. It took me one and a half hours to get to my house, which is located near Multiplaza. This is an incredible amount of time considering that there are no more than 15 km of distance between these two places. In addition to all the subway work being done, this traffic is due to the increased amount of cars on the streets. A network of bike lanes will encourage people to travel in their bikes instead of cars to get to their destinations faster. This would seriously lighten the clusters of cars, at least during the summer season. According to the Texas Transportation Institute, traffic jams cost the average traveler almost 40 hours a year in travel delay, cost the United States more than $78 billion each year, and are wasting 2.9 billion gallons of gas every year. Researcher Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute estimated that replacing a car trip with a bike trip saves individuals and society $2.73 per mile, since gas expenses are eliminated. The construction of a bike lane can cost as little as $5,000 a mile, an amount considerably smaller than that necessary to construct more car lanes. Bicycles also cause less wear on the pavement, meaning that long and expensive repaving works can be avoided. In addition to saving money, bike lanes can accommodate 7 to 12 times as many people per meter of lane per hour than car lanes, thus saving space. By building bike lanes we would also be helping our environment by reducing the amount of gas and noise emitted by motor vehicles, since bicycles are non-polluting and silent. Bicycling is ranked among the top three exercises for improving cardiovascular fitness, which means we would also be helping our body. Studies have shown that bicycle commuters work more efficiently, arriving to work eager and alert, thus increasing business productivity and improving the country’s economy. So, everybody wins. A network of proper sidewalks is also a great way to reduce traffic and pedestrian accidents. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, pedestrians killed while walking along the roadway account for 8% of all traffic accidents. Providing walkways separated from the travel lanes could help prevent up to 88% of these crashes. By providing facilities that are more comfortable, we can increase the number of trips made by walking. Additionally, by moving pedestrians off the travel lanes, motorist operations are improved and capacity increased. Imagine waking up one day and seeing a clear, uncongested street; there are no honk noises or smoke blurring your view. This is the sight I would like future generations to have, including my children. Wouldn’t you like that too? It is possible to create this sight but not without federal, state, and local investments in bicycle and walking facilities that will provide drivers with an appealing, safe alternative choice. I urge all of you to contribute to this project and start building these networks. Panamanian citizens will thank you and so will I. Works Cited Flusche, Darren. “The Economic Benefits of Bicycle Infrastructure Investments.” League of American Bicyclists. June 2009. 26 Feb. 2012. “Bicycle Network Development.” New York City Department of City Planning. 2012. Feb. 26 2012. “Safety Benefits of Walkways, Sidewalks, and Paved Shoulders.” FHWA Safety Program. U.S. Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration: 2012. Feb. 26 2012.