British Columbia

Bicycles perfect post-earthquake transportation method

Architect Ian McDonald thinks bikes can play an essential role in the aftermath of an earthquake.

Architect Ian McDonald's firm says disaster 'pods' equipped with bikes should be dispersed throughout the city

In this photo taken March 18, 2011, a survivor pushes a bicycle on his way to a shelter in Minamisanriku town, Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan, a week after a massive earthquake and resulting tsunami. (Hiroaki Ono/Yomiuri Shimbun/Japan Out/The Associated Press)

It might be time to add a bicycle to your emergency earthquake kit.

Architect Ian McDonald's firm is creating a disaster plan that includes 'pods' equipped with bicycles to help people survive if there's a major earthquake.

They're pitching the idea at the Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place conference taking place in Vancouver this week. The conference — with over 1,000 city planners, engineers and advocates in attendance — focuses on increasing walking and cycling in communities.

McDonald says bikes are ideal after a catastrophe.

"Bikes are really remarkable actually. In contrast to other modes of transportation, they are at once nimble, and allow for you to travel fairly lengthy distances."

Bikes don't need gas and can navigate crumbling infrastructure, he adds, and they won't likely be buried underground in a seismically unstable parkade.

Architect Ian McDonald thinks cities should consider building "bike disaster pods" to help people survive after "The Big One" hits. (Charlie Cho/CBC)

In the firm's hypothetical disaster scheme, pods would be dispersed throughout the city's neighbourhoods.

"They would support specifically the kinds of things you might need on a few city blocks," he explains.

Those things would include bicycles, medicine, spare parts, WiFi capacity, and possibly sleeping supplies.

McDonald imagines the pods would each be the size of a garden shed and would operate like a secure parking site, monitored by city officials or disaster response employees.

With files from The Early Edition

To listen to the interview, click on the link labelled Can bicycles be our saviour during an earthquake?