Bicycling in most cities is on the cusp of a potentially transformative moment. As we more fully understand the value of investments in cycling infrastructure, we are learning that not all infrastructure choices are the same. So many efforts over the past 10 years have been modest, incremental steps, and while those actions are useful, they fall short of what it would take to achieve the sort of mode shift goals that many cities are setting.
Or perhaps more accurately, they are talking about rather loudly but moving toward in hushed tones, afraid of possible political blowback and that could stall progress. Vancouver’s more assertive moves are only beginning to show their potential, and one of the indicators of success is the creeping amount of congestion in cycle tracks, where cyclists are physically separated from traffic lanes for cars and buses. Now it’s time to back a next, more expansive phase, which will require some political courage and a thoughtful engagement strategy. Kudos to the attention being paid to data in insisting that people engage in rhetorical discussions based somewhere in reality and give changes a bit of time to really show their value and potential.
- Small businesses in neighborhoods tend to see business benefits by making bike parking as important than car stalls, both because more bikes (and thus people) can park in the same area and because cyclists tend to spend more per person in local shops.
- Public health benefits of making it easier for all types of people to embrace cycling as a daily mobility choice could dramatically outweigh not only the narrow financial ‘costs’ of infrastructure transformation, but also the other benefits to the environment and people’s spending on transportation.
- Emerging research focused on the chosen mode of transportation in a city and people’s happiness and reduced stress, would seem to further bolster the value, and enable leaders to push beyond merely promoting better health, but actually celebrating choices that help people thrive, and this speaks to the need to tightly connect vision and strategy, and to be more transparent with people and businesses.
Photo Credits: Paul Krueger
– Tom Osdoba