Beyond Bike Lanes

by Staff, Utne Reader
May-June 2010

image by Jay Lawrence/Polara Studio / www.jaylawrencephoto.com


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Despite a recent boom in the number of U.S. bicyclists, fewer than 1 percent of us regularly bike to work. According to the January 2010 Governing magazine, a number of city planners see that statistic as evidence “that some more radical bicycling strategies are in order.”

“It’s time to think beyond bike lanes, [the planners] say, and start using bike-only traffic signals, traffic-protected ‘cycle-tracks,’ and other street designs that are common in European cities such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen, where up to 40 percent of all trips are made on two wheels.”

Obstacles to achieving this sort of Scandinavian efficiency include red tape, legal concerns, and wariness about departing from the bible of urban street design, the Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, which has been slow to adopt bike-friendly designs.

The good news is that forward thinkers at the National Association of City Transportation Officials, representing more than a dozen major cities, have banded together to launch Cities for Cycling, an information clearinghouse that allows municipalities to experiment with nonstandard designs and share best practices. Portland, Oregon, is already forging ahead with bike boxes, marked areas at intersections that allow bikes to wait at red lights in front of cars.








Post a comment below.

 

Hamish
9/3/2010 7:35:26 PM
I'm sure that people wish to live healthy long lives.Riding a bike truly helps and its great fun too!

Stephen Sloot_1
6/4/2010 2:20:01 PM
I live in Vancouver (hilliest city in Canada, I'm sure. Maybe even North America). The City has just dedicated $25M to bike infrastructure and planning. This is 1/3 of the municipal transportation budget (not including the provincial or federal transportation budget). This is big. We have a very low rider-ship rate at this point. But our plans are still largely destined for bike-ways...and with a lot of heeing and hawing about it from taxi drivers and car-commuters. As a 31 year old hardcore commuter (32km return ride everyday, rain or shine...and we get more rain than Seattle!) I think we can go a lot further. Keep the articles coming.

Doug Lass_4
4/27/2010 10:53:08 AM
I just turned 60 and have not had a bike in several years, but am planning to get one in the near future. For some of my purchases I have to go to out of town at least 15 miles, which I have to use my car, but for the majority of of my purchases are here in town where I could use a bike. That would cut down on the emissions that I would produce!

Brigitte Petersen_1
4/26/2010 6:23:20 PM
Great news to hear that more people are finally coming to their senses. There are so many positive things about cycling and so many negative aspects of motorized transportation. Riding a bicycle or walking every day, as I try to do, one really becomes aware of how unnatural our commuting world has become. Big, metal machines race by you, often nearly killing you, and for what reason? For the sin of riding a bicycle or walking to work? People need to wake up. We need stronger political will, more grassroots action and simply more people riding bicycles and walking in order to make progressive changes. Also, I have noticed that more and more businesses want employees to supply their own vehicles for work. What gives? I would like to see more businesses encouraging alternative, healthier, eco-friendly and more economical modes of transportation. There are so many opportunities for businesses to be leaders when it comes to helping the environment, cutting back costs and improving employees' health. Employees should refuse to supply their own vehicles for work, unless they are self-propelled.

Brigitte Petersen_2
4/26/2010 6:22:37 PM
Great news to hear that more people are finally coming to their senses. There are so many positive things about cycling and so many negative aspects of motorized transportation. Riding a bicycle or walking every day, as I try to do, one really becomes aware of how unnatural our commuting world has become. Big, metal machines race by you, often nearly killing you, and for what reason? For the sin of riding a bicycle or walking to work? People need to wake up. We need stronger political will, more grassroots action and simply more people riding bicycles and walking in order to make progressive changes. Also, I have noticed that more and more businesses want employees to supply their own vehicles for work. What gives? I would like to see more businesses encouraging alternative, healthier, eco-friendly and more economical modes of transportation. There are so many opportunities for businesses to be leaders when it comes to helping the environment, cutting back costs and improving employees' health. Employees should refuse to supply their own vehicles for work, unless they are self-propelled.

harlan
4/26/2010 2:51:31 PM
I would love to cycle more, I am in excellent shape and have years of experience mt. biking in Northern CA. Since moving to Florida, West Palm Beach particularly, I haven't ventured out too often, the motorists here are very aggressive and inconsiderate.There are bike lanes in some places but it's still extremely dangerous. Solution: strict enforcement of the laws by the police and sheriffs, they are as much at fault as the old and often inconsiderate public. People around here don't use their directional signals except to see if the bulb is working before they sell their cars.

Gary Ashcraft
4/26/2010 1:41:56 PM
I am 62 years old and have been pedaling the better part of my life. I have become convinced that the only thing that will really change attitudes in North America is an intergenerational shift. Much as Barack Obama refered to himself as being part of the "Joshua Generation" crossing over into Jordan. The last couple of generations and our love afair with the automobile and our particular American form of transportation is as aberrant as Jim Crow was and we will not get to see the promised land. The particular American love for conspicuous excess and waste that has been part our culture from the end of WWII into the present will have to pass, and a new more moderate generation will have to take the helm before real change can occur. My generation can see no other way to conduct our public affairs beyond the methods we have been tought. Our rules / regulatory structures are inflexible, our attitudes ossified, we address what works in other countries with a " not invented here " mentality, there are to many vested interests in maintaining the staus quo. I could go on at length but the truth stands for itself.








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