Last week, Global Site Plan’s The Grid co-hosted a TweetChat with The Green Lane Project about implementing bike infrastructure in cities. Over forty bike-enthusiasts joined us to share their wisdom on the topic. What came about was a fast-paced, hour-long discussion that revealed five major trends within the bicycle advocacy movement.
1) Cities Must Have the Will to Change
Cities must show they are serious about becoming bicycle friendly. That commitment to change comes from several areas, as listed in the tweet above. Some of our participants had different feelings on exactly where that change should begin. @aevictoratou states, “Community should put pressure on politicians.” However, the @GreenLaneProj pointed to the success of cities with committed mayors - those being “NYC under Bloomberg, DC under Fenty and Chicago under Emanuel.” Perhaps it requires support from both sides to instill true reform?
2) Locating New Bike Infrastructure is Harder Than You Think
The group seemed to be in agreeance with @copenhagenize - the goal of building new bike infrastructure is to increase ridership. However, some people have different feelings on how we prioritize where bike amenities are placed. @GreenLaneProj states, “Different bike infrastructure is appropriate on different streets.” The streets with the most traffic and greatest speeds need physical separation for bike lanes in order to entice riders. But @EBBC makes an interesting point based on their own experience, “[In] Dublin, CA last night, [we] pushed for separated bike lanes on [a] busy street. [The] Council said [there are currently] not enough bikes to justify [adding lanes].” This reflects the challenges bicycle advocates face.
3) Transportation Equity is a Hot Topic
While this may have been the touchiest subject of the conversation, it’s an important point to bring up. As @bikepeacenyc addresses above, the goal is to make our cities more livable. @GreenLaneProj makes the point that “good biking liberates cities from car dependence, which is great for poor people.” But @r_hunt believes the issue is complex because “people who’ve pushed for bike infra have done so from a place of privilege.” And then there’s the issue of gentrification. @EBBC says “...it’s a real issue, addressed from within the community.” It’s hard to say whether or not the implementation of new bike infrastructure is a sign or a cause of gentrification. But we must do our best to ensure our efforts benefit all demographics.
4) U.S. Cities Still Have a Lot to Learn
Cities such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen have been leading the way in bicycle commuting. But @GreenLaneProj points to Seville, Spain as an exemplary city, where the daily percentage of trips made via bike increased from one percent to six percent from 2007 to 2010. The U.S. can also look to Amsterdam’s “large amount of secure bike parking,” as @foskett15 mentions. But in reality, there are many cities around the world that have found unique ways to serve the bicycle commuter - check out these 19 photos courtesy of The Green Lane Project. You may be surprised to learn that Minneapolis is the number one bike city in America, as noted by @GlobalSitePlans. The end goal is simple: “Make it safe, make it enjoyable, make it the easiest and most attractive way to get from A to B,” courtesy of @bikepeacenyc.
5) Spread the Love
As bicycle advocates, we are always looking for more effective ways to communicate our message, particularly to those who don’t support our cause. @prinzrob states that we need to find “unconventional partners” and build coalitions; this includes getting elected officials on bikes and getting those already on bikes elected. @toastforbrekkie believes we have to cater our message to our audience. “To sell politicians on bikes, talk safety. To sell the public, create an image and talk health and savings.” The goal is to increase ridership. @BikeBikeYYC brings up two points. First, we must teach kids to cycle, because they will grow up understanding bikes better. And their second statement is simple but powerful message. “More people on bikes begets more people on bikes.”
What kind of bike infrastructure does your city have? Green Lane Project is looking for six U.S. cities eager to improve biking. To get green lanes in your city, apply here.
This is only a sample of what took place. If you are interested in the full discussion, check out the Hashtracking report. Stay tuned for #thegrid’s next Twitter Chat, which will take place on Wednesday, December 18th at 3PM EDT/ 2PM CDT/ 12PM PDT/ 8PM BST/ 10PM EEST. We are looking forward to you joining the conversation!