"In most U.S. cities, riding a bicycle is a black diamond adventure. A combination of skill, daring and training is necessary to feel comfortable riding in traffic on big busy streets. Of course, not all city riding is challenging. There are a lot of greens and blues in the system, including quiet neighborhood streets, greenway paths and rail-trails. But they often don’t connect, and that’s a problem. Let’s go back to the top of a ski hill for a moment. Imagine you could start out on your choice of easy greens and intermediate blues — but then halfway down the mountain, every run dumped you into a section of steep and bumpy expert terrain. Once you reached the bottom, you’d likely opt for hot chocolate at the lodge and look for a different vacation spot. The same holds with biking. A potential journey is judged by the most challenging section of the route. Riding a bike down a quiet neighborhood street is easy and fun, but if you have to cross a busy road without a safe intersection, or you have to ride in heavy traffic before you get to a greenway path, it’s not a green circle experience and less-confident riders are not going to do it more than once."
"1) Protected bike lanes increase retail visibility and volume. It turns out that when people use bikes for errands, they’re the perfect kind of retail customer: the kind that comes back again and again. They spend as much per month as people who arrive in cars, require far less parking while they shop and are easier to lure off the street for an impulse visit. 2) Protected bike lanes make workers healthier and more productive. From Philadelphia to Chicago to Portland, the story is the same: people go out of their way to use protected bike lanes. By drawing clear, safe barriers between auto and bike traffic, protected bike lanes get more people in the saddle — burning calories, clearing the mental cobwebs, and strengthening hearts, hips and lungs. 3) Protected bike lanes make real estate more desirable. By calming traffic and creating an alternative to auto travel lanes, protected bike lanes help build the sort of neighborhoods that everyone enjoys walking around in. By extending the geographic range of non-car travel, bike lanes help urban neighborhoods develop without waiting years for new transit service to show up. 4) Protected bike lanes help companies score talented workers. Workers of all ages, but especially young ones, increasingly prefer downtown jobs and nearby homes, the sort of lifestyles that make city life feel like city life. Because protected bike lanes make biking more comfortable and popular, they help companies locate downtown without breaking the bank on auto parking space, and allow workers to reach their desk the way they increasingly prefer: under their own power."
"Looking to other places for inspiration and a glimpse of a possible future is a critical part of the path to better bicycling in U.S. cities. That’s why it’s a big focus of the Green Lane Project. The best Dutch and Danish cities have been working diligently to make bicycling safe, appealing and convenient for about 50 years, but Munich’s dedication to bicycle transportation really took hold in the 1990s. The German city’s bicycle infrastructure is not yet world-class, but it’s more advanced than anything yet achieved in North America. In 1990, the percentage of trips made by bike in Munich was about 5% (comparable to today’s best U.S. cities, though some neighborhoods have much higher use). Today in Munich, bikes make up more than 15% of all traffic, a remarkably rapid transformation. The rise of bike use during the last two decades was no fluke —focused public and private investments in infrastructure, thoughtful policy decisions, and economic, social and legal incentives made it possible. Like in the U.S., these changes weren’t driven by the passion of select individuals, but by rational decision-makers seeking practical and cost-effective urban transportation. And like American cities, Munich’s traffic professionals struggled with design challenges and cultural inertia while adapting proven practices from other places to their unique streets. The parallels are strong between Munich’s bicycling growth during the 2000s and the current trajectory of U.S. cities."
"Svoboda, at his press conference, scolded city council for falling behind its own targets for bike-lane expansion (set in the 2001 bike plan), and for removing lanes even as major cities like Montreal, New York, and Chicago add dozens of kilometers of new bike thoroughfares each year. Citing the six cycling fatalities and thousands of injuries that have occurred in Toronto in 2012 alone, Svoboda said that what we usually describe as accidents “could also be described as a failure by the City to protect its residents and to build a healthy city.” He urged councillors to consider the preventative benefits of cycling and active living in general. “Cardiovascular health, mental health, insomnia—all these things are treated with exercise…this is a public health issue, and an issue of primary care,” said Svoboda. Ritika Goel, Svoboda’s colleague at St. Michael’s, echoed his concerns. “We know that when people are asked why they do not cycle, safety is widely cited as the main reason,” she said. She cited a study on cycling accidents in Vancouver and Toronto that found car-on-bike collisions to be less likely on roadways with bike lanes than on those without. “This is not new information,” said Goel, “injuries and deaths could have been prevented if there was more bike infrastructure in the city.”"
In many ways Boston is at the same spot the Dutch were in the 70′s. We are facing similar economic, environmental, and health problems. We even share a similar climate and “old world” city layout to many cities in Northern Europe. This town could be rebuilt into a cycling paradise, combined with a state of the art public transportation system we could be ready to face the challenges the next century will bring.
And there will be challenges. Boston’s population is going to grow, and even at current numbers there is a lack of space for cars. We have to take back the space we are currently wasting on things like parking cars, and put it towards more economically useful endeavors like housing and business.
Bike Lane Blues of the Day:As we’ve seen, NYC cyclists don’t always respect the rules of the road. But, as New Yorker Casey Neistat makes painfully clear in this PSA, it’s hard to respect the rules when the rules don’t respect you.