Category Archives: can bicycles save the world?

Growing Green in the Asphalt Jungle: Engineering Bikeability for Fun and Profit

Los Angeles is strapped for cash. Officials are resorting to the equivalent of digging under sofa cushions for change: ticketing unlicensed dog owners, cracking down with parking tickets, and raising Metro fares. But they’re going about it the wrong way — there’s gold right in LA’s streets, just waiting to be exploited. All that’s needed is a proper vision.
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Build it and They Will Ride: The Importance of Bicycle Networks

While the bicycle shed is an important conceptual planning tool, it is meaningless without the physical development of bicycle infrastructure. Therefore, each bicycle shed should not be conceived in isolation, but as part of a regional bikeway network. This network should be designed to connect people to important destinations—schools, neighborhood centers, regional centers, open space, and of course, local and regional transit systems.

In general, the bicycle network should be comprised of many bikeways types. These include, but are not limited to shared-use paths, shared lanes (sharrows), bicycle boulevards, bicycle lanes, and physically separated bicycle lanes—sometimes called cycle tracks.

Before assigning bikeway types, the unique characteristics of each thoroughfare and its urban context must be considered holistically. This includes analyzing street width, street type, existing land use and urban form, density, traffic control devices, posted speed limits and actual travel speeds, and traffic volume.

But while the existing conditions of each thoroughfare are important, the urban context is rarely static. Therefore, considering the desired character and urban context is critical to the selection process, as context-specific bikeways can help strengthen a more immersive, accessible, and equitable urban environment. Continue reading

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Fitter, Happier, More Productive: The Health, Social, and Economic Benefits of Bikes

Riding a bike makes people and cities fitter, happier, and more productive. Don’t believe me? Here are oodles of studies that prove what common sense should already tell us. Continue reading

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Why We Can’t Resist Bicycle Infrastructure

It is becoming increasingly clear that we won’t be able to avoid moving to a new economy, one in which carbon constraints and increasingly scarce petroleum resources are going to demand dramatic changes in the way in which we transport ourselves and even the very structure of our cities. But like any economy, the new one that’s coming is going to need the infrastructure that will make it work. Part of that means letting go of our habitual attitude to infrastructure investment that is predicated on growing motor vehicle use, and accepting one in which continual reductions in car use are brought on by making the use of sustainable transport more attractive. Under such a model, bicycle infrastructure would be a key component of Canberra’s transport budget. It’s a far cry from the current situation.
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Case Study: Groningen, Netherlands

The future of carbon-free transport lives strong in Groningen. This Dutch city of 185,000 proves that bicycle transportation can reign supreme: people there make about 150,000 trips by bicycle every day.

Bicycles and pedestrians entirely rule the medieval-era city hub, cruising along on car-free dedicated pathways and short cuts with no traffic signals in some instances. But people also commute on bikes in large numbers from suburban housing spread out around the city to downtown jobs, via a ring-and-spoke network of paths. Overall, 37 percent of area commutes are made on bikes.

Boasting an official town bicycle planner, Groningen has created an infrastructure it refers to “continuous and integral,” which includes massive surface and underground bicycle parking facilities, dedicated bike paths, and two-way bike lanes even on one-way auto streets. Continue reading

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