Leaders for bikes
Last week, we convened a meeting last week of 35 national transportation leaders from 11 states. Our guests included a diverse mix of city and state officials, planners and engineers, bike advocacy group heads, and Congressional staffers. One thing we all share is a commitment to a simple, powerful idea: bicycling can provide important transportation, health and business benefits to cities, counties, states and our nation.
Our gathering focused on best practices. We talked about new, cost-effective ways to make bicycling safer and more appealing by improving roads, paths, trails and crossings. These solutions focus on pavement color and materials,
signs and traffic signals, and creating policies that make bicycling better.
Here are a few of the meeting's quick takeaways:
1. U.S. cities are creating amazing, innovative bike facilities that are transforming the urban experience. At this event we heard about improvements in Portland (OR), San Francisco, Minneapolis, Chicago, Columbia (MO), Denver, New York, Washington and our home city of Boulder, Colorado. We also heard from Marin County (CA) and Sheboygan County (WI). This is a national trend...and it's happening fast.
2. Bike use has increased dramatically in just about every major U.S. city, particularly since 2005. (We already knew this, but it was helpful to see summaries of the latest growth numbers on the Powerpoint screen.)
3. In some U.S. cities, the percentage of trips taken by bike is approaching double digits--a number that becomes truly significant in addressing road congestion, air quality, parking needs, and quality-of-life concerns. (Top cycling cities in western Europe have achieved a 30-percent bike mode share, and they're aren't satisfied, yet.)
4. All of our partners are working hard on the city cycling challenge. If you want to learn more, visit the websites of the Alliance for Biking and Walking, League of American Bicyclists, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and the new Cities for Cycling project of the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO).
We took a couple hours one afternoon to ride all around Boulder--our home base--and listen to city officials tell the story of how they developed a national-class, 380-mile network of bike lanes, paths, and trails. Boulder now boasts 74 bike underpasses--more than many states--that make it easy to pedal across town without waiting at traffic lights or busy intersections.
We're pretty sure that all of our guests enjoyed the tour, and now better understand why Boulder is recognized as one of the three U.S. Platinum Bicycle-Friendly Communities. Now we just need to keep working to bring this type of bicycling experience to other part of the country. Without a doubt, getting a million Americans to sign the Peopleforbikes.org pledge will help.