Pushing the Bike Lane Agenda

Cities are overcoming opposition to bike lanes to improve traffic flow and quality of life

What Happened?

It took Vancouver three attempts to finally make a bike lane along the Burrard Street Bridge a permanent fixture. The city’s persistence is an example of how decision makers can overcome opposition to implement important projects.

Third Time’s A Charm

Urban planning scholars at the University of Toronto recently analyzed the journey Vancouver took between 1996 and 2009 to build a bike lane on the Burrard Street Bridge. The effort to convert a car lane into a bike lane in 1996 failed after just one week, while a second attempt in 2005 was thwarted even faster.

However, by 2009, the traffic congestion along the Burrard Street Bridge had worsened while cycling had grown significantly across Vancouver. After the 2008 elections, policymakers tried and succeed to push a bike lane agenda – benefiting from four factors making the project a reality. According to the researchers Vancouver was finally ready for a bike lane because:

  • Vision Vancouver – the bike lane movement - was able to rally support in conjunction with the 2008 election
  • New policymakers updated the bike lane proposal to include more safety measures and consideration for pedestrians
  • Vancouver Vision demonstrated the benefits of a bike lane via multiple media outlets
  • Lawmakers in support of the bike lane did not back down to pressure from opposition groups

Thus, the study concluded that these four factors played a key role in the permanent installation of the Burrard Street Bridge bike lane.

New York’s Network

While some cities are struggling to add bike lanes along major roadways, municipalities like New York City are setting aggressive goals to reduce traffic congestion through the development of extensive bike networks .

New York City’s Departments of Transportation and Parks and Recreation and Bicycle Network Development Program plan to:

  • Expand facilities for bicyclists to encourage bikes as a viable mode of transit
  • Develop a comprehensive plan to improving bike facilities citywide
  • Implement an all-agency bicycle policy for NYC to institutionalize the planning, design and implementation of bicycle facilities
  • Improve facilities continually as funding allows, including bike facilities in capital and expense budget projects
  • Coordinate with advocacy groups, state and city agencies

Not only will the Bike Network Development program make it easier to navigate New York City via bicycle, but also aims to improve air quality, reduce roadway congestion and lower overall transportation costs for residents.

Biking Is Good

Several studies lay out numerous benefits of biking as a mode of transportation for both participants and communities. According to research from Copenhagen , cycling to work decreased participants’ risk of mortality by 40 percent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention consider biking an effective activity regimen to improve cardiovascular fitness, and is easy to incorporate into daily activities.

Transportation Alternatives reports bicycling will cost a rider one-fourth the financial burden of driving a personal vehicle, which would translate to $1,100 in annual savings on average per motorist who converts to biking.

Not to mention, employers enjoy bike-enthusiast worker as they tend to live healthier lifestyles and cost less with regard to healthcare coverage.

The Case for Bike Lanes

Gov1 has reported on the growing number of bike lanes across the country that are improving congestion , air quality and quality of life for residents.

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