The World's Most Bike Friendly City

50 percent of all residential transit activity takes place on bicycles in the Netherlands city of Groningen. This urban planning success keeps motorists on the outskirts of the city streets, while investments in infrastructure and safety stoke usage.

What Happened?

The city of Groningen, Netherlands, has evolved into one of the most bicycle-friendly municipalities worldwide, with 50 percent of all residential transit activity is done on two wheels and 60 percent of traffic in the city center is on a bicycle. Through urban planning and design projects, as well as investment for appropriate amenities, Groningen officials have acknowledged the increased interest in green transportation on a bicycle and adopted practices to support the transition.

The Goal

One reason why bicycling to work, stores and other destinations has grown in popularity so quickly in Groningen is because the city’s climate is ideal for non-automobile transit. The city boasts a compact street plan that has been protected with regulations to keep cars off many of the main through roads. A street circling around the city center accommodates motorists, while bicyclists can pass free through the historical fortress community’s four quadrants, The Atlantic Cities reported .

By pushing automobile activity to the external city limits, accidents, pollution and noise were all removed from downtown Groningen, making the residential quality of life much better. With motorists off the interior streets, bicycling became the fastest, most convenient for of transport throughout the city, further enhancing the green transit options for residents.

The city offers residents bicycles to rent for specific trips, such as cargo bikes to carry larger items home from a store. Residents of all ages are embracing the biking mentality due to its cost-efficiency and the safety measures in place to protect cyclists.

Let’s Cycle

Many local officials in the United States are realizing the benefits of making their streets and residential neighborhoods more bike-friendly. A recent study from U.S. PIRG revealed the amount of driving per person in the U.S. has flattened out since 1996 and younger generations are demonstrating a growing interest in alternate transit options.

City officials have acknowledged residential sentiments toward bike-friendly policy, as well as the environmental benefits that come along with making bicycles more accessible to residents not interested in driving through congested streets.

In Chicago, for example, the city was able to create its Divvy bike-sharing program after the former mayor created the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council which developed a Congestion Mitigation Air Quality master plan.

The strategy continued to evolve when a new mayor took over and resulted in the bike-sharing program, more bikeways throughout the city and the addition of safety bike lanes on busier streets. Eventually the Streets for Cycling 2020 plan was enacted, calling for 100 miles of separated bike lanes in the next four years. Some of the promised bike lanes were quickly completed in just six week, and the city has already expanded the bike-sharing program to 5,000 bikes.

As a result of the bike-sharing program and accompanying initiatives, Chicago has moved up to the 5th spot on the Most Bike-Friendly Cities In the Country list as put together by Bicycling.

Cruising On My Bike

Gov1 has monitored the steps cities are taking to accommodate car free zones and make design adjustments to increase non-motorist safety and convenience.

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