The climate crisis requires solutions at all levels and that includes the streets. Safe streets for pedestrians and cyclists ensures that more people will use sustainable transit (and not drive polluting cars). New York City has earned a reputation for redesigning their streetscape to be for people instead of cars, which has been praised here on this site and elsewhere. This reputation was fostered under the previous mayor and now the new mayor, Bill De Blasio, isn’t living up to his predecessor’s urban design philosophy. We can’t ignore that the debate has moved from just needing bike lanes to needing safe bike lanes – New York City is still ahead of other cities. Let’s hope all cities can have more elevated debates about safe transit infrastructure.
Let’s stand back and look at what’s going on. The problem is the absence of an infrastructure that gives bikers, pedestrians, and even delivery trucks what they need so they don’t go to war against each other for the rat-infested crumbs of asphalt the city has them fighting over. Cyclists need protected lanes and prioritized lights all over the city. Give that to them and they won’t swarm the sidewalks, they won’t drive the wrong way all the time, and they won’t go through intersections when they shouldn’t. Give pedestrians the wide and safe sidewalks they need, the benches their weary legs desire, the trees that make shade in the summer, and calm streets in which the majority of space is devoted to the majority of people who are not in private cars. This has been proven to work — it’s not a risky leap, it’s been ridiculously successful in cities across the world, particularly in Europe.
Despite being only 2.4 kilometres long the bike lane on Bloor street in Toronto was heavily contested. It was debated in local politics for decades and was only declared permanent recently. During the debate car drivers demanded the “right” to occupy land at the expense of others while maintaining an unhealthy and dangerous urban design. Thankfully, city councillors chose the safer bike-friendly design. Businesses argued that their customers drive to their stores and that due to the bike lane their business will fail. Thankfully this was incorrect. A study released last week revealed that, like everywhere else, bike lanes actually bring more money to small businesses.
Problem, research strategy, and findings:
Bike lane projects on retail streets have proved contentious among merchant associations in North America, especially when they reduce on-street parking. A limited but growing number of studies, however, detect neutral to positive consequences for merchants following bike lane implementation. In 2016, the City of Toronto (Canada) removed 136 on-street parking spots and installed a pilot bike lane on a stretch of Bloor Street, a downtown retail corridor. Using a case–control and pre–post design, we surveyed merchants and shoppers to understand the impacts of the bike lanes on economic activities. We find no negative economic impacts associated with the bike lanes: Monthly cus- tomer spending and number of customers served by merchants both increased on Bloor Street during
the pilot. Takeaway for practice: Our findings are consistent with an improving economic environment at the inter- vention site. Downtown retail strips may therefore be suited to tolerate bike lanes and even benefit from increased retail activity. Pre and post surveys can provide valuable insights into local economic impacts of streetscape changes affecting merchants along city streets, especially where access to sales data
Every Sunday the city of Bogota stops cars from entering the city and they let the streets be used by everyone. Once cars are out of the equation it’s amazing what communities can do to make life more enjoyable and help their culture thrive. National Geographic took a look into how Bogota’s famous Ciclovía grew from an idea to an event copied around the world.
“One gets bored just going from home to work and back again,” said Martha Cubillos, a pleasant general services employee for the city who said she had biked with her husband to the Ciclovía from the far outskirts of town. She could stand to lose a little weight, according to her doctor, “so I come here every eight days and they teach us how to do aerobics.” Was the Ciclovía one of the things she liked best about Bogotá? Oh, definitely. She took a swig of water and jumped back into the sweaty throng. Ciclovía’s director, Sarmiento, said that in a highly stratified society like Colombia’s one of the things she loves about the program is its egalitarian nature. “No one cares about the clothes you’re wearing or what social class you’re from: everyone is welcome, and everyone is equal,” she’d said. The line-up of bikes leaning next to each other alongside the Zumba class—some rusted and wobbly, some with comfortably upholstered seats—supported that statement.
Regular readers of this site already know that in urban settings using a bicycle is the best way to get around. Thanks to an on-demand food delivery company there is now more evidence that bicycles are the fastest mode of transportation. The company knows this because their delivery algorithm takes into consideration how the food is being delivered to get the estimated delivery time for clients.
Smartphone data from riders and drivers schlepping meals for restaurant-to-home courier service Deliveroo shows that bicycles are faster than cars. In towns and cities, bicyclists are also often faster than motorized two-wheelers. Deliveroo works with 30,000 riders and drivers in 13 countries.
That bicyclists are faster in cities will come as no surprise to bicycle advocates who have staged so-called “commuter races” for many years. However, these races – organized to highlight the swiftness of urban cycling – are usually staged in locations and at hours skewed towards bicycle riders. The Deliveroo stats are significant because they have been extracted from millions of actual journeys.
In North America riding a bicycle in the cities built for cars can be stressful. Because these cities are designed for cars it’s hard to get anywhere quickly and New York witnessed this first hand. Instead of adding more vehicle lanes and continuing the problem they decided to remove parking and add bike lanes. As a result they saw fewer crashes on their streets while increasing economic activity. Plus, in New York the bike lanes allowed car traffic to floe better because the streets also permitted safer turning.
Here’s the description of the video above:
When Janette Sadik-Khan was hired as chief transportation official for New York City in 2007, she took a page out of Denmark’s playbook and created America’s first parking-protected bike lane, right in the middle of downtown Manhattan.
A parking protected bike lane created a buffer between the traffic of cars, trucks and buses and cyclists. But it also eliminated parking spots.
The protected lanes didn’t just make the streets safer for those on bikes; they also improved traffic flow for vehicles and spurred increased retail sales for businesses nearby.