How to Create a Network of Green Bikeways in Your City
With a little green paint, streets can be redesigned for the growing number of people choosing two wheels over four.
It’s a movement that’s taking off across the country, and around the globe. Think Copenhagen was always a bicycling mecca? Nope, it’s because the city invested in separated bikeways back in the 1970s, after a staggering number of Danish children were hit and killed by cars. Now 35 percent of trips in Copenhagen are done by bike.
London designers have gone so far as to propose a futuristic elevated bike tunnel where bike riders pedal through glass tunnels high above the city. But until this Jetsons-like dream is a reality, a bit of gritty paint and some physical separation from cars makes for a much safer and more civil bike commute.
If you’re not lucky enough to live in a city that’s connected by hundreds of miles of separated bikeways—few of us are—there are some key actions you can take to help catapult your town or city into this new pedal-powered, green lane movement.
1. Join your local or state bicycle advocacy group.
Bike advocates are on the frontlines every day, working to get safe, separated bikeways on the ground. Join them, and let them know which streets you’d like to see green bikeways on. As the people who bike on the streets every day, you know them best. A list of city and state bicycle advocacy can be found at peoplepoweredmovement.org.
2. Urge your Mayor to apply to be a Green Lane Project City.
The Green Lane Project helps cities and towns usher in the next generation of bikeways. It’s no surprise that the cities that were chosen for the first round (Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Portland, Chicago, Austin, and Memphis) now have miles of green lanes in place. With the aid of the Green Lane Project, the number of protected bikeways in the U.S. grew from 62 in 2011 to 102 in 2012, with another 100 planned this year. Urge your Mayor to enter your city or town into the Green Lane Project 2.0; applications due in January.
3. Sign the People for Bikes Petition.
Peopleforbikes is a movement to improve bicycling in America and unite one million people for biking. So far, more than 750,000 riders have joined. Peopleforbikes will use this massive movement to leverage for more federal and state funding for bike projects and help show decision-makers that bike riders are no longer a fringe group, but instead a united and diverse group of constituents who want safer bikeways. Sign the pledge at peopleforbikes.org.
4. Redesign the street yourself.
Fancy yourself a liveable streets pro, or just want to try and cut your teeth on redesigning a street? Streetmix, a new site that launched out of a hackathon, lets you virtually reconfigure the street yourself. Add green bikeways, wider sidewalks, and more greenery and transform the busy boulevard near your house into a biking paradise. Once you have a design, send it to your bike advocacy group or city planners and help make that vision a reality.
Image courtesy of San Francisco Bicycle Coalition