Coast to coast, bicyclists are becoming more visible on city streets, country roads, and even highways. They are now clearly a part of everyday traffic, in spite of being squeezed into tight spaces, risking injury, and courageously vying for space as they merge into automobile traffic and long to flow seamlessly and without risk (as they do in Copenhagen).
American bicyclists are prevailing, willing their way into a landscape that has resisted including them, but finally is doing so in some places. We have an overwhelming need for safer bike lanes, bike paths, and bike roads. We are finally starting to show progress with protected bike lanes. In 2012, protected bike paths have doubled in the US. It is not nearly enough; however, progress is progress.
The Green Lane Project blog reports that the number of “green lanes” in American cities has almost doubled over the last year: such on-street, colored bikeways that give cyclists some measure of physical protection from traffic had been more or less unheard of in American cities — until recently.
Several Northern and Western European cities enjoy a seamless exchange between bikes and cars, with the humans behind each considering each other on the road and providing room to share. Until very recently, American roads have been a bit blind and resistant to the ecological, healthy biker (well, many still are today). Our country’s norm has not been an easy, healthful balance, with many afraid to bike and choosing isolation in cars instead. This is changing and we believe that it can continue to change, and hope it will more rapidly.
Streetsblog tells us: after New York City implemented a protected bike lane on Ninth Avenue in 2007, the treatment began to spread. Now, through their Green Lane Project, Bikes Belong is on a mission to make this type of bike lane an unremarkable sight in the United States. And cities are making real progress on that front. This bike-meets-car culture is changing the form of our transport systems and we believe that it can continue to change, perhaps more rapidly rolling forward from the latest successes in 2012. Between 1874 and 2011, only 62 protected bike lanes were built nationwide. These new numbers shows that this key infrastructure will nearly double to 102, with protected colored bike lanes on the ground in 32 U.S. cities by the end of 2012. Furthermore, building on this momentum, the U.S. is projected to add another 100 green lanes in 2013.
Hold Fast; Don’t Give Up; Keep Rolling & Looking To Europe For Commonsense Transportation
Europeans made direct choices to incorporate bike seamlessly into their transport systems well over 50 years ago. We have lagged too long behind. These protected on-street bike facilities have long been a staple in Europe. Understanding that there is a lack of safety is what holds many of us back, and yes, 60% of Americans say they would bike more often if they had a safe place, like a green lane, to ride. Furthermore, this point was validated by a recent study in Washington D.C. that revealed bicycling increased 200% on Pennsylvania Avenue after green lanes were installed.
Luckily, the momentum is growing. Bike Portland reports that the Oregon Department of Transportation recently added a buffered bike lane on a rural highway. View the inventory of protected green lanes on Google: New York City changed the equation when Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik- Khan, began transforming streets, by adding protected bike lanes and public plazas. They were inspired by Danish architect Jan Gehl, known for his visionary work to enhance the quality of urban life by reorienting city design toward those on foot and on bike.
Image Credits: Bike Lane by nicomachu (some rights reserved); colored bike lane & bike boxes in Groningen, Netherlands by Zachary Shahan (all rights reserved); Rotterdam bike lane by Kaizer Rangwala (some rights reserved)