The coronavirus pandemic has reduced traffic in cities dramatically, causing many to wonder why we need all those damned cars in the first place. 8 80 Cities is a nonprofit organization that advocates for more opportunities for people to walk and ride bikes in urban areas. Its motto is simple. “We believe that if everything we do in our cities is great for an 8 year old and an 80 year old, then it will be great for all people.” Its founder, Gil Penalosa, says the coronavirus pandemic represents the “opportunity of a lifetime” for cities to rethink their outdoor spaces and transportation strategies and make themselves more bike-friendly.
Lisbon is one world city taking Penalosa’s advice seriously. Mayor Fernando Medina announced a €3 million plan on June 3 that will add bike lanes and incentives for people to purchase bicycles, according to Forbes.
Here are the details:
- The speed limit in the city will be reduced to 30 km/h
- Many on-street parking spaces will be eliminated and replaced with restaurants and cafes
- The city’s network of bike paths will be increased from 105 km today to 131 km by the end of July, 161 km by the end of September, and 200 km by the end of next year.
- Cash incentives of €100 for the purchase of a new bicycle, €350 for the purchase of an electric bike, and €500 for the purchase of a cargo bike.
- 7,750 more secure facilities in the city where bikes can be locked when not in use.
One of the new bike paths will connect the city center to the neighboring area of Oeiras, where Google, Oracle, and other large tech companies have their headquarters in Portugal. People in Oeiras tend to rely on cars to get around, but the new plan intends to disrupt the norm and provide more sustainable transportation options, together with better health for the people who live and work there.
Similar bike-friendly plans are being implemented by Milan, London, Berlin, and Paris. Seattle has also closed some city streets to cars and turned them into bicycle-only thoroughfares. One of the most pernicious of human beliefs is the idea that from the moment we are legally able to drive a car, we must never, ever walk or bike anywhere again. It’s time to explode that myth. Lisbon and 8 80 Cities are showing us how.
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