Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Community Building Tip: Bike-friendly City

For my current set of tips, I've decided to use the one I wrote based on how to make your hometown more like Bluehill in Terramagne-America. I took a close look at the town's positive features with an eye toward replicating them here with local resources.

* Bike-friendly city with dedicated and mixed use paths, a bikeshare, a local bike shop, etc. Those movable corrals aren't very hard to make and use; one car parking space = ten bike parking spaces. This is one area usually driven by citizen action.


A bike-friendly city also meshes well with other progressive transit plans, such as public transportation and walkability. Here are some ideas for making your hometown more bike-friendly.

A bikeshare is an organization that offers bicycles (or similar vehicles such as tricycles or tandem bicycles) for people to borrow. They can be free, spontaneous rental, or membership based. Find a bikeshare near you. Learn how to start a bikeshare.

Identify and promote your local bicycle shop. Often the same place sells new bikes, accessories, replacement parts, etc. and also repairs bikes. The one near us puts up the same sign message whenever it becomes relevant: "Wow, gas is expensive!" Search for bike shops in the United States or the United Kingdom.

Install movable or permanent bicycle corrals in former car parking spaces. Here are some arguments for bike corrals as part of street parking. This one actually drives around. This one emphasizes the 1:10 ratio.

People tend to prefer bike paths separated from car and foot traffic. This benefits everyone, not just bikers. Here are some thoughts on design. Given that bicycle-pedestrian collisions are also hazardous, I don't recommend putting bicycle lanes and street parking in the same place, because then people leaving a car have to cross the bike lane to reach the sidewalk, which is very dangerous for disabled or otherwise slow passengers; or the bikers are exposed to driving cars on one side and parked cars on the other. It's important to minimize conflicts between different types of travelers.

Shared-use paths for biking, skating, walking, etc. are useful in both urban and rural environments. Explore some designs. Many states have converted former railroads to shared-use paths. In case of limited resources, it is better to build new infrastructure that meets many different needs first, and dedicated single-use infrastructure later. An advantage of shared-use paths is that they unite multiple user groups in favor of the infrastructure, which can make it more attainable than things that benefit fewer people.

Pedestrian and bicycle oriented spaces give citizens a refuge from cars. These also tend to be very accessible to people with disabilities, parents with small children and strollers, and other folks who don't want to be right next to speeding cars. They usually have wide sidewalks, or have torn out both the original street and sidewalks to replace the whole area with a unified plaza.

Small infrastructure can make a big difference too. Consider bicycle repair stands, toolboxes, air pumps, and wash stations for areas with a lot of bike traffic (or where you want to attract more). A bicycle access ramp makes it easy to take a bike up or down stairs. Appropriate signage helps bikers find these amenities. They are much cheaper and easier to install than a whole path, and they instantly make the area a lot more attractive to bikers.

Bike parking is among the most important parts of infrastructure. Bike racks, bike shelters, and bike lockers come in many styles. Here is a guide to bike racks.

Bikers benefit businesses, especially small businesses. Learn how to attract them to yours.

Read about what makes a bike-friendly community and see a comparison of ranks. Here are some ways to encourage bicycling and shift a car-focused city into a bike-focused one. Check out these ideas for affordable improvements.

Visit the most bike-friendly cities in the United States or around the world, and observe what they do well. Propose doing more of those things in your hometown.

Things to AVOID: requiring helmets or licenses. A helmet law causes a large drop in biking, and licensing has been an epic failure. T-America has ways to make bike licenses valuable and popular, but they're optional, and we don't have all the background to make them work here at this time. Identify and remove other barriers to biking.

Some organizations:
People For Bikes
League of American Bicyclists


What are some other ideas you've noticed in your area or elsewhere? Do you have more ideas for making improvements?
 
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