What Does a “Bike Friendly” City Look Like?

Alan Durning has a lengthy essay discussing the infrastructure and culture that makes a city "bike friendly" in the environmental news blog, Gristmill:

Good bicycling infrastructure is something few on this continent have seen. It doesn’t mean a "bike route" sign and a white stripe along the arterial. It doesn’t mean a meandering trail shared with joggers, strollers, and skaters.

Bike friendly means a complete, continuous, interconnected network of named bicycle roads or "tracks," each marked and lit, each governed by traffic signs and signals of its own. It means a parallel network interlaced with the other urban grids: the transit grid on road or rail; the street grid for cars, trucks, and taxis; and the sidewalk grid for pedestrians. It means separation from those grids: to be useful for everyone from eight year olds to eighty year olds, bikeways on large roads must be physically curbed, fenced, or graded away from both traffic and walkers. (On smaller, neighborhood streets, where bikes and cars do mingle, bike friendly means calming traffic with speed humps, circles, and curb bubbles.)

Picture a street more than half of which is reserved for people on foot, bikes, buses, or rail; on which traffic signals and signs, street design, and landscaping all conspire to treat bicycles as the equals of automobiles. This is what bike friendly — what Bicycle Respect — looks like.

Such "complete streets" are common in Denmark, the Netherlands, and other northern European countries.

What does bike friendly look like? It looks like a 60-year old and her granddaughter on two wheelers, getting the green light at each intersection they approach, while drivers brake to stay out of their way.

  • Nona

    Great stuff, especially in contrast to NYC DOT’s quantity theory of bike lanes.

  • this is exactly what we need; it makes so much sense i could cry.

    why is it that ideas that have been working for decades in europe are considered “radical” and “untested” here?

  • zeroKelvin

    No wonder why Denmark is considered to be the happiest place on earth. You have bike friendly streets!!! Its hard in Southern California where everybody drives. But slowly I think people are changing.

  • gecko

    Wonderful film. Still, way to many cars. Just listen to the background noise.

  • NYC experimented poorly with separated bike lanes in 1980. See http://www.transalt.org/blueprint/chapter4/sidebar.html

    I don’t remember it well, but it looks like they were put in without working with the local and biking communities.

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