Marketing Bike Boulevards to Non-Bikers

Today from Biking in LA, some thoughts on how to sell the idea of bicycle boulevards to non-cycling homeowners:

military_north.jpgWouldn’t this street look nicer as a bike boulevard?

The simple fact is, not many people want a bike boulevard on their
street. At least, not until they understand what it actually means.

And that’s our fault. As I’ve noted before,
cyclists don’t have to be sold on the concept. The name alone tells us
everything we need to know. Problem is, we expect everyone else to be
as excited about it as we are.

It just doesn’t work that way.

On the other hand, the solution is simple. Instead of speaking in
terms of our interests, we need to look at it in terms of what’s in it
for people who don’t bike.

And there’s a lot in it for local homeowners.

By diverting traffic onto other streets, local residents can finally
free themselves from the headaches of high-speed traffic in front of
their homes. No more heavy trucks or hot-rodding hooligans in the
middle of the night. And no more commuters taking a shortcut through a
quiet residential neighborhood to bypass congested boulevards, turning
a formerly peaceful street into a mini-throughway.…

Then you tell them the best part. It won’t cost them a dime. Because
one feature of this wonderful new street plan is something called a
bike boulevard — a gap in those barriers that allows bikes and
pedestrians to pass through — the DOT will pick up the entire tab.

Find a street with speed bumps, Biking in LA suggests, and you’re looking at a street where local residents could be convinced that a bike boulevard is right up their alley.

Lots of stuff from the network today about the connection between transportation and health: Transportation for America is helping Americans talk to their representatives about how car-centric planning damages public health. Portland Transport reports on a study that will look at how street layouts affect obesity and other health issues. And The WashCycle has a characteristically reasonable piece about the always-incendiary helmet issue.

  • J:Lai

    I’ve noticed that it’s an incredible easy position for many politicians and business/community “leaders” to come out in some way against bike lanes or other bike infrastructure.
    There are prevalent (wrong) ideas that any bike infrastructrue is elitist, manhattan-centric, bad for business, and bad for the “middle class”.

    This seems like a total PR failure. I would love to see some kind of bicycle ad campaign. Something like a series of “I’m a biker” profiles with subjects that are

    1. Not from Manhattan
    2. Using a bike for commuting or other economic activity as opposed to recreation
    3. Middle-class identified (whatever that means)

    I’m not sure if there is any group that has the funding to do something like that (maybe TA?) but it just seems like one of the biggest obstacles to improving bike infrastructure in this city is the mis-information and negative attitudes.

    If that works, the next series should address the misperception of bikers as scofflaw threats to public safety.

  • This is the presentation that we used to introduce neighborhoods to the bike boulevard concept this year.

    We are in the process of implementing 8 new bike boulevards that cover 15 miles in Portland by the end of June, 2010.

    There are some design examples at the end of the presentation. These are general concepts and have evolved through the process of developing the boulevards.

    You can learn more at our project web page:

    Greg Raisman
    Community and School Traffic Safety Partnership
    Portland Bureau of Transportation