By Ryan McGreal
Published October 29, 2012
It's been said many times: young people don't care as much about driving as their parents. They're more interested in walking, cycling and transit, and cities that do a better job of providing pedestrian-, cyclist- and transit-friendly environments will do a better job of attracting them.
A new article on Shareable finds that several American cities, including Austin, Chicago, Minneapolis, New York City, and Washington DC, are moving aggressively to build and promote bike-friendly infrastructure.
There are almost too many quotable quotes in this piece to decide which ones to pull, but I'll note briefly that these cities are not just building bike lanes, they're building physically separated bike lanes.
The City of Chicago's Chief Technology Officer John Tolva says it's no coincidence that Google-Motorola Mobility's new home in the Merchandise Mart is right next to Kinzie Street, the city's first green lane - where bike lanes are physically separated from rushing traffic to make riders feel safer and more comfortable on the road.
The piece also quotes Christopher Leinberger (who delivered the keynote at Hamilton's 2011 Economic Summit) on Washington DC:
Bikes have been a critical part of DC's turnaround. They are putting in protected bike lanes which does a lot more to encourage riding than just a white line of paint between people and a one-ton vehicle.
And it's not just big cities, either. Austin, Texas, with a popultion of 820,000, is also building protected bike lanes:
Austin is ambitiously expanding its bike infrastructure; its first green lane opened last spring, one of 10 planned for the city. CEO Tyson Tuttle relocated Silicon Labs, which designs integrated circuits for computers, to downtown Austin five years ago to be close to the city's bike trail system. It was one of the first of many tech companies that have now moved into the area. Tuttle, who himself sometimes rides to work, says it was a smart move. "Biking on the trails is something a lot of employees enjoy, and when people think about joining the company it's a big draw."
Hamilton's nascent creative sector cluster in the downtown could also benefit from proximity to a high quality protected bike lane network - if our political leaders had the vision and courage to make a similar investment here.
Instead, we're stuck with a minimal bike lane system that defaults to painted lines, has a 40 year implementation schedule and is openly susceptible to individual ward vetoes.
We need to do a lot better - and we need to start yesterday, given the progress that other cities are already making in iterating their civic infrastructure to optimize for the future of economic development and growth.
(h/t to RTH user kettal for forwarding this link)