Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

The National segment on bike lanes

The National is the nightly news program on the CBC television network in Canada. Last year they did a story on the rise in urban biking, referencing the Netherlands, but focused on Vancouver and "controversy" over converting street road space from automobile to bicycle use.

It's a pretty straightforward and "chill" not shrill piece.  One of the people interviewed, Kay Teschke, a professor of public health at the University of British Columbia, mentioned how Seville increased its network of dedicated bike lanes by almost 90 miles over 4 years, and experienced a 20x increase in the number of cyclists.  Also see "How Seville transformed itself into the cycling capital of southern Europe," from the Guardian.

Professor Teschke is a member of the "Cycling in Cities" academic research collaborative and has a number of research publications that look to be quite interesting.

The program starts out by featuring a couple and their two children who have been car free, biking, for the last 5 years (now 6 years since the segment is one year old).

In watching the piece, and Professor Tedeschi talked about how cities like Austin, Memphis, Pittsburgh and others aim to "leapfrog" other cities and garner higher rates of cycling for transportation, I couldn't help but think about the reality of how the uptake of biking as transportation is dependent on a number of factors including spatial organization, urban design and the nature of the road network, population density, distance between residential districts and activity center destinations, topography, weather, etc.

Goals might not be achievable based on the reality of those various characteristics.  That being said, many communities are ripe for greater biking participation.  And it turns out that this is one of the elements of biking that Prof. Teschke has studied ("Bike Score®: Associations between urban bikeability and cycling behavior in 24 cities").

WRT television, clearly there is room for some good television programming on biking for transportation.  The CBC story sets the right tone for what could be a great set of programs. Last year I wrote about the segment "Bike Wars" on the HBO program "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel"

Unfortunately, that segment isn't available online, and I thought it was decent, but could be better (and there were gaps in the CBC story too). Still these programs set a much higher bar for what local television coverage could potentially obtain when covering stories on biking for transportation but too rarely do so.

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