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, March 15, 2011

Reiterating the third point about bicycling as part of sustainable mobility and infrastructure

Bicycling segmentation
Image from a presentation by Roger Geller of the Portland Department of Transportation, about the four distinct market segments for bicycling as transportation.

At last week's Bicycle Summit, a programming and lobbying conference organized by the League of American Bicyclists, I was thinking about a kind of ur point that needed to be communicated within the various great materials that they provided, but wasn't.

The biggest thing that people criticize in terms of investment in bicycling infrastructure is that the infrastructure appears to be lightly used, by comparison to roads.

I think the biggest point to make is that without the right kind of infrastructure people won't ride, because they are uncomfortable riding in high traffic-high speed situations--that they would ride, but won't if their safety is compromised.

Most infrastructure provided up to now has been focused on enabling people who feel comfortable riding in traffic.

Roger Geller's research (see "Portland's Bicycle Brilliance" from The Tyee) on willingness to bicycle for transportation (not recreation) finds that 33% of people have no interest. But that leaves 67% of the population.

Of that 67%, 1% are willing to ride in any condition, and 6% are willing to ride in most any condition.

Frankly, that 7% of the population is about what we are getting thus far in terms of "large scale" bicycle use.

60% of the population is willing to ride but only if certain types of infrastructure are provided, so that they can ride safely.

That's where protected bike lanes, cycletracks, and multiuser trails come into the picture.

When you provide that kind of infrastructure, ridership skyrockets.

When it doesn't exist, by comparison, the number of bicyclists is minimal.

Cities such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen and Europe, Montreal in Canada, and places like Portland, Minneapolis, and the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn are proof of the point.

The Tyee article should have been reprinted in the great Bicycle Summit agenda.

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