A number of people seem to believe that the Obama administration should put “stimulus” dollars into such bicycle facilities as bike paths, bike parking and bike lanes.
But despite being a lifelong bicycle commuter, being an enthusiastic supporter of having government do a lot more to promote more bicycling, and having written a master’s thesis on bicycle transportation, I am not one of them.
I believe that more bike facilities, while an important symbolic gesture to show that government respects and promotes bicycling, will not be effective in creating large numbers of new bicyclists. Our communities are too dispersed and low-density. We have way too much free parking for cars. And gas prices are way too cheap.
Instead, the Obama administration should target other tactics to successfully promote more bicycling. For example…
· Establish federal rules and assistance to substantially reduce free car parking, and assist local governments in establishing car parking cash-out programs.
· Assist local governments in increasing their residential densities in appropriate locations.
· Increasing the gas tax could also help, although the new dollars would need to be kept away from counter-productive road widenings.
· And lets not forget the pressing, nation-wide need to re-design our car-happy urban streets so that they are Complete Streets accommodating all users—not just cars (in other words, correcting the mistakes we’ve made for so many decades). Primarily, we do that by narrowing them (mostly by road dieting them), and slowing down motor vehicle speeds.
Now more than ever, we need a Plan B for our transportation system. Cars are rapidly becoming dysfunctional.
It is important to target the most effective ways to encourage bicycle, transit and pedestrian commuting. Otherwise, we squander a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform our transportation.
Visit my urban design website read more about what I have to say on those topics. You can also schedule me to give a speech in your community about transportation and congestion, land use development and sprawl, and improving quality of life.
Or email me at: dom[AT]walkablestreets.com
My book, The Car is the Enemy of the City (WalkableStreets, 2010), can be purchased here: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-car-is-the-enemy-of-the-city/10905607
My book, Road to Ruin, can be purchased here:
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