Suggestions for Obama to Encourage More Bicycling

By Dom Nozzi
 
 

 

 

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.

 

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1 Comment

Filed under Bicycling, Urban Design

One response to “Suggestions for Obama to Encourage More Bicycling

  1. Pavel Gubanikhin

    Very good ideas indeed. A number of European countries also have stiff annual vehicle registration fees, often times calculated based on the engine volume (measured in cubic cm) or fuel efficiency. While the federal government has limited ability to change local codes, a nation-wide gas tax + vehicle registration fee that gradually increase over time would make a lot of sense. The revenues could be dedicated to federal match grants for rebuilding electrified mass transit in the cities and/or restoring intercity rail and electrifying existing railways.

    As the resources our society has at its disposal continue to shrink, it is critical that they be directed towards building a more sustainbale, low maintenance infrastructure rather than more of the usual highways-and-bridges crap.

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