Recent news from some of our largest cities and from the federal gov’t is down right encouraging when it comes to integrating bicycles in transportation planning and engineering decisions.
San Francisco recently was allowed to pursue implementation of their Bicycle Master Plan. There were some that filed a lawsuit against the City claiming further environmental review was needed to measure the effects that removing parking spaces for bike facilities had on the transportation system. A judge ruled on the case and the City is now moving forward with their implementation. Mayor Gavin Newsom was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle as saying “This is not the old days where it’s about bikes versus cars,” he said. “This is about bikes and cars. This is about quality of life.”
Also on the west coast, the City of Los Angeles has a champion for improved bicycling infrastructure. Mayor Villaraigosa recently had a bicycling crash on a LA roadway resulting in a smashed elbow. It seems that the crash has resulted in a renewed interest in cycling on the streets in LA. The mayor can be seen on Youtube talking about his crash and the importance of sharing the roads safely. More information can be found in Daisy Nguyen’s AP article.
I recently posted information about my trip to Minneapolis and their new bicycle sharing program. Another excellent example of improving bicycling that had to receive political approvals.
The US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has also been very vocal about improving cycling. He said, “This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.” at 2010 National Bike Summit. Having said it on top of a table instead of in front of a podium adds even more emphasis to the message. At least I think things declared from atop a table hold more weight…or they should.
What does all of this mean? Well, it means that little (in any realm) will be accomplished without a champion; someone that is passionate, can speak intelligently on a topic, and is a part of the decision making process. Now a champion doesn’t always have to be a mayor or top cabinet official but for bicycle safety and infrastructure, it is very helpful to have high profile individuals taking the lead. There are plenty of state and local groups like NYBC, Green Options Buffalo, and Capital Coexist that would be more than willing to help the ‘champion’ from the grass roots level.
It will take time, but more champions will emerge and based solely on the articles and links above, we’re moving in the right direction. Now if it weren’t hailing outside and my bike weren’t in the ‘shop’, I’d want to be out riding right now.