Riding bicycles to work, school or the shops is well supported in some countries, and as a result there is a high participation rate. In this video politicians, traffic planners, public servants and users explain what makes a good cycling environment for commuters. Most of the material comes from Streetfilms.org.
Comments to the segments follow:
Germany Bremen. - Feeling safe whilst cycling. Motorists in Bremen are more respectful towards cyclists. What works in getting more people to commute by bicycle is giving cyclists more space and a clear advantage over cars.
Denmark. 37% Bicycle participation for commuting trips. If trips to shops and to the cinema are included, that figure rises to 55%. On the busiest cycling street in the world, which carries over 38000 cyclists each day, dual cycle lanes have been put in by taking another lane away from cars. They created “green waves” based on bicycle speeds, pre-green at crossings. Make bicycle the quickest way to get around, and everyone will cycle.
Columbia. Mobility is not solved by making more roads for cars, traffic is created by the number of cars and the length of the trips. If you make bigger roads people make more trips and go further. The distribution of public space relates to equity, and investing heavily in cycling infrastructure shows that a person on a $30 bicycle is as important as a person in a $30000 car. Bogoata went to hardly any bicycle usage to 350000 bicycle commuting trips per day. It is difficult to take space away from cars and give it to bicycles, but in the end to make a city more friendly for people is politically successfull.
New York. The urban planner Jan Gehl sees cycling spreading widely in the 21st century, because it is a smart way of going around in cities, specially in the context of congestion, pollution and the lack of excercise. Cycling should not just be for the males between 25 and 45 in survival gear or Lycra, but for all generatioins. It is important to develop a bicycle culture so it becomes safe and obvious (to use a bicycle). Just as “asphalt” invites cars, cycling infrastructure invites cyclists.
Holland. Holland - Bicycle training in schools: over a period of three weeks small kids are taught how to behave in traffic and how to read traffic signs. A wide net of safe cycle paths protect cyclists wherever they need to go. Other features are adequate parking, priority for bicycles over cars at marked intersections, reduced car speeds and increasing parking fees all encourage cycling. In this environment cars are not the dominant road users, but simply one of the road users. Houten as an example where the shortest routes all for bicycles, but houses are still reachable by car. Bicycles are integrated into urban planning. Mobility on a bicycle stands as an expression of freedom.
Denmark. The importance of lower speeds. If you can keep speeds down to 30kmh or 40kmh, there will be less accidents, and they will be less severe. And then there are pedestrian priority streets, which have a 15kmh speed limit. The best way to reduce speeds is humps. Lower car speeds make a safe cycling environment, and generally more people friendly.
Denmark and USA. 55% of cyclist in Copenhagen are women. This is attributed to separated bike lanes and the slow speed of cars that makes people feel safer. The kids have training at school in year three and nine, and there are seen on the roads on their bicycles at an early age, even when they are still using training wheels.Courteous or “tamed” and educated car drivers. Most car drivers are cyclists too, this makes them more aware. All you need to do is to have the will and political power to squeeze the cars a little bit.
New York. Bike lanes next to footpaths, with parked cars between the cycle land and the traffic, are safer. When looking at traffic, the point is not to count cars, but to count how many people are being moved. Time spent in the car is unpleasant and makes you miserable. To be able to make the commuting trips on a bicycle makes you happy, it is health without striving for health, it is excercise without attempting to have excercise – who would not like it.
New York. Flipped bicycle and and parking lane create “the epitomy of a complete street”, a street that allows all users to use the street in a safe manner. It is the ideal of what NYC is trying to get done for all it’s streets – 6000 miles of them...
France. The “New Mobility” concept is based on people and the concept of “slow”. What is important is not the throughput of vehicles in a system, but the throughput of people. The way to slow down a car is to get rid of straight lines, and slow down traffic to a human dimension. New mobility aims at a human system, old mobility aims at a car system. Streets in Paris are broken down into 50 kmh, 30kmh and 15kmh streets. Where slower speed roads meet faster roads they have raised crosswalks and neckdowns. The street laws rely on the principle that heavier vehicles are responsible for lighter vehicles, i.e. cyclists for pedestrians, car for cyclists, trucks for cars. There is often not enough space for separate lanes for pedestrians, cyclists, cars and buses, so they have to mix. This improves respect amongst users of the road.
USA. Vehicles are moving too fast for our perception, we are not designed to make decision at speed. At 20 mph we loose eye contacts, and that is when we enter the zone of increased accident impact, as seen by the graph with pedestrian fatalities vs car speed. Tom then talks about the principle of the “fundamental attribution error”. We do not take responsibility on the roads, cyclists become the “other” as an example of modal conflict. We know that accidents are going to happen. If we reduce car speeds driver have more time “to forgive” their own errors. Good to have obstacles in the road to reduce speed.
Oregon. Portland have a 25 year master plan for biking. The looked what it would take to increase cycling participation for 8% to 25%. Bicycle Boulevards (Greenways) are the solution. The effort has to be to create and environment that advantages pedestrians and cyclists over cars. Within the next five years Portland will increase the percentage of people living within 800 metres of a cycle friendly facility from less than 20% to over 80%. The Greenways are designed to lower car speeds through a variety of engineering measurements and visual changes. Car volumes on these streets will be reduced from over 1000 vehicles per day to less than 500 vehicles per day. They will also create the legal environment for a 20 mph speed designation for these Greenways. This will then enable further appropriate engineering changes to increase the safety of cyclists and pedestrians.