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.

Monday, May 15, 2017

13 Reasons You Should Ride Your Bike To Work

In the DC area, Friday May 19th is Bike to Work Day.  May is designated as National Bike Month by the League of American Bicyclists.

According to the Business Insider, there are 13 good reasons for bicycle commuting.

1.  It would make cycling safer for everyone.
2.  It is vastly cheaper than driving.
3.  It's a free gym on wheels.
4.  You won't miss morning traffic jams.
5.  You don't even have to own a bike. (bike share)
6.  Women could use the extra bone support.
7.  We could save hundreds of millions on health care expenses.
8.  You inhale more harmful exhaust in your car than on a bike.  (That makes me feel better...)
9.  You're way more likely to get sick taking public transportation.
10. Businesses will save millions in lost productivity.
11. Uncle Sam will pay you to bike to work.
12. You'll never have to worry about a parking spot again.
13. Because all of your excuses not to bike are lame.

As I argue elsewhere, we've built a mobility system that preferences automobility, so it shouldn't be a surprise that most people drive.

Therefore, in a car-centric world, people need focused help to make the transition to biking as transportation.

In short, we've been effective at creating biking-appropriate infrastructure, but that goes only so far in shifting people to bicycling in a mobility paradigm where the car is still king.  At a certain point, you have to be more purposive as there is only so much usage can be realized via trickle down benefit from bike infrastructure.  Here are four concepts:

1. Loaning bikes to test out biking for transportation.  In many UK cities, they have bicycle loan programs to enable people to try out biking for transportation without having to purchase a bike, lock, and helmet first. 

-- Urban Cycle Loan - London Cycling Campaign

Some people might argue that bike share does this, but it doesn't really.  To get the most benefits from biking, you need to be able to leave directly from your origin by bike and arrive directly at your destination by bike, rather than walking potentially many blocks to and from bike share stations.

2.  Programming to assist people in taking up biking for transportation as a routine activityThe Community Cycling Center of Portland has pioneered a program called "Create a Commuter," for low income populations, where people get training and assistance, as well as a bike, helmet, lock, lights, etc. 

-- case study

But I would say that most people need assistance, regardless of income, because of how our mobility system is set up.  Schools, community recreation centers, campuses and other workplaces are great settings for the delivery of such programs.  Although it is important to offer one-on-one coaching also, depending on whether or not people are comfortable in groups.

Most community recreation centers do not offer such programming, but ought to.  Similarly, community recreation centers would be good locations for community bike co-ops ("Bike Kitchens: Building Community, Bikes," Yes Magazine; "Bicycle co-op helps local enthusiasts learn to do repairs," Columbus Dispatch).  Many communities have bike co-ops, but they tend to have to come up with their own space.  This is tougher in strong real estate markets.

3.  Payroll deduction programs for bike purchases.  The UK also has a program where people can purchase bikes, and pay for the cost over time through payroll deduction programs.  Sure, some people abuse this privilege to buy expensive racing bikes, but overall it's a good idea.

Bay Federal Credit Union

4.  Low cost loans to purchase bikes.  Alternatively, many credit unions offer loan programs for bike purchasing.  At the Virginia Credit Union, it can be as low as a $100 loan.

Also see "What should a US national bike strategy plan look like?," "Are developers missing the point on eliminating parking minimums?: it's to promote sustainable transportation modes," and "More bikes: elements of a Bicycle Friendly Community."

Labels: , , ,


At 8:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

if only Uncle Sam actually gave a $hit- they give us nothing for biking to work in the for the transit subsidies- they give you more the farther away from work that you live- a base subsidy would be a lot more productive and would not penalize those who live closer to work


Post a Comment

<< Home