By Tyler Falk
Posting in Cities
How did D.C., a city with almost zero bicycle infrastructure, become a bike-friendly city? Here are four ways they made it happen.
From 2002 to 2009 D.C. bicycle commuters increased from 2.2 percent to 3.3 percent. And from 2007 to 2010 there was 80 percent increase in bicycle riding.
What's with the drastic transformation? The Dirt reports on a recent event at the National Building Museum where D.C. bicycle and city planning experts explained how the city has evolved into a more bike-friendly city.
Here are four ways D.C. has improved and increased biking in the city (and tips for wannabe bike-friendly cities):
1. Making the easy changes first.
To become a bike-friendly city it's important to start with the easy changes to get the wheels turning.
Jennifer Toole, ASLA, a landscape architect who is the lead designer of D.C.’s bike network, said she started with the “easy stuff first.” In this case, these were the streets that had additional capacity. “We went stealing space all over the city.” Toole said this “worked well for the first 50 miles.” However, it’s now becoming harder because space has become limited.
What's the point of having an awesome bike-sharing program if there aren't enough bikeable streets?
2. Increasing biking accessibility.
If biking means dodging cars, most people will avoid biking no matter how many bike racks and bike storage centers the city has. By increasing the number of bike lanes in D.C. from three miles in 2000 to now more than 50 miles, the city is working to make it easier, and safer, for bikers to use the streets. The district also added 1,600 bike racks since 2000 and a slick new bicycle center outside Union Station. And some of the new bike lanes aren't just painted lines on the street:
New dedicated bicycle lanes that are somewhat separated and protected from car traffic have dramatically increased ridership by 18-20 percent and brought many new types of riders on the road. “There are now riders heading to metro stops and more women, older folks,” [Toole said].
The “cycle track contra flow” bicycle lanes set up on 15th street northwest increased the number of bicyclists by 40 percent.
3. Connecting bicycle infrastructure to transit.
Bikes are not the only answer to transportation issues in cities, but they are an important complement to other forms of transit. D.C. has recognized this and is working to make biking a part of the larger transit network.
[Jim] Sebastian [of the D.C. Department of Transportation] added that the district has been experimenting with innovative lanes (15th street and Pennsylvania Avenue), integrating bicycle networks into other plans, and connecting bicycle infrastructure into existing transit networks. As a result, bicycle to metro station connections have increased 60 percent between 2002 and 2007.
4. Bike-sharing program
The program has 110 station with a total of 1,100 bikes throughout the city. And like Zipcar and other car-sharing programs, after you become a member, you have access to all the bikes throughout the city. And if you use it for less than 30 minutes, your ride is free.
By no means is the city perfect when it comes to bicycles. The cities still has plenty of bike-related issues to resolve.
“The connectivity of the network needs to be the focus in the future.” Toole said it’s not uncommon for new networks to suffer from these issues. “Networks don’t come immediately connected.” However, this next phase of expansion and connectivity “won’t be as easy.” She said the city should explore adding colors to lanes like many cities do. “The use of color is more expensive but other cities have used color in interesting ways.” Green, which is the preferred color, should be used in locations where conflicts occur. The district should also invest more in “traffic calming measures,” which can really help in one-way side streets.
Still, the city is certainly a good model of how to become a bike-friendly city.
Photo: Eric Gilliland/Flickr
May 18, 2011
Exactly how is it possible to save over $10,000/year by using public transportation when most people don't spend anywhere near that much on their own transportation to begin with? The only way for this to even come close to being possible for a significant number of people is if they were driving literally hundreds of miles a day, literally lived and worked next to public transport nodeskral oyunkanal d oyun
Even when there are bike lanes they cut among slow moving cars to make illegal lane changes. Does this law blame the vehicle operators if a stupid rider becomes human sandwhich meat between 2 cars?
Last week the Governor of Georgia signed into law a new bike law. Now a motor vehicle driver must allow three feet between their vehicle and a bicycle. Punishment: fine and/or jail time! As mentioned by others, things would not be so bad if folks on bicycles did not run stop signs and red lights. Back in the mid-70s I was shooting TV commercials in Washington, DC and back then folks on bicycles were running red lights. If DC is now "bike friendly" I can only imagine how much worse the situation is. Terry Thomas Photographer Atlanta, Georgia http://www.TerryThomasPhotos.com
I see the same thing in Austin. Bicyclists don't obey the traffic lights and signs. On the grand scheme, we are taking away lanes of traffic for cars and/or narrowing the automobile traffic lanes, and creating bicycle lanes. We are doing this at a cost; it cost's lots of taxpayer money to design and create bicycle lanes. Bicycles pay no road taxes, pay no gasoline taxes, pay no license fees. Hey, Tyler, come on down to Austin in August and ride your bicycle to work in the 105 degree heat. Oh, there aren't any showers in the office either. This is another case of taking money from the many to benefit the few.
Massachusettss bicyclists fought hard to get recognized as vehicles for the sake of creating bike lanes, but they never obey traffic laws, which was part of the agreement. They constantly run red lights cutting off traffic that has the right of way, they ride down narrow one-way streets the wrong way into oncoming traffic and weave among cars stuck in city traffic. Yet every time a car kills one of them you hear the howls of SHARE THE ROAD. How about ride responsibly?