Feb 16, 2012

The Economic Case For Bike Lanes

The case for and against installing more bicycle infrastructure in cities all over North America has been raging all over the media in recent years, with the fervor of arguments from both sides growing with every passing season.  On one side of the debate, lets call them "Pro-Bike", are of course bicycle advocates struggling to get safer places to cycle, forward thinking city planners, new urbanists, social justice groups, and health professionals - just to name a few.  On the other side of the debate, lets call them "The Status Quo" are car-centric transportation planners stuck in old paradigms, city politicians using outdated logic, the average Joe/Jane who has subconsciously bought into the idea of "The American Dream" with all of the trappings that come with that concept, and of course the auto-industrial-complex.

Those who are against more bicycle infrastructure on our public roadways love to portray the issue as some kind of "war on cars" or grand ideas of social engineering gone wrong when in fact the last 50+ years of suburban sprawl, subsidies to the oil/gas industry, and promotion of The American Dream is the real and dominant social engineering experiment we are living with today. 

Sadly, the results of following this dream has led to an obesity and diabetes epidemic that is bilking our health system of billions of dollars, cities that are going broke because they cannot pay for the infrastructure upkeep associated with sprawl, and choked road networks that cannot handle all the suburban residents driving virtually everywhere for everything. 

Our society is in deep shit and most people are clueless - or suffering from cognitive dissonance - to the implications barreling down the road at them. 

All is not lost however, so long as we face these realities head on and start to make the changes.  One of the changes that needs to happen is to get citizens moving in our cities more efficiently - with bicycles playing a very important role.  Thankfully, there are many city planners, aldermen, and citizens who see the opportunity placed in front of us and are actively pushing to get more and better bicycling facilities here in Calgary.  We are fortunate to have a new cycling strategy passed and funded by city council for the next 3 years to the tune of $24 million.

Cities all over North America are creating safer cycling conditions through investments in bike lanes, car free events, and bike share programs.  All of these cities have seen dramatic increases in ridership following these investments and there is no reason why here in Calgary we won't see the same increases.

Here are a few links and news articles to get you thinking about this important issue.


Bikes are Good for Business
Toronto bike lane study supports bike lanes on Bloor/Danforth
Streets with bike lanes are good for local businesses
Building bike lanes creates more jobs than building roads

Bikes are good for better health and stronger economy
Bike lanes should be an election issue
Health benefits of cycling outweigh any perceived risks

Bikes are good for motorists too
Drivers should advocate for more bike lanes

If you support more bicycle facilities in Calgary it is very important that you make your views known to your Alderman and Mayor.  Take a few minutes and send them a note indicating that you support the cycle strategy and want to see it fully implemented. 

Bicycling is an important component of the overall transportation network.  With safer places to cycle more people will choose cycling as a mode of transport.

Build it and they will come.

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