Tag Archives: streets for people

Vacant Lot Transformation for Green Jobs and Neighbhoodhood Revitalization

21 Apr

I just found this little blue-print I drew up for a vacant lot by one of my houses in Pittsburgh. I never had the chance to put this into place, but it would be wonderful to have more non-consumerist places to spend time between home and work.

Break it Down!

There’s tons of space in Pittsburgh and tons of bricks from demolitions so it would be pretty great to build a rainy or very sunny day pavilion as you see in the top left corner.

The top right corner would hold the Constance Street community bread / pizza oven and would also benefit from spare bricks.

Going down the top center are several long picnic tables.

Trees are much needed on this highway-side of Pittsburgh’s Northside so some nice fruit and shade trees in the middle of a block will sooth the residents and be beautiful and delicious. Sporadic dots both labeled and unlabeled represent trees.

The bottom center of the lot includes plans for some weird seating to be designed by one or several of Pittsburgh’s many amazing artists.

And at the very bottom, a lovely long row of soil-cleansing, sun-worshiping, smile-making sunflowers!

Let’s Make Green Jobs Fixing Our Communities

We have so much public land that’s being wasted as over-grown and trash-filled lots. At the same time, we have so many under and unemployed people. Let’s find a way to create and fund jobs that would enhance our communities, like rehabilitating abandoned lots, while putting under-worked Americans back in the workforce.

I’m underemployed myself and I’d jump at the chance to have a part-time job cleaning up and beautifying my neighborhood.

Give Me Work and Give Me Beauty

We want bread but we want roses too!

Reimagining Public Space on PARK(ing) Day

4 Sep

A few days ago there were an outstanding 31 organizations and businesses in Pittsburgh working to recreate parking spaces to transform for public usage on PARK(ing) Day on September 17.

A temporary park in New York in 2008 by Flickr user prizepony

Now there are 47! Keep up with the growing list here.

What the heck is PARK(ing) Day?

(directly from the original organizers)

PARK(ing) Day is a annual open-source global event where citizens, artists and activists collaborate to temporarily transform metered parking spaces into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public places. The project began in 2005 when Rebar, a San Francisco art and design studio, converted a single metered parking space into a temporary public park in downtown San Francisco. Since 2005, PARK(ing) Day has evolved into a global movement, with organizations and individuals (operating independently of Rebar but following an established set of guidelines) creating new forms of temporary public space in urban contexts around the world.

The mission of PARK(ing) Day is to call attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate critical debate around how public space is created and allocated, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat … at least until the meter runs out!

LA residents claim a parking space to cool off by Flickr user waltarrrrr

Curious what the most innovative museums, designers, artists, architects, and other forward-thinking businesses might develop? Bike Pittsburgh members are developing a bike tour of all the spots and…

I Just Can’t Wait!

Greenery swoon in Seattle. Imagine if we had this lining our streets all the time! Yum! photo by Flickr user Rob Ketcherside

Check out the current Pittsburgh list!

South Side Local Development Company
AIA Pittsburgh
Western PA Conservancy
Cultural District
Oakland Planning & Development Corporation
Bloomfield Development Corporation
Lawrenceville United
Whole Foods
East Liberty Development, Inc.
Friends of the Pgh Urban Forest
CMU Architecture Studio
Bike Pittsburgh
Allegheny Commons Initiative
CDCP
Mattress Factory
The Andy Warhol Museum
Kelly-Strayhorn Theater
REI
Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy
ARTica Gallery
EDGE Studio
GTECH
Pittsburgh Glass Center
Rothschild Doyno Collaborative
Children’s Museum
Penn State University
Shaler Elementary School
Chatham University ASLA Club
Washington and Jefferson College
Brandon Ciampaglia
The ToonSeum
Lili Coffee Shop
The Urban Gypsy
Commonwealth Press
CTAC
Animal Friends
Carnegie Science Center
Chalk for Peace
Winchester Thurston
Artist Image Resource
L’ville Dog Park
OTB Cafe
Caffe Davio
Dance on Water: Story Dancing
Nina Marie Barbuto
Gabe Felice
Christina Miller
Suzanne Trenney
Monika Gibson

BikeFest Party Tomorrow!

5 Aug

Get your body in something beautiful and get down to the Pittsburgh Opera tomorrow night for the Kickoff Party for BikeFest. Not in Pittsburgh? Get here.

Officially, this is the biggest fundraiser for Bike Pittsburgh, the dashing and appropriately named bicycle advocacy organization for the city of Pittsburgh that is both my employer and favorite non-profit group.

Unofficially this is going to be one of the most fun parties of the summer filled with eye candy in the form of people, bicycles, and prizes.

There’s a silent auction which has tons of cool items, including this painting of a burly Triplets of Belleville-style fellow churning up Pittsburgh’s Canton Ave, one of the two steepest urban streets  in the world (37% grade, yeow! You’ll also want to check out that video of the Dirty Dozen ride).

I want it!

Credit to Lou Fineberg for this strangely angled shot

This will be a superb spot for people watching, so get out your party best, get on your bicycle and ride it down to the Opera like the 700 other people we’ll be bike valeting.

There’s a ton of other auction items too like bicycles (I think we’re raffling / auctioning five), custom bags and hats, swank vacations, etc. You can find it all here or you can just show up because you want to support the only organization in Pittsburgh that works to make the city safer to bicycle for transportation for everyone from 8 to 80. Bike Pittsburgh’s only been around for 8 years now, and only had staff for five years but already has nearly 1300 members.

Since it’s a Kickoff Party, it’s gotta be starting something, right?

BikeFest! It’s the 10 day long bicycle party of Pittsburgh with over 60 rides and events planned by bicyclists for bicyclists. Check it out. Time management is going to be key to make it to all the events. Check out the calendar now and I’ll be doing some updates here and on the Bike Pittsburgh blog, so stay very tuned. Not used to riding bikes? Dust off that two wheeler, pull it out of your garage, friends, or rent one because there are plenty of beginner rides that are ideal for getting accustomed to riding in the city. This is the time to ride.

I love bicycles!

Can’t Get There From Here: The Woeful Tale of a Stranded Pedestrian

5 May

This is the soundtrack for my exploration stroll the other day around my neighborhood. Unless you loathe R.E.M., it is a good accompaniment to reading this post.

Several times in the past I have celebrated my neighborhood and home on the North Side of Pittsburgh. But I have to tell you that I exaggerated a little and omitted much.

There are many beautiful areas of the North Side and much of it is quaint, wonderful, and convenient. But I have to confess: I live on the OTHER North Side, the part that was cut in half by a neighborhood dividing highway.

The parts that contain all the amenities like the National Aviary, the Andy Warhol Museum, coffee shops, grocery stores, and parks are all on the other side of this highway:

That is the scene I have to ride or walk across when heading to other, more lovelier parts of the North Side.

And if I want to go downtown or shopping in the Strip District, I find myself facing signs like this:

No Pedestrian Signs are More Common Than Crosswalks

Riding bikes is not much of a problem as you’re on the road, but if you are trying to get around by foot, as are children and many elderly who do not own cars, it is a death-trap. A place filled with crumbling gravelly sidewalks that are dangerous for nearly everyone except the most fit.

What if I depended on a wheelchair to get around? I’d never make it in this neighborhood.

Getting to the bus stop is quite perilous and I waited through three lights at one intersection waiting for a pedestrian signal. Over 50 cars drove by in three light switches and not one stopped to let me cross,  so I finally had to just make a run for it.

To cross to this intersection:

If you look really closely there used to be a crosswalk

Then the friendly pedestrian must run across another faded crosswalk, but this time there is a light for the walker!

Crossing East Ohio

Seems like that should be hazardous enough, right? But if I want to get my groceries from the Strip, I still have to get to the 16th Street Bridge and walk past the highway exit where this sizable vehicle powered up to the sidewalk where I was standing:

Intimidatingly Large Truck

And though I wasn’t trying to walk onto the highway, seeing this sign just reinforced how my walk felt:

Pedestrians Prohibited

By this point I’d walked less than half a mile but it took me nearly 20 minutes with all the waiting and trying not to die.

I’m fairly young and in shape, I ride a bike and move around all the time and this area is really difficult for me to navigate. Imagine how dangerous these streets are for people who are older, maybe less fit and less able to make a run for it across the street.

This area is incredibly unfriendly to pedestrians and many people do not have the luxury of investing a substantial amount of their income on a vehicle.

We need, very soon:

  • Crosswalks to be repainted
  • Pedestrian crossing signals at all intersections

Can you think of any other easy-to-implement solutions that could make this area safer for everyone?

Kid on Bike Violence Demands Community Solutions

28 Apr

There always seems to be a story about this, some bored kids with nowhere to go and nothing to do decide to entertain themselves by tormenting an anonymous person on a bike, or on foot, or in cars.

There was a rash of brick throwers in DC a couple of years back, and this past weekend some more kids throwing bricks on the South Side of Pittsburgh. The biker was hit and suffered a massive gash to his head, but luckily was not killed. (Interestingly, the Post-Gazette said that the bicycle rider “drove under a trestle”)

Last year while riding my bike on the highway-esque Rhode Island Avenue in Northeast DC, a gaggle of kids pelted me with hot water balloons, knocking me off my bike into the lane of fast-moving traffic. Luckily (again), the driver in the lane wasn’t texting and reacted quickly enough to swerve and avoided hitting me.

I called the police, somewhat reluctantly and they answered the call even more reluctantly. The car-bound officers shrugged, saying that there was nothing they could do. The kids had all scattered and I wasn’t really hurt, after all, was I?

Warm weather seems to infuse bored children with the passion to fling heavy objects at cyclists or pedestrians or cars.

I wish I had some better ideas to share, but all I have are questions and frustration.

Are there any solutions?

  1. Better engagement for kids? Video games, television, and the news perpetuate the concept of violence as a culturally appropriate response to conflict resolution as well as presenting it as entertaining.
  2. Better police response? I don’t think this is the right one. The U.S. has the world’s highest incarceration rate, according to a study by the King’s College of London at 756 per 100,000 and has 23.4% of the world prison population. “Correctional facilities” seem to “correct” little except the number of people that are part of their communities and raising their families.
  3. More community and parental involvement? Nice sounding but how to actually implement this? Even families with two parent incomes are being continuously squeezed in this economy leaving many kids alone to entertain and raise themselves.
  4. Education? (“Rocks hurt!”? Nope.)
  5. More places for kids to play? I grew up playing kickball on my street nearly every day but many streets are too dangerous for kids and many drivers are too reckless, eliminating huge swaths of cities as potential grounds for play.

Any ideas?

Parking in San Francisco, Planning in DC, Walking Everywhere

21 Apr

There has been quite a bit of buzz over San Francisco’s parking census and future smart parking plan. I wrote about it here (“Golden Gate Parking Lot: San Francisco Conducts First Ever Parking Census“) a few weeks ago concluding that it’s great to know how much parking is available but the goal and the outcome of making parking easier is misguided and short-sighted.

The other day I wrote about it in greater detail for my column in Next American City. It’s generated an interesting discussion with a little bit of frantic windshield panic thrown in from a resident in DC who seems to think that pro-people measures that make streets safer for pedestrians and bikers are “anti-car” and anti-poor.

I’m not anti-car, but I am against the financial, social, and environmental burden they place on individuals, cities, and the world.

Freeway Jail

I’m for people, not for modes of transportation. I want to make our cities healthier, safer, cleaner, more efficient, and more affordable for all.

I want to create better cities for the person who travels by foot and so becomes a “pedestrian”.

I want to create better cities for the person who travels by bicycle, not for their bicycle.

I want to create better cities for the person who travels by public transportation, not for their bus or train.

And lastly, I want to create better cities for the person who drives a car, not for their car.

I want to make better places for all of these people, not their mode of transportation.  Moving people by foot, bike, and public transportation are the most efficient ways to provide mobility for all in terms of space and cost as well as causing far less pollution and sprawl than creating a world where each person drives an individual car.

That is why I support infrastructure that makes walking safe for everyone from the very young to the very old, infrastructure that makes biking safe for the very young and the very old, and accessible and affordable public transportation for all.

Mobility is a human right, free parking is not.

Why Words Matter: This isn’t a Plaza, it’s a Strip Mall

7 Apr

This is why words matter. When you call a strip mall a plaza, the meaning of the word plaza is twisted and becomes meaningless. A strip mall is “a long usually one-story building or group of buildings housing several adjacent retail stores or service establishments” which is what we find in the not so lovely Shadyside “Plaza”.

If this location were actually a plaza we might find “a public square in a city or town” or “an open area usually located near urban buildings and often featuring walkways, trees and shrubs, places to sit, and sometimes shops”

Instead, we see this:

 

Shadeside

Ugh!

A plaza is a gathering space, a beautiful respite in a city, a place where people take pictures, meet friends, a place to show off to out of town visitors.

A strip mall is none of these things. Rather, it is a waste of precious urban land, a careless, unplanned, ugly, quick construction; a symbol that no one cares what it looks like, what it feels like, or the experience that people have when going to or by it.

Strip malls have no place in dense urban centers and certainly do not deserve the honor of the title plaza. They are usually inhabited by bland, faceless corporations with zero ties to the community that have no investment in making their location a better place to live.

This is just one small example of the importance of language and how inaccurately describing something limits our ability to correctly interpret.
Some other examples:

The difference between car accident and car crash. Car “accident” automatically removes any responsibility and accountability from a driver.

Global warming vs. climate change. Global warming sounds GREAT, doesn’t it? Everyone likes being warm and doesn’t that mean reduced heating bills? When incorrect terminology becomes popularized, it changes the scope of the debate.

Alternative transportation. The word “alternative” automatically isolates and alienates anyone who chooses to use a method of transport beyond a car.

Pittsburgh Ranked 28th Most Bicycle Friendly City

6 Apr

Bicycling magazine has released their rating of the 50 most bicycle friendly cities (with a population of at least 100,000) in the country.

The magazine considered these factors in the ranking:

  • segregated bike lanes
  • municipal bike racks
  • bike boulevards
  • having the ear of the local government
  • a vibrant and diverse bike culture
  • smart, savvy bike shops

Minneapolis edged out Portland (#2) and won most bicycle friendly city.

Pittsburgh, home to me and the steepest street in America, was ranked number 28.

Washington, DC, where I cut my teeth on a bicycle, was ranked number 13. I wrote about DC biking culture and infrastructure for Momentum magazine last year, but even in a year, a lot of dramatic improvements have been made.

When I was researching the story for Momentum, I organized a happy hour to get the feel of what average riders and advocates wanted to see changed to make the city better. The top four recommendations kept surfacing again and again:

  1. Impose a congestion/commuter tax on those who drive into the city from Virginia and Maryland. Since the population of Washington nearly doubles to a million during the work week, it is logical that those drivers who benefit from our roads ought to pay for them.
  2. Install cycle tracks (bike lanes) on all arterials and on all future construction.
  3. Initiate a widespread education campaign about the rules of the road, sharing, and how to be both a safe driver and rider; delivered through PSAs, driver education programs and public schools
  4. Complete the trails that are unfinished, repair those in disrepair, and begin construction on all others.

What elements do you consider important in your decision to ride, or to not ride, your bike?

Now Let’s Talk About Getting There

29 Mar

Now that bike parking is in the bag, it’s time to move on, and move on quickly.

I wrote about this one last time for Next American City.  It was exciting to hear the support among city residents and council members for moving to take more dramatic steps to improve the overall experience of riding for transportation.

In Kara Lindstrom‘s response to my story, she said “the biggest concern for most bicyclists is the ride, not the destination. If you’re pedaling in pock-marked bicycle lanes, sharing the road with motorists who have no mutual respect (“get on the sidewalk!”) – then where to lock up may be the least of your concerns.”

I completely agree.

I’m glad that measure has passed, but really, getting safely to work, or the store, or my friend’s house is more important to me.

I’m excited about working on different, creative, and group ways to make riding for transportation even more fun, social, and cooperative.

I Want to Ride Without Threat from Cars

One of my dreams is to be able to ride really slowly, whimsically, and without threat from cars. But there aren’t many places like that yet.

One third of Americans do not drive.

Why not turn at least some of the streets in our cities over to use directly for small-scale transportation? Or maybe cycle tracks like the ones being installed on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC.

I’ll pay taxes for that. If I can have some roads that are safe for me to use, I’ll definitely pay taxes for that.

P.S. Keep sending your bicycle love stories, and I’ll share the first one with you next week. Here is an example of my own bicycle love story from last year, about my fascination with riding really really slowly. What a sentimental story!

Update: Pittsburgh Approves Bike Parking Proposal

17 Mar

Today the Pittsburgh City Council unanimously approved the bike parking ordinance which has been floating around the city since last September.

Follow the riveting saga and re-live each breathtaking moment!

The City Planning Commission approves bike parking ordinance, measure to go before City Council and open for a public hearing, scheduled for February 9. Details about the ordinance are available here.

Next, the constantly falling snow prompted the Council to postpone the hearing. This is the same snow that covered bike trails for weeks after it was cleared off roads.

The hearing is rescheduled for March 9, unfortunately coinciding with the National Bike Summit in Washington, meaning that the entire staff of Bike Pittsburgh, the advocates that have been working on this legislation for quite a long time, will be out of town and unable to attend.

Continue reading

Bikes and Walking Equal to Cars, Says US DOT

16 Mar

Someone get this girl an old-fashioned hand-held fan! I am about to faint! I am so excited this morning that I can’t tell if it’s all the coffee I’ve had or if I’m just giddy that the highest official for transportation in the U.S. sounds like he is talking out of my mouth.

According to my favorite Republican, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, “This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.”

Here are some of my favorite selections from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s new policy position: (italics for my additions)

Reasons for Investment and Policy Change

Walking and bicycling foster safer, more livable, family-friendly communities; promote physical activity and health; and reduce vehicle emissions and fuel use.

The establishment of well-connected walking and bicycling networks is an important component for livable communities, and their design should be a part of Federal-aid project developments.

Because of the numerous individual and community benefits that walking and bicycling provide — including health, safety, environmental, transportation, and quality of life — transportation agencies are encouraged to go beyond minimum standards to provide safe and convenient facilities for these modes.

Transportation for All (Ages)

Transportation programs and facilities should accommodate people of all ages and abilities, including people too young to drive, people who cannot drive, and people who choose not to drive.

[It is important to ensure] that there are transportation choices for people of all ages and abilities, especially children: Pedestrian and bicycle facilities should meet accessibility requirements and provide safe, convenient, and interconnected transportation networks. For example, children should have safe and convenient options for walking or bicycling to school and parks. People who cannot or prefer not to drive should have safe and efficient transportation choices.

Every transportation agency, including DOT, has the responsibility to improve conditions and opportunities for walking and bicycling and to integrate walking and bicycling into their transportation systems.

Action Recommendations

Transportation agencies and local communities should go beyond minimum design standards and requirements to create safe, attractive, sustainable, accessible, and convenient bicycling and walking networks. Such actions should include:

  • Considering walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes (swoon swoon swoon! Yes! Finally!): The primary goal of a transportation system is to safely and efficiently move people and goods. Walking and bicycling are efficient transportation modes for most short trips and, where convenient intermodal systems exist, these nonmotorized trips can easily be linked with transit to significantly increase trip distance. Because of the benefits they provide, transportation agencies should give the same priority to walking and bicycling as is given to other transportation modes. Walking and bicycling should not be an afterthought in roadway design. (Yay!)
  • Prepare for increase in biking and pedestrian use NOW: Shared-use paths that have been designed to minimum width requirements will need retrofits as more people use them. It is more effective to plan for increased usage than to retrofit an older facility. Planning projects for the long-term should anticipate likely future demand for bicycling and walking facilities and not preclude the provision of future improvements.
  • Integrating bicycle and pedestrian accommodation on new, rehabilitated, and limited-access bridges: DOT encourages bicycle and pedestrian accommodation on bridge projects including facilities on limited-access bridges with connections to streets or paths.
  • Improving nonmotorized facilities during maintenance projects: Transportation agencies should find ways to make facility improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists during resurfacing and other maintenance projects.

Projected Benefits of Investing in Bike and Pedestrian Infrastructure

Increased commitment to and investment in bicycle facilities and walking networks can help meet goals for cleaner, healthier air; less congested roadways; and more livable, safe, cost-efficient communities.

Walking and bicycling provide low-cost mobility options that place fewer demands on local roads and highways. DOT recognizes that safe and convenient walking and bicycling facilities may look different depending on the context — appropriate facilities in a rural community may be different from a dense, urban area. However, regardless of regional, climate, and population density differences, it is important that pedestrian and bicycle facilities be integrated into transportation systems. While DOT leads the effort to provide safe and convenient accommodations for pedestrians and bicyclists, success will ultimately depend on transportation agencies across the country embracing and implementing this policy.

Pittsburgh City Council Likely to Endorse Bike Parking Changes

11 Mar

(Update: The City Council passed this ordinance on March 17.)

A public hearing was held Tuesday, March 9 to consider the Planning Commission’s unanimous recommendation to include bike parking in all new and re-zoned commercial construction (based on square footage).

The Council was expected to vote on the ordinance yesterday, fully six months after the Planning Commission initially endorsed the change,  but two Council members, Natalia Rudiak and Bruce Kraus requested an additional week to investigate. At the hearing Tuesday, Kraus said “I want to see this happen”.

I am Completely in Support of this Legislation

The ordinance also received the very vocal endorsement of District 7 Councilman Patrick Dowd who said it amounts to “small steps that would have a tremendous impact”. Dowd told the council and the assembled supportive public that he is “completely in support of this legislation”.

Continue reading

Pittsburgh Bike Parking Hearing Today!

9 Mar

Due to 40 inches of snow that fell on Pittsburgh last month during the previously scheduled Public Hearing on Pittsburgh’s Bike Parking Ordinance, the hearing has been rescheduled for today. The measure unanimously passed the Planning Commission and now faces the City Council before heading to Mayor Ravenstahl’s desk.

Unfortunately the hearing was rescheduled during the National Bike Summit in Washington, DC meaning that the staff of Bike Pittsburgh, the city’s tireless bicycle and livable street advocates, will be out of town.

Now it is up to city residents, cyclists, developers, and business owners to speak up and demand that the City Council pass the Bike Parking Ordinance which is “integral to continue on the road toward a green, sustainable, and active city,” according to Bike Pittsburgh.

Details:
March 9, 2010
1:30 pm
City Council Chambers
5th Floor City-County Building

Be There … or continue locking your bike to trees and trashcans.

Some of the News That’s Fit to Print: Stories News From the Neighborhood, City, Region, State, Country, and World.

8 Mar

A former gas station in the Larimer section of Pittsburgh has been converted into The Energy and Environment Community Outreach Center, scheduled to open in the fall. The Center will offer a place for people to learn about water conservation and growing local produce, and will feature solar panels, a community garden and a green roof that will collect rainwater for irrigation.

Urbanophile advocated for public transportation, arguing many of the same points we posited a few weeks ago, including a few additional ones: “We don’t pay to check books out of a library. We don’t pay to visit most city parks. We don’t pay when the police or fire department come to our house for a legitimate emergency. Most non-utility municipal services are provided for free to users and funded by taxes. So why is transit different?”

I pointed out “We offer free public education to our citizens, why not offer free transit to get them to work and school? Many cities offer trash and recycling services, employment and career assistance, police and fire response, parks, pools, and community centers. Why not offer community-supported transportation?

Carfree.US analyzes their financial and environmental impact of commuting by bicycle after their first two months of living Car-free, concluding that

  • I’ve saved $47 in gasoline expenses and the equivalent of $457 in fixed costs for a total savings of $471.49 when accounting for bus costs.
  • Burned 22,356 calories which if I had been eating a normal diet is the equivalent of 6.4 pounds of fat!
  • I have kept 543 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere (19.546 lbs per gallon and my car gets an average of 21 MPG).

They also offer a download of the spreadsheet used to track savings and output on their website. Check it out!

Boston Biker has picked up the most recent Streetfilms release, Fixing the Great Mistake: Autocentric Development, and written an eloquent post about the necessity of moving away from car-centered planning. The post begins by taking on the question so may of us have had to answer — you know the one, about how we “hate cars.” As Boston Biker writes, “it’s more about hating what cars do to humans, and seeing the need for change. (from Streetsblog)

A man in Argentina builds a house out of 6 million glass bottles and creates instructional video for others to follow, while another man in Tennessee builds a ten story treehouse, the world’s largest, out of salvaged lumber for $12,000 (though doesn’t provide a video).

And Streetsblog continues their excellent coverage of rampant DWI accidents by NYPD officers  drink and drive with impunity.

Portland Investing $600 Million in Bicycle Infrastructure

17 Feb

From Streetsblog via Portlandize:

Portland is planning to invest $600 million dollars to support bicycle infrastructure over the next 20 years with the aim of increasing trips made by bicycle to 25%.

An excerpt from the Portlandize article:

“What many cities in Europe have found out, is that pedestrians and cyclists are better shoppers than those who arrive in automobiles. They are more able to stop on a whim, browse casually…. Many major shopping districts in European cities are car-free, and they thrive.

Active citizens are healthier citizens, and more productive citizens, and the city, as well as companies, pay money to support health care costs for the citizens of a city. An active lifestyle is one of the best preventative medicines, and countries in Europe have done studies that show the monetary benefits of having their workforce healthy and productive due to being regularly active are massive.

Traffic

We spend hours and hours sitting in our cars, wasting fuel, wasting time, polluting the air. Our streets simply cannot handle the volume of traffic we currently have, and we are expecting growth. Not only can we not afford to tear up our neighborhoods to build bigger roads (from a community point of view), we can much more easily afford to add bicycle infrastructure to our existing roads than build more roads. Portland’s entire 300 mile network of bikeways cost about the same as 1 mile of urban freeway. Granted, some of the stuff in the Portland Bicycle Plan is more expensive that what we have done so far, but it is still minuscule compared to the cost of building and maintaining automobile-only roads.”

Planning a city for public transportation, for bikes and pedestrians is both more space and cost-efficient. In addition to the monetary savings, investing in active transportation provides enormous health benefits, including improved air quality.

Now is the perfect time to start making sound decisions for our neighborhoods and cities.

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