The Social Benefits of Cycling Identified, Enumerated and Imitated

From around the Network today:

The cover of Copenhagen's bi-annual Cycling Report, a treasure trove of inspiring statistics. Photo: ##http://www.bikeleague.org/blog/2011/06/rest-of-the-world-keeps-us-on-our-toes/## The League of American Bicyclists##

Copenhagen, Aspirational City: With all the progress being made on cycling in American cities, we still have places like Copenhagen to remind us how far we have to go, says Andy Clarke at the League of American Bicyclists blog. The city just released its bi-annual Bicycle Account [PDF], and it is chock full of impressive statistics. Among them: 35 percent of the city’s residents bike to work; 67 percent of cyclists report they feel safe in the city; and 69 percent of residents travel by bike at least once a week. The cycling culture in this city is so well established that one of the biggest obstacles to progress is that the cycle tracks are overcrowded, Clarke reports.

The city’s culture of sustainable transportation is paying big dividends, the report notes. Copenhagen researchers found that every mile cycled provides the equivalent of 41 cents in social benefits to the community. Meanwhile every mile driven exacts about 24 cents in costs on society.

Biking Cities Better Educated, More Affluent, Happier: Ann Arbor’s Get Downtown blog reminds readers that promoting sustainable transportation alternatives isn’t just an environmental imperative; it can be just as critical from an economic and social perspective. The blog draws on a recent Richard Florida article for The Atlantic, which showed the variety of social and economic advantages enjoyed by cities with high rates of bike commuting, including better educated, more affluent, happier residents. “What I hope this article also shows is that cycling is clearly not just for recreation any more,” writes Get Downtown blogger Nancy Shore. The city of Ann Arbor should be adding bike lanes, sharrows and “Share the Road Signs” as visual cues that the community supports cycling, she adds.

How Portland Changed U.S. Cities: Aaron Renn at the Urbanophile offers a tribute to Portland, which he says is perhaps the most influential mid-size city ever in the United States. This sustainable enclave in the Pacific Northwest was far ahead of the curve in sustainability and its leadership has been widely influential.

Renn likens Portland to a mid-1800s Chicago, whose early understanding of the emerging railroad economy made it the leader of its day. Now Portland is inspiring imitators, some of them much larger, with its remarkable foresight, Renn writes. “Portland didn’t invent bicycles, density or light rail — but it understood the future implications of them for America’s smaller cities first, and put that knowledge to use before anyone else. Like Chicago, it is remaking much of America after its own fashion. Light rail, bike lanes, reclaimed waterfronts, urban condos and microbreweries are now nearly ubiquitous, if not deployed at scale, across the nation.”

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Why Do African Americans Tend to Bike Less?

|
Michael Andersen blogs for The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets. It took a week in Copenhagen for Albus Brooks to start thinking seriously about bicycling. The Denver City Council member, 35, had never owned a bike. By the time he headed home […]

Cyclists of Color: Invisible No More

|
Let’s get one thing clear: People of color ride bikes. They commute to work on bikes. They ride for pleasure. It saves them money and time, and it keeps them healthy. But they may not show up at the Tweed Ride or the city council hearing on bicycle infrastructure. And cycling is still a divisive […]

America Could Have Been Building Protected Bike Lanes for the Last 40 Years

|
Salt Lake City is on track to implement the nation’s first “protected intersection” — a Dutch-inspired design to minimize conflicts between cyclists and drivers at crossings. For American cities, this treatment feels like the cutting edge, but a look back at the history of bike planning in the United States reveals that even here, this idea is far from new. In fact, […]

The National Push to Close the Cycling Gender Gap

|
Women have been called an “indicator species” of a bike-friendly city because they tend to pedal more in places that are safe and practical for biking. But on those counts, the United States has some work to do. In 2009, the last time good data was released, less than a quarter of bike trips in […]