Mainstream cycling will not occur unless high quality infrastructure provides empirical as well as subjective safety, ie. it makes you safe AND makes you ‘feel’ safe.
Cycle infrastructure generally offers the best benefit cost ratios of any mode. Portland built its entire cycle network for the cost of a single mile of freeway. Cycling also offers significant health benefits. In a country where Asthma rates are one of the highest in the world, reduced emissions are an important consideration. Recent research conducted by NZTA clearly show that exposure to harmful emissions is lowest for bicycle riders when compared against people in cars, buses and trains. Separated cycle infrastructure shows particularly strong results in favour of cyclists.
So how is it done?
- Increase the number of signals and signs that bicycles are welcome and encouraged.
- Slowly remove cars and parking from our high density urban areas – replace with bicycle lanes and bike parking.
- Add dedicated and well sign-posted cycling routes showing estimated times to destination.
- Create a map and a mobile app that shows not only the cycling routes but also the terrain to show where the hills are.
- Build separated cycle infrastructure that flattens out the hill like the city of Boulder in the USA has done.
- When designing cycling infrastructure ask “is this suitable for 8 to 80 year olds to ride on?” and “would my mother ride along here?”
Edinburgh City Council is dedicating 5% of its transport capital budget for investment in cycling infrastructure and projects. The budget decision also agrees to raise the 5% figure by 1% annually. Edinburgh’s sustained investment in cycling over many years under a variety of political administrations has paid off in rising levels of cycle use. The Scottish Household Survey suggests that between 5% and 9% of all trips to work were by bike in 2009 (a percentage in line with the 5% budget allocation!).