Here is a list of some creative ways cities are fostering an active bike culture:
1. Bicycle boulevards
Bike boulevards are shared roadways and are designed to prioritize cyclists, rather than motorists. They are also commonly referred to as sharrows or green ways too. Bicycle boulevards can be found in a number of cities like Berkeley, Long Beach, Minneapolis, Portland, and New York City.
2. Ciclovia: the best biking event ever.
Every Sunday in Bogota, Columbia up to 2 million residents enjoy over 70 miles of car-free streets. This awesome event is called Ciclovia. Bogota is giving the streets back to people and restricting car use. A number of American cities have followed Bogota's lead including Cleveland, Tuscon, El Paso, Portland, Chicago and even Miami!
3. Traffic Lights For Bikes
In Portland, signals direct cyclists through intersections that are connected to bike paths. In most cities traffic light sensors are designed for cars and bikes aren't able to activate them. But in Portland, cyclists can roll up to a bike-shaped signal on the ground, activate the light, and continue on to their destination.
4. Bike Parking
Cities have recognized the importance of appropriate bike parking and have installed many spaces. A great example is Minneapolis -- the city has more than 15,000 bike parking spaces! (Coincidentally, Minneapolis has been named the most bike-friendly city in America by Bicycling magazine)
5. Bike Membership Stations
Bike stations require you to pay some type of membership fee. Benefits of membership include 24-hour access to secure bicycle parking, shower facilities, bicycle services, maps, and more. Bike stations can be found in the California cities of Claremont, Covina, Long Beach, Palo Alto and Santa Barbara, as well as in Washington, D.C.
6. Bike Sharing and Renting
Denver recently launched the first citywide bike-sharing system in the U.S. The program has "500 B-cycles at 50 B-stations around the city, offering a green alternative to cars for short commutes and errands." A similar program will be available in Boston this summer. The Phoenix reports that you'll be able to rent bicycles from "Bixi Bike kiosks, which look like ATMs with bike racks attached. Renters then swipe a credit/debit card and are given an unlock code, which is used to release a specific bike from the rack." Minneapolis is getting ready to launch a bike sharing program too!
**May is National Bike Month -- find out what bike-related activities are going on in your city.
As the number of bike commuters continue to increase, U.S. cities will be working with organizations to make biking easy, fun and safe. So get on your bike and start pedaling!
- Simply Car-free: How To Pedal Toward Financial Freedom and a Healthier Life
- Bicycling Magazine
- America's Top 50 Bike-Friendly Cities
- Bike Portland
Tammy Strobel blogs at RowdyKittens about simple living and is the author of Simply Car-free: How to Pedal Toward Financial Freedom and a Healthier Life.