The League of American Bicyclists and the American Automobile Association have teamed up to create a new “Share the Road” infographic.
The League of American Bicyclists has released their annual bike commuting estimates compiled from the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey data. Even though specific ACS numbers have a fairly high potential for error, the overall picture looks promising, with an unmistakable upward trend in bike commuting over the past decade.
A group of 140 New York area medical professionals have signed a letter urging Mayor Bloomberg to continue his efforts aimed at improving bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in the city. The letter, co-sponsored by Transportation Alternatives and the New York State Academy of Family Physicians, was released yesterday. The complete text follows:
Dear Mayor Bloomberg,
We, the undersigned medical professionals, write to acknowledge and encourage your efforts to calm traffic and make New York City streets safer for bicyclists and pedestrians. As a result of your efforts, from re-envisioning Times Square to building the first protected bicycle lanes in the U.S., more New Yorkers are biking and walking than ever before. Mayor Bloomberg, we urge you to continue to set ambitious goals for how our streets and public spaces can help make all of New York City more healthy and safe.
Considering that streets and sidewalks make up 80 percent of New York City’s public space, the pedestrian plazas, car-free spaces, neighborhood bike networks and world-class bicycle lanes you have created are vital to the public health of our city. In piloting Safe Routes to School and Safe Streets for Seniors programs, reducing car hours in our largest parks and producing events like neighborhood play streets and Summer Streets, you are pioneering the redistribution of our public space for health’s sake.
These changes help pave the way for a city that breathes cleaner air and is in better physical condition. Commuting to work by bicycle or increasing the distance of daily walks has been shown to promote weight loss better than any exercise program or medication we could prescribe. Vital to fighting the epidemics of asthma and obesity is the opportunity for children to have safe places to play and clean air to breathe. The traffic calming infrastructure you have built is as valuable as a playground toward encouraging active youth and instilling healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
Thanks to your leadership, bicycling is the fastest growing mode of transportation in New York City and pedestrian safety is at an all-time high. Mayor Bloomberg, we enthusiastically support your efforts to improve bicycling and walking in New York City. As you shape your legacy, please continue to make safe, complete streets part of the prescription for a healthy New York City.
As I was riding home the other night, with cars streaming by and not another bicyclist in sight, it suddenly dawned on me that we have a long way to go before we bike commuters “own” a significant portion of the urban/suburban landscape. Sure, there are bright spots such as Portland, Davis, Boulder, Minneapolis, and a handful of other unusually bike-friendly cities, but in most places, the reality on the ground is still fairly bleak. However you choose to spin it, it’s difficult to get past the fact that bicycles still only account for around 1% of the trips made in the U.S.¹.
There are many people working to improve that number, but everyone agrees it’s going to be a long time before our bicycle share approaches what we see in the bike-centric European countries. To put things in perspective, according to the same source cited above, the Netherlands has a bicycle mode share of approximately 30%. Education, political action, improvements in infrastructure, and rising gas prices may help to increase bicycle use in the U.S., but ultimately it’s going to take a profound change in the way we Americans think about personal transportation to break the spell of the automobile.
So what can we do as individuals to help move along this process? Supporting organizations such as The Alliance for Biking and Walking, the League of American Bicyclists, Bikes Belong, and the myriad other regional and local advocacy groups is a great start. These organizations work in the political and public realms to further the interests of all bicyclists. But on a personal level, perhaps even more effective is the act of simply riding our bikes everyday to set an example for those who have never considered using a bicycle for transportation. By using bicycles for transportation in our local communities, we demonstrate that bicycling is a simple and effective way to get around and get things done. The sight of average people doing practical things on bikes is a powerful image that helps to dispel the myth that bicycling is only for children, athletes, or the less fortunate in society. Changing that misperception is arguably one of the most effective things we can do to get more people riding.
From Transportation for America:
Senator Coburn of Oklahoma is planning to ask Congress to eliminate the federal Transportation Enhancements program — the primary source for nearly all dedicated federal bike and pedestrian funding. His proposal will likely come up for a vote in a matter of days.
The program he hopes to zero out represents less than two percent of all federal transportation spending and has funded 20 years of sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, and trails. Eliminating that 2 percent is dangerously out of step with the facts: 14 percent of all traffic fatalities are people on foot or bike, and 12 percent of all trips are taken on foot or bike.