I am sure we would all like to see more bicycle paths, bicycle lanes, and respect for bicyclists on the roads and throughout our community. Although numerous towns and cities have made strides to accept and include bicyclists, there is still far to go.
Some of the problem stems from uncertainty. It can cost millions of dollars to add infrastructure for bicycles, bike share programs, and bike lanes to communities. City planners may feel unsure that these changes will be embraced by members of the community. After all, if bikers have rarely used the roads, it can be difficult to believe they will all come out of the woodwork and take to the streets once infrastructure is put into place.
Without such changes, however, many people will only bike in parks and very quiet, safe roads. The risks of traversing roadways without bike lanes is too great for many. We know that bicycling is a healthier and more ecologically-friendly form of travel, which is why many communities are adopting bicycling initiatives.
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The Federal Highway Administration in cooperation with the US Department of Transportation has created a Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Planning Guide. This plan includes a step by step guide for communities to encourage bike use.
Steps to promote bicycling include:
- Creating a vision and goals, and developing criteria for which these goals will be assessed.
- Assessing present conditions and needs.
- Identify what steps must be taken to meet the above goals.
- Implement bicycle and pedestrian elements in the community.
- Regularly evaluate progress.
- Encourage the public to become involved.
- Monitor air quality.
Each of these broad steps are further broken down into numerous objectives, allowing the large project to be broken into manageable steps.
Another great way to increase cycling in the community is to encourage youth to use bicycles. Contact your local school board or physical education department and suggest they implement bicycles into the health and PE curriculum. SHAPE America offers a wonderful bicycle curriculum for grades 6 through 12. Their curriculum, entitled “Bykeology,” emphasizes biking in the community and acceptances of best safety practices.
Finally, you can often make great strides promoting cycling through your local parks and recreation department. Often these organizations are eager to find individuals who are able to teach courses or help promote physical activity (including bicycling) at community events.
Whether you choose to take a small step like volunteering at a local camp or health festival or decide to become involved in a major community-wide restructuring, your actions will impact others for years to come.