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Cities for everyday cycling

Join hosts Ed Blakely and Rebecca Lehman as they talk to Thomas Stokell from the Challenge for Change about getting more people cycling. This conversation about cities and cycling is timed to coincide with the 2011 Velocity international cycling conference in Sevilla. We spoke with Thomas as the January 2011 Australian Cycling Conference, where many of the cycling themes and messages were discussed

By Rebecca Lehman


Cycling has a role to play in personal mobility — particularly in urban areas where many of our trips are short (less than 5 km) or very short (less than 1 km). The bicycle is a wonderful, human-powered solution to traffic congestion. Cycling for 20 minutes is also an excellent way to get that healthy, physical activity that doctors recommend. Riding at a comfortable pace for 20 minutes will get you 5 km or 3 miles across your neighbourhood or business district and into the next one (goodbye gym fees!).

Even with growing recognition of the health, environmental and decongestion benefits, our friends and colleagues still make a lot of excuses about why not to ride. What can a city do to encourage cycling as a realistic travel option? Do try these at home:

1.) Start with a plan. Set clear, measurable network and usage targets for cycling and identify a regular monitoring program to evaluate performance. Include realistic and reach goals for infrastructure and participation to focus efforts and funding effectively.

2.) Cyclists need a connected, legible cycling network. Cities around the world provide bicycle routes on various assortments of bicycle infrastructure: two-way cycleways, bicycle shoulder lanes, mixed traffic lanes, bike-only paths and paths shared with walkers and cyclists. Use the infrastructure that’s appropriate for your community and ensure it links to other bicycle infrastructure. Don’t give up at hard parts like intersections, this is where a legible bicycle network is critical!

3.) Provide enough bicycle parking at destinations. Short stay for customers and visitors and long stay for residents, commuters and employees. Monitor the use of bicycle parking and provide more where it is required.

4.) Make cycling a priority. At intersections, give bicycles a bike-signal, bike box queue jump for a head start on the other vehicles at the intersection. In buildings, locate the long stay bike parking near the entrances and lifts. Co-locate the changerooms and showers close by, so cycling is convenient and visible.

5.) Make and share user-friendly cycling maps as part of a comprehensive Transport Access Guide. Show people where the hills and destinations are — as well as the bike parking, water and local bike shop for those urgent tyre repairs.

6.) Run regular, visible events to promote cycling. Use Ride to School day to launch your year-long Ride to School program. Are you struggling with participation?— let kids who walk or ride leave school 5 minutes early and watch the nag-factor bolster your particpation rate!

7.) Make cycling a habit. Convert the unconvinced. Slowly rebuild the cycling interest and confidence of your neighbours and colleagues. Celebrate the big win (first getting them on the bike) and bring them with you for a ride once a week. Already riding once a week? Challenge your them to ride twice a week! Competitions like Challenge for Change up the ante with getting businesses to log total cycling distance — seeing great results with new riders returning and sticking with cycling for transport.

8.) Foster links with bicycle stakeholders and community groups. For a minority transport mode, bicycle advocates spend a lot of time in the headlines promoting competing viewpoints. Find local partners in architects, developers, politicians, health officials and schools to share funding, facilities, encouragement programs and know-how. Cylists united can never be divided!

9.) Use a rational, data-based approach to evaluate investments in cycling. Regularly report on network provision, operational performance, crashes, funding and usage indicators. Use results to direct funding to the highest performers and to identify programs to improve or redirect. Monitor and compare to other travel modes in a corridor to target bicycle investment to high-yield areas. For more information, check out the PCAL NSW Bike Plan report Cycling in NSW — what the data tells us.

Is one of your favourite bike ideas missing? Comment on the Blakely City Talks linkedin forum


Bike Show March 27 right click to download