Friday, September 24, 2010

How to Make Your City Bikeable

I have just discovered that my bicycle planning hero, Jan Gehl, is the influence behind New York City's vast expansion of bicycle infrastructure. I first heard Mr. Gehl speak at a Rail~Volution conference in about 2006, and was instantly inspired.

He described how Copenhagen had changed, one street at a time, from a lifeless, car choked place to a vibrant city with thriving businesses, healthy and happy people, and some of the best bicycle infrastructure in the world. Of course, the Dutch like to say theirs is the best, but it's really too close to call. Copenhagen never did studies or official bicycle plans. They just added a bike lane on this major street and then another one, replaced a few parking spaces with some café seating, added medians, built plazas.

There's been some debate over the left-side bike lanes in New York. From the perspective of using the West Peachtree Street bicycle lane - and the constant dodging of MARTA and XPress buses that it entails - I am all in favor of finding some way to separate the two. In much of Europe, they construct bus stop islands and route the bike lane behind them. This is ideal, it seems, but probably more costly.

What do you suppose he would suggest for metro Atlanta?

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