Any Lady who has ridden on the road, separated from speeding traffic by only a sliver of paint and asphalt already knows: physically separated bike lanes are far more fabulous. And according to this lovely article from Yes! Magazine, getting lovely Ladies (and Lady-lovers) further away from their steel-encased counterparts with a barrier or two is the key to getting more drivers to consider bikes as a legitimate transportation choice.
Research confirms our Lady-assessment: the number of people commuting by bike jumps drastically when physically separated lanes are put in place.
In addition to increasing safety, it’s just generally more pleasant to have suffocating exhaust, noisy engines, and all the other distasteful aspects of deadly-and-hurtling-steel-boxes kept at a distance.
Infrastructure is the key to getting more gorgeous Ladies and cute-on-skuuts children commuting by two-wheels, the gauge by which many cities measure the accessibility and safety of their systems.
Protected bike lanes, commonplace throughout Europe and Asia, are a big part of how we accomplish this. Making people feel safer on the streets was how the Netherlands’ engineered a 100 percent increase in bicycling since the 1970s, as well as Germany’s even more dramatic rise from 2 to 10 percent of all trips over the past 15 years. Even a city like Seville, Spain, where almost no one biked a few years ago now boasts a 6-7 percent bike mode share thanks to a network of protected bike lanes built since 2007.
In the United States, we tend to view bicyclists as a unique breed willing to brave city traffic. Bicyclists in Europe are considered no different than anyone else. In the Netherlands, for example, 55 percent of all riders are women, compared to about 25 percent here. Dutch bicyclists over 55 ride at comparable rates to the rest of the population, which is far different than here. And 55 percent of school-age children in the Netherlands ride to school on a regular basis. In the U.S. only 16 percent of kids either bike or walk regularly, down from 42 percent in 1969.
Kindly, legislators, it’s time to organize your transportation policy around data and facts rather than the ingrained-and-outdated steel-box centric thinking of the past.
It isn’t about modifying car-focused roads to accomodate “alternative” transportation, it’s about building infrastructure for the future of transportation (bicycles, pedestrians, public transportation, skateboards, etc.) as a priority that supercedes unnecessarily expensive and deadly systems we already have in place.
Keep riding and voting, Ladies!