Slate’s Nimble Cities project aims to make city transportation more efficient, safe and pleasant. The site recently encouraged its readers to come up with their best ideas on the matter. Several of these ideas pertained to making specialized roadways for cyclists in cities. Tom Vanderbilt, in his column on Slate writes about Bicycle Highways.
Tom mentions that all the major cities in the world are encouraging people to ride bicycles to lessen traffic congestion on roads and improving the health of their people. But one of the hurdles they have to overcome is the rightful fear of safety while cycling, as riders have to share the roads with cars and trucks. For this, he suggests exclusive infrastructure for cyclists, giving instances from the Netherlands, where every new road built has provision for cycles and parking, and in Denmark, which has ‘bicycle superhighways’ for its cycling commuters with green wave lights and bicycle service stations along the way.
Tom has support from Jacob Larson, a researcher at McGill University who did a study of Montreal’s bicycle infrastructure:
I do believe the separate facility is the best. Not only in terms of actual safety performance but in terms of encouraging people who are less likely to ride their bikes. These people shouldn’t have to be some kind of breakneck radicals that are really diehards—it should be a clear and safe option, and I think separate facilities give the perception that it is, and often do provide a truly safer alternative.
The idea of bicycle superhighways is picking up in US too, with many states building bicycle infrastructure to increase the number of cycles on its roads.