01 March 2010

Good News From "Over There"

Rooftop View in Copenhagen
I've always had the impression that John Pucher has been a lonely visionary on his side of the pond with his tireless promotion of safe bicycle infrastructure. Things are changing, it seems.

Firstly, this recent post from Massachussets' MassBike spells it out in no uncertain terms that a paradigm shift in bicycle infrastructure is underway:

You may have noticed our recent strong support for bicycle facilities, like bike lanes on the Longfellow Bridge. In the past, MassBike garnered a reputation as an organization that was "finicky" when it comes to bicycle infrastructure. For better or worse, we sometimes got wrapped up in theoretical debates about bicycle facilities that, even if not perfect, were practical solutions to real problems. And our official policies at the time did not give us clear guidance on how to move forward.

But as times change, ideas change. We want everyone to know that MassBike is 100% committed to promoting bicycle infrastructure, even if that means taking some risks on new ideas. Moving forward, we want MassBike to be on the cutting edge of promoting bicycle facilities, so we have adopted a completely new policy on bicycle infrastructure. Drafted by our volunteer Technical Advisory Committee (whose hard work we gratefully acknowledge) and adopted by our Board of Directors, the new policy definitively says "YES!" to bicycle facilities - whether they are traditional, innovative, or even experimental. So while, for the last several years, we have been working hard to turn MassBike into a lean, mean, bicycle facilities promoting machine, we now have it in writing.

Our new policy will guide our future actions, and support our desire to get more bicycle facilities built and filled with happy bicyclists.


HANDY LESSONS FROM OVERSEAS

Another strong signal is sent from the US Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration in this lengthy article highlighting Handy Lessons from Overseas on Walking and Bicycling. A very strong signal, indeed.

The article covers the experiences gathered by a team that visited Copenhagen and Nakskov in Denmark, Berlin and Potsdam in Germany, Lund and Malmö in Sweden, Bern and Winterthur in Switzerland, and London and Bristol in the United Kingdom. It's about bicycling but also about liveable communities in general. Well worth a read.

The article had a glitch when I first saw it. A couple of the photos had bike helmets photoshopped - rather badly - onto the heads of cyclists. In particular, the photo from Copenhagen was a photoshop nightmare:


The writer of the article informed me that it was done elsewhere in the organisation and without his consent. The print version couldn't be fixed, but the online version has been. A correction was added at the bottom of the online version:

Correction: Public Roads originally added helmets to two of the photographs in this article, “Handy Lessons From Overseas on Walking and Bicycling,” (pages 29 and 32 on the printed version) to conform with U.S. bicycle safety practices. However, European practice is to focus on increasing safety by encouraging greater numbers of bicyclists through bicycle-friendly policies rather than focusing on helmet use. Public Roads regrets the photo alterations and has restored the original photos to this online version of the article.

Apart from that cultural faux pas, the article is quite visionary and a true sign that times they are a'changing.

Bike Lanes