Marching On Two Wheels
A major city on the West Coast recently did a community needs assessment regarding transportation, trying to understand where new bike lanes would be most helpful. This city is largely working-class, and is bordered by a smaller town that is wealthier and is also known to be crazy for bikes. We'll call them Big City and Smallsville.
What do you think people told the folks running the community needs assessment? Short answer: "Maybe if we lived in Smallsville and rode bikes every day, we could tell you where we want more bike lanes. Here in Big City, first we need bikes."
FreeBike worked closely with Big City to get a $1M grant for creating bike libraries. We're looking forward to announcing the project publicly soon. Don't get me wrong: bike lanes are a cyclist's best friend... after a bike.
This illustrates an essential point: The best way to have a political constituency in support of two-wheeled transportation, is to have a political constituency that already uses two-wheeled transportation. With riders, you can fight for bike lanes (and more bikes!). Without riders, getting those new bike lanes is a tough slog.
And for anyone still wondering if they should prioritize getting people on bikes, or first building bike lanes: ask yourself, how long will each process take? In my experience, it's a lot faster to get bikes than it is to build new roadways, and let's not even get started on how long it takes to convert existing road space in urban areas from its most likely current use (car parking) to bike lanes.
So, let's go fight to get bikes to people. And then when it comes time to march for bike lanes, we'll all be on two wheels, and we'll be able to move a lot faster.