How to (Actually) Get Bike Lanes in Your City: 10 Actionable Tips

Bicycle Lane

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Many people feel powerless when advocating for bike infrastructure in their towns.

The standard advice usually involves campaigning or raising awareness, but at the heart of it, real people are making the decisions that shape our cities.

So, how can you ensure that the topic of safe spaces for cycling finds its way onto their agenda?

The answer lies in understanding the theory behind urban planning and taking actionable steps toward making these changes a reality.

Bicycle lane safety in city

How to Get Bike Lanes in Your Area

There are plenty of ways to help champion bike lanes and pressure councils to implement more of them in your area.

1. Understand the Local Landscape

Dive into your city’s urban planning history, zoning laws, and infrastructure challenges. Every city is unique, and knowing the specifics of yours can make your advocacy more relevant and powerful.

2. Identify Key Decision-Makers

Find out who your city council members, traffic engineers, and urban planners are. Understanding who holds the power to make changes is the first step in knowing whom to approach with your proposals.

3. Engage with Civic Bodies

Become an active participant in your city’s civic life. Attend city council meetings, transportation advisory board meetings, and other relevant gatherings where infrastructure decisions are discussed.

4. Educate Yourself and Others

While online resources and YouTube channels offer a wealth of information, real-world urban planning and advocacy require a deeper understanding of local issues and processes. Consider educating yourself further through courses or workshops on urban planning and transit advocacy.

5. Build a Community of Advocates

Connect with others who share your passion for improving cycling infrastructure. Collective action is more powerful, and having a group can help amplify your voice.

6. Communicate Effectively

When presenting your case for bike lanes or improved cycling infrastructure, use data and examples from cities similar to yours that have successfully implemented these changes. This can make your argument more compelling.

7. Offer Solutions, Not Just Critiques

While it’s important to highlight the areas where your city falls short, coming to the table with well-thought-out solutions can set you apart. Be prepared with specific proposals for bike lanes, shared streets, or other infrastructure improvements.

8. Participate in Public Input Sessions

Many cities solicit feedback from residents on infrastructure projects and urban development plans. Participate actively in these sessions, offering constructive feedback and support for bike-friendly initiatives.

9. Leverage Social Media and Local Media

Use the power of social media and local press to raise awareness about the need for better cycling infrastructure. Public support can often push officials to prioritize these projects.

10. Consider Political Involvement

If you’re deeply committed to the cause, consider running for local office or supporting candidates who prioritize sustainable urban development and cycling infrastructure.

bicycle lane cycling

Why Are Bike Lanes Important?

Bike lanes create safe spaces for all riders, regardless of age. The biggest thing that stops people from cycling is the perceived danger of cycling on roads, hence the need for a safe space.

While you can never truly categorically guarantee safety on the road, bike lanes at least create a safe haven for all riders, regardless of age.

The biggest factor deterring more people from cycling is the perceived danger of riding on roads, increasing the need and demand for such safe spaces offered by bike lanes.

safe bicycle lane

Are Bike Lanes Really Safe?

Of course, they are – but don’t take our word for it, look at the statistics:

  • It’s also a myth that they increase congestion on the roads, and consequently pollution. Yes, they may add to the traffic in some cases, but research has shown that this issue has worsened due to increased private hire vehicles from companies such as Uber rather than from bike lanes. A study in Holland concluded that a 12.5 percent reduction in the number of on-road vehicles would lead to enough of a reduction in nitrogen dioxide to lower mortality rates by 1.012.
  • Meanwhile, another study found that those in vehicles inhale 60 percent more carbon monoxide than those on bikes.
  • A study at the University of British Columbia also found that protected bike lanes reduce the risk of injury by a staggering 90 percent.
  • Collisions with cars make up about 35 percent of cycling-related injuries and are easily the most common. Bike lanes will inevitably help reduce that figure.

Advocacy for better cycling infrastructure is not straightforward, and it often involves navigating complex bureaucratic landscapes. However, you can make a difference in your community by taking these actionable steps.

Understanding the intricacies of urban planning and engaging actively in the civic process are crucial steps toward bringing about the change you wish to see in your city’s approach to cycling and transportation. Remember, the most effective advocates combine passion with a deep understanding of the systems they’re seeking to change.

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