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Roads Aren’t Just for Cars Anymore

Thumb Up IconThe Americas have lagged behind Europe in promoting bicycle transportation, but recent government efforts may change that.

Bike Communting Wittwer family

Travis Wittwer loads his sons and his groceries into his cargo bike for the trip home. Travis is a teacher and stay-at-home dad in Portland, Ore. Read more in his blog "Wheel American Family."

Photo Icon 10 pxPhoto Essay of the biking Wittwer family.

Photo by Sara Cross.

In the United States, federal Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced in March a new policy encouraging cities and states to include the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians in their transit infrastructure planning.

The Department of Transportation will discourage projects that negatively affect bikers and walkers, LaHood added.

 In an interview with The New York Times, LaHood called the policy a “game changer” as the country searches for more sustainable choices.

“It’s what Americans want,” LaHood said. “It’s a game changer because people do want to get out of congestion, they want to get out of their cars, they want to be able to enjoy the outdoors, they want to be able to recreate with their families.”

The projects range from accommodating bikes and pedestrian paths on bridges to tracking bike trips and keeping sidewalks and paths free of snow.

Cycling advocates praised the new policy, as it expands the focus of the Department of Transportation beyond motorized vehicles and recognizes that “[t]ransportation programs and facilities should accommodate people of all ages and abilities, including people too young to drive, people who cannot drive, and people who choose not to drive.”

Meanwhile, Mexico City officials are piloting a bike-sharing program to reduce congestion and pollution. In a city with 4 million vehicles, only 1 percent of trips are made by bike. The program, still in its early stages, offers more than 1,000 bikes at stations around town. Officials hope to increase trips to 5 percent of the daily traffic.

The Mexican program is modeled after those in Copenhagen and Paris. People who enroll in the program pay an annual fee and get a card they can swipe at any of the stations. Cyclists pay a nominal fee for each hour they ride.

—Jeff Raderstrong is a Washington, D.C., writer who blogs at changecharity.blogspot.com

Interested?
  • No Car, No Problem: Car-free living not only cuts back on your greenhouse gas emissions. It also builds local community, brings families closer together, and helps support local economies.
  • Photo Essay: How to bike commute with small kids.

  • YES! Magazine Bikes to Work: Bike commuting tips and stories from our staff.

 

ALSO ...

Thumb Up IconLos Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa wants to speed up construction of 12 light rail lines throughout the metropolitan area. Voters in 2008 approved a half-cent sales-tax hike to fund the project over 30 years. According to The Wall Street Journal, Villaraigosa has asked the federal government for $9 billion up front. That way, the mayor said, the project could be complete in 10 years.


More Signs of Life

ENVIRONMENT

  • Climate talks end with People’s Agreement

Also ... United Nations Environment Programme study encourages use of waste water.

HUMAN RIGHTS

  • Canada frees up foreign aid

  • Farmworkers rally for higher pay

TRANSPARENCY

  • In India, fake money is payback


TRANSPORTATION

  • Roads aren’t just for cars anymore

Also ... Los Angeles Mayor to speed up construction of light rail lines.

ECONOMY

  • More states may create public banks

HOUSING

  • Public housing goes green

 

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