Category Archives: brainwashing

Insights into Boulder’s protected bike lane reversal

My current hometown, Boulder (CO), has reportedly been one of the forefront communities for bicycle planning since the mid 1990’s. It is  one of the reasons my family and I decided to move here in 2007. But I have  gone on record questioning whether its reputed position is deserved, particularly over the past few years; legacy affects live on for years. From a sideline perspective (and nothing more), it appears as if city council has lost their “gusto” for aggressive cycling types of initiatives.

The recent dust-up–or more than that–to reverse the protected bike lanes on Folsom street in Boulder, reaffirms this assertion.

In what could easily provide the foundations for an interesting case study in city politics, ‘supposed’ progressive planning, and bicycling,  an article in the ColoradoDaily sheds light on the inner baseball that went on and how the project came undone. I suspect that some facts or perceptions might be slightly mis-represented here, but at least it provides a start.

ps. In reading the recap, remember one of the proverbial tag-lines describing Boulder’s population: “Boulderites are among the most liberal of all people–but only about things that don’t directly affect them.”

Ten lessons for cycle friendly cities—but the role for city planners is minimal

Ten lessons from the great cycling cities came out last month. It is a nice distillation of 10 things a city needs to do. Interestingly, matters squarely within the domain of city planning appeared only once: “infrastructure” was the first issue listed, but it is the only factor that really addressed fundamental issues that make cycling viable in these “great cities.”  One cannot disagree that the other 9 factors play a role (and they are rolled out well), but there are three points distinctly missing or errant from the list:
  • land use: higher densities (compared to the US) in all of these places make cycling viable. Without attention to drawing origins and destinations closer together, none of those cities would have the rates of cycling they have.
  • notwithstanding the point above (only one thing for planners to do), there was a bit too much emphasis on the need for separate infrastructure. Paths are nice. Preferred traffic signals are great. But, there is also a need to respect and plan for the basic fact that most corridors and intersections will be shared with motorists. We need to do more with less in the short term. 
  • education and exposure for the young. 

…or maybe I have it mostly wrong: cycling in cities is less about city planning efforts and more about “selling it” from a PR standpoint.