In this talk, John Pucher will document the boom in cycling in both European and North American cities. Adding to his previous talks, John will discuss how cycling can thrive even in cities with no history or culture of daily, utilitarian cycling, but only if government policies provide safe, convenient, and pleasant cycling conditions. He'll also address the fact that similarly, government policies are key to encouraging walking and making it safer. Safe infrastructure is a prerequisite, but it must be complemented by many other supportive measures.
The hopeful message is that almost all Canadian and American cities are on the right path. Dozens of cities throughout North America have more than doubled levels of cycling since 1990, and some large cities such as Chicago, Portland, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, have more than quadrupled the bike share of work commuters since 1990. Virtually all North American cities have plans for expanding their cycling networks, combined with a range of complementary programs such as bike sharing, bike-transit integration, safe routes to schools, mass car-free street events (ciclovias), and better training of both motorists and cyclists. Even in the American southeast, which currently has the lowest rate of cycling, many cities are installing cycle tracks, bike lanes, and bike parking.
In short, North American cities have already made considerable progress in raising both cycling and walking levels, but far more needs to be done. With over 40 percent of all bike trips shorter than two miles, there is great potential for further growth. It is crucial to convey to the media, the public, and politicians the enormous economic, social, environmental, and health benefits of walking and cycling, both to individuals and to society as a whole.
At the conclusion of his talk, John will discuss several approaches to implementing the necessary policies to increase walking and cycling while also making them safer. Public information campaigns, combined with advocacy and coalition-building, are obviously crucial, but there are other implementation strategies that can be used to enhance public and political support. Perhaps the most effective strategy of all is to make cycling and walking possible for everyone, and, in particular, to get more seniors, children, and women on bikes and on their feet. Broadening the base of public support for walking and cycling is key to getting the necessary political support and funding for the measures necessary to promote walking and cycling in our cities.