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The Clean Air Partnership is a registered charity, founded in 2000. Our mission is to work with partners to achieve clean air, facilitate the exchange of ideas, advance change and promote and coordinate implementation of actions that improve local air quality.

Innovation that’s Inspiring people to cycling

Urban infrastructure in the United States within the last 5 years has been experiencing a more pedestrian friendly metamorphosis. Taking a page from the Netherlands, protected bike lanes have been cropping up all over the States. This urban transformation has created a more appealing place for people. David Vega-Barachowitz of the National Association of City Transportation Officials says that this infrastructure revolution, which has been created to accommodate more users through utilizing “busways, public plazas, spaces for pedestrians, and of course, bike lanes” means that roads and its surrounding vicinities are becoming safer. Protected bike lanes have been the key component in this shift because not only does it allows for safer passage for pedestrians, but protected bike lanes also promote more residents to consider using bicycles as a means of transportation.

5862687694_36d51d506f jpgProtected bike lanes benefit not only cyclists but also drivers who share the roads with bike riders. Protected bike lanes allow the separation of cyclists from rushing traffic which help riders “feel less exposed to danger” and is appreciated by drivers because it provides them with a visual cue as to where to expect bicycles. Since the 1980s, protected bike lanes in the Netherlands have become a standard in infrastructure planning, which has allotted to approximately 27 percent of all trips made by bicycles. In the United States and especially in Toronto, paint bike lanes on streets, which are often squeezed in between bus lanes and parked cars, and can diminish over time through normal wear and tear. It comes to no surprise then that there are few bike riders in both countries as safety is often a concern. In order to attract more bike riders onto the roads and shift towards a greener transportation model, conventional methods of bike lanes in Canada and the United States have to be replaced with protected bike lanes.

In a report published by the Federal Highway Administration, nearly two-thirds of Americans would bicycle more if they felt safer on the streets. To get more people on the roads riding bicycles, transportation leaders have suggested compiling protected bike lanes with public bike share programs like BIXI which is found in Toronto or CITI bikes in New York.

Montreal is a great example of how successful protected bike lanes can be in a North American city, and how protected bike lanes contribute to the livelihood of an urban community. A pioneer in North America in protected lanes, Montreal has established a network of protected lanes that covers over 30 miles. This has inspired other cities to adopt a more bike friendly infrastructure, for example, New York, since 2007 have built 43 miles of protected bike lanes. This has resulted in an increase in the city’s bike riderships and has contributed to safer streets. Other cities like Chicago have created 23 miles, San Francisco has 12 miles, and this year alone, more than 100 cities have submitted proposals to “PeopleforBikes to be a part of the Green Lane Project,” a competitive fellowship that provides financial, strategic and technical assistances to cities to build or expand their protected bike lane networks.

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Photo via Cycle Toronto

Within the GTA, there has been a huge support for protected bike lanes. In Toronto alone, a recent research survey shows that 72 percent of Torontonians support the idea of separated bike lanes. With its extensive downtown core and its close proximity to other municipalities within the GTA, Toronto would benefit greatly from having an extensive separated bike lane network. Further, in 2009, a city of Toronto survey, found that “77% of those surveyed felt that separating bike lanes from car traffic would improving cycling” in the city. The GTA may not be nowhere near as close as Montreal in terms of protected bike lane infrastructure, but there is big support from many local organizations and residents to push for that mandate. There are many organizations out there that are furthering the protected bike lanes in not only Toronto, but all throughout the GTA.

Cycling within an urban setting is a great way to not only get around a city, but to also connect with your surroundings. There are many benefits both physically and mentally that can be attributed to cycling and it’s great to see cities try and fully utilize the opportunities granted to them to improve their transportational infrastructure. Below is a video further examining the benefits of protected bike lanes as well as the current work happening in the GTA in regards to bike lanes.

 

 

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  1. Experiencing the City in New Ways | Clean Air Partnership - August 21, 2014

    […] neighbourhoods and communities interact in a more pedestrian friendly way. CAP has touched on how protected bike lanes and TCAT’s It’s Your Move campaign is helping transform cities into more liveable […]

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