August 6th, 2011

5-star safety rated bicycling zones: an infectious idea

Nothing quite matches a day cycling in Sydney, to stoke the ol' furnace of critical thought. I note their planners' preoccupation with the overall percentage of trips according to mode: car, train, bus or bike. Sydney has a target of 10% of trips by bike. By that they mean roughly half of all people might start using bikes for one fifth of their journeys. I would much rather an approach that aimed to help the people who really do care about their health, wealth and wellbeing, reap the full benefit of cycling, by doing it 100% of the time. I'm talking about people who are so committed, they would actually move to Bourke Street, or wherever a bike path has been made, if that's what they needed to do, to be rid of the burden of a car in their life. But for their move, they should at least be rewarded with a 5-star safety rated bike route, into the city, not the staccato bike paths Sydney is building. Sydney: build at least one goddam bike path, I can take my family along with a clear conscience. And who knows, maybe people in the rest of the city will see the potential of life without cars, and actually lobby en masse for more bike lanes.

I note Christiania was founded as a car-free zone in Copenhagen in 1971, and that people living throughout the rest of Copenhagen started demanding a universal network of bike paths just 4 years later. Indeed, good ideas are infectious.