More about bicycles

Critical mass

Northfield has been starting to think about bicycles in its transportation planning, but we are way behind The Dutch Way.   I am trying to be patient and believe that, in the long term, working for better bicycle infrastructure (as well as better bicycle safety education and making driving more expensive) will lead to more bicycling which will lead to cycling becoming as commonplace as it is in Europe.

2 Replies to “More about bicycles”

  1. Could you please comment on the difference in weather here in MN and places with similar winters in Europe, with regards to bicycle use?

    Is it discretionary in countries like the netherlands as to car, public trans, or bike depending on the weather? or is it bike or public trans because ‘I’ don’t own a car?

    In order for bikes to be a more viable transportation mode for way more people, we would need to have way more public transportation available, especially in the winter.

    So.. wouldn’t better bicycle infrastructure go hand in hand with better public transportation? i.e. parallel paths (no pun intended).

  2. Kiffi, you raise an interesting question. While it is true that places with good bike infrastructure often also have good public transit infrastructure, it doesn’t necessarily mean that bikes are dependent on transit. In Copenhagen, the majority of cyclists continue to bike all winter long, while some do take the bus. Granted, we’re colder and less dense, so there are a couple of local considerations:

    1. Much of the opportunity for growth here exists with people who already have a bike and already have a car. I don’t think many folks expect Northfielders to go completely without cars, but even switching 25% of in-town vehicle trips to bikes would dramatically change our streets and our community. People do not need to give up cars completely — certainly not in 20-below weather — in order to get better health and better, safer streets.

    2. Public transit in a suburban (read: Northfield) context is made much more viable with bikes, because it allows us to make up for the density we don’t have. Many urban design books talk about a “walking shed,” which is usually considered five minutes or 1/4-mile. Very few Northfielders live within a quarter mile of a Metro Express bus stop, and it would be very hard to design Northfield Transit to work efficiently with a 1/4-mile walking shed. A mile might work, yet a mile walk to a bus stop is a hard sell: 20 minutes for most folks to walk.

    When you imagine bicycling instead of walking, the picture changes: a mile bike-ride is 5 minutes or less for a good rider. With well-cleared, well-lit streets, 5 minutes on bike is viable all year round.

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