Taking the long view

Building a high-quality bicycle and pedestrian network doesn’t happen quickly.  This should be obvious, but at the local level where every project seems to promise to complete success or utter failure, it is helpful to remember this.

The Economist just posted this about Sao Paulo’s efforts to improve cycling.  Sao Paulo has a committed and passionate mayor who has, in less than two years in office, lead the way to 179km of bicycle lanes. That’s more kilometers of bike lanes in less than two years than the preceding 33 years when the city first considered adding cycle facilities.  Mayor Fernando Haddad has promised 400km by the end of next year; that distance would put Sao Paulo in the league as Copenhagen.

Here’s the time frame to think about for Northfield: when Copenhagen first started building “bike lanes 30 years ago many residents were dead-set against them. Now 36% of commuter trips are by cycle.”  Here’s the leadership picture: in Sao Paulo, bike lanes were talked about 33 years ago, but now they’re being built in much less time.

Northfield doesn’t need anywhere close to 400km of bike lanes.  With strong leadership at city hall, how many miles of bike lanes could Northfield build and how fast? In 30 years, what could Northfield look like?

photo: People for Bikes