Why We Need to Dream Bigger Than Bike Lanes
In October, our piece about a bold new approach to bike and micromobility infrastructure was published in CityLab. This was huge! Here’s a sneak peak of the piece:
In the 1930s big auto dreamed up freeways and demanded massive car infrastructure. Micromobility needs its own Futurama—one where cars are marginalized.
There’s a quote that’s stuck with me for some time from Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom: “You know why people don’t like liberals? Because they lose. If liberals are so f***ing smart, how come they lose so goddamn always?”
American urbanists and bike advocates are smart, or at least well informed. We know how important cycling is. We are educated about cycling cities in other parts of the world and how they are so much better for health, well-being, economics, traffic, pollution, climate, equity, personal freedom, and on and on.
But if we’re so smart how come we lose so goddamn always?
Why is the best we seem to be able to accomplish just a few miles of striped asphalt bike “lanes,” or if we’re lucky, a few blocks of plastic pylons—“protected” bike lanes?
Our current model is to beg for twigs
More often than not, bike infrastructure is created reactively. Typically in response to a collision or near collision with a car, an individual or advocacy group identifies a single route that needs better infrastructure. We gather community support and lobby local officials for the desired change, trying as hard as we can to ask for the cheapest, smallest changes so that our requests will be seen as realistic.
What’s the problem with this model?