Cycling forward: National Bike To Work Day
Countless advocacy organizations and city departments will be in the streets of America this morning, freely distributing carbs, caffeine, and bike maps in celebration of the bicycle. This can only mean one thing: It’s National Bike To Work Day.
The importance of this seemingly trivial day of encouragement should not be overlooked. For many American communities it was, or is the first public-facing initiative led by local bicycle advocacy organizations. Bike to Work Day is therefore at the root of America’s modern bicycle advocacy movement, which has matured into a formidable voice advocating for sensible transportation policy at all levels of government.
Yet, in many bike-friendly communities National Bike To Work Day has become but one of many events included in a full week or even a whole month of programming. Lest we forget, May is also National Bike Month…why encourage people to cycle for one day when you can shine the spotlight on two-wheel travel for a whole month?
In many ways, National Bike Day/Month events have become a critically important part of the software now powering a growing demand for the hardware—from Missoula to Memphis innovative bikeway facility types formerly found in Europe only are now being introduced with increased frequency.
A one-way cycle track. Source: the National Association of City Transportation Officials
Speaking of Memphis, those who attended the CNU 20 complete streets session with Wade Walker know that since being named one of America’s three worst communities for cycling in 2008, the city has implemented 55 miles of new bikeways, with another 200 miles on the way. This will include the full build-out of a cycle track along Broad Avenue, a facility type that was unofficially “built” two years ago during a tactical urbanism initiative entitled “A New Face for an Old Broad.”
The addition of such facilities is a key component in the city’s transportation equity and neighborhood redevelopment strategy. With Bikes Belong awarding Memphis one of six “Green Lane Project” (see below) grants, the city’s initiative has not been taken lightly.
That cycling is a now a central part of many redevelopment and talent attraction/retention strategies should not be downplayed. The popular real estate/urbanism tool WalkScore, which now has a beta version for cycling called BikeScore, supports recent evidence of this trend. And like its more established counterpart, BikeScore’s ongoing development will further reveal an increasing number of Americans looking for more from their address than just square footage and a two-car garage.
Now that’s cause for celebration.
Mike Lydon is a principal with The Street Plans Collaborative, an urban planning and design firm based in Miami and New York City. He encourages you to trade four wheels for two.
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