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5 Ways to Make Your City More Bike-Friendly

April 19, 2016
Bike Friendly Cities
Virginia Department of Transportation on Flickr/Creative Commons 2.0The Virginia Capital Trail connects Richmond to Jamestown and Williamsburg.

Mayors spend a lot of time thinking about roads, bridges, mass transit, and other systems that make cities livable. But when Boston University researchers surveyed 89 mayors last year, nearly 40 percent said that if they received a modest grant for extra infrastructure projects, they would spend it on parks or bike and pedestrian improvements. What’s more, 70 percent agreed with this statement: “Cities should make their roads more accessible to bicycles, even if it means sacrificing driving lanes and/or parking.”

Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic cities are leading the pack. According to the Alliance for Biking and Walking, Washington, D.C., and Boston have more commuters who walk or bike to work (16.7 percent) than other large U.S. cities. They’re also the safest, with 1.6 fatalities per 10,000 commuters. New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore rank close behind. Want to make your own city more pedestrian- and bike-friendly? Below are five proven strategies.

  1. Promote bike sharing. Philadelphia launched its Indego program in 2015, joining Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C., for a total of some 11,000 public bikes in these cities.
  2. Repurpose abandoned infrastructure. New York completed the final section of its wildly popular High Line, an elevated rail line turned park, in 2014.
  3. Build more trails. Virginia completed the Virginia Capital Trail, a 52-mile paved pedestrian and bike trail from Richmond to Jamestown and Williamsburg, in 2015.
  4. Maintain and improve trails. Burlington, Vt., is upgrading its 8-mile lakefront path, which is used by 150,000 bikers, walkers, and runners yearly.
  5. Carve out funds. At least 20 U.S. cities have set spending targets for walking and biking improvements. Baltimore’s target—10 percent of transportation funding, or about $400,000 per year—is one of the most generous in the nation.

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Jennifer Weeks

AMC Outdoors, the magazine of the Appalachian Mountain Club, inspires readers to get outside and get engaged. Learn more.