Bike Lanes, Public Bikes, It’s All Coming Together

Glad to be back in Deerfield after a wonderful and busy weekend in the Big Apple. Got a chance to read Neal Peirce’s column in the Daily Hampshire Gazette over lunch. As he has written previously, Peirce is a bicycling evangelist. He takes any opportunity to write about developments in this very sustainable and earth friendly means of transportation.

Today’s piece focused on 2007–which he considers biking’s best year in many decades. It’s the trends, like oil at $101 a barrel, serious concerns over global warming, and health concerns about sedentary lifestyles that make his case.

As I have seen in Bologna, Copenhagen and other European cities, the concept of municipally-owned bikes for public use is spreading wildly. Paris is the next beachhead, here the Velib bike program has seen more than two million trips in the first 40 days after it launched in July. Now 20,000 bikes wait for riders to insert their credit cards to sign up, ($1.50 a day or $43 a year). Ok, ok, this is all great for the French, but what about the Americans?

Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago tested a Velib bike this summer, and ‘came back a fan,’ reports Peirce. In Louisville, health care company Humana has bikes for its workers. In Portland OR, real bike ‘boulevards’ are being built to allow bikes safe passage besides cars. When these were first introduced they raised the value of adjacent real estate. Now, having this feature means biking is not just for the avid bikers but for families and the everyman. That’s progress!