It's Bike To Work Week. It's Infrastructure Week. Let's merge them and build some decent bike infrastructure.
It is evidently Bike To Work Week, which happens during Bike To Work Month, but peaks this Friday on Bike To Work Day. It's all very confusing but the League of American Bicyclists says "Bike Month is more than one day — or week!"
But all the big builders note in much punchier graphics that it is Infrastructure Week, with the tag line The future won't wait. Neither can we. It's #TimeToBuild. They are "telling the story of America’s infrastructure, its impact on the economy and society, and what is needed to bring it into the 21st century."
Perhaps it's time to merge the two organizations and declare this to be Bicycle Infrastructure Week. All the infrastructure week tweets are about spending billions on highways and bridges, often to fix the amount of time that people spend stuck in traffic. But the bike week people note that "40% of all trips in the U.S. are less than two miles, making bicycling a feasible and fun way to get to work. With increased interest in healthy, sustainable and economic transportation options, it’s not surprising that, from 2000 to 2013, the number of bicycle commuters in the U.S. grew by more than 62 percent."
So why not invest some of that infrastructure money to help more people take those two mile trips by bike? With good bike infrastructure we can kill a couple of birds with one stone here. As Clive Thompson of Wired notes, there are many benefits to bikes.
From where I stand, the most exciting form of transportation technology is more than 100 years old—and it’s probably sitting in your garage. It’s the bicycle. The future of transportation has two thin wheels and handlebars.
So sure, bring on the self-driving cars. Dig those hyperloops! But for a world that’s rapidly urbanizing and heating, the truly cool tech is bikes. And bike sharing has oodles of civic benefits too, says Elliot Fishman, director of Australia’s Institute for Sensible Transport: It relieves pressure on public transit, produces vanishingly small emissions compared to cars, and, at least with nonelectric bikes, boosts the overall exercise level (duh!).
A study released last year proved that bike infrastructure had big returns on investment in terms of safety and increasing the numbers of cyclists. From the study:
It is crucial to provide physical separation from fast-moving, high-volume motor vehicle traffic and better intersection design to avoid conflicts between cyclists and motor vehicles. More and better bicycle infrastructure and safer cycling would encourage Americans to make more of their daily trips by bicycle and, thus, help raise the currently low physical activity levels of the US population.
In the President's announcement of National Transportation Week (yet another name for it), he declares that "we must take bold action and renew our commitment to our transportation system through reforms, effective investments, and transformative technologies."
There is no more transformative a transportation technology than the bicycle. There is no more cost-effective an investment, as shown at bottom with the great graph from the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, from a post where we note that 1 mile of a protected bike lane is 100x cheaper than 1 mile of roadway.
So let's all declare this to be Bicycle Infrastructure Week, and commit a couple of billion bucks to give everyone in every city and town a safe place to ride to work or school.