How to get cities to encourage cycling for everyone

Another blog recently directed my attention to a lengthy lecture by John Pucher on what cities need to do to get more people on bicycles, using information from the Netherlands and Germany as examples for the next steps for Vancouver, B.C.

The lecture is pretty long (over 60 min), but Pucher includes some useful insights and some surprising information about the sort of shifts in thinking that need to happen to encourage bicycling by everyone. Interestingly, in a lot of cases where public officials have pushed for better bike infrastructure, they’ve initially met public resistance. But once such infrastructure changes are put in place (e.g. establishment of “car-free” business zones), they’ve had incredibly positive results. And Pucher also definitely puts the state of bicycle-riding in North America into perspective (or, rather, the lack of bicycle-riding).

The real question for me is, how do we get Pucher’s messages across to the public more effectively, so we can get the public to continue to push for improved bicycling infrustructure? Or if gas prices keep going the way they seem to be headed, will public opinion start to change on its own?

And lastly, what would it take to turn Mill Ave. into a car-free zone?