Monday, October 4, 2010

How to make biking mainstream

Last spring, public officials from Madison, Wisconsin, made a tour of the Netherlands, guided by Velo Mondial and within three weeks were implementing what they learned there about promoting bicycling on the streets of their own city. Last August , Velo Mondial guided a similar group of latter-day explorers on a quest to discover what American communities can learn from the Dutch about transforming bicycling in the U.S. from a largely recreational pastime to an integral part of their transportation system. They were elected officials, traffic engineers, and business leaders from the San Francisco Bay Area. The Netherlands resembles the United States in many ways: It is a prosperous, technologically advanced nation where a huge share of the population owns automobiles. The difference is that the Dutch don’t drive every time they leave home. Their 27 percent rate dwarfs not only the measly 1 percent of trips taken by bicycle in the U.S., but also the rates of many, much bike-friendlier nations (12 percent of trips in Germany are by bike; in Denmark, it's 18 percent). Jay Walljasper wrote an article on this study tour. If your city is interested in a tour like this, please contact Karim Maarek of Velo Mondial.