Cycling Infrastructure

With warmer weather just around the corner those of us who didn’t brave cycling through the winter months are preparing our two-wheeled transit for another season.  We are not alone.  In cities across North America bicycle ridership is on the rise.  Montreal and New York City have both increased their ridership by 35 and 28% since 2008 respectively. While some advocate for a vehicular cycling model where the bike is just another vehicle that should use the road under the same conditions as their motorized counterparts, the more dominant model advocates for strategies confronting the culture of fear where cycling is made safer and more accessible to a wider range of people.   At one end of this approach we find striped markings on roads suggesting territorial bounds between cars and bikes. At the other end we have entire networks of separated lanes with their own systems of snow-clearing and traffic lights.  Wherever your municipality lies on this scale, one thing is clear:  innovative (both soft and hard) infrastructures play a major role in the development of these networks. Across scales and degrees of permanence here are some projects worth noting:

Light Lane  - Instant Bike Lanes (soft + small)

Light Lane: Dynamic Lane creation

[Light Lane: Dynamic Lane creation]

Recognizing the bike lanes are an effective means of improving safety for everyone involved while simultaneously acknowledging that the cost of such lanes, averaging $50,000 per mile, is currently prohibiting their wide-spread deployment the designers of Light Lane, Alex Tee and Evan Gant (Altitude) have the following objective:

“instead of forcing cyclists to adapt their behavior to the existing infrastructure, the bike lane should adapt to the cyclist”.

The LightLane is a bike accessory that projects a well-defined virtual bike lane onto the surface upon which the bike is moving. Staking out a wider territory is believed to add to rider confidence, making the bike a more viable commuting alternative.

Bixi Bike (soft + large)

BixiBike Station in Montreal

[BixiBike Station in Montreal]

With its highly successful launch in Montreal in May 2009, the BixiBike public bike system is poised to launch in Toronto and Ottawa this upcoming season. The system has three major components: bikes, docking and pay stations.  Users simply pay, either through subscriptions or per-use fees, and have access to a bike.  After the ride, users return the bike to the docking station near their destination.  With over 400 docking stations and 5000 bikes in Montreal, Bixi has ensured the network is robust and highly convenient throughout the downtown.  The docking stations can be deployed on any hard surface in a few hours and require no additional infrastructure; in many cases the docking stations occupy a single street-side parking spot from May to November.

Copenhagen Cycling Railings (hard + small)

Copenhagen Bike Rails - image by Zakka/Mikael on Flickr

[Copenhagen Bike Rails - image by Zakka/Mikael on Flickr]

In a commuter cyclist mecca such as Copenhagen, small details continue to make a difference to the city’s cycling culture.  Physically this piece of infrastructure offers little more than convenience – allowing cyclists to avoid dismounting their seats thereby waiting more comfortably for the light to change.   Outside of this, this network of railings speaks to a mature cycling culture that has moved beyond meeting minimum requirements to look towards second generation innovation.

D.C. Union Station Bicycle Transit Center (hard + large)

D.C. Union Station Bicycle Transit Center - KGP Design

[D.C. Union Station Bicycle Transit Center - KGP Design]

As a peripheral extension to Union Station, already serving as a hub for trains, subway and buses, the Bicycle Transit Center (KGP Design Studio) seeks to connect the bicycle network to this the multi-modal terminal.  Providing bike parking, change rooms, lockers and bicycle related retail and service the transit center further supports the bicycle as a viable transportation option.

Category: 
Mobility

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