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In urban areas across the United States, bicycling is becoming an increasingly popular solution for efficiently moving people around our growing cities while reducing congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. According to CityLab, "From 1990 to 2012, the share of commuters cycling to work more than tripled in New York, Chicago, Washington, San Francisco, Portland, Denver, and Minneapolis, and more than doubled in many more cities." 

Improvements to urban bicycling infrastructure are taking place across the country. Political leaders, supported by citizens and voters who elected them, are directing their city managers and planners to undertake new initiatives. They are creating more bike lanes, expanding bike paths and routes, establishing bike parking, and introducing bike share programs.

One’s entire round of errands or roundtrip to work can be made by bike, or as the first or last mile of a network of other modes of public transportation. ”Bikenomics” enthusiasts point out that bicycling markedly improves public health, saves money for individual riders and cities, and keeps dollars circulating in our local economies.
New York City

New York City has made major progress in constructing a bicycling infrastructure over the past decade, during which time the city has added 400 miles of bike lanes and launched a major bike share program. It now has 1,000 miles of bike lanes, many of which are protected (that is, physically separate from auto, truck and bus traffic). Its Citi Bike program, which has 8,000 bikes in circulation, operates and services 500 bike stations while expanding to new neighborhoods. Bicycling Magazine rated New York the top American bike city in their most recent survey, beating such previous winners as Minneapolis and Portland.
 
"Part of what was so appealing about bike lanes as a transportation solution is that they are a lot easier and cheaper to install than new subways. The main construction material is paint ..."
Top 50 Bike-Friendly Cities
Bicycling Magazine | August 29, 2014
#1: New York City 
"Over the last few years across the United States, numerous cities have made cycling improvements, but none has done as much as quickly as New York. In 2008, powerful and moneyed naysayers scoffed when former Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled an ambitious plan to transform New York’s mean streets and reclaim them for people instead of cars. Gallons of green paint were spilled to create a citywide welcome zone for cyclists. There are now more than 350 miles of new bike lanes, ... encouraging even casual cyclists to ride up Broadway and through a car-free Times Square."
Minneapolis

Minneapolis shows a commitment to bicycle transportation that is rare for a U.S. city.  Many bike lanes are fully separate from roadways as part of an expansive network of off-street trails, complete with grade separated crossings and, often, scenic views. Many miles of trails go through parks or meadows and around bodies of water. Examples of these trails and their design guidelines can be viewed in considerable detail and with accompanying photos, on the city's website.
 
"if you look at the map of what Minneapolis is doing, it becomes clear that something entirely different is happening: Minneapolis is building a freeway system for bikes. But a nice one — a freeway where you can bike past flocks of geese rising off the lake in the morning and never have to breathe truck exhaust."
The 20 Most Bike-Friendly Cities on the Planet
Wired | June 2, 2015
#18: Minneapolis 
"The city boasts 120 miles of what it calls “on-street bikeways” and 90 miles of off-street lanes. The latter is less interesting for urban cycling, but Minneapolis is quickly becoming the go-to city in America for building infrastructure. An impressive (for America) modal share helped push it onto the index, and we like the political will coming out of City Hall. A respectable bike-share system is helping cement the bicycle in the transportation foundation of the city. Seeds have been planted and a garden is growing. American cities—often content with baby steps—are in desperate need of leadership, and Minneapolis has emerged as a contender."
Impact On Traffic
When Adding Bike Lanes Actually Reduces Traffic Delays
CityLab | September 5, 2014

"To see what we mean, let's take a look at the bike lanes installed on Columbus Avenue from 96th to 77th streets in 2010-2011. As the diagram below shows, the avenue originally had five lanes—three for traffic, one for parking, and one parking-morning rush hybrid. By narrowing the lane widths, the city was able to maintain all five lanes while still squeezing in a protected bike lane and a buffer area.

Rather than increase delay for cars, the protected bike lanes on Columbus actually improved travel times in the corridor. According to city figures, the average car took about four-and-a-half minutes to go from 96th to 77th before the bike lanes were installed, and three minutes afterward—a 35 percent decrease in travel time. This was true even as total vehicle volume on the road remained pretty consistent. In simpler terms, everybody wins."


 
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The Public Goods Post has been created by June Sekera, 
Founder and Director of the Public Goods Institute; and Research Fellow at the 
Global Development And Environment Institute, Tufts University.

The Public Goods Post is produced by Daniel Agostino, Digital Media Producer and Editor.

To contact us: Editors@publicgoodspost.org

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