Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Bikes Vs. Cars and the need for Complete Streets

I mentioned earlier that Arkansas is the least bike-friendly state in the country and that this is partially due to the fact that we don't have good bike policies or infrastructure, like separate, dedicated bike lanes, in place throughout our cities and towns.  Reinforcing the call for better infrastructure and policies, this report by the Ontario Coroner, links numerous bike deaths to a few major causes including: 1) Lack of "complete streets" that include dedicated bike lanes and networks of bike paths 2) Lack of helmets  3) Mixing bikes and cars travelling at high speeds.  One piece of data that stuck out: most accidents involve cars hitting bikes and not bikes hitting cars.  This has certainly been the case for the most serious accidents my friends, family, and myself have been in.

In another piece, I mention an Economist article that makes similar conclusions about why biking in the United States is so dangerous.  It is now very clear that we should seek to separate bike traffic from car traffic and to slow car traffic on shared roads.  If we want safer roads and a healthier, happier population, Arkansas communities should refocus transportation efforts and dollars using a more balanced approach that places equal emphasis on driving, biking, walking, and mass transit.  Seeing how car-centered infrastructure has received the vast majority of transportation funds in the state for decades, an argument can be made that alternatives should receive more than equal emphasis until some type of parity in existing infrastructure has been reached.

If you are interested in improving bicycle policy and infrastructure in Arkansas and in your town, consider visiting and joining Bicycle Advocacy of Central Arkansas, Bicycle Coalition of the Ozarks, Arkansas Bicycle Club, the Northeast Arkansas Bicycle Coalition, or any of the other organizations listed here.

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