Sharing Isn’t Caring: Shifting Gears on Shared Responsibility
Robin Mazumder, Urban Scientist. Community Builder. Keynote Speaker.
We need to change the conversation on shared responsibility.
“Cyclists have nothing to “share”. By virtue of their ability to injure and kill, drivers own the power, and, ultimately, the road. Cycling infrastructure is infinitely more effective at ensuring cyclist safety than a “share the road” campaign is.”
Tip 3 in the new safety video states that “…cyclists “should ride as far to the right shoulder on the road as possible”…while the police officer narrating the video is hugging the curb on a sharrowed road in Downtown Kitchener:
This advice is not only wrong, but it adds confusion to how sharrows should be used, and ultimately could put cyclists in harm’s way. The City of Kitchener’s website clearly states: “sharrows in the middle of the traffic lanes indicate that cyclists may take the full lane and reminds drivers to share the road with cyclists.”
Streets were once considered public spaces, places for people, but have become dominated by cars, and streets designed for speedy traffic flow. Now people are marginalized, called “pedestrians” and those walking outside of painted lines are demonized as “jaywalkers”, and blamed if they are injured or killed.
“Before the advent of the automobile, users of city streets were diverse and included children at play and pedestrians at large. By 1930, most streets were primarily motor thoroughfares where children did not belong and where pedestrians were condemned as ‘jaywalkers’.”
Opinion: Why more urban cycling saves everyone money
Chris and Melissa Bruntlett July 03, 2018
“There is this false narrative, this dangerous lie, that people on bikes are somehow getting away with something, that they’re not paying their way,” Toderian explains. “This isn’t just a little wrong, it’s a lot wrong. We know factually that walking and biking are the two ways of getting around that actually save society money for each kilometre travelled. And that’s even before we consider all the many benefits that aren’t just about money.”
This is what one block of charming Old Town Pocatello, Idaho would look like if it had to follow modern day parking requirements.
Parking minimums are the strange, out-dated, and totally unscientific law that’s probably languishing in your city’s zoning code. They sound dull (and they are) but they’re incredibly important because they have dramatically shaped our cities in a detrimental manner.
At the end of the day, cities full of parking are not attractive, inviting or enjoyable places to spend time in. Picture an exciting, fun destination you’ve traveled to. Maybe it’s a cute beach town or a bustling metropolis. Was every building there separated by a sea of parking? I’m guessing not.
TACTICAL, CONCENTRATED IMPROVEMENTS HAVE AN OUTSIZED IMPACT
It is feasible — both financially and politically — to make cities more walkable. Simple, low-cost improvements to features like painted bike lanes, wayfinding signs, curb cuts, and tree coverage have an disproportionate impact in transforming a car-dependent metropolis into human-scale, walkable neighborhoods. It is rare that cities find a goal that is both worthwhile and attainable, so urban planners should jump on this opportunity.
Amazing story of how a city gets a successful bike network-and fast.
How Seville Got Its Bicycle Network
Back in 2006, Seville’s city leaders decided it was going to build a bicycle network. An expansive one, especially for a city that had very few daily riders (most claim less than a 0.5% bike mode share) and in just 18 months the city installed 80 kms of bike lanes!
They did it by commissioning a poll which found over 80% of the city’s residents thought bike lanes were a good thing and not long after the accelerated plan was set in motion. Most of the lanes were two-way protected lanes placed at grade with the sidewalk and the reaction was very positive as the city is approaching a 10% mode share.
Some of the lanes are certainly on the narrow side thanks to the numbers of riders, though there is a movement to widen them and further expand the network (see one such newer section in the Streetfilm.) But the proof on how well they work in Seville is in these irrefutable visuals: very few people wearing helmets, 35% of riders are women and there is a large component of older people riding. And for a place that is often sunny & hot – the third day I was there it was nearly 100 degrees – people still just keep riding…many of the men in business suits.
The healthiest, most economically advantaged and sustainable cities on the planet share one trait: their walkability.
Walkable cities are better for the environment, people’s overall wellness, and positively impact levels of wealth. Unfortunately for those of us in the United States, a lot of our cities were built around cars — not feet. For as much as folks love the walkability of New York, Boston, Minneapolis, and Savannah, they dislike in equal measure the sprawl of other beloved cities like Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Dallas.
Recent pushes for healthier urban designs across the country are changing the landscape of cities. Central Park, arguably the world’s most famous green space, will be permanently closed to cars as of this June. Meanwhile Los Angeles, leader of car culture, has found itself in the throes of an “infrastructure renaissance” to become more pedestrian and eco-friendly. And 62 percent of millennials today say they prefer to live in pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use neighborhoods.
Urbanists have a new playbook: The Assembly Civic Design Guidelines, a new set of recommendations for the public realm published by the Center for Active Design (CfAD)—a nonprofit that promotes design solutions for improving public health—and the Knight Foundation.
The CfAD’s recommendations might seem like old hat: plant trees, improve public transit, build more bike lanes. However, the report positions them as means to a specific end: a robust public life, which the organization defines as inspiring greater trust, participation, stewardship, and informed local voting. Plus, it has years of original research to back up the suggestions.