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John Pucher in Seattle: How to regain status as a premier cycling city

July 16, 2013

From a guest op-ed in the Seattle Times – full article here.

Guest: Building a bicycling renaissance in Seattle

IN 1990 Seattle was at the vanguard of bicycling in North America, with one of the highest commuting rates of any major city. Seattle led even Portland, with 50 percent more bike commuting (1.5 percent vs. 1 percent of workers). Over the past two decades, however, Seattle has fallen behind. …

Portland, Vancouver, B.C., Montreal, Ottawa, Minneapolis, and Washington, D.C. have all surpassed Seattle in overall bicycling and in the rate of bicycling among women. What accounts for the bicycling booms in these cities, where environments are at least as challenging as Seattle’s?

The answer is simple: Other cities are building integrated networks of neighborhood greenways and protected bike lanes separated from car traffic.

Neighborhood greenways — low-speed, low-traffic streets that are safer for families to bike and walk — have been shown to reduce traffic injuries for all road users, including drivers, while increasing bicycling especially by women and children.

Neighborhood greenways make residential streets pleasant, quiet places, while also enhancing safety, reducing air pollution and making streets a safe place for children to play.

Vancouver has 94 miles of greenways; Portland has 82 miles. Seattle has three miles.  …

Vancouver has seen an impressive rise in cycling among women, seniors and children. Protected bicycle lanes are greatly needed on Seattle’s busiest arterials, where dangerous gaps in the bike network exist.

With hundreds of miles of protected bicycle lanes being installed in New York City, Chicago and dozens of other cities around the country, Seattle should also focus its bicycling investment where it is the most needed. …

Meanwhile, cities across the country are stepping in and vying for the new generation of bike-oriented millennials. They’re building bike networks that serve all ages and abilities as a down payment on urban growth, prosperity and vitality.

Seattle finds itself at a crucial juncture. Now is the time for Seattle to regain its status as North America’s premier bicycling city by creating a complete, truly integrated network of protected bike lanes and neighborhood greenways. Investing in bicycling is a key to the city’s future.

John Pucher is a professor at Rutgers University and author of “City Cycling” by MIT Press.


Here is the PowerPoint of the opening keynote address John gave at the June 20-22 Bicycle
Urbanism conference at the University of Seattle: “Cycling to the Future:  Lessons from across the Globe.”

And here is his similar presentation in Vancouver:


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