One common qualm associated with bike/ped projects is that they’re “expensive”, especially when by themselves. As a result, many people balk at the idea that they be funded by tax dollars, especially when biking is still overwhelmingly viewed as a leisure activity akin to golf. “Why should we have to pay for Tour-de-France trainers?” is the general sentiment. Bike lanes on arterials sit empty all week then spring forth with pelotons on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
However, notwithstanding those out on the weekends, the vast majority of people are not willing to bike in the midst of traffic traveling at several multiples of their speed. (It may also be worth noting that Saturday and Sunday mornings have decidedly lower traffic counts than normal weekdays, so it’s likely that while they don’t mind a few cars, many of those people are also not willing to ride in traffic either.) Stats on this have been collected for years. Low stress environments created via traffic calming and/or separation bring out the casual rider that is “interested but concerned”. Striping a road that has a 35-55 MPH speed limit does not create a low stress environment.
As biking increases in popularity not only for recreation, but for commuting too, better provision for riders must be undertaken. Considering the costs associated with any infrastructure, it is imperative that the best bike facilities be planned and built from the very beginning right along with the regular road network. This avoids the costs of having to change things up later. Instead, space for cycling too often continues to be marginalized as a stripe on the side of the roadway. While these are nice on quiet neighborhood streets, they have no place on basically anything bigger or busier than that. People continue to vote with their wheels and ride on the sidewalk in locations like that.
New and redevelopment should take steps to ensure that the separation standards are adopted that encourage people to ride their bikes for more than just recreation. With the clock ticking for mandates laid forth by AB32 and SB375, drastic changes need to be made too the urban environment to meet them. Changing the status quo in building is a good place to start. Billions of dollars are flowing to the Inland Empire for infrastructure projects and development. Let’s make sure that they enhance the area and help it meet those goals and stop missing opportunities.