If you asked some Northcote residents what will happen if you flood the streets of a city with slow, heavy bikes controlled by inexperienced riders, you can be sure the “common sense” answer would be that chaos, mayhem and probably death would ensue.
Yet over 12 months after the launch of CitiBike in New York in May 2013, there has not been one fatality involving a CitiBike rider. Even better, only 40 people have been hurt and required medical attention after 10.3 million rides.
And New York is not the only good example:
In fact, experts say no fatalities have been logged in any U.S. public bike share program since the first one launched in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2007. There are now programs in 36 cities, including Chicago, Minneapolis and San Francisco, with new services planned in Tampa, Florida, Boise, Idaho, Portland, Oregon, and elsewhere.
And on top of that, there is increasing evidence from the US that changes made to street scapes to accomodate cycling and walking facilities have actually made the city streets safe for everyone. Similar changes are happening in London and Paris with similar positive results.
So could this mean that there is nothing special about New World cities that stop them being strong cycling communities? Could it be that if we in the New World built good quality cycle infrastructure and made our streets more friendly for walking and cycling, that we too could spend less on transport while being safer (especially for children)?
Are “build it and they will come” and “safety in numbers” more than just crank theories by a few of the “Green Taliban” (to quote the well informed, intelligent debate on WhaleOil)?
It certainly appears so. And a large part of the answer is better funding for walking and cycling. So don’t forget to sign the petition and show your support.