Bikesharing & protected lanes: The peanut butter & chocolate of better biking

August 29, 2013

Michael Andersen, Green Lane Project staff writer

Our colleagues at PeopleForBikes just put up a sweet new infographic about the great bikesharing breakthrough of 2013, and of course my favorite part of it is the part about protected bike lanes.

Protected bike lane networks and bikesharing are a delicious pair. They're both designed to make cities more prosperous, clean and efficient by removing key barriers that keep so many Americans from using bikes.

Bikesharing solves the problem of not having a bike handy, especially when you're traveling in another city or running errands midday. Protected bike lanes solve the problem of not having a pleasant route to ride by more fully separating bikes from auto traffic when possible. Neither of these tools is going to replace cars in the lives of most Americans; that's not the point. Taken together, both tools help people shake free of the car-only mindset and get on the streets with their bikes whenever riding a bike makes sense.

As you can see above, three of our six focus cities (Washington, Chicago and as of this week, San Francisco) have both bikesharing and protected bike lanes. Two more (Austin and Portland) have protected bike lanes and are working on bikesharing. The last one, Memphis, just got its first protected bike lane and has also started looking into what bikesharing might look like.

This conjunction is no coincidence. Protected bike lanes and public bikesharing are both low-cost investments in local transportation that each help the other one pay off. It's a thrill to see more cities understanding this.

Green lane idea of the day: Protected bike lanes and bikesharing are each good at getting more people on bikes, but they're most effective together.

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