The new Minneapolis bike plan will see more than 200 miles of new lanes. Photo: Alamy
Cycling, Fawley argues, must be made a positive choice: The reality is that we still have to very much develop the bicyclist. You have to want it, you have to be choice it not exclusively because its the most convenient alternative but because it builds you feel good.
This was Fawleys own route into cycling: as a city planning student at the university he drove everywhere until his car broke down for good and he bought a motorcycle instead. When I changed that I was healthier, had more fund, he says. I weigh less than I did then. Im a lot happier because of it, and I think about how many people would be in the same situation. Theyve forgotten about it because of the systems and culture we have. Its not going to make sense for everyone. But theres more people who, if the system supported them, would have a similar thing where their lives would just be better. And thats what its about for me.
Bender, meanwhile, explains her push for cycle infrastructure in terms of social justice. Minneapolis has significant faultlines over race and poverty, and she sees the bike network, which is intended to stretch to all suburbiums, as offering an option to people who cannot afford to run a car.
She describes working earlier in her career for a non-profit organisation which operates transport projects in developing nations, and being taken on a tour of a freshly rebuilt former slum area in Bogot by Enrique Pealosa, the former( and now only re-elected) mayor of the Colombian capital, a major proponent for bike routes.
Pealosa, she says, proudly pointed out a smooth, paved road for motorcycles and pedestrians. There was this bicycle and pedestrian track and next to it was a dirt road, she says. Enrique made the phase: We made this selection intentionally. Automobiles dont need paving, and this is a poor region, most people dont drive anyway. So we prioritised putting the money into the bicycle and pedestrian lanes.
Bender adds: It was a moment that really stuck with me. How you spend money as a city or a government genuinely shows your values, shows what you are investing in. Thats genuinely influenced how I do my job now.
The new Minneapolis bike plan has as its target a doubling of cycling numbers by 2020, which would put it ahead of Portlands current figure. Unsurprisingly, those in Oregons largest city, which built its first plan for cycling in 1973, stress that they have expansion plans of their own.
I dont think Portland is close to losing its place as Americas number one cycling city, says Jonathan Maus, who runs the influential Bike Portland website. Not at all. With bike share launching in July and a slew of protected bike lane projects coming soon, were about to make another big jump in ridership after years of stagnation.
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