The prevalence of bike culture has grown tremendously in the past few decades, and many cities are taking initiatives to promote biking. The health consequences of living in places that aren’t walkable or bikeable have long been established, but there are economic incentives for promoting biking as well. For instance, it costs about $500 a year to transport a child to school by bus in sprawled areas–a large sum that could be greatly reduced if children lived in neighborhoods where they could walk or bike. Not only that, building infrastructure like protected bike lanes has also been shown to reduce pedestrian injuries along the streets that they are built on. The reasons for this are varying: bike lanes shorten the distance of crosswalks, clarify right of way conflicts, and create traffic-calming barriers that slow cars down.
To promote biking, municipalities build infrastructure such as protected bike lanes. Some cities, like New York, have also invested in robust bike share programs. Bike share is still very much in its infancy, but a growing number of cities have taken initiatives to fund bike share networks. The process of creating a bike share network, as well as its implications for a city’s economy, have been hashed out by planning professionals and discussed at length.
Regardless of whether or not you believe in bike culture, it’s impossible to deny its place in modern urban discourse. We debate over the suitability of terms like “protected bike lane” and “cycleway.” Even Lego has published a book that includes protected bike lanes. If US cities continue to promote biking, perhaps there will come a day where we’ll have a thriving bike culture like that of many successful European cities.