Many communities are not currently structured to support everyday cycling. However, in a lot of instances it can be as simple as evaluating the importance of vehicular lane width and the approach of just adding paint. Cities along the Front Range of Colorado have bicycle-friendly adjacent venues, including an extensive mountain biking trail system. Cycling is very popular in these areas as a result, but only for recreational purposes. Most of the cities lack the internal city network that make cycling an effective mode of transportation.
Cities need to reconsider the importance of bicycling. Similar to a quality transit system and city street network, connectivity is critical. Bicycle lanes that begin and end in isolation are as effective as the cliff for Wile E. Coyote in the old Road Runner Looney Tunes cartoons.
Trail networks and bicycle lanes must have many points of ingress/egress that are connected to other bicycle lanes, trails or streets that are calm enough for bicycle traffic.
Colorado Springs is in the process of improving its bicycle connectivity with the implementation of “sharrows.” Sharrows are streets with bold signage painted on the surface of the street to indicate that vehicular traffic shall yield to the cyclist. The word “sharrow” is short for “share the road”. This is a great step in connecting Colorado Springs with the use of the bicycle and decreasing our dependence on the SOV (single-occupant vehicles).
Equally important to the bicycle lanes, is the need for safe, visible and often sheltered bicycle storage facilities. Fort Carson, directly south of Colorado Springs, has become aggressive in including large bicycle storage pavilions outside of the new barracks on the Installation. This is a critical component of making the Installation bicycle friendly.
For more information regarding bicycle infrastructure and potentially incorporating the infrastructure into your city’s code, see the Bicycling SmartCode Module written by Mike Lydon, Zachary Adelson and Tony Garcia here