By Jordan Hunt, 3 June 2017
At first, some of the statistics presented in City Cycling aren’t too surprising. The percentage of commutes cycled in the US is dwarfed by that of some northern European countries. The one statistic that did catch me off guard was the number of cycling related injuries in the US. When compared to other countries. The stat was literally off the chart and had to be shown by a discontinuous line. This spoke volumes for the current state of cycling infrastructure within the United States; the current system is broken and needs to be fixed.
Discovering how the US cycling infrastructure got to its current state was interesting. In the past, the predominant voice in providing direction for cycling infrastructure in the US was that of John Forester, and he did not lead planners down the right path. He believed that separating bicycle and vehicle traffic was actually more dangerous than to have them share lanes. It was quite frustrating reading some of his opinions on the cycling infrastructure in place in Europe and his justifications for not promoting separated cycle tracks. Facts are facts, and it is a fact that European countries that have promoted segregated cycling infrastructure experience an increased use of cycling across all ages for all types of commutes with drastically higher safety ratings.
From the readings, I do believe that the US is taking steps in the proper direction, though. The first sign of this is that federal funding of bicycling facilities has increased from $5 million in the late 1980s to over $1 billion in 2009 (Rails-to-Trails Conservancy). This shows the governments increased commitment to develop cycling facilities. Also, the implementation of European style cycle tracks within major US cities such as New York City and Seattle are great signs that policy makers have realized that separation is key to safe cycling facilities.