“We have been calling it the ‘transportation cocktail,’” explained Floriane Vayssières of Montreal’s agence metropolitaine de transport (AMT), using a term coined by Labrecque. Mixing a unique “cocktail” means choosing from an array of integrated transportation options including walking, car sharing, taxis, public transit, and now bicycles and bike sharing systems. While the resulting cocktail will vary from person to person, providing access to each ingredient is important and must fit the needs of those traveling throughout the city.
The real challenge facing urban development is finding ways to effectively and sustainably connect and move a rapidly growing urban population.
In San Francisco, Timothy Papandreou, Deputy Director of Transportation Planning for the Sustainable Streets Division of San Francisco’s Municipal Transit Agency, sees transportation choices as part of a “mobility menu” where each person chooses transportation according to his or her taste. The car is still the most popular mobility menu choice in the region, and he believes that to change tastes toward more sustainable choices like cycling, we must follow the money. The agencies that fund transportation projects need to shift their mind-sets to see cycling as a legitimate mobility option before they will open up funding opportunities. Papandreou also suggested that to attract more people to active transportation there must be a focus on fun, something San Francisco is pursuing through the development of interactive smartphone apps that track and display commuting information over all modes of travel.
Shifting the Culture of Moving People
Guillermo Peñalosa won’t stand for cities building infrastructure that is not accessible and comfortable for all ages. Peñalosa, who ushered in over 200 parks and introduced Ciclovía – car-free Sundays – in Bogotá, Colombia, is the Executive Director of the NGO 8-80 Cities. The organization advocates that everyone from the young (8 years old) to the aging (80) should be actively accommodated in all public spaces. Most contemporary street designs limit these groups from participating in city life by focusing on moving people at the greatest speed and providing mostly car-dependent spaces. “We have to stop designing cities as though everyone was a physically fit 30-year-old,” said Peñalosa.
Peñalosa, whose presentation at Velo-city Global 2012 received a standing ovation, showed research that found that the youngest and oldest members of society fear car-dominated streets, and that these streets present real threats to people inside and outside a car.
People like Megan won’t consider cycling on city streets in these conditions. As far as Megan is concerned, biking on urban streets is too dangerous, a challenge to be taken on by the most fit and fearless. This perception has relegated cycling to the fringes of urban transport in North America.
Andreas Røhl, manager of cycling projects in Copenhagen, understands Megan’s hesitation. “With cycling it is very much about perceived safety.” Small interventions, like separating bicycle lanes from traffic using textures, planters, barriers, or shielding it behind parking, are ways to make cycling feel more safe. And the feeling of safety is how people decide where and whether they’ll go by bike and foot. He also argues that cycling must be presented as more than just healthy and environmentally responsible to achieve mainstream acceptance. For Røhl, the goal is for people to cycle because it is a “convenient and normal way of getting to work on a Monday morning.”