Helping Our Cities Make the Transition

Every transition is a challenge and what I love most about challenges is that they are also an opportunity.

Every transition is a challenge and what I love most about challenges is that they are also an opportunity.

This past May, I spent an afternoon riding the protected bike lane on 9th Avenue in New York City. On a beautiful, upright Viva city bike, perfect for riding safely with my head up, I enjoyed spotting the new bike share stations dotting the protected lane. I quickly noticed the difference between riding on a narrow and unprotected bike lane, like on nearby 6th Avenue, to that of riding on a protected route. Even though I am confident riding in any city and on any street, my experience was exponentially more enjoyable on a protected bike lane.

As I pedaled throughout Manhattan, I thought of all the new riders who would be drawn to bikes because of protected bike lanes and bike share systems. This new infrastructure, rapidly expanding in cities across North America, ties directly to the vision of Momentum Mag in that many more people can and will be riding bikes as they learn that a bicycle is the most efficient, effective, and enjoyable way to get around.

Right now, many US and Canadian cities are facing the challenge of how to adapt to a significant increase in people riding bikes. I know that it will not be a seamless transition. Concerns became apparent as I spent two hours interviewing riders on the 2nd Avenue protected lane in the East Village. The drivers of personal cars, taxis, and delivery trucks were not always patient or alert while turning left through the protected lane. I witnessed many pedestrians stepping into the lane without looking for people on bikes. I also saw some bike riders ignoring red lights and riding in the wrong direction. While the protected bike lane has made the street noticeably safer, it’s clear that not everyone has adjusted to the new street infrastructure.

So what can we do to help our cities make the transition to bike- and pedestrian-friendly places? While infrastructure provides a push in the right direction, we must all learn to slow down. Life doesn’t have to move at our all too high speed limits. Let us lift our heads up and enjoy the sights, smells, and sounds of our changing cities. Let us show patience with everyone on our streets instead of viewing them as obstacles. And let us keep riding because the more people there are on bikes, the more visible we all will be.

I embrace Momentum Mag’s opportunity to promote, encourage, and inspire safe city riding while helping you find the products and services that will make your bicycle lifestyle easy and fun. Because bicycling is one of the best ways to get around, let us work together to help create more opportunities for others to choose to ride as well.

Mia Kohout, editor-in-chief | | @MiaKohout

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  • hamish wilson

    Getting up to a separated bike lane network will be something important, but often, we aren’t really being smart about what we are pushing for, or at least it feels that way in Caronto, Ontcario, where some high-profile new, costly and yes, welcome separated lanes are providing cover for either taking away bike lanes elsewhere, or simply not doing things for urban cyclists in the other 99% of the city.

    So the context of what is proposed is really important. Does it make sense to upgrade some roads and are these well suited for connectivity, cycling numbers, etc.? If there are separations, does the City do a good enough job with maintenance during off-seasons etc., or is it being a luring of sorts into criticism for all this money and urban space being wasted?

    Are the roads wide enough to re-allocate enough space for cyclists? Having a one-way road makes it far easier. And with bi-directional, some of which are emerging as controversial and with cause in TO – are there too many conflict points ie. intersections and alleys, with turns that could take out cyclists?

    With the Harbord lane proposal in Toronto, the proposal is for bi-directional, but this is occurring ahead of doing long-awaited core bike lanes, on an existing facility that is the best/only one in west end TO, but it ends at Ossington, while Bloor St. W. of Ossington is being redone with zilch for bikes.

    So some of us are being duped methinks into supporting an allegedly higher “safety” feature, whilst the overall city is avoiding doing what is needed for a real network, in cities, where it’s needed.

  • Amma Z

    I love riding bikes. I ride every day to work and around the city in which I live, Portland, Oregon.
    Today, I checked in on the local biking blog,, only to see several stories about bicycle riders who were injured over the past week.

    There is a group from Sweden addressing transportation safety, called Vision Zero Initiative They have a great short video outlining their position. It is worth a look.
    The premise is that ANY LOSS OF LIFE is unacceptable. Whether you are walking, biking, or driving… safety should be guaranteed.
    What I like about this concept, is that it accepts that we are prone to accidents regardless of transportation type, and that it is the function of the internal transportation structure to take into account and eliminate the effect of human error.
    Blame of the individual is tossed out and the focus is on how to shape the environment to create safer experiences.
    I love dedicated bike lanes, bike boxes (in front of cars at stop lights), and bike signals.
    Portland, OR

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