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How to get more people biking, quickly

Photo by People for Bikes and Bike Calgary

Photo by People for Bikes and Bike Calgary

Michael Andersen has a short but critically important piece about how Calgary, Alberta is having success testing out a greatly-expanded cycling network:

When we wrote in February that this unlikely Alberta oiltown could be the best bike city on the Great Plains by 2018, we didn't expect things to come together so fast. But thanks to an enthusiastic mayor, committed city staff and a relentless campaign by advocacy group Bike Calgary, they have.

Cheered on by Calgarians for Cycle Tracks, which started as a five-person advocacy team but swelled to 30 and attracted 1,500 Facebook followers in four weeks, Calgary's city council on Monday voted 8-7 to put $7.5 million into a one-year pilot of three new protected bike lanes, plus a stub of a fourth, that will lattice through the business district starting next spring. They'll be joining the existing protected bike lane on 7th Street and a possible future project on 8th Street.

The keys: Use pilot projects, do it cheaply so you can cover more ground, and involve a diverse community. The whole piece is worth a read.

By way of comparison, the price tag to complete the three new protected bike lanes is about what it costs to build half a mile to a mile of a typical 4-lane divided road. 

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