Cycling Infrastructure Attracts Young Talent

By Ryan McGreal
Published October 29, 2012

It's been said many times: young people don't care as much about driving as their parents. They're more interested in walking, cycling and transit, and cities that do a better job of providing pedestrian-, cyclist- and transit-friendly environments will do a better job of attracting them.

A new article on Shareable finds that several American cities, including Austin, Chicago, Minneapolis, New York City, and Washington DC, are moving aggressively to build and promote bike-friendly infrastructure.

There are almost too many quotable quotes in this piece to decide which ones to pull, but I'll note briefly that these cities are not just building bike lanes, they're building physically separated bike lanes.

The City of Chicago's Chief Technology Officer John Tolva says it's no coincidence that Google-Motorola Mobility's new home in the Merchandise Mart is right next to Kinzie Street, the city's first green lane - where bike lanes are physically separated from rushing traffic to make riders feel safer and more comfortable on the road.

The piece also quotes Christopher Leinberger (who delivered the keynote at Hamilton's 2011 Economic Summit) on Washington DC:

Bikes have been a critical part of DC's turnaround. They are putting in protected bike lanes which does a lot more to encourage riding than just a white line of paint between people and a one-ton vehicle.

And it's not just big cities, either. Austin, Texas, with a popultion of 820,000, is also building protected bike lanes:

Austin is ambitiously expanding its bike infrastructure; its first green lane opened last spring, one of 10 planned for the city. CEO Tyson Tuttle relocated Silicon Labs, which designs integrated circuits for computers, to downtown Austin five years ago to be close to the city's bike trail system. It was one of the first of many tech companies that have now moved into the area. Tuttle, who himself sometimes rides to work, says it was a smart move. "Biking on the trails is something a lot of employees enjoy, and when people think about joining the company it's a big draw."

Hamilton's nascent creative sector cluster in the downtown could also benefit from proximity to a high quality protected bike lane network - if our political leaders had the vision and courage to make a similar investment here.

Instead, we're stuck with a minimal bike lane system that defaults to painted lines, has a 40 year implementation schedule and is openly susceptible to individual ward vetoes.

We need to do a lot better - and we need to start yesterday, given the progress that other cities are already making in iterating their civic infrastructure to optimize for the future of economic development and growth.

(h/t to RTH user kettal for forwarding this link)

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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By jason (registered) | Posted October 29, 2012 at 21:08:28

falling further behind every day....

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By Conrad66 (registered) | Posted October 30, 2012 at 05:50:30

Its because this kind of a City has NO ambitious

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By ThisIsOurHamilton (registered) - website | Posted October 30, 2012 at 07:02:49

Its because this kind of a City has NO ambitious

What are you referring to when you say 'City'?

The wholesale administrative entity known as 'The City of Hamilton'?

Its Council, made up of Councillors from 15 wards?

Or its people?

I think that when most criticism of 'Hamilton' gets levied, it's being directed at the first two...but there's a certain (almost wholly unexamined) acknowledgement that its people keep electing/re-electing the second one, while the first one is an inarguable culture that has its own slant on things, irrespective of the profile supported by media.

So; are the people of Hamilton...who keep putting people in office who are lacking 'visionary leadership' (can't see there's much to counter this notion, not in the behaviour of Council just this term)...are they 'unambitious'? Do they not, in the main, see what this article points up as being something that needs to be addressed? If so, is this a case of a genuine philosophical rift? Is it merely parochial thinking? Is it ignorance, the sort of stuff that needs to be countermanded by leaders at City Hall who have vision, or by community leaders outside the electronic environs?

Who exactly has 'NO ambitious' in this scenario?

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By Conrad66 (registered) | Posted October 31, 2012 at 09:56:46 in reply to Comment 82415

City hall i meant ... and the same whent to making things happend with the Stadium,Casino, 2 way streets, AirPorte airotropiless something like thatlol, and i can go on and on :)

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By brodie.c (anonymous) | Posted October 30, 2012 at 23:13:04

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2012-10-31 11:13:19

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted October 31, 2012 at 09:56:54 in reply to Comment 82449

This comment is an attempt to slander Brodie. His username is a registered account Brodiec, not this anonymous Brodie.c.

And I'm pretty sure he likes bikes anyways.

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