Ingezonden

While some Green Lanes are painted green, the concept just refers to space between bike lanes and car lanes (AP Photo/Mark Duncan))

While American cities have
increased the number of bike lanes, aiding commuters and causal riders, city
planners and bicycle advocacy groups note there is much to be done. For many
riders – especially those with children – a need remains for greater separation
between traffic and bike lanes.

Now progress is being made.
Transportation officials from around the country, along with Federal Highway
Administrator Victor Mendez, headlined the launch of a new initiative to bring
protected bikeways to six American cities at a national kickoff event last
month.

The Green Lane Project was created by
national bicycling nonprofit Bikes Belong Foundation and the group is working
with Austin, Chicago, Memphis, Portland, Ore., San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
to support development of the program.

“We are seeing an explosion of
interest in making bicycling stress-free on busy city
streets,” said Martha Roskowski, Green Lane
Project director
for Bikes Belong. “The selected cities have
ambitious goals
and a vision for bicycling supported by their elected
officials and communities. They are poised to get projects on the ground quickly and will serve as excellent examples for other interested cities.”

The
separated facilities that the Green Lane Project is seen as essential for the
non-hardcore cyclists and could help get mainstream America on two wheels.

“We refer to this group as the ‘interested but
concerned’ and the group consists of the sixty percent of Americans who like
the idea of bicycling and would like to bicycle more, but are concerned for
their safety,” Bruno Maier, vice
president of Bikes Belong, told BikeRadar. “They feel
uncomfortable riding with traffic, and no matter how much we market bicycling
as a good choice, if those individuals have a bad experience then they won’t
chose bicycling again. Green Lanes help improve the bike riding experience by
making bicycling stress-free for the majority of Americans.”

And
this is just the beginning of the project, and eventually could even more out
of major cities.

“Our mission is to put more people on bikes, including the suburbs,” said
Maier. “However,
given the percentage of people that live in urban environments, the levels of
congestion, and staff and budget limitations we’re focusing on cities to make
sure that our programs influence the greatest number of Americans. We did chose
cities with different population levels and geography to show that bicycling
can be part of a healthy solution in all communities.”

Bikes Belong have also issued grants for suburban
projects in the past and Maier noted that the group will continue to consider
good projects in the future.

“I also anticipate that the Green Lane Project will
live on beyond its two year schedule,” added Maier. “And picking a suburb as
part of our program expansion could be considered as long as that community had
the public interest and political will to support bicycling and active
transportation.”

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