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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Easing the way for cyclists

In case you missed these stories online yesterday, USA Today and The Associated Press had a couple of stories about making things a bit easier for people who want to ride their bicycles as a means of transportation.

The USA Today story says that cities are accelerating their efforts to encourage commuting on two wheels, putting bike racks where cars once parked, adding bike lanes and considering European-style bike-share programs to get residents out of their cars.

Among the cities mentioned in the USA Today story is Chicago, which is striving by 2015 to have 5 percent of all trips shorter than 5 miles to be taken by bicycle. Mayor Richard Daley also is considering launching a bike program he saw in Paris. That effort, begun in July, allows residents and visitors to check out a bike at one location, ride free during the first half-hour and park the bike at another location near their destination. As I mentioned last week, Montreal is implementing a similar program. That program is expected to begin by the fall of 2008.

The AP story focuses on New York City, which received bronze medal from the Washington-based League of American Bicyclists for the city's efforts under Mayor Michael Bloomberg to promote cycling for a cleaner environment and a healthier populace.

The city is installing 400 to 500 bike racks a year and plans to have more than 400 miles of bike lanes and paths by 2009, the AP reported. There will then be 1 mile of bike lane for every 10 miles of road; the ratio is now 1 to 15. In San Francisco, it's 1 to 7.

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