Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hartford, Conn joins in bike-ped revolution

Not Just For Cars Anymore
From The Hartford Courant 3.16.08

If America is going to conserve energy and become more physically fit, a good place to start would be with the streets. Since at least World War II, streets have been regarded primarily as conduits for cars and trucks. But if streets and their sidewalks and intersections were handled in a more far-sighted way, they would serve a bigger slice of the population — pedestrians, bicyclists and mass transit riders , as well as motorists. Throughout the United States, a "Complete Streets" movement is emerging, causing more and more governments to broaden their outlook. According to a report last fall in the AARP Bulletin, 52 municipalities, six counties, 10 regional governments and 14 states have adopted Complete Streets policies. These policies require transportation departments to design — or redesign — streets and roads so that they accommodate people using all modes of travel.

The West Coast is a hotbed for such efforts. The first state to pass a law mandating that facilities for bicycles and pedestrians be included in all road projects was Oregon, in 1971, says Michael Ronkin, who for 16 years managed Oregon's bike and pedestrian programs. Oregon initially focused more on improving conditions for bicyclists than on serving pedestrians.

"Until the last 10 years, bike advocates were always more vocal than pedestrian advocates," Ronkin points out.

But that's been changing, in Oregon and elsewhere. The National Complete Streets Coalition, which was formally launched in May 2006 in Washington, D.C., represents a coming together of cyclists, pedestrians and transit users. The goal is to influence how communities are laid out and managed so that they're accessible for everyone. (read more)

Nice to see the east coast joining in the revolution to reduce drive alone trips and make bikes a normal from of transportation. Being from the Hartford area myself, I know that it can be a beautiful place to ride, and I also know that traffic congestion is becoming an issue, just like a lot of urban growth areas around the country. It is nice to see the west coast, particularly Portland, can set an example for the rest of the country. ~KT

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