Several high-profile bicyclist deaths last year in Boise spawned new laws intended to stop harassment and increase cyclist safety. They're well-meaning laws with little to no chance of accomplishing a thing. It may be the law that cars must provide three feet to pass and not harass cyclists, but that should also be common sense. And even with both laws in place, cars routinely clip and harangue cyclists. Punitive legislation intended to modify behavior rarely works because it doesn't address the root of the behavior. With the continuing conflicts that arise between cars and cyclists, the issue is often city design.
Think of it like this: when a person arrives at a baseball field, they rarely try to bowl. They're much more likely to play baseball. In the same vein of thought, cities that incorporate cycling into their planning make it easier for people to ride bikes.
But why does that matter? Because communities that embrace cycling see their economies, air and general health improve. They also see their traffic congestion decline and see fewer tragic deaths for cyclists and vehicular manslaughter charges for drivers.
Jeff Mapes, senior political journalist at The Oregonian, devoted three years to studying communities that embrace cycling for his book: Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities.
Tonight, Mapes will be reading from and discussing his book at The Linen Building. Whether you prefer gas pedals or spds, the discussion will be a fascinating look into the future of city design, as it pertains to cycling, and why it matters.