What does it take to build wider support for bike infrastructure in cities? In an office of bike enthusiasts, this was a question we were excited to work toward answering.
Good bike infrastructure consists of a completely connected, comfortable system of bike lanes that allow riders to get to where they’re going safely, without inconveniencing drivers and walkers. It helps everyone move with greater ease and doesn’t leave bike riders, motorists or pedestrians to navigate incomplete connections that force everyone into unsafe and confusing situations on the road.
In partnership with Wend Ventures and PeopleForBikes, we conducted nationwide research on how the public feels about mobility in major metropolitan areas and where bike infrastructure fits into their desire for more livable communities. The findings are helping bike infrastructure advocates gain mainstream support by going beyond bikes to solutions for greater mobility, safety and opportunity for all—illuminating how to win by communicating how your interest is in everyone’s interest.
Focus groups in New Orleans and Denver informed a quantitative motivation research survey in eight U.S. cities to better understand people’s aspirations for mobility and how bike infrastructure could help them achieve their personal and civic goals.
The challenge for bike infrastructure advocates is to successfully appeal to a public where relatively few people bike, but many more could or would if it were safe to do so. Our research revealed that the key to winning public support is showing how bike infrastructure works to the benefit of everyone—drivers, walkers and bike riders. It’s a revelation for advocates who usually talk about the value of biking and the need to protect bike riders.
Our team worked with PeopleForBikes to develop messaging that made bike infrastructure a means to the publicly desired end of more transportation options, improved mobility and greater safety for drivers, pedestrians and bike riders. What everyone wants is peace on the road: the ability to get to where they are going on time and in a safe, predictable and relaxed manner. While the vast majority of people in metropolitan areas are drivers, they acknowledge that bikes and other people-powered transportation are effective alternatives to traffic and congestion. They’re willing to share the road and build bike infrastructure if it is connected to a smart transportation system, resulting in better behaviors among bikers and drivers and promoting better traffic flow.
The solution is to advance bike lanes to let everyone move more freely while they stay in their own lanes. The overarching message—We can have peace on the road when everyone has a piece of the road—combined with a reminder to be inclusive of all modes of transportation will help bike advocates nationwide build broader and stronger support for bike infrastructure initiatives that advance greater mobility for all.
Rich recently sat down with Kyle Wagenschutz from PeopleForBikes, who is co-host of @thebikenerdspodcast, to talk about the frame-changing message. Listen to the episode here: http://www.theoamnetwork.com/thebikenerds/2018/10/3/episode-101-activating-support
Learn more about the research and the other great work happening at PeopleForBikes here: https://peopleforbikes.org/activatingsupport/