2015 has been a great year for bicycling and cyclists, both in the USA and around the world. Many positive things have happened and we have much to build on going forward. Yes, we still have a lot of hearts and minds to win, but we’re heading in the right direction and we have momentum on our side. With that in mind, here’s what I hope for in 2016.
Better Enforcement of Existing Laws
Forget about bicycles and cars for just a moment. There’s a problem on America’s roadways and it mirrors a much larger societal problem. There are far too many people who simply don’t care about anyone’s rights but their own. This mentality needs to change, because it doesn’t lead anywhere good. It leads to carnage.
It would be nice if people would change their behavior on their own simply because it’s the right thing to do, but many don’t and so the threat of fines and penalties can and should be used to help change behavior. Bicyclists and pedestrians have every right to use the roads. Enforcement matters.
More Bicycle Education
As a League Certified Instructor (LCI #4661) I am passionate about education, not just for cyclists but for all road and trail users. When we cycle, lots of good things happen. Unfortunately, fear of a crash keeps many adults sidelined.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Education is the key and it extends well beyond the bicyclist. I want to hold more Traffic Safety classes in 2016, but I also want to hold lunch and learns with stakeholders who can help us move forward towards a multimodal future.
Higher Gas Prices
Yes, believe it or not… The old me would have never wished for higher gas prices, but the new me does. Jan and I have reordered our lives in a way that allows us to bicycle most places instead of drive. As a result, gas prices don’t affect us as much as they used to.
As fuel prices rise, we cyclists have fewer motorists to contend with. There’s less noise. Environmental damage is minimized. Life is better. That said, I’m not in any rush. Prices will rise soon enough. I suspect they’ll be higher by the end of 2016 than they are now…maybe significantly higher. Now is the time to get ready for it.
More Bikes on Trains (and Buses)
Multimodal transit plans allow people to combine bicycles with transit to get from wherever they are to wherever they’re going. There’s no better way to do this than to allow people to bring bicycles onto buses and trains easily and safely.
Better Planning and Shared Streets
I used to be a big fan of dedicated bicycle infrastructure, but the more I ride the less I care for it. I’d rather have shared streets like they do in many other parts of the world. By that, I mean streets where pedestrians, bicyclists and automobiles all have an equal claim on the pavement and when one is present the other two must yield. Slow speed limits…not more than 20 mph…are a critical part of making this successful.
Shared streets are more flexible. They cost less and serve more people. They help create a culture where everyone respects everyone else’s right to be there, like in a parking lot, for example. It’s time to integrate ever more shared streets into the infrastructure mix.
The five other items on our 2016 wish list all lead up to the big one, which is that more of our loved ones, friends and co-workers will make this the year that they peel themselves out of their cars and choose bicycles for short trips of five miles or less. When we bicycle, we heal. Our communities also heal. So does the environment. No machine ever built does so much good and asks for so little in return.
Through the simple act of choosing to cycle instead of motor, you make a powerful, life-affirming statement about who you are. Keep riding. Let’s make 2016 the best year yet for cyclists both at home and further afield. Happy New Year!