Lots of thought and dollars have recently gone into making it easier to bicycle from Point A to Point B but some of the best solutions are also the simplest and most cost effective. This point was driven home yet again on a recent ride somewhere north of Ogden when I came across the following sign.
Fortunately, they weren’t talking to me and so I continued to ride on with confidence. The road eventually did come to an end at Interstate 15. If you were in a car you were pretty much out of luck. If, on the other hand, you were on a bike or foot, well…
This wasn’t a new or elegant solution. From the looks of it, this pedestrian overpass hasn’t been state of the art for well over 30 years. It was an absolute trip cycling over it and then circling down on the other side…a real hoot. You had to be careful. It was a little claustrophobic but it worked. All things being equal, it made bicycling and walking more attractive and easier than driving and that’s the whole idea, right?
I’ve seen similar signs elsewhere in Ogden and in most cases they only apply to motor vehicles. Those of us who choose to get around without a motor almost always have an outlet.
Years ago when Jan and I lived in the Mission Viejo neighborhood in Aurora Colorado, the city required developers to build bicycle and pedestrian connectivity into suburban shopping centers. I thought it was brilliant and, not surprisingly, we used these access points. We were there long enough so that by the time we left I assumed that it was the new normal and that they did it everywhere. Turns out I was wrong. We moved to suburban Houston and learned otherwise. It was such a simple, elegant solution that kept cars off the road and improved quality of life for residents and even those just passing through. It’s a shame other places haven’t picked up on it.
Bicycle and pedestrian connectivity doesn’t have to cost a fortune. It doesn’t require much in the way of engineering. A little common sense helps. It can be elegantly simple. It can be dirt cheap. All communities need to do is figure out how to build cityscapes in a manner that makes it easier to bicycle or walk than it is to get in the car and drive. When they do, people will choose wisely. People will choose to move around by bicycle instead of by car. When they do, everybody wins.