Monday, October 31 2016 @ 12:14 PM UTC
Contributed by: B' Spokes
BY TOM BABIN, Shifter
That’s an understatement. Not only had Edmonton sat idly by while cities all over the continent built accommodations for bikes, it was getting worse. Painted lanes were being scrubbed, and the best bike route across the river was worsened by bridge modifications. If the mayor sounded like he was throwing up his hands, what hope did anybody else have?
So how it is that, just a few weeks later, this sprawling northern city, famous for long winters and hockey, is on pace to build a forward-thinking and ambitious network of separated downtown bike lanes? Credit the power of frustration, and some creative thinking.
It also has lessons for other cities struggling to get the bike-lane ball rolling. Nobert credits the idea to creative thinking outside of the usual confines of city hall. “We created a situation that seemed impossible or difficult to say no to,” he said. “I credit (a group of city councillors) with showing the leadership and take the political risk, but I believe that the creativity came from without.”
There’s something else unique about the project. Rather than a long public consultation process, in which a litany of public meetings allow people to air their theoretical grievances ahead of time, this project is being built as a pilot project that will be tweaked once in place. The idea is to get the lanes installed in the real world, and then adjust them based on public feedback, rather than the other way around.
For Nobert, however, perhaps the most important thing that he learned from the experience is the power of people.
“Citizens need to get engaged,” he said. “Trust that centrally-located residents want to bike and walk places (they do), and use that fact to your advantage. Guerilla is great. Use injury collision data as leverage. Build social media networks, build real relationships. Meet with everyone.
“Citizen groups can make change.”
[B' Spokes: My take away is let your elected representatives know that you bike and expect more than just platitudes. I would also like to give a shout out to BikeMore, they are doing a wonderful job, the more we support them the better job they can do. And I also want to point out Bike HoCo - Bicycling Advocates of Howard County, they too are doing a exceptional job.
Bike HoCo: https://www.facebook.com/BikeHoCo/
(If you can donate some money or time but above all keep on riding.)]