Seeing is Believing: The Green Lane Project

April 1, 2013

Zach Vanderkooy

?In 2009, I was hired by the Bikes Belong Foundation to create a program based on a simple, powerful idea: seeing is believing. They Bicycling Design Best Practices Program brought American city leaders to places like Denmark and the Netherlands, where up to half of all trips in urban centers are made by bike. We also led workshops in model American cities like Minneapolis, Portland, and New York. Participants experienced fully developed, mature bicycling networks up close and in depth. Urban planners and traffic engineers could absorb the fine details of how it works in the world’s bicycling meccas and wrestle with the challenges of translating road designs and policies to their own unique streets. Policy makers and community leaders could envision bicycle transportation, not as an abstract idea, but as a practical, realistic, and indispensable solution for getting around in our cities.

In April 2012, the Bicycling Design Best Practice Program was expanded and relaunched as the Green Lane Project. All of our work to inspire, catalyze, and support U.S. cities working to realize world-class bicycle transportation continued under the new name.

I’m thrilled to be a part of the Green Lane Project team. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Our work will be more focused and comprehensive. In addition to the inspiration and ideas offered by study tours and workshops, we’ll provide resources to help six focus cities get state-of-the-art bike infrastructure on the ground in the next two years.
  • It’s still a timely, important idea. We need more and better models for world-class bicycling in American cities, and the Green Lane Project will help us identify best practices and spread good ideas more quickly, more intelligently, and more efficiently.
  • Martha Roskowski is heading the Project. Martha’s leadership helped make Boulder, Colorado, one of the most successful bicycling cities in North America. She’ll provide indispensable guidance that will make our work better.
  • Green Lane Project is a smarter, shorter, less wonky name than Bicycling Design Best Practices Program.

In the two and half years since we began, it’s amazing how much the conversation has shifted. We’re no longer debating whether or not common international best practices like cycle tracks belong in American cities; we’re now talking about how to design and fund entire networks of them. We now have a robust design manual for bicycling in urban conditions, providing transportation professionals with the tools and guidance needed to build world-class bicycle infrastructure. We’ve found willing partners in city, state, and national government agencies, including the embassy of the Netherlands and the U.S. Department of Transportation. We’ve built a powerful network of alumni of our study tours and workshops, whose cities are part of a growing movement to make bicycling mainstream.

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