Author Topic: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity  (Read 1060 times)

CargoBiker

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The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« on: February 28, 2017, 03:50:00 PM »
After reading MMM's post, I read The Happy City book, and find myself inspired to make changes that impact my community in a positive way.

Most recently, I attended a city council committee meeting about a couple of bike lanes they were looking at adding.  I was the only person there from the public, and I inputted my 2cents on their idea, to try and shift the debate.

Since then, I drew up my own plan for the road in question, that I believe was better than either of the proposed plans.  2 of the council members responded back saying that they liked the idea and that they would propose it to the committee.


There's a couple of park locations that I'm going to lobby for as well, as there are no parks remotely within walking distance of my community.


Also, I'm throwing a block party in the street next week, as I realized that none of our neighbors know each other, and that our street would be a happier place if we knew some faces and names.


Has anyone successfully influenced a city or state government to improve bicycle infrastructure, or improve city design in general?


I'm curious as to what methods were most effective, and hearing how best to bring about public policy change.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2017, 03:51:32 PM by CargoBiker »

fdhs_runner

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2017, 11:01:36 AM »
After spending a year in Korea I'm of the opinion that bike lanes aren't so much necessary as road lanes that are simply wide enough. Everywhere I went there the far right lane was wide enough for cars to easily pass a bike or moped without leaving the lane. Biking didn't seem nearly as common there as in Europe, but drivers also seemed to be very accustomed to watching out for any two wheeled contraptions due to the large amount of mopeds and utilitarian motorcycles.

They also had excellent pedestrian infrastructure; tunnels, bridges, sidewalks, cross walks, etc. I'm of the opinion that a walker friendly city by extension tends to be biker friendly as well. On top of that they have rivers, tributaries, parks, mountains with hiking trails, and lots of other stuff nearby that was worth walking/biking/taking public transit to. (Ok I admit it, I miss that place.)

Contrast that with here, where apparently the mere idea of sidewalks or cross walks is downright radical. I've been poking around on Google off & on trying to find the answer to why the roads here suck so bad, considering that there's 50,000 military [20,000 - 30,000 DoD civilian workers and contractors tend to go along with that #] here. They've got this huge, gushing pipeline of Federal money pouring in, according to Google they've got higher than normal property tax, their sales tax is 7% ... I don't get it. There's obvious demand for sidewalks, all these roads that don't have them have a strip of dead grass where the sidewalk would be and you see people doing their best to cross the roads, often with children in tow. I'm beginning to wonder if the local government has a Rita Crundwell type situation going on: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-04-18/news/ct-met-dixon-comptroller-embezzle-charges-20120418_1_horse-farms-champion-horse-fbi-agents

I got the book Happy City used on Amazon, really good read so far.

Edit to add: I'm only mentioning Seoul because I was just there and LOVED biking it, don't take it as me comparing it to Fayettnam. Little towns in the Pacific NW and midwest had sidewalks and crosswalk across the entire town.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2017, 11:20:32 AM by fdhs_runner »

shelivesthedream

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2017, 02:32:59 AM »
After spending a year in Korea I'm of the opinion that bike lanes aren't so much necessary as road lanes that are simply wide enough. Everywhere I went there the far right lane was wide enough for cars to easily pass a bike or moped without leaving the lane. Biking didn't seem nearly as common there as in Europe, but drivers also seemed to be very accustomed to watching out for any two wheeled contraptions due to the large amount of mopeds and utilitarian motorcycles.

I very passionately believe that bike lanes (BIG ones that are prominently signposted) are necessary. Not so much for safety reasons, but because they increase the perceived safety that is so important for getting people on their bikes in the first place. I can't find it again, but I read a report on increasing cycling in London and they had a bit where they surveyed people about what would most encourage them to either start cycling or move from infrequent to frequent. The options were stuff like cycle training, more cycle parking, better city maps of official cycle routes... By a whopping margin, 46% of people said that the number one thing that would encourage them to cycle was more cycle lanes*. Also, it says to the cars "these bikes have a right to be here", which nudges the drivers in the direction of the considerate driving you describe.

*It also made the point about pinch points and joined up routes. Cycle lanes in London at the moment are hilariously awful. You get 200m of cycle lane which then ends slap in the back of the row of parked cars. Or the cycle lane sputters in and out for ten metres at a time over the course of half a mile. Or they veer on and off the pavements. Or you get to a wide bridge with a "Cyclists dismount" sign. A cycle route is only as viable as its worst bit. People would think you were insane if you installed "Drivers get out and push their cars" signs.

(If you want to know more about cycling infrastructure, read this: http://content.tfl.gov.uk/international-cycling-infrastructure-best-practice-study.pdf)

CargoBiker: Yes, I would love to discuss this. I just finished reading the book this morning. Blew my mind. We KNOW how to make people happy! Why aren't we doing it?! It's like we're saying "Yes, we would rather (some) people were rich than (everyone) happy, so we will make all our decisions with that goal in mind". I've also got 'The Power of Just Doing Stuff' by Rob Hopkins out of the library too. I'm planning to start it this afternoon. Have you heard of Transition Towns?

CargoBiker

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2017, 11:34:41 AM »
After spending a year in Korea I'm of the opinion that bike lanes aren't so much necessary as road lanes that are simply wide enough.

The wider the car lane, the faster the drivers perceive they can drive, the less safe it feels the bike, the less people will bike.

« Last Edit: March 07, 2017, 09:54:42 PM by CargoBiker »

CargoBiker

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2017, 11:37:36 AM »
I very passionately believe that bike lanes (BIG ones that are prominently signposted) are necessary. Not so much for safety reasons, but because they increase the perceived safety
Exactly. When the average person feels like it's safe to bike, people will bike.



Quote
Have you heard of Transition Towns?

No I haven't, please enlighten me.

shelivesthedream

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2017, 02:30:36 PM »
Quote
Have you heard of Transition Towns?

No I haven't, please enlighten me.
[/quote]

I'm just finding out about it myself, to be honest, but it's basically a movement to get people to set up local groups to take bottom-up action to move towards a greener and more sustainable culture and economy. It brings all the usual areas (food, energy, transport, etc) under one roof to integrate them and cross-pollinate. They have a great website - plenty to read there!

However, I would like to retract any implied recommendation of the book I mentioned above. It's shit. It's like the author is a 10 on the Wheaton scale* but the intended audience of the book are Wheaton scale 1. The first chapter is an argument for why climate change is real. It's like, mate, the people who pick up your book are not going to be the climate change deniers. His data is massively hyperbolic (both on the disastrous future if we do nothing and the glowing future if we "transition"). I'm going to skim the rest of it for good examples (already enjoying one: www.transitionstreets.org - maybe a good place for you to start?) but a lot of it is eco-wank pitched at completely the wrong level. He clearly lacked a commercially-experienced editor who was comfortable being cruel to be kind.

Some interesting other books listed in the back that you might like:
'Local Food: how to make it happen in your community' by Pinkerton and Hopkins (this guy again...)
'Power from the people: how to organise, finance and launch local energy projects' by Pahl
'Local Dollars, Local Sense' by Shuman
'Communities, Councils and a low-carbon future: what we can do if governments won't' by Rowell (this is the one I most want to read next)
'How to change the world' by Flintoff

I haven't read any yet, but they're the ones I thought sounded good.

Google it, it's amazing and will affect the way you talk to people about stuff you care about.

fdhs_runner

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2017, 05:10:37 PM »
After spending a year in Korea I'm of the opinion that bike lanes aren't so much necessary as road lanes that are simply wide enough. Everywhere I went there the far right lane was wide enough for cars to easily pass a bike or moped without leaving the lane. Biking didn't seem nearly as common there as in Europe, but drivers also seemed to be very accustomed to watching out for any two wheeled contraptions due to the large amount of mopeds and utilitarian motorcycles.

I very passionately believe that bike lanes (BIG ones that are prominently signposted) are necessary. Not so much for safety reasons, but because they increase the perceived safety that is so important for getting people on their bikes in the first place. I can't find it again, but I read a report on increasing cycling in London and they had a bit where they surveyed people about what would most encourage them to either start cycling or move from infrequent to frequent. The options were stuff like cycle training, more cycle parking, better city maps of official cycle routes... By a whopping margin, 46% of people said that the number one thing that would encourage them to cycle was more cycle lanes*. Also, it says to the cars "these bikes have a right to be here", which nudges the drivers in the direction of the considerate driving you describe.

(If you want to know more about cycling infrastructure, read this: http://content.tfl.gov.uk/international-cycling-infrastructure-best-practice-study.pdf)

You make a good point about the perception and the effect. I downloaded the PDF and will give it a read, thanks!

After spending a year in Korea I'm of the opinion that bike lanes aren't so much necessary as road lanes that are simply wide enough.

The wider the car lane, the faster the drives perceive they can drive, the less safe it feels the bike, the less people will bike.

While I didn't notice that issue, lots of people thought I was crazy to be biking through Seoul. It always seemed to me that everyone trying to go fast was in the left lanes, that far right lane was mostly buses and people about to turn right. I don't doubt that's an issue in the states though.

I should mention that these roads in Seoul technically were dual use roads [even if the road isn't marked as such, the far right edge is a bike lane]. Right after I got there someone clued me in about map.naver.com and the phone app, which is incredibly detailed. It shows every street, bike trail, most hiking paths, and color codes the streets if they're dual use. It shows the pedestrian tunnels, the subway lines, the subway stations (very handy to know as those always had bike racks), bus stops, and even shows the subway & bus schedules if you click on the stop. Ok, I really miss that place.

I'm hesitate to lobby for dedicated, marked bike lanes as IMHO that's a tough sell. Sidewalks & crosswalks are a no brainer, but IMO most people will HATE the idea of dedicated bike lanes since "drivers pay for the roads via gas tax!". They're wrong of course, on average in the states fuel taxes only pay for 1/2 of road funding

https://taxfoundation.org/gasoline-taxes-and-tolls-pay-only-third-state-local-road-spending/
http://www.uspirg.org/sites/pirg/files/reports/Who%20Pays%20for%20Roads%20vUS.pdf

and that's before you factor in how much of the gas tax is being paid by truckers (https://www.mackinac.org/8433). The other 1/2 of course is being covered by general taxes. It just seems to me that right lanes that are actually wide enough is an easier sell.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2017, 06:21:13 PM by fdhs_runner »

CargoBiker

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2017, 10:02:01 PM »
I'm hesitate to lobby for dedicated, marked bike lanes as IMHO that's a tough sell.

It being a tough sell is why you have to lobby for it.  You wouldn't need to lobby for an easy sell.

What's the alternative?  No bike infrastructure and we pretend the bike is a car?  Well, that's where we're at, so I might as well lobby for what I want.


Copenhagen turned from a car-centric city, to the bike capital of Europe in 35 years.  It was dedicated lanes that got people out biking.  You're never going to convince the general public to bike with cars.  People have been trying to that in the states for decades.

fdhs_runner

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2017, 03:15:53 PM »
Well the alternative is Seoul or the places I've lived in the Pacific NW and midwest, all of which were worlds better than this place.

You make a good point though and I've love to have bike lanes. Around here I'd love to have sidewalks & crosswalks.