Amsterdam Amber Davenport

Amber Davenport

If you want to design a cycling-friendly town or city, there are a few ideas you have to implement. Obviously first of all it’s important to create safe bike lanes, ideally painted in a different colour and designed to keep cyclists safe from traffic. Then it’s important to offer free or low-cost parking spaces and secure storage for people to park their bikes (and somewhere to shower, if they are commuting).

Good bike stations in the US also have areas with tools, so that cyclists can easily mend punctures or pump tires in a secure dry safe space, before parking their bike or travelling back home. If you are responsible for transport, then also ensure local buses and trains accept people with bikes (even if it’s just folding bikes).

The other no-brainer is to support local indie shops, so that it’s easier for people to bike to shops and services, rather than have to bike on major roads out-of-town just to shop for food or buy bike accessories (for instance, most branches of Halfords are located on massive retail estates that most cyclists can cycle to).

Finally, mend the roads! If you have potholes, these could prove hazardous to cyclists, so get them mended and keep them that way. This is safer also for people who drive in cars. Norwich is the most cycling-friendly city in England (it’s interesting that the two most cycling-friendly nations of The Netherlands and Denmark are also flat). The city has good cycle share schemes and the weather is conducive to cycling (dry!)

how to safely cycle in cities or towns

Safe Cycling in the City is a useful book for anyone who commutes by bike. Designed for people living in urban area, it covers everything from choosing the best bikes and clothes to following road safety laws. Learn how to brake properly and make the most of your gears, and learn how to safely use the extra power provided by electric bikes.

Transport charity Sustrans has lots of free downloadable guides on its website for town planners, including how to design safe cycling in cities like London.

two men who created cycling-friendly cities

Architect Jan Gehl is known as the man who turned the grid-locked city of Copanhagen into a pedestrian paradise, but he also made it very cycling-friendly too. He did it over several years by gradually blocking certain roads to cars, and adding more bike lanes and rental bike stations and secure bike parking.

In Colombia, former mayor Enrique Peñalosa did the same in the former crime-ridden city of Bogotá. After being elected, he tore up the budget for building more roads and instead used it to create cycle lanes and parks for local people. To this day, the city is car-free each Sunday, letting people walk or cycle without concern for car traffic.

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