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Bicycle People: Speak Your Mind

A new survey wants city dwellers on two wheels to add their two cents about cycling infrastructure and culture.

Jim Young/Reuters

If you‘ve ever wanted to bolster your city’s bona fides as a Bike Utopia, yell about the stupidity of sharrows or the awesomeness of cycle tracks, or otherwise speak your mind on bicycle-related issues, this is for you.

The bicycling advocacy group PeopleForBikes has launched a community survey asking Americans to sound-off on the cycling infrastructure and culture in their cities. The survey runs for eight weeks (from February 14 through April 15), with the aim of generating a city ranking in fall 2017 called PlacesForBikes.

The survey asks questions about the safety, convenience, and civic support cyclists enjoy in their towns. Do motorists and cyclists get along? Do you feel safe riding a bike? Does biking partner effectively with public transit? Are there bike-to-work days?

The PlacesForBikes survey also asks riders what kinds of bike paths, trails, and lanes are available and how often they are used. For their troubles, respondents get a chance to win a $1,500 bike from supporting sponsor Trek Bikes. “The input of communities nationwide will help us create a clearer picture of the state of U.S. bike infrastructure,” said Tim Blumenthal, president of PeopleForBikes in the press release. “We’ll also generate a bit of friendly competition to speed the development of more and better biking everywhere.”

This won’t be the only ranking of bike-friendly cities out there: Publications such as Bicycling or Outside produce their own lists, which are often dominated by the Western hippie juggernauts of Portland, Seattle, or San Francisco, with Chicago or New York occasionally jockeying up the ranks after some good deeds. The League of American Bicyclists also ranks states annually (the latest top three: Washington, Minnesota, and Delaware).

What might make a difference with PeopleForBikes: It’s also asking for cities’ input. A corollary part of the project is City Snapshot, which asks city staffers or professionals with detailed knowledge of local biking conditions to chime in. City Snapshot also may ask for people to collect data from various city divisions, agencies, and organizations. If a city submits a GIS shaped file of the city boundaries, the project offers to use their network connectivity tool to generate a map of a city’s low-stress bike network, checking in this summer to evaluate the accuracy of the new map. The deadline to submit is April 15, 2017, so pull up your proverbial kickstand, urban bike wonks, and get your bureaucratic pedals spinning.

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