Thursday, January 28, 2016

US Mayors Support Bike Policies and Infrastructure

In a recently published study by Boston University researchers a survey of 89 US mayors of medium and big cities (populations over 100,000) showed that these public officials express strong support for bike-friendly policies and bicycling infrastructure.  Not surprisingly, however, aging and underfunded physical infrastructure was the most pressing challenge the mayors faced, and these problems continue to outrank bicycling, pedestrian, parks and recreation needs in the cities’ funding priorities. 

The study explains that “big ticket” infrastructure needs, including roads, mass transit, and water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, dominate the mayors’ plans and efforts. 

Figure 2: Thinking about infrastructure in and around your city, what are the top
 three areas you would prioritize if you could allocate a significant amount of new money?

Still, when asked to name more modestly priced infrastructure priorities, bike and pedestrian infrastructure and parks were the most frequently cited by the mayors.  According to survey, the mayors included bike-friendly policies with biking infrastructure as funding priorities.

Figure 5: Please think about “small” infrastructure projects. That is, projects with costs equal to a small portion of your city’s annual capital budget. If your city were given an unrestricted grant to pay for any ONE such “small” infrastructure project, what would you spend it on? 

As encouraging, 70 percent of mayors support improved bike accessibility, even at the expense of parking and driving lanes. A mere 15 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed.

Figure 6: Cities should make their roads more accessible to
bicycles even if it means sacrificing driving lanes and/or parking.

The study points out that as cities grow and national governments devolve new powers to local officials, mayors and other local leaders have become increasingly important in the U.S. and around the world. FABB continues to advocate strongly with Fairfax County officials to help keep the county in step with what other areas are doing in developing the adaptive policies needed to make urban and surrounding suburban areas more connected and more economically successfully, healthy, and livable. 

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