I was invited to attend a focus group follow-up meeting yesterday at my local city hall (the first meeting was in November, which I also attended). Just about equal numbers of men/women this time (and now including a teen) but still all white and no one from the most dense, lowest car-ownership sections of the city, even though the contractors presenting showed slides clearly indicating where those areas are and how they are important indicators in making transportation decisions. (At the last meeting, I suggested diversifying so that the focus group represented our citizenry more accurately. The more diverse the voices, the more complete the solutions. We all benefit.)
There is a positive bottom line — 75% of survey respondents want multi-use paths, which, when done correctly (with clear lines of vision, lighting, and efficient connections to places people actually want to go) are good for all. Public meeting March 7. Suggestion to city — do targeted outreach to involve those who aren’t just out for recreational rides when they choose bikes but who actually need them to get to work, school, doctors, etc. They may have some good input to make the upcoming projects even better.
While you’re waiting for paper trails to become real paths and trails in your city (which could take 5, 10, 20 years), encourage your city to host an Open Streets event, add a bikeshare station to your local park (see here for the one bikeshare station in a neighboring city’s new development), do pop-up protected bike lanes so people can see what they feel like to ride in (here are four places these can happen right now in my city), offer a couple of free bike education classes, and perhaps create a bike map of the city that provides citizens with low-risk routes to city institutions and amenities, even if it means they have to drive or take transit to a closer location first.