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CITIZEN DAVE: Thoughts and ideas about city building from Madison's former mayor

CITIZEN DAVE

Citizen Dave: Bikes mean freedom, joy and business


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They love us in Ontario.

Madison has a well-deserved reputation, not only in the U.S. but in Canada as well, for being a city that works hard and tries new things to help bicycling. For a long time, we've been installing dedicated multi-use bike paths, street bike lanes, and overpasses for bikes and pedestrians. Recently, we've started experimenting with innovations like bike boxes, green pavement markings, bike stop and go lights, and more.

Much of it is part of a plan we launched in 2008 called the Platinum City Bike Plan. The idea was to move Madison up from "Gold" in the League of American Bicyclists' Bicycle Friendly Cities program to the elite "Platinum" level.

I've been invited several times by Canada's Share the Road coalition to give talks on how to make communities great places to ride a bike.

My latest trip took me to Ottawa (a "Silver" city) and to Kingston ("Bronze"). Here is my basic message everywhere I go: bikes are about freedom and bikes benefit everybody.

Think about the first time you propelled yourself on a bike, that first peddle that got you moving and balanced. It was a feeling of exhilaration because it meant you were mobile and free in a way that you weren't just seconds earlier. So, bikes are about that kind of feeling of freedom and joy. But they're also about freedom of choice in transportation. We want to build places where you are free and safe to bike, to walk, to use mass transit and to drive. It's not about being anti-car at all. It's about being for freedom of transportation choice.

Here is how I delivered that message in an interview on the CBC in advance of the Kingston Bike Summit.

And bikes benefit everybody, even folks who never plan to ride one. Every bike commuter means there's one less car competing for space on the street, one less car to compete for a parking spot with, and one less car adding global climate change gasses. In addition, because we don't produce any fossil fuels in the city, every dollar not spent on gas means there's a chance that dollar will be spent here stimulating the local economy.

Bikes mean freedom, bike mean joy, bikes mean business.

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