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Taking a Closer Look

Bicyclists and Pedestrians Belong!

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Would you prefer to live in a town where you have to drive everywhere for everything or would you prefer to live in a town where you could walk, ride a bicycle, take public transportation, or drive to get where you want to go?

Would you prefer to live in a town where you have to drive everywhere for everything or would you prefer to live in a town where you could walk, ride a bicycle, take public transportation, or drive to get where you want to go?

This question is at the heart of the debate over how our transportation funds will be spent over the next five years. It also suggests that local governments need to do more to include bicycle and pedestrian elements in their long-range transportation plans.

Transportation is about more than just roads. In many large European cities such as Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and Stuttgart, as many as 30% of all commuters reach their jobs by bicycle. Does this mean that the Germans, Danes, and Dutch don't like cars? Of course not, they love cars. They simply don't have to use them all the time, because they have far more transportation choice than we do. High speed trains, electric trolleys, and extensive networks of bikeways and footpaths are all common throughout European cities and towns. ...

Despite the increase in funding for non-motorized transportation facilities, some state and local officials continue to think that there is little public demand or support for bicycling and walking as part of a multi-modal transportation system. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, a recent Lake Research Poll of registered voters showed that 64% support using federal transportation dollars to build bicycle trails, bike lanes, and sidewalks. Even a majority of those voters who do not ride bikes expressed support for federal funding of bicycle projects. ...

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photo of Ed McMahonEd McMahon is one of the country's most incisive analysts of planning and land use issues and trends. He holds the Charles Fraser Chair on Sustainable Development and is a Senior Resident Fellow at the Urban Land Institute in Washington, DC. McMahon is a frequent speaker at conferences on planning and land development.

Over the past 21 years, we've been pleased to have published more than two dozen articles by McMahon in the Planning Commissioners Journal, and now on PlannersWeb.com.

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