How to Build More Bike Infrastructure

A national philanthropic program designed to help cities produce more bike infrastructure has been a resounding success, according to recent analysis.

Read Time: 2 minutes

February 4, 2022, 7:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Bus Stop and Bike Lane

That's good bike infrastructure. | Green Lane Project / Flickr

A team of researchers—Wilton Olver, Yonah Freemark and Yipeng Su—at the Urban Institute published findings of an examination of the Final Mile Program, launched in 2018 with philanthropic funding to jump-start municipal bike infrastructure improvements. According to the source article, the program "supported a combination of advocacy, communications, and engineering support in Austin, Denver, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and Providence."

According to the research, cities involved in the program built more, higher quality bike infrastructure than other cities. "By the end of 2021, all Final Mile cities except New Orleans reached the ambitious cycling infrastructure mileage goals set by local officials: Austin and Denver completed at least 100 miles of improved bikeways during the program, significant expansions in investment compared with previous years," according to the article.

The research team conducted interviews in each funded community to discover the keys to the program's success. "Three explanations stand out: local government leaders committed to an ambitious, public mileage goal; they were continuously held accountable for achieving that goal, thanks to the active involvement of nonprofits and media campaigns; and they received new technical assistance for engineering," according to the article.

The article opens with the suggestion that the program might reveal general conclusions about the ability of U.S. cities to get more of their residents to ride bikes instead of driving everywhere, but the connection between infrastructure expansion and mode share increases isn't made in the article. Evidence from New Zealand, published in 2014, suggest that robust bike infrastructure contributes to higher bike mode share.

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