I’ve been recently doing some internet research and giving much thought into SMART GROWTH. Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_growth presents a great discussion about it. It is a sustainable solution to urban development that counters the negative impact of car-centric urban sprawl. It addresses all aspects of efficient and sustainable community living including housing, jobs, reduced reliance on cars, education, low income housing, the environment, etc. It proposes that sustainable growth consist of high density housing along major transportation corridors with convenient access to public transportation, sidewalks, and bicycle lanes close to work, shopping, schools, and recreation.
There are some who are against any further growth or NIMBY. This seems self-serving because at one time they moved or were born here contributing to growth and now they don’t want anyone else coming. Then there are those who want residential and commercial growth to keep pace with neighboring communities, but to what ends, without great consideration to traffic congestion, the environment, schools, etc. Smart Growth seems to take a sustainably holistic approach to growth. There are lots of websites, organizations, cities, and states where this philosophy is being promoted even abroad.
So how does this relate to bicycles and bicycle lanes? A major emphasis of Smart Growth is the minimization and ultimately the elimination of car from cities. Cars are what made possible urban sprawl. Our almost total dependance upon cars has lead to major problems for city growth such as Cupertino is start to experience due to traffic congestion and parking problems. Other than man himself cars have had the most negative impact upon our cities as they continue to grow and run out of space. Bicycles as in integral part of Smart Growth allow people great latitude of mobility throughout communities without the need for cars. Bicycles have none of the negative impacts upon cities that cars have. They have some limitations so far as convenience, carrying load, and distance but for 85-95% of our mobility needs they are perfectly suitable. There are solutions for some of their limitations in terms of covered and electrical tricycles capable of carrying a couple of hundred pounds of load and multiple people.
So bicycles play perfectly into the schemes of sustainability of Smart Growth. They also enable existing urban sprawl to morph into Smart Growth communities as they become more overcrowded as described in earlier posts such as Cities where Cars are not Needed and Biking Cupertino.