After several consecutive years of spiking bicycle usage rates, Sweden—somewhat tired of being outclassed by its neighbors Denmark and The Netherlands—is proposing one of the most ambitious pieces of bicycle infrastructure in the world: a superhighway connecting the cities of Malmo and Lund.
The 20-mile, four-lane road would feature intersection-less on and off ramps like a car freeway, wind breaks provided from hedges and fences, and periodic air and bicycle service stations.
It is projected to cost $7.1 million and would take eight years to complete.
To many in the car-friendly United States, this seems like madness—a waste of taxpayer money to subsidize the quirky habits of health nuts. But in the cities the bicycle superhighway would connect, approximately 60 percent of the population walks, cycles or uses public transportation instead of driving. And when you compare that to the price tag of building a four-lane highway for cars, which is approximately $60 million per mile, it doesn't seem so crazy.
But the truth is that America isn't that far behind the demographic shifts. According to the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey, there has been more than a 40 percent increase in the number of people who cycle to work instead of drive. But cycling infrastructure doesn't get the same funding or attention domestically. Instead, much of the focus has been on putting in place "safe passing distance" legislation.
In the Wednesday, Feb. 8, edition of Boise Weekly, we will examine Boise's approach to cycling policy, and the first recorded violation of its safe passing distance legislation, more than a year after the law was passed. Stay tuned.