Today’s Solutions: May 19, 2022

In many European cities, bicycles are king. Bicyclists have their own lanes, they have the right of way, and the city tries to do everything they can do to support bicycle-riding. In America, it’s a much different story, with cars dominating the roads and respect for bike lanes being non-existent. But a small bike revolution is emerging out of the Boston suburb of Cambridge where a new ordinance has passed that mandates that protected cycling lanes be installed on all streets that are slated for reconstruction under existing city plans. Passed by the city council on April 8, the ordinance appears to be the first of its kind in the U.S. and allows Cambridge—a dense university town that already has an unusually high share of bike commuters—to ascend into the ranks of the most progressive bicycling cities in the country. Local law now requires the city to erect vertical barriers between cyclists and cars on any roadway that’s rebuilt, expanded, or reconfigured if it’s part of the proposed 20-mile network of separated lanes known as the Cambridge Bicycle Plan. By passing a law that mandates bike protections, rather than administering a policy that merely calls for them, the city has created politically strategic armor to shield its transportation objectives from detractors. If it proves to be a successful strategy, it could inspire other cities to replicate the ordinance.

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