This week we are spotlighting Missoula as city to look to for bicycle urbanism. Mikael Colville-Andersen, author of Copenhagenize and CEO of Copenhagenize Design Company, has chosen Missoula as one of his five favorite cities in America for bicycle infrastructure.
"We often look to large cities to provide us with innovation and inspiration. It is, however, always a thrill when smaller cities take the bull by the horns and design for the future. Like Missoula, Montana. Looking at the city’s website, they look like they have their gameface on for improving conditions for cycling as transport. I’ll leave them alone for now for broadcasting their many sharrows and instead focus on a decent example of bicycle infrastructure: the North Higgins Avenue raised cycle track. Running for a stretch through downtown, this facility is better than what can be found in many North American cities. Unidirectional on both sides of the street, this cycle track will hopefully serve as inspiration for Missoula to upgrade and modernize their network to match it." - Mikael Colville Anderson
Free Cycles Missoula formed in 1996 to provide bikes, parts and help for healthy community. In the early days, free roaming green bikes pedaled the streets of the town. 'Hop on and ride bicycles' shifted to a community bike shop, festivals, and school outreach in the late '90s.
Since its inception, Free Cycles has provided 19,000 free bikes to people in need, seen 200,000 people come through the shop doors and 6,000 people take the popular BikeWell class. BikeWell is a precursor to people making their own free bike, and instills an ethic of bike maintenance, shop involvement, and city design principals. People helping people is a tenet that guides Free Cycles' day to day work. What started as a strong environmental effort to clean up the air has bloomed into a strong social effort to get the city pedaling. Four core values have emerged for Free Cycles: citizen involvement, environmental stewardship, reuse and recycle, and more active transportation.
Missoula Institute for Sustainable Transport (MIST), the umbrella for Free Cycles, has focused on the 'city as a body' since 1997, making transportation safe, equitable and environmentally sound. MIST is growing knowledge, relationships, and infrastructure to improve Missoula's collective system of movement. MIST has worked to improve streets, trails, parks and plazas. Highlights include road diets, modern roundabouts, cycle tracks, bike lanes, urban trails and safe walkways. A more recent effort is the sustainable paving initiative with a focus on clay pavers and psyllium seed husk, for transportation health and longevity.
Bob Giordano, Director of Free Cycles, says, "We are driven by the benefits of fun, active transportation and the beauty of place. Missoula is full of people that care and non-profits making a better world, for all walks of life. We recently purchased our 2 acre home in the heart of Missoula. Projects in progress include a pedal power fabrication center, a bicycle garden and a Transportation Learning Center. With continued focus on community participation and engagement, the future looks bright!"
Don't forget to enter our bike month sweepstakes below.