Building the Cycling City
6.5 x 8.375
In car-clogged urban areas across the world, the humble bicycle is enjoying a second life as a legitimate form of transportation. City officials are rediscovering it as a multi-pronged (or -spoked) solution to acute, 21st-century problems, including affordability, obesity, congestion, climate change, inequity, and social isolation. As the world’s foremost cycling nation, the Netherlands is the only country where the number of bikes exceeds the number of people, primarily because the Dutch have built a cycling culture accessible to everyone, regardless of age, ability, or economic means.
Chris and Melissa Bruntlett share the incredible success of the Netherlands through engaging interviews with local experts and stories of their own delightful experiences riding in five Dutch cities. Building the Cycling City examines the triumphs and challenges of the Dutch while also presenting stories of North American cities already implementing lessons from across the Atlantic. Discover how Dutch cities inspired Atlanta to look at its transit-bike connection in a new way and showed Seattle how to teach its residents to realize the freedom of biking, along with other encouraging examples.
Tellingly, the Dutch have two words for people who ride bikes: wielrenner (“wheel runner”) and fietser (“cyclist”), the latter making up the vast majority of people pedaling on their streets, and representing a far more accessible, casual, and inclusive style of urban cycling—walking with wheels. Outside of their borders, a significant cultural shift is needed to seamlessly integrate the bicycle into everyday life and create a whole world of fietsers. The Dutch blueprint focuses on how people in a particular place want to move.
The relatable success stories will leave readers inspired and ready to adopt and implement approaches to make their own cities better places to live, work, play, and—of course—cycle.
"A fantastic history of the Dutch evolution into the bike-capital of the world and how its history and solutions can be applied...elsewhere. It should be required reading for every politician, planner, advocate, traffic engineer, or anyone else involved in the livable streets movement."
Streetsblog San Francisco
"All designers of bicycle infrastructure would do well to read the book...It's a book that even many cycling advocates would do well to read...Most importantly, it's a book that should be in the hands of every elected official of every city everywhere."
"An informative and enjoyable read that will inspire anyone interested in learning more about Dutch transportation planning and policies...Building the Cycling City left me inspired."
"Unflaggingly optimistic...Building the Cycling City is an accessible read."
Environment & Urbanization
"Melissa and Chris Bruntlett’s book Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality is a fantastic read for those interested in exploring more about how the Dutch have been successful and how those long-learned lessons can be applied at home."
"Decision makers the world over would do well to read this book to see just how clean, humane and pleasant our towns and cities can be."
Resurgence & Ecologist
"I would equate Building the Cycling City to riding a Dutch bike. You don't want to rush through it like a road bike, but it hauls a lot of lessons from the Dutch cycling experience which are practical to North American cities and delivered in an upright, easy to read manner."
"If cycling as a mode of transportation interests you and you're not impressed with our half-ass bike lanes, Building the Cycling City should be on your reading list."
Urban Review Saint Louis
"Beautifully crafted...recommended to all the cycling advocates, city and town planners, city design architects, municipal corporations, road traffic and safety departments, companies and officials involved in urban infrastructure development, politicians, citizen activists...and every one who believes in making our cities more livable ."
Pedal and Tring Tring blog
"In sharing their two-wheeled adventures and the lessons of Europe's greatest cycle cities, the Bruntletts offer a pragmatic and hopeful vision of the future. Building the Cycling City shows how all cities can follow the Dutch blueprint for health, happiness, and mobility freedom."
Charles Montgomery, author of "Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design"
"Bruntlett and Bruntlett make the definitive case that cycling cities are livable cities. But unless we all demand more, as the Dutch have and continue to do, we'll compromise our health, the safety of our children, and our pocketbooks. For anyone who cares about how cities transform to become places for people, this book will show you how it is done."
Jennifer Keesmaat, former Chief Planner, City of Toronto and Chief Executive Officer, Creative Housing Society
"When it comes to understanding how the urban biking revolution is transforming cities and the lives of real people, Melissa and Chris are the real deal. Now they have written a book that is engaging, inspiring, and practical. You don't have to love the Dutch way of building cities to love this book—you just need to love great storytelling, and want YOUR city to be better."
Brent Toderian, City Planner & Urbanist, TODERIAN UrbanWORKS, former Chief Planner, City of Vancouver
"Building the Cycling City shows how people worldwide inspire each other to create better cycling cities. The book celebrates local heroes who choose to adapt Dutch ideas to their own demands. The resulting urban transformations often became an inspiration to Dutch city builders themselves. Melissa and Chris Bruntlett offer not only inspiring stories, but also concrete plans and effective strategies for cycling cities. This is a must read for both cycling advocates and urbanists."
Saskia Kluit, CEO, Fietsersbond and President, Dutch Cycling Embassy
Introduction: A Nation of Fietsers
Chapter 1: Streets Aren't Set in Stone
Chapter 2: Not Sport. Transport.
Chapter 3: Fortune Favors the Brave
Chapter 4: One Size Won't Fit All
Chapter 5: Demand More
Chapter 6: Think Outside the Van
Chapter 7: Build at a Human Scale
Chapter 8: Use Bikes to Feed Transit
Chapter 9: Put Your City on the Map
Chapter 10: Learn to Ride Like the Dutch
Conclusion: A World of Fietsers
About the Authors
Our Cityride is Vancouver's biggest mass-participation, non-competitive bike ride; an event for all ages and abilities, focused around a fun and festive atmosphere.
This year, Melissa Bruntlett and Chris Bruntlett from Modacity will lead a family-friendly convoy of cargo (and regular) bikes on the open streets of Downtown Vancouver, for what promises to be a spectacular evening. Everyone is most welcome to join us.
Simply register at ourcityride.com (adults are $20, kids are free!), and assemble at the Modacity tent in David Lam Park before 5pm.
They will also be selling (and signing) copies of their book Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality.
Book Ride #VIADUCT100
Sun, 26 August 2018
12:00 PM – 6:30 PM EDT
Discover a new author! Newcomer stories in fiction, memoir & graphic novel as you ride along this necessary cycling corridor.
In PRINCE EDWARD VIADUCT PARK at 2:30 pm we'll be found beside the steel and concrete Prince Edward Viaduct. Did you know it was constructed in three parts: a bridge over Rosedale Ravine, an embankment along Bloor Street and a 1,620 foot bridge over the Don Valley linking Castle Frank with Danforth Avenue. It was completed after almost four years to an official ceremony on October 18, 1918.
In collaboration with Bike City, Produced by the City of Toronto.
Picture a Toronto cyclist, and what do you see: a well-to-do downtowner riding a “fixie”, or a sporty suburbanite clad in Lycra? Look a little deeper though, and you may be surprised by what you find.
BIKE MINDS is Toronto’s bicycle-themed storytelling event, where guests share personal, positive, and inspiring stories related to cycling.
Over its first four sold-out events from January to April 2018, BIKE MINDS explored cycling through four themes: Belonging, Lifestyle, Discovery, and Identity. We heard stories from a wide range of backgrounds, including newcomers, neighbours, civil servants, and community leaders, who've all had unique and powerful experiences related to cycling.
The theme of this special-edition episode is Bikes+Transformation, and will feature stories of how cycling has transformed people’s lives, plus a story from Melissa Bruntlett and Chris Bruntlett of Modacity about their new book, Building the Cycling City.
This event is produced in collaboration with Bike City: How industry, advocacy and infrastructure shaped Toronto's cycling culture, an exhibit currently running at The Market Gallery. Bike City is produced by the City of Toronto.
6:00PM - Doors open
6:30PM - Event starts
8:00PM - Stories end, mix-and-mingle
FEATURING STORIES FROM:
- Melissa Bruntlett and Chris Bruntlett, Founders of Modacity and Authors of Building the Cycling City
- Mahita Thota, CultureLink Bike Host Mentor and Toronto Newcomer
- Coralie Bruntlett, 12-year-old Vancouverite who rides a bike (but isn’t a cyclist)
- Dean Psarras, the "Converted Cyclist": husband and father who hated his car commute and started biking instead
- Madeleine Cho, Youth Volunteer at Charlie’s Freewheels and Mental Health Advocate
The bicycle supports the first steps of newcomers to Toronto, brings us closer to friends and family, and teaches us more about ourselves than we ever could have imagined. Whether you’re a casual rider, a passionate advocate, or simply a fan of great storytelling, we hope you’ll join us in celebration of all the bicycle has to offer, at this positive and inclusive event.
BIKE MINDS is co-hosted by Matt Pinder, author of the blog Beyond the Automobile, and Michelle Kearns, transportation professional and cycling researcher at the University of Toronto.
To find out more, visit www.beyondtheautomobile.ca/bikeminds.
This special edition of BIKE MINDS is made possible through the support of the City of Toronto, the Metcalf Foundation, and our volunteers. This event is family-friendly and the venue is accessible.
On Monday, August 27th, please join us at The eBar to celebrate the release of the book Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality.
Enjoy laughs, learning, and a pint, as Melissa Bruntlett and Chris Bruntlett discuss the process of the Netherlands becoming the world's top cycling nation, and how North American cities are starting to implement Dutch-inspired ideas and infrastructure.
Presented by the Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation.
Copies of the book will be available for sale.
Doors open at 6:30pm. The program starts at 7:00pm.
Announcing the Ottawa launch of the new book byMelissa Bruntlett and Chris Bruntlett (Modacity), Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality. Chris and Melissa will be there for a presentation and to sign copies of the book. Expect beer, food, laughs, and learning as they discuss the process of the Netherlands becoming a cycling-friendly culture and place, and what is happening in North America.
Bike parking will be available on site.
Accessibility info: There is a set of stairs leading to the venue entrance. Bathrooms are located down a flight of stairs in the basement.
On Thursday, August 30th, please join us at Siboire Brewpub (5101 St-Laurent Blvd.), to celebrate the release of the book Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality.
Expect beer, food, laughs, and learning as Melissa Bruntlett and Chris Bruntlett discuss the process of the Netherlands becoming the world's top cycling nation, and how North American cities are starting to implement Dutch-inspired ideas and infrastructure.
Copies of the book will be available for sale.
Doors open at 6:30pm. The program starts at 7:00pm.
On Tuesday, September 4th, please join us at 718 Cyclery to celebrate the release of our book Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality.
Melissa Bruntlett and Chris Bruntlett will discuss the process of the Netherlands becoming the world's top cycling nation, and how North American cities are starting to implement Dutch-inspired ideas and infrastructure.
This event is free to attend with no reservation required. Copies of the book will be available for sale.
Doors open at 6:30pm. The program starts at 7:00pm.
The Bike Talk Social Hour is a monthly event held at Aeronaut and put on by The Somerville Bicycle Committee. The idea behind the series is to bring together the cycling community- cyclists, bike advocates and the bike curious to socialize over beer and share their joy of cycling. The September Bike Talk features Melissa Bruntlett and Chris Bruntlett, co-founders of Modacity and authors of Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality. Come out and share a beer and hang out with fellow bicycle advocates and bike enthusiasts.
On Thursday, September 6th, please join Melissa Bruntlett and Chris Bruntlett at Firth & Wilson Transport Cycles to celebrate the release of the book Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality.
Expect beer, food, laughs, and learning as Melissa and Chris Bruntlett discuss the process of the Netherlands becoming the world's top cycling nation, and how North American cities are starting to implement Dutch-inspired ideas and infrastructure.
Presented by 5th Square.
Copies of the book will be available for sale. More about this project: http://www.modacitylife.com/building-the-cycling-city/
Doors open at 6:30pm. The program starts at 7:00pm.
On Thursday, September 13th, please join us at Dudoc Vancouver to celebrate the release of our book Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality.
Expect food, drinks, laughs, and learning as Melissa Bruntlett and Chris Bruntlett discuss the process of the Netherlands becoming the world's top cycling nation, and how North American cities are starting to implement Dutch-inspired ideas and infrastructure.
Special guest speakers also include José Besselink from the City of Rotterdam and Marijn Kik from the City of Utrecht.
Better Environmentally Sound Transportation (BEST) will be on site to provide secure (and free!) bicycle valet parking.
Copies of the book will be available for sale. More about this project: http://www.modacitylife.com/building-the-cycling-city/
Doors open at 6:30pm. The program starts at 7:00pm. This event is free, but registration via Eventbrite is required.
With 22.5 million bicycles for a population of 18 million, the Netherlands is undoubtedly the world’s top cycling nation. However, there remains an erroneous belief that – while the Dutch can provide encouragement – their methods are unrepeatable, and their results unattainable.
Miles of separated cycle tracks, dedicated bike streets, and off-street paths are something that only works for “them” and not “us.” But even they started somewhere. Can the country that has spent decades building comfortable cycling infrastructure provide a blueprint for Metro Vancouver?
To explore the issue, we've invited Chris Bruntlett and Melissa Bruntlett, founders of Modacity and authors of Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality. Joining them will be Councillor Linda Buchanan from the City of North Vancouver and Kati Tamashiro, Section Head for Active Transportation with the City of Vancouver. As always, bring your questions, comments, and your lunch!
Liveability city experts Melissa Bruntlett and Chris Bruntlett from Modacity are coming to Canberra to share the triumphs and challenges of the Dutch cycling story, as well as demonstrate how the Dutch lead is being followed in cities around the world to make their streets more vibrant, equitable, and socially connected. Copies of their book Building the Cycling City will be for sale.
Speakers: Chris and Melissa Bruntlett from Modacity
Bicycle Network is excited to host the Melbourne leg of the promotional tour for Melissa Bruntlett and Chris Bruntlett's book, Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality on Tuesday 20 November.
The Bruntlett’s are the brains behind Modacity and in their book they triumphs and challenges of the Dutch cycling story, and explore the journey behind creating the Netherlands’ internationally revered bike culture and infrastructure.
They also tackle the insidious “that would never work here” attitude that continues to stifle real change from happening around the world, whilst highlighting some of the ideas that are being adopted in global cities, and drawing out concrete lessons for others to follow.
Melissa and Chris Bruntlett from Modacity.com
Discussing and promoting their fascinating new book, Building the Cycling city: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality.
6:00pm, Tuesday 20 November
Bicycle Network Melbourne HQ
Level 4, 246 Bourke Street, Melbourne, 3000
The Bruntletts: Ride, presentation, and book signing, all in the one amazing night.
"Around the world, countries marvel at the Netherland’s impressive cycling culture and infrastructure while an insidious “that would never work here” attitude prevents real change from happening. But the Dutch overcame many of the same challenges as other car-clogged countries, and their story is an important model for moving the rest of the world toward a more human-scale, bike-friendly future.
In Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality, Melissa Bruntlett and Chris Bruntlett share the triumphs and challenges of the Dutch cycling story, show how some of the ideas are already being adopted in global cities, and draw out concrete lessons for other places to follow their lead."
Come join us on the 23rd of November for another wonderful and intimate evening with Women in Ubanism, and our special guests, Melissa and Chris, as they launch their new book in Aotearoa.
The night will start off with a short ride around the city with Melissa and Chris, you do not need tickets for this part of the evening. Simply join us at Peach Pit, on Auckland's Karangahape Road from 5pm with your bike to come on a safe and guided city jaunt, pre-event. You will need tickets to come to the book talk and signing, and as usual these are limited, so get in quick!
Brought to you by: Women in Urbanism, Frocks on Bikes, and the Auckland Design Office.
In recent years, some urban planners have begun to explore ways to unlock Dutch-style multimodality, hoping to utilize the bicycle as a tool to increase public-transit ridership and decrease car dependency. In fact, the case could be made that—with the right conditions—bikes are better placed to deal with the lower population densities and longer distances traveled in North America.
Explore how we can all learn from the Dutch model of using bikes to feed public transit in this free webinar. Lessons will be easily applicable to a North American audience. Local case studies will be highlighted.
- Chris and Melissa Bruntlett, Building the Cycling City authors and Owner/Operators of Modacity
- Kat Maines, Planner at Alta Planning + Design
- Michelle Poyourow, Senior Associate at Jarrett Walker + Associates
Corinne Kisner, Deputy Director of NACTO, will moderate the conversation.
Your questions are welcome both when you register and during the event itself.
The Institute for Energy Studies speaker series convenes energy experts from on and off campus and connects the Western Washington University and Bellingham energy communities. Speakers will explore the diverse fields of energy research and development, and also debate timely issues that connect public policy and business thinking to emerging knowledge in energy science and technology.
* Tuesdays at 4 PM in AH 004
* The lectures are free and open to the public
* Students may register for ENRG 391 and receive 1 credit
“Building the Cycling City – The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality”
With 22.5 million bicycles for a population of 18 million, the Netherlands is undoubtedly the world’s top cycling nation. However, there remains an erroneous belief that – while the Dutch can provide encouragement – their methods are unrepeatable, and their results unattainable. Miles of separated cycle tracks, dedicated bike streets, and off-street paths are something that only works for “them” and not “us.” But even they started somewhere. Can the country that has spent decades building comfortable cycling infrastructure provide a blueprint for North American cities such as Bellingham?
In a short time, the coronavirus crisis has forced communities worldwide to reevaluate their mobility networks, especially as public transportation faces reduced capacity for the foreseeable future. Enter the bicycle, which—in combination with an electric pedal assist—is filling a portion of the gap.
Join Melissa and Chris Bruntlett, authors of Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality, for this webianr. Event to be hosted by the Maryland Department of Planning and the Smart Growth Network. Listen while the authors discuss how cities across the globe are adapting their streets to this new reality and are working to ensure this ‘bike boom’ sticks long-term. Participants of the live webinar are eligible for 1.5 AICP CM credits.
Last weekend, Island Press brought Melissa Bruntlett and Chris Bruntlett, authors of Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality, to Washington, DC for Washington Area Bicycle Association's annual 50 States Ride. The Bruntletts rode on a tandem bike 36 miles through the city, pedaling from Alabama Avenue to Wyoming Avenue with a team from Island Press that included two winners from the 2018 Bike Month Sweepstakes. After the ride, the Bruntletts gave a book talk to a standing-room only crowd at DC bookstore Politics and Prose. Check out photos from the ride below, and don't miss your chance to pick up the Building the Cycling City e-book for just $12.99 this month only.
What are your favorite cycling events? Share them in the comments below.
Katharine is the Publicity & Marketing Associate at Island Press.
Around the world, countries marvel at the Netherland’s impressive cycling culture and infrastructure while an insidious “that would never work here” attitude prevents real change from happening. But the Dutch overcame many of the same challenges as other car-clogged countries, and their story is an important model for moving the rest of the world toward a more human-scale, bike-friendly future.
In Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality, Melissa and Chris Bruntlett share the triumphs and challenges of the Dutch cycling story, show how some of the ideas are already being adopted in global cities, and draw out concrete lessons for other places to follow their lead. Drawing from historical context, interviews with local experts, and their own experiences riding in five Dutch cities, the Bruntletts explore topics ranging from bicycle style and parking to the relationship between cycling and public transit.
Read an excerpt from the book below and don't miss your chance to pick up the Building the Cycling City e-book for just $12.99 this month only.
Katharine is the Publicity & Marketing Associate at Island Press.
Recent climate marches have captured our collective attention. Students and young people around the world have taken to the streets to demand action on climate change now, in order to protect the environment for a better future. The impacts that we can already see are not the only climate impacts that will affect quality of life for future generations. Some climate dangers have yet to materialize. We turned to some of our authors to find out—What do they think will be the most pressing climate change issue in the next 50 years? Why?
The most pressing climate change issue will be our capacity to provide adequate nutrition and water to every person on Earth. This is a challenge we already struggle with and climate change will increasingly cause droughts and extreme weather events. Both our water sources and agricultural production are sensitive to these climatic shifts. Potential future food and water shortages will lead to increased global unrest and political tensions. However, we can take steps today to prevent these future shortages by developing sustainable adaptation strategies. Our greatest strength as humans is our capacity to innovate, and if we do so carefully and responsibly we'll be able to prevent many of these future crises.
-Jessica Eise, author of How to Feed the World
Clearly, the most pressing climate issue is figuring out how to get the global economy to carbon neutrality, and then developing the technologies for economically taking large amounts of carbon out of the atmosphere. But another critical issue that is not yet really being addressed is how we get in place national and international regimes to manage massive human migrations that will be driven by climate change. Regardless of the success that the global community has in implementing deep greenhouse gas reductions over the coming decades, we already know that anticipated future climate impacts will eventually cause large-scale migration of populations away from areas that are threatened by climate risks such as sea level rise, extreme heat, extreme storms, drought and wildfires, and towards areas of lower risk. The timing and geographic distribution of these movements is highly uncertain. They will, however, have a large impact on both the areas that lose population and the areas that gain population. And they will cause substantial economic, social, and political turbulence. As one commentator noted: "You can set up a wall to try to contain 10,000 and 20,000 and one million people, but not 10 million." How will we manage this climate migration? What legal status will the migrants have? How do we prepare the areas that are losing population, as well as those that are likely to find themselves with large unplanned in-migrations? It is time to start digging into these questions.
-John Cleveland, author of Life After Carbon
In my view, the largest threat to Earth in the decades to come will be unsustainable human population growth. This will trigger all kinds of irreversible environmental change. A smaller human footprint means first of all fewer feet.
-Michiel Roscam Abbing, author of Plastic Soup
Most scientists agree that climate change will increase the occurrence, intensity, and duration of extreme weather events, including flooding, hurricanes, droughts, heat waves, and wildfires. If we don’t do anything about this, most cities will become less comfortable—some by a lot. Depending on their location, cities and their inhabitants could suffer from the following possible scenarios: too wet, too dry, or too warm. Homes could be flooded on a regular basis, water faucets could stop flowing, or people’s lives could be confined to air-conditioned interiors because outside will be too hot. Fortunately, architects and city planners can help increase urban resilience—the ability of urban communities to bounce back from shock. If we do it right, we can even think of this as an opportunity to improve our cities and buildings. Dikes could double as flood protection and functional buildings, native species and drought tolerant plants can save water used for landscaping, and trees and plants can help cool down urban spaces. The future has always been uncertain, but our future may be even more uncertain. With climate change impacting our cities in unpredictable ways, the big question is: how do we design with these new risks?
-Stefan Al, author of Adapting Cities to Sea Level Rise
Climate change, as western U.S. water scholar Brad Udall frequently points out, is water change. What Udall means is that, even as we work toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions, we need to focus on reducing our vulnerability to changes even now being felt in the planet's hydrologic cycles. That can mean more water where we don't want it—think for example the flooding felt in the central United States from a freak storm in March 2019, or the creeping rise of sea level confronting our coastal cities. It often means less water where we've come to depend on it, like the shrinking reservoirs of the Colorado River Basin. Preparing for a future of water change is essential regardless of how successful we are in reducing our greenhouse gas footprint.
-John Fleck, author of Water is for Fighting Over
The transportation sector remains one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, and thus represents the lowest-hanging fruit for governments looking to meet difficult carbon-reduction targets. Through our research, we've found that the Netherlands provides the best example of a clear path forward. A 2014 World Bank report ranked it in the bottom 25 nations for transport-related carbon dioxide emissions (as a percentage of total national production). In fact, Dutch transportation contributes just a fifth of their overall emissions, compared to a third in the United States, which—with 1.9 billion tons of CO2 emissions in 2016—overtook power generation as the most-polluting sector in the country for the first time in 40 years. Rather than wait for the electric car to save us, we should be looking to the humble bicycle, which—with the right infrastructure and policies in place—could immediately replace a significant number of trips we take by car, and begin moving us in a more sustainable direction for the future of our planet and our children.
-Chris and Melissa Bruntlett, co-authors of Building the Cycling City
The most pressing issue in relation to climate change is almost certainly the preservation and, if possible, extension of forest cover. Obviously, we must work toward reducing carbon emissions and increasing the adoption of renewable energy, but even the most optimistic scenarios around that would not solve the problem. Forests, and the oceans, provide the greatest sinks for CO2; we can fight to maintain oceanic biosphere and health, but we could—at least conceptually—increase the area of forests. And we MUST try to halt forest destruction.
-Joe Landsberg, co-author of Forests in Our Changing World
Society will not only need to prepare for current and impending changes due to climate change, we will need to do this while taking drastic action to avoid catastrophic consequences in the future. Many cities are vulnerable and dealing with the effects of climate change already. Forty percent of the United States’ population lives on 10% of its land mass—along coastlines. While cities have the power to make a greater impact on how we prepare for climate change, future planning and growth needs to be coordinated, thoughtful, and innovative. To start, policymakers should embrace and champion policies that encourage walkable, urban places and associated density—particularly in suburbs. Walkable, urban places create the opportunity for a lower carbon footprint, while contributing to a better quality of life for residents.
-Jason Beske, co-author of Suburban Remix
While the costs of adapting to climate change will be historic—in the US exceeding in real dollar terms the costs of fighting World War II and building the interstate highway system combined—the costs of inaction will be catastrophic. The UK’s National Oceanographic Centre (NOC) estimates annual global costs of climate-driven flooding, only one of multiple climate change impacts, at more than US$14 trillion. The NOC also projects that more than six hundred million people could be displaced by rising seas alone by 2100. In the US, seven of the ten most economically productive metros—representing roughly one-quarter of the entire economy and growing 50% faster than the US as a whole—face serious risks from rising sea levels.
Yet a blinders-on, single-issue focus on resiliency can mean falling into an all-too-familiar priority trap that pulls resources away from other compelling challenges. For example, the developed world is rapidly aging. People over the age of 65 will represent more than half of America’s (and the developed world’s) net growth for at least the next two decades—placing extraordinary stresses on healthcare costs that are projected to eat up all discretionary US federal spending by 2050. Growing income disparities in the US and across the developed world, accelerated by the shift to a knowledge economy that delivers most of its economic benefits to the better-educated top 20% of the workforce, are generating growing social as well as economic strains. Rapidly evolving technology means that within two decades the US and rest of the developed world will need to retool trillions of dollars in transportation infrastructure to adapt to autonomous mobility while at the same time responding to automation’s projected evisceration of the jobs of tens of millions of workers in the US alone. Nor can government stop funding transit, parks, and education—without facing grave social unrest and economic decline. And already today the developed world faces an enormous bill for fixing existing infrastructure—a figure that in the US will reach US$2 trillion, or almost 10% of the entire US economy, by the late 2020s.
Despite doubts expressed by US political leaders, the real question is not should we react to climate change, but how? The sheer enormity of the threat compels action. But how do we avoid the priority trap? My own experience planning for New Orleans’ recovery from Hurricane Katrina suggests three strategies: public private partnerships that unleash the innovation potential of the private sector, institutions and government working together; adopting the principles the Dutch originated following World War II—any resources spent on protection from rising seas or other climate forces need to also address livability, economic competitiveness, and wellness; and the time
-David Dixon, co-author of Suburban Remix
I just returned from Sweden where it’s all about climate change. The government is planting trees around the world, as well as working hard to reduce Sweden’s carbon footprint. Recycling options are everywhere. At the university where I spoke there are only washable dishes, cups, silverware in the cafeteria and break rooms. Everyone over four years old rides a bike, and those under four are in contraptions attached to an adult’s bike. Greta, the 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist, is inspiring us all with her courage and passion. For me the key question in tackling climate change is: Will we be willing and able to follow and support the youthful leadership taking on the challenge? It’s easy to write off the younger generation as inexperienced, whimsical, lost in their devices. That is old-fashioned and destructive thinking. These young activists are on the frontline of climate change, and we need to put our faith—as well as our money, influence and energy—in their leadership.
-Lucy Moore, author of Common Ground on Hostile Turf
Creating extensive ecological networks consisting of well-connected, large protected areas is most pressing priority because it is our best option to limit the extent of the sixth mass extinction. Climate change is adding to and exacerbating other threats to biodiversity, such as habitat loss, invasive species, pollution, over-exploitation of natural resources, and environmental degradation. Ecological networks can reduce the impact of all stressors, promote population persistence, and allow species to adapt to climate change by moving to climatically suitable areas.
-Dr. Annika Keeley, co-author of Corridor Ecology, Second Edition
In honor of National Bike Month and Bike to Work Day, Island Press is celebrating the power and the freedom of cycling. The evolving needs of cities demand a variety of mobility options to create successful and more livable regions. Around the world, countries marvel at the Netherland’s impressive cycling culture and infrastructure while an insidious “that would never work here” attitude prevents real change from happening. But the Dutch overcame many of the same challenges as other car-clogged countries, and their story is an important model for moving the rest of the world toward a more human-scale, bike-friendly future.
In Building the Cycling City: The Dutch Blueprint for Urban Vitality, Melissa and Chris Bruntlett share the triumphs and challenges of the Dutch cycling story, show how some of the ideas are already being adopted in global cities, and draw out concrete lessons for other places to follow their lead. Drawing from historical context, interviews with local experts, and their own experiences riding in five Dutch cities, the Bruntletts explore topics ranging from bicycle style and parking to the relationship between cycling and public transit. Building the Cycling City will leave readers inspired and ready to adopt and implement approaches to make their own cities better places to live, work, play, and—of course—cycle.
Check out Chapter 1 "Streets Aren't Set In Stone" below or download the PDF here.
Chidinma is our web and social media intern.
A Changing Climate Means A Changing Society. The Island Press Urban Resilience Project, Supported By The Kresge Foundation And The JPB Foundation, Is Committed To A Greener, Fairer Future. This Article Was Originally Published August 9, 2019 in CityMetric.
The past few months have seen an uptick in cycling deaths in cities around the world. In New York City alone, 18 people had been killed in cycling collisions by the middle of 2019, nearly doubling the city’s total for the whole of 2018.
It’s a sad irony that the increase in fatalities comes as countless municipalities have committed to Vision Zero – a plan to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries.
While the ethos behind Vision Zero is commendable, the vision itself is only as good as the actions taken to support it. The commitment from elected officials needs to be more than just lip service or nothing will get better – in fact, it will just get worse. The first step is prioritising safer space on our streets.
An ever-growing number of cities are building fully separated cycle tracks to help reduce conflict between road users. London’s cycleways are an excellent example of Transport for London’s commitment to getting more people on bicycles while also keeping them safe on that city’s notoriously hostile streets. New York City itself has spent nearly a decade taming its streets with protected cycle lanes. To some extent, these efforts are working, as more people who formerly wouldn’t cycle are giving it a try.
So with all this investment in safer streets, why the increase in cycling deaths? Simply put, the investment is not commensurate with the latent demand, creating gaps that are hot spots for conflict. Intersections remain some of the most dangerous places for cyclists, who are left exposed to conditions that are designed and optimised for car travel. That, often coupled with incomplete cycling networks, means that drivers and cyclists are left to their own devices to navigate the streets. When pitted against each other, there is one obvious “winner”.
Tensions have been rising between road users for decades now, since the first Critical Masswas held in San Francisco in 1992. Transport mode tribalism has contributed to intense confrontations between those on bikes and in cars. For many cycling advocates, the fight for the democratisation of our streets can start to feel hopeless.
But there are signs of history repeating itself, perhaps for the better. Following one of the recent cycling fatalities in New York City, activists took to the streets to demand the City increase its efforts to protect cyclists. They hosted a die-in in Washington Square Park – a macabre, albeit poignant, statement that road fatalities of cyclists is not an acceptable status quo.
The die-in echoed historic demonstrations that took place in Amsterdam in the mid-1970s, as part of the Stop de Kindermoord(stop the child murder) movement. The Dutch uprising followed a dramatic increase in automobile traffic, and a corresponding rash of traffic fatalities that took the lives of 400 children in 1971. Now, just as in the Netherlands nearly 40 years ago, it is the people of New York City who are demanding change.
It’s not just New Yorkers. In San Diego, San Francisco, Boston, Milwaukee, Glasgow, and Wellington, NZ, human beings are literally putting themselves in harm’s way to create a physical divide between cars and those traveling on bicycles. The “People Protected Bike Lane,” a form of tactical urbanism, is becoming an increasing common form of protest. In these cities, adults stand alongside children to demand better conditions, just as Dutch families did in the ‘70’s. It’s a clear statement that the right to space is an equity issue with no age limit.
The fact is that we’ve been here before. Perhaps on different shores, but the conditions are the same. Growing congestion coupled with increased demand on limited space make our streets hostile places. If those who have been elected to serve are truly committed to a Vision Zero future, it needs to be more than just talk. Proactive policies that create safer conditions through a combination of traffic calming, complete networks and separated facilities will go a long way to encouraging cycling without increasing fatalities at the same time.
The question is, can we learn from more recent mistakes and see the lessons that are laid out for us from history? If New York’s die-in shows us anything, it’s that we can take inspiration from the activist spirit of the past to demand better for our cities. Just as the Dutch stood up and ultimately created some of the most cycling friendly streets on the planet, so too can New Yorkers, Londoners and others around the world. The people are asking, now it’s up to our representatives to answer the call.
Melissa Bruntlett is author of Building the Cycling City. She and her husband Chris Bruntlett are the co-founders of Modacity; a creative agency using words, photography, and film to inspire happier, healthier, simpler forms of mobility. Together, they work with a variety of organizations—including municipal governments, transportation agencies, non-profits, and corporate clients—to address the evolving needs of cities large and small, and enable a variety of mobility options as a way to create successful and more livable regions.
Chris Bruntlett is author of Building the Cycling City. He and his wife Melissa Bruntlett are the co-founders of Modacity. Melissa and Chris’ stories of emerging bike cultures from around the world have been featured in Momentum Magazine, Grist, Spacing Magazine, and the Huffington Post, as well as many local publications in their hometown of Vancouver.