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From Cradle to Pave - Planning Your Bicycle Network

Words & photos by David Hoffman

If you build it, they will come.*
–Ray Kinsella

At least, that’s the hope of many a bicycle and pedestrian planning professional. This article explores a typical planning process for bicycle and pedestrian facilities as well as stops along the way where people such as you can get involved.

I’ve been watching bicyclists climb a long hill from the lower neighborhoods to the upper neighborhoods. The road is fast and narrow, and the cyclists sometimes ride the sidewalk, dodging mothers with wheeled shopping baskets, young children, and joggers. The cyclists struggle up the hill—it’s hot and humid here making the extra physical exertion all that much more difficult. In the center median are colorful, oversize, metal silhouettes of bicyclists and pedestrians trapped in effortless poses of biking and walking ease. I see a bicyclist—he is dressed in a long black coat, curls of hair hang from the sides of his face. A broad black hat is bungeed to his panniers that carry books, a computer, and the assorted objects that help him to get through his day. I am in Jerusalem, Israel. And I am witnessing the birth of a biking boom.

As I watch the cyclist make his way up the hill, I think how little difference there is between Jerusalem and any place that I’ve worked in the United States where bicycling and walking rates have been going up. In almost all cases the locals begin to make the choice to bike and walk despite the (usually) abysmal road conditions for them. Advocates, planners, and politicians take note, and a process is set into place that will help to support the changes that the locals are already making.

There are three basic parts to the process of imagining a new facility (the cradle) until it is completed and in the ground (pave): Design, Public Process, and Funding. The first two are actually the most important, as wherever there is political will, the funding will eventually follow.


* Yes. We know. The actual quote from Field of Dreams is, “If you build it, he will come.”