Bike Summit Panel Forecasts ‘Disruptive Change’ for Streets

Street designs will need to undergo more “holistic” change in order to accommodate growing needs for both curb and travel space for ride-hailing service vehicles, transit buses, bicycles, scooters, and pedestrians alongside traditional car and truck volumes.

That was the outlook provided by a group of diverse panelists at the National Bike Summit 2019 on March 11, held in Crystal City, VA.

“We can’t let chaos make bad decisions,” stressed Calvin Gladney, president and CEO of Smart Growth America. “We need to take a breath, step back, and think holistically – think about everyone and every type of [transportation] mode involved when it comes to our streets.”

Photo by DDOT

Rebecca Serna, executive director of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, highlighted the tremendous growth being witnessed for what she called “lighter, smaller, slower, sustainable vehicles” such as electric bicycles and scooters, which should spur the development of what she described as “Lit Lanes” dedicated solely to such traffic. “The multiplicity of micro-mobility modes offers a huge opportunity,” Serna said.

Gabe Klein, a partner with Cityfi and the former commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation and director of the District Department of Transportation, noted that the growing plethora of mobility options means “we can no longer be purists” regarding specific modes of travel.

Gabe Klein

“Different people and different use cases require the need for different transportation services,” he explained. “Fundamentally everyone needs transportation, but whether it is by [ride-hailing provider] Lyft, by bike share, by government or non-government owned transportation won’t matter; it will revolve around the most pragmatic option for getting from point A to point B.”

Gabe stressed that “bridging the physical, economic, and cultural gaps around new modes” will be the “unique challenge” transportation providers at the federal, state, and local level will need to address in the future.

Miller Nuttle

Miller Nuttle, senior manager of bike and pedestrian policy for Lyft, echoed Klein’s point by noting that the deployment of autonomous vehicles, for example, “should not stop the push for more bicycle and walking infrastructure. We get so used to pushing a single mode of transportation that we forget to look at how, for example, we can get more total efficiency out of [street] curb space, such as creating dedicated pickup and drop-off zones or bike share stations versus having a car parked taking up a single spot for over four hours.”

Smart Growth America’s Gladney stressed a similar point, noting that, going forward, “we need to think more about an interconnected transportation system; how we get from points A, B, and C through all of the various modes available. Right now, though, we have to pick from those modes in silos.”

As a result, he emphasized that “there is not one answer, one transportation solution set anymore. We have to think holistically about streets and curb side management; not just how to deal with all of the vehicles but about safety as well.”

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