Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Copenhagenize Index

I keep noticing some improvements in bicycle infrastructure around Boston. There are more bike lanes showing up, like the newly constructed lane along Concord Ave in Belmont and also more bike racks, so we are finally not limited to locking our bikes to lamp posts and fences nearby.
But how Boston Metro Area compares to other cities out there? To answer this question, I decided to take a closer look at the Copenhagenize Index. The Index awards points in 13 different categories. A maximum of 4 points can be awarderd in each category:

Advocacy: I give Boston 2 points for some organized advocacy like Annual Tweed Ride, although I wonder if it is a bit too generous.

Bicycle Culture: Another 2 points. Many Bostonians still see bicycle as a purely recreational vehicle, but there is a growing number of commuters as well.

Bicycle Facilities: I think 3 points here is appropriate. Boston and surrounding towns seem to have quite many various facilities: bike lanes, paths, parking racks, and buses equipped with bike racks.

Bicycle Infrastructure: Another 2 points here. I think that we have not enough bike paths throughout the city. Most of existing ones are only bike lanes and there are not that many of them around.

Bike Sharing Programme: There is the Hubway: 61 stations, 600 bikes, first 30min. is free. Not bad, but: stations are ONLY in Boston (i.e. no trips to Cambridge, Somerville, etc.) and you have to agree to wear a helmet. Weird! Program has just started so for now 2 points only.

Gender Split: Doesn't look that great. The city of Boston reports that 72% of cyclists are men and 28% women. On the other hand, we do have a beautiful representation of female cyclists through many cycling blogs. Let's say 2 points is probably a good guess.

Modal Share for Bicycles: The City of Boston reports a pathetic 2.11% as of 2009: 1 point.

Modal Share Increase Since 2006: According to The City of Boston there's been a 122% increase in ridership from 2007 to 2009. I give it 2 points.

Perception of Safety: Judging from how many helmet-wearing bikers I see daily I can't be more generous beyond just a single point. Boston crash rate is 1 crash per 1030 miles (1657km) and 37% of those crashes involved a car. Also, "both men and women cyclists perceive cycling on off-road paths as significantly more safe than biking on Boston streets."

Politics: Again, difficult to say, which means that no media is loud enough about new facilities for bikers. This means that there is not much going on or City is just quiet about it. The situation is improving: new bike sharing program, new lanes. Let's say 2 points would be fair.

Social Acceptance: Hmm, I have a strong feeling that many drivers are still hostile towards city bikers, although on the other hand, most of them are at least neutral. Let's say 3 points would be fair.

Urban Planning: In the very downtown the situation is better, but a short bike trip to suburbs shows that sidewalks and bike paths/lanes are as rare as pink elephants - 1 point.

Traffic Calming: None on main roads (i.e. most roads). Better in strictly residential areas. Still, no limited car traffic areas anywhere. Even the Newbury St and Harvard Sq are car-oriented places. Weird. I don't think Boston deserves any points here.

Total: 22
I don't know if I was too strict but 22 points is a really poor result. The best U.S. city, Portland, got 36 points. Even the New York City received 29. Not to mention Amsterdam and Copenhagen with 54 and 52 points, respectively. Let's hope the bicycle culture in Boston will grow and more and more people will use their bikes everyday, not only on the Minuteman Bikeway.

No comments:

Post a Comment