Increasing Biking in Contentious Environments


  • Transportation planning - innovative bicycle infrastructure specifically
  • Media strategy - leveraging local media and advocates to build better infrastructure
  • Urban design - scale of streets and how the automobile can be deemphasized 
  • Bicycling mode share - growth areas and targets used by various cities
  • Conflict resolution between neighborhood groups and overall city goals
  • New types of bike infrastructure
  • Media strategies to deflect opposition
  • Branding of bike infrastructure to expand ridership


Recent battles against bike lanes exemplify the struggle that many planners face against progressive projects.  “sustainability”, “humanism” and “quality of life” are overall goals, but realizing projects is difficult in a field that is still dominated by the automobile and non-inviting terms like volume, capacity, and modal shift.  This course will magnify the conflicts around bike infrastructure and present how planners have successfully negotiated simple projects using complex strategies that have applications outside of transportation.

At a macro-level, cycling is on the rise within the US, but often projects don’t go so smoothly at a local level; NIMBY’s speak loudly about unwanted traffic, commuters hate bikers who take up valuable space on the road, and communities lash out at cyclists as gentrifiers. We will look at three major US Cities and examine how projects have been implemented in this charged environment.  

This course will be a guided presentation between transportation officials from Chicago, New York and San Francisco.  It will primarily focus on incorporating successful bike infrastructure into the planning processes, including network plans; corridor based approaches; and developer-lead projects.  Using examples of innovative infrastructure like protected bike paths, bike boulevards, signal timing prioritization for bikes, and mixing zones, participants will see how cities realized projects in the face of opposition.  

Secondarily, the course will give officials from other cities an idea of the potential for ridership in their cities.  Biking data will be presented on a city-wide level with an emphasis on the demographics of riders and where the largest growth areas are.  NYC alone has seen mode share on corridors approach 50% in growing neighborhoods - we will look at similar situations and show how creative plans and streetscape design have lead to these impressive numbers.  Each city has its own story; this course will show planners creative and realistic cases that will lead to more bike lanes in even the most difficult cases.