Know How to Talk About Bike Infrastructure

Tips, talking points, and answers to frequently asked questions about bike infrastructure

Based on detailed research and lots of experience, Bike Easy suggests using the following tips, talking points, and answers to frequently asked questions when discussing the benefits and need for a network of connected and protected bikeways.

GENERAL MESSAGING PRINCIPLES & TIPS

  • Good messaging reaches people where they are while expressing our core values
  • Don’t be defensive and don’t attack people. Persuade, don’t argue.
  • Speak broadly, but don’t overpromise.
  • When you’re discussing in a group setting or social media, remember all the undecided people who are listening/watching but not participating. Speak to them!

BIKE INFRASTRUCTURE MESSAGING PRINCIPLES & TIPS

  • Ensure that the messaging speaks to everyone, not just people who bike, and especially think about how to reach people who primarily drive. Reorganizing roadways benefits everyone!
  • Focus on safety, convenience, and predictability for everyone.
  • Bike infrastructure helps solve the issues we hear the most about – people not following rules of the road when biking and lack of education for both people driving and biking.
  • Bike infrastructure is not a silver bullet, but an important piece of the larger mobility mix, along with creating safe walking, reliable transit, and efficient driving.
  • People are often schedule-driven and want predictability, regardless of how they travel.
  • Biking must be integrated with public transit.
  • Use people-first language – “people who ride”, “people who drive”, “people walking”, etc.
  • Streets safer for biking are safer for walking and vice versa.
  • Talk about the importance of having transportation options.
  • “Streets built to share” is a useful term.

Talking Points & Messages

  • Increasing safe and accessible transportation options can help our region make progress on the big issues we’re facing – public health, equity, job access & economic development, and quality-of-life!
  • A network of protected, connected bike lanes can help solve mobility challenges for all people – whether driving, biking, walking, or taking public transit – and this is especially true for safety.
  • Streets built to share with protected bike lanes and traffic calming help reduce dangerous and illegal speeding, making our neighborhoods safer and more livable.
  • Protected bike lanes are located on or next to the road and are physically separated and only used by people riding bikes. They’re like the roads and sidewalks for people driving and walking, and they help reorganize the roadway to be easier and clearer for everyone.
  • A connected network of protected bikeways is a comfortable system that allows people biking to get where they’re going safely while minimizing inconvenience for people walking and driving.
  • Good bike infrastructure doesn’t leave bike riders, motorists or pedestrians to navigate incomplete connections that force everyone into unsafe and confusing situations. Everyone can get where they are going with the greatest safety and the least amount of hassle because the traffic flow needs of all are met through careful planning and smart construction.
  • A connected bike network throughout New Orleans brings us one step closer to the equitable future we are all working towards.
  • As low-income residents are pushed further and further away from their jobs, biking, especially when integrated with public transit, can become a great tool to connect people to jobs that will help them take care of their families.
  • Improved bike infrastructure in tandem with increasing public transportation and pedestrian amenities ensures everyone has access to safe modes of transportation in the greater New Orleans area.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS / COMMENTS

But people biking never follow the rules!

People biking need to follow the rules of the road just like everyone else. Thankfully, there’s an easy solution – a connected and protected network of bike lanes! Study after study, including many right here in New Orleans, show that people biking follow the rules better when they have their own dedicated space on the roadway.

Reorganizing the roadway will make things clearer for everyone – drivers, bikers, and walkers alike. Good bike infrastructure ensures no one has to navigate incomplete and confusing areas and provides education to everyone, whether they’re biking or driving.

Are we going to have bike lanes on every street?

No, of course not! We don’t need bike lanes on every street, we need them on the right streets. Through careful planning and smart construction, we can make sure that people riding can get where they’re going safely while minimizing inconvenience to people walking or driving.

Bike lanes just cause more traffic.

The only way to reduce traffic congestion is to give people more transportation options, including transit, walking, and biking. The planning effort, followed by more detailed design for selected corridors, will incorporate traffic studies to create the greatest safety and efficiency for all.

Transportation and traffic are complex systems with many variables. Construction, traffic signal timing, use of adjacent streets, human behavior, and more play a role in determining traffic flows. We must use careful planning and smart construction to create good bike infrastructure that gives people safe alternatives to driving in order to help reduce traffic congestion.

Will you be taking away traffic lanes or parking?

Some trade-offs will need to be made, and everyone can have peace of mind on the road when everyone has a piece of the road. Good bike lanes make things clear and organized for all users – whether driving, taking the bus, or walking, and the benefits extend to everyone. Detailed research has shown that swapping parking or motor vehicle lanes for bike lanes can improve business performance, productivity of employees, public health, and more.

What will the streets with bike lanes look like?

Bike Easy is working to make sure the bike lanes are clear and all look the same. Streets with protected bike lanes are better for everyone. Traffic calming reduces dangerous and illegal speeding making our neighborhoods safer and more livable. Bike lane designs will incorporate green infrastructure and stormwater management elements.

The City is currently developing an updated set of street design guidelines and standards to adapt designs from the Federal Highway Administration, the National Association of City Transportation Officials, and others to the unique streets of our historic city.

Why focus on bikes when there are so many other needs?

Along with transit, walking, and driving, biking is an important option for people in New Orleans to get around. Biking is simply a part of the larger transportation improvements underway, and good bike infrastructure that benefits all people on the road. We’re working to ensure the bikeway network is integrated with improved transit service.

Why build bike lanes instead of fixing potholes?

It’s not an either / or situation. With nearly $2 billion in street projects currently underway or being planned, the investments in dedicated bike lanes are less than one tenth of one percent of the overall effort while 3.5% of New Orleanians commute to work by bike everyday. And investments in good bike infrastructure benefit everyone, even if you never ride a bike.

People driving pay gas taxes, license fees, etc, but people biking don’t pay for the roads, so they shouldn’t get their own space.

Most of the money that is spent on roadways comes from income taxes, which most everyone pays, regardless of how they get around. Also, biking causes much less damage to the roadways than driving, thus reducing roadway maintenance and renovation costs.

People biking should be required to have a license and insurance.

Biking is an affordable transportation option, which is especially important for our most vulnerable people, and it’s a great activity for kids. We believe in keeping it accessible.

Good response to just about anything….

With the public health, equity, economic, and quality-of-life benefits that biking provides, we believe it’s worth prioritizing safe bicycle access and incentivizing more people to ride bikes as part of the larger effort to increase transportation options.

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