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This is an unprecedented time for people riding bikes. Bike sales are up 66%! Local bike shops are facing an international shortage of new bikes, and repairs are backed up for weeks.
We’re collectively rediscovering bikes. We’re using bikes to spend time outside, get some exercise, and get around town. We’re using bikes as a tool for joy, and to meet our transportation needs.
We love seeing more people out on bikes. But this renewed interest is making it more obvious to more people that Columbia still doesn’t have a connected bike network that lets people get where they want to go safely. People for Bikes scores cities’ bikeability, and from 2018 to 2020, Columbia’s score dropped from 2.5 stars to 1.7. Even worse, our inclusivity score is a troubling 1.1 stars.
We all like to think of Columbia as a bike-friendly place. But for years we’ve been seeing Columbia falling behind. It’s not just big, far-away cities that are investing in safe, connected bike networks; Springfield, MO scored 2.9 stars and has an inclusivity score 3x higher than Columbia’s.
Rankings like this remind us that when a basic component of our transportation system isn’t working, we aren’t all impacted in the same way.
Our Vision Zero research shows that when Black people in Boone County walk or bike, they are injured in car crashes at rates 3-4x higher than white people. Having safe places to walk and bike isn’t a “nice to have,” non-essential component of our transportation system. Mobility is a fundamental human right and these disparities are a crisis of public safety and access to basic needs.
So what do we need to do? People for Bikes recommends connected bike networks, using neighborhood bikeways on quiet streets, and protected bike lanes on busier ones. They also recommend identifying barriers to biking in underserved areas, and fixing infrastructure in high-crash areas.
We need your help to create change. Together, we need to raise our voices for a bike network that serves everyone.