Are we building our streets for Isabella?

People for Bikes unveiled a powerful new campaign at the biennial Pro Walk, Pro Bike, Pro Place conference in Pittsburgh, PA last week.


Build it for Isabella.


Meet Isabella. She’s a lot like other 12 year-olds you might know in your neighborhood or community. She’s exploring her freedom, but still likes to play. She learned how to ride a bike recently and is improving her skills everyday. She’s still a little wobbly and because she is smaller, she can’t see or be seen as well over cars or at intersections. One of Isabella’s favorite things to do is ride her bike with her family to get ice cream on the weekends.


How many young girls like Isabella do you know in your life?


People for Bikes asked the planners, engineers, elected officials, and advocates in the room if we are building a connected network of protected, low-stress bikeways for Isabella.

If the answer is no – there had better be a pretty darn good reason why not.


The emphasis on connected networks marks a shift in messaging for People for Bikes, the organization that began the Green Lane Project, and this shift was reinforced by Dan Goodman from the FHWA who gave an update on the federal Cycle Track Planning and Design guide, scheduled to be released at the end of September.


As Green Lane Project Director Martha Roskowski wrote in January, it’s time to stop building black diamond bike lanes. Painted stripes and shared lanes simply don’t serve most people. They certainly don’t serve Isabella. If we want bicycle infrastructure to stop being seen as a handout to an interest group and start being a benefit to the public at large, we need to focus on making everything we build serve the public at large.


What does this mean for Tucson? As construction of the Loop nears completion, it’s time the City and County set aside their differences and focus on connecting Isabella and her family from their home – wherever it is – to school, the park, the ice cream store, and the Loop via a network of protected bike lanes and low-stress bike boulevards. It’s not about politics – it’s about Isabella.


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