It was almost two years ago now that PeopleForBikes initiated their Green Lane Project in order to promote the establishment of more protected bike lanes in cities across the U.S. To do so, they employed two separate strategies: building awareness and painting lanes. Research has shown that the safety of protected lanes helps increase the number of riders, particularly those using a city's bikeshare program.
In early 2012, PeopleForBikes picked six cities to receive grant money and other resources. As a result of those targeted efforts, 43 percent of all new U.S. bike lanes are in those cities — Austin, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; Memphis, Tennessee; Portland, Oregon; San Francisco, California; and Washington DC. Because the project was so successful, applications for Green Lane Project 2 are now being accepted and six more cities will be chosen in early 2014.
Not only do selected cities get to participate for free, but they will be lavished with support, technical and otherwise, from a team of international experts along with grant funding of $20,000 to $25,000 for research and public relations.
According to Nathan Wilkes, an associate engineer for the City of Austin, the application process itself kicked his city into gear. "Trying to compete nationally to get admitted into the program, and then once you've committed to the program living up to the commitments … It really lights a fire to put those types of facilities on the ground. On multiple levels, from the staff level to the political support, the way they've set it up, you as a community are backing the vision of getting protected lanes on the ground. That's very powerful," Wilkes said.
He also noted that the sharing of ideas with other cities was a key component to the project: "While you're doing that, it's great to have the support of other cities that are doing the same thing and trying to find solutions and make it work."