8 tips for making your downtown more bike-friendly

March 23, 2016 Andrew Kohr

If your city wants to be friendlier to cyclists and pedestrians, your consultant should follow these top tips.

There is a growing recognition among designers, engineers, and city officials that retrofitting urban infrastructure is a cost-conscious and viable alternative for adding bike facilities . Depending on where you live, your local roadways may offer capacity to alter traffic patterns and introduce cycle tracks, multi-use trails, and bike lanes. Cycle tracks are becoming more popular because they offer a safe transportation route that works within existing roadway footprints (often avoiding the need for restriping an entire road). They also sit at-grade with the road, eliminating the need to modify curb and gutter, utility poles, or storm drain infrastructure (usually). With this in mind, here are the top steps a consultant can take to help further a city’s endeavors to create a more bike or pedestrian-friendly downtown.


A bicyclist traveling in a bike lane


  • Ensure success by looking at the big picture. If building a bike infrastructure network, make sure it connects to the right places and destinations – so it’s a bigger conversation at a systems level.  Successful cycle tracks have meaningful destinations and logical termini (parks, schools, neighborhoods).
  • Identify how to work around existing infrastructure. In an urban area, everything is fixed, so if you can’t go larger or wider, what else can you do?
    • Look at traffic capacity and turning movements.
    • Look at other infrastructure elements like storm drain inlets, pavement conditions, and visual road signage clutter than can be minimized.
    • Assess intersections and how they can function better and to understand how pedestrians, cars, and bikes interact at these locations.
    • Check for bike parking facilities. Is the area a welcoming environment for bicyclists?
  • Remember it’s not an either/or situation. It’s not bikes vs. cars; it’s more about getting the public engaged in understanding how multi-use trails and cycle tracks ultimately benefit their community. Connected communities are healthier communities, and healthier communities offer  a greater quality of life, are places where people spend more money, and are where residents reinvest in their neighborhoods.
  • Educate – all around! Make sure those audiences that may use the cycle track understand proper bike safety, rules of the road, etc. This education will also help create an awareness of the cycle track and promote a bike sharing program, if appropriate. So, education is also a great marketing tool.



The beauty and benefit of cycle track retrofits is that they remove the mystery of complicated transportation improvements. Sometimes the solution can be nothing more than painting or marking. Such a simple approach eliminates the need for engineering drawings or permitting and makes the project something that is tangible and available to all municipalities.

About the Author

Andrew Kohr

Andrew Kohr is a landscape architect with over 10 years of experience working on urban design and public infrastructure projects. He is passionate about making communities more walkable and healthier through quality planning and design.

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