Support users through periods of change: Lessons learned from a city bike sharing initiative.
A paper analyzing an attempt to promote bike-riding in the Netherlands uncovered key lessons learned for agencies seeking to implement innovative transportation solutions.
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The challenge of the bicycle street: Applying collaborative governance processes while protecting user centered innovations


Bicycle streets are a type of transportation innovation in which a road is designated to prioritize bicycle traffic over automobile traffic. They typically include design elements that encourage low speeds and low traffic volumes. They have been implemented in Europe in order to promote multimodal travel and to make bicycle travel more accessible, even in locations in which it is not possible to physically separate automobiles and bicycles.

A paper from a researcher at Utrecht University in the Netherlands examined implementations of bicycle streets, using them to understand more broadly how collaborative governance processes in transportation planning may fail to support the groups they are intended to benefit. It analyzed different implementations of bicycle streets, focusing on a bicycle street in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, which ultimately resulted in mixed success. This analysis included the development of a number of lessons learned regarding best practices for implementation, which apply to a wide variety of public initiatives beyond the specific example of the bicycle street.

Lessons Learned

  • Support any necessary changes in user practices. The successful deployment of any innovation relies on users modifying their routine to adopt it. In the Netherlands' implementation of the bicycle street, the designation did not carry any legal weight and thus the city was unable to enforce intended usage of the rezoned area.
  • Ensure that stakeholders have similar goals and interests. The paper notes that previous implementations of bicycle streets have been successful where all stakeholders agreed that a lower automobile throughput was helpful in ensuring a safer, quieter street. However, when stakeholders were in conflict, they are less likely to make trade-offs for the benefit of the group.
  • Avoid over-promising. When implementing the Eindhoven bicycle street, the city government assured businesses that it would not reduce the amount of available parking. This constricted their ability to appropriately redesign the street, as one of the major factors in making bicycle streets friendly to non-drivers is a lower throughput of automobiles.
  • Consider possible repercussions of suboptimal implementations. The paper noted that a city that has previously had poor experiences in introducing bicycle streets may be less likely to attempt them again, even in situations and locations where they would be much more likely to work.