Pedaling Toward Healthier Communities

Jul 22, 2013

Credit 5chw4r7z / Flickr Creative Commons

Cities across the nation are trying to improve the health of their populations, many developers are embracing cycling infrastructure as a way encourage civic engagement, environmental goals, and economic prosperity.

John Cock is an urban planner based in Davidson, North Carolina with Alta Planning and Design.

During a recent placemaking conference sponsored by the University of Oklahoma’s Institute for Quality Communities, Cock described three types cyclists – those who are already out there, the 7-9 percent who would ride on urban streets if they had a bike lane, and another 60 percent who don’t even want a bike lane if they have to share the roadways with traffic or parked cars.

“Reaching that 60 percent can be transformative,” Cock says. “This is the kind of biking that most of us would like to do. Americans own more bicycles than the Chinese. We’re happy biking in events on quiet streets or streets that have been closed off for cars. Streets like most of us live on in our neighborhoods, which make up 85 percent of most of our urban street networks.”


Developers in Northwest Arkansas broke ground last year on a cycling infrastructure concept set to be finished later this year. The 40-mile greenway would connect the communities of Bentonville, Springdale, Rogers, and Fayetteville.

“This was not about active recreation, although that’s certainly a benefit” Cock says. “It was about connecting communities, about connecting to schools, about connecting to major employers. The likes of Wal-Mart and J.B. Hunt trucking and Tyson’s Food want to create better access for their workers who already live in the area, but they also want to make that area of Northwest Arkansas attractive who might want to live, invest, [and] retire in that region.”