Better Use of Infrastructure Dollars: Lines or Signs?




There is no doubt that transportation dollars are being squeezed both in Minnesota and around the country.  Every infrastructure dollar being spent will be scrutinized and reviewed for the collective belt-tightening that is happening at State Capitol buildings.

With that in mind, as a cycling community we need to not only look at protecting the dollars that flow our way, but also making sure that we are using them in the most efficient way possible.  This got us thinking, what would we do if we had the money of the previous 10 years to spend over again?

What follows is our opinion of how best to spend cycling allocated funding.

Best uses of funding (in order of priority).

1. Cycle tracks and dedicated off-street bike paths.  –  Expensive and difficult to get built-in existing cities? Yes, but physically separated cycling-exclusive pathways along streets are proven to be safer for cyclists.  Also this encourages more new-to-biking people to venture out on their bikes for errands and commuting.  The more people who view cycling as a legitimate means of transportation, the better off we all are.

2. Signs and educational material directed towards motorists. – We are big fans of the recent series of signs being run in Tacoma, Washington.  These were created for the City of Tacoma, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and Washington State Department of Health.  Check out some more signs at Copenhagenize.

3. Bike lanes. – Why did we rank bike lanes so low? This is based solely on efficiency per dollar. Bike lanes are job creators (PDF), but they are not cheap ($5,000 – $50,000 per mile).  In Minneapolis and Saint Paul, the lanes are un-usable for five months a year.

4. Educational material events directed at cyclists. – Collectively we have a lot to learn, every time a cyclist runs a red light, or rides at night without lights, it reflects on our collective group poorly.  That is why programs that give away free lights to cyclists riding without them, and riding eduction classes help us all.

5. Money for legislative and other lobbying efforts in an attempt to create better laws to help protect cyclists. – After spending the day in the Capitol yesterday, this is much-needed.

We don’t believe that we have all (or the best answers).  This list was complied and ranked based on personal opinions, and we want to know your opinion too!  Sound off in the comments.  Have more to say than that?  Send us an email and have your opinion posted on CTC (

This entry was posted in Advocacy, Bike Lanes, Infrastructure, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Better Use of Infrastructure Dollars: Lines or Signs?

  1. Elliot Novak says:

    I like #2 the best in the frame you have put this article. It is not only the cheapest option but it encourages co-existence with the rest of society, and gives automobile drivers more credit. My related bias lies in feeling comfortable riding on the street, and I know some do not feel that way.

  2. Julie says:

    The separated cycletracks study has significant issues relative to the methods used to draw the safety conclusion, particularly in light of multiple ‘safety in numbers’ studies. When comparing streets with cycletracks and streets without in the same city, you’re creating bias both in the sense of ‘where are motorists trained to look for cyclists?’ and also ‘where are the majority of riders going to choose to ride?’ It makes me cringe how often that study is being cited as doctrine.

    I’m also not a huge fan of either sidepaths or dedicated off-street paths, because they are often engineered in such a way to either create unsafe situations, or they don’t GO places. They’re very often a form of transportation apartheid.

    Study after study has supported John Forrester’s assertion that cyclists fare best when they are treated as drivers of vehicles. This requires solid education that starts as a part of the drivers licensing process, along with intelligent street design that emphasizes contextual use.

    • NatMc says:

      I totally agree with Julie.

      I love that very first sign, the one about “cyclists may use full lane.” Honestly, if I could only have one wish granted as relates to cycling, it would be the ability to ride in the street safely and without drivers getting mad at me.

      Streets go places. They are everywhere. They are all connected to each other. There are (usually) no vulnerable pedestrians walking along them. No wonder motorists prefer driving on them. No wonder I and others prefer cycling on them.

      Want more people to ride bikes? Make the streets safer. Compared to bike lanes and paths, it’s nearly free — they don’t need to be changed in any physical way. Signage and education are all that’s required.

  3. Steven says:

    You know what’s even cheaper , so cheap it raises money! and a great way to make streets safer?

    Gas tax.

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