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Safe Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure Deserts

 

(I am in no way equating bicycle infrastructure with food insecurity. For more information about the food insecurity issues that American cities are facing visit: https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/definitions-of-food-security/ and http://americannutritionassociation.org/newsletter/usda-defines-food-deserts) Bicycle Infrastructure Deserts are huge swaths of cities and towns where safe cycling infrastructure is dangerous to access or does not exist.  The "desert" reference is borrowed form the term "Food Deserts" which are defined as "parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods, usually . This is largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers." A Food Desert map of US and more info here: http://americannutritionassociation.org/newsletter/usda-defines-food-deserts

Every county in the U.S.A. suffers from food insecurity.

 

Safe, intuitive and useful bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure along with practical public transportation will help connect food insecure communities to vital fresh food resources.  "No car and no supermarket store within a mile" -Nutrition Digest Vol 38 No. 2.  A lot of people don't have cars and many more people don't live within a mile from essential food resources.

 

Shout out to The Bikery (http://thebikery.weebly.com/) in Fruitvale and Scraper Bike crew's The Shed (http://oaklandlibrary.org/events/martin-luther-king-jr-branch/fix-decorate-your-bike-scraper-bike-team)at MLK Jr. library for serving bike needs in the community. I live in Oakland, California and I ride my bike everywhere.  It is painful to see huge swaths of the city disconnected and shut off from safe cycling infrastructure where it is most vital. It makes those parts of the city difficult or impossible to reach safely by walking or biking.  Like many towns and cities in California, Oakland is blessed with relatively flat riding and good weather almost all year round.  East Oakland is chopped up and virtually disconnected from the rest of the city by freeway overpasses, raised BART tracks, wide streets with high speed traffic, old rail lines and current rail lines. 

 The MacArthur Maze connects East Bay cities with San Francisco

 

West Oakland is similarly cut off from safe pedestrian and bicycle access to Downtown Oakland despite being next door neighbors less than a mile apart. The Oakland Bicycle Master Plan (Download here: http://www2.oaklandnet.com/government/o/PWA/o/EC/s/BicycleandPedestrianProgram/OAK024597#download) is making huge strides to connect these communities to better bicycle infrastructure.  As with almost all cities, the heart of the infrastructure density revolves around the immediate downtown area.  See proposed bicycle infrastructure map for Downtown Oakland below; The dotted lines represent proposed bike lanes or paths:

Downtown Oakland

 

This is great for people who live and work close to downtown or people who can combine bicycles and transit for their first-mile last-mile connections.  The priority has to be the rest of the community who has been starved of safe and secure bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure for their streets for decades.  See proposed bicycle infrastructure map below, The dotted lines represent proposed bike lanes or paths:

East Oakland and surrounding Oakland communities

 

Even taking the bus or driving a car in some parts of Oakland is a very rough ride, never mind riding a bicycle.  Installing infrastructure or striping bike lanes on roads that need to be fixed wastes vital funds when the time comes to resurface the streets and fix potholes yet it happens all the time

 

Another huge factor with safe infrastructure access is access to practical reliable public transportation.  If you can't catch a bus to your local library branch because there is no such bus line then we are talking about deep systemic issues that have plagued American cities since the introduction of redlining the housing market in the 1930's.   We can all advocate for change in our own cities.  Fill out the local public transportation surveys such as CalTrans surveys, BART surveys, ACTransit and TransBay bus surveys.  Attend meetings, address city council and be outspoken about practical equitable access to safe bike and ped. infrastructure and decent public transportation.

 

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