For as long as I can remember, I have either been riding a bicycle or wishing that I was. To me, the bicycle is quite simply the most elegant and pleasurable way I have ever found to get around. It is fun, fitness, independence, thrift and speed all mounted on two wheels.
But the pleasure and liberty of riding a bike in the city can be severely restricted by the conditions for riding. North American cities have mostly been built for the car above all else. Walking and public transit have not gotten much respect, and cycling has too often been relegated to something for weekend recreation or for spandex-wearing athletes.
Although the bicycle was a common mode of urban and rural transportation 60 or even 100 years ago, its use dwindled with the ready availability of cars and roads to drive them on. I think it is time to reverse that trend. So do millions of other Canadian and American city dwellers who are increasingly voicing support for more investment in safe and convenient cycling infrastructure and revamped education programs for cyclists and drivers alike.
We have seen what cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam are like, and we want to be more like them, at least in the sense of the quality of life benefits achieved by designing or redesigning cities to encourage more cycling and walking. More and more people are also doing something about it. They are riding in greater numbers and speaking out louder the more they sense their collective voice is making headway.
I made Bike City, Great City to tell the story of my city, Ottawa, and its gradual but steady progress to become a great bike city. In the process, I hope to inspire decision-makers across the continent and around the world to make their cities great cities as well, by transforming them into great places for cyclists and everyone else.