I often think it would take generations for Atlanta to build a world-class transportation system, one that includes a comprehensive network of roads, bike lanes, bus, and rail. But then I see examples of places that are making great strides quickly.
One such example is Boston, which Bicycling Magazine named one of the "Worst Biking Cities" three times from 1999 to 2006 (New York Times 2009). The city hired a former Olympic cyclist as "bike czar" and by 2011 had installed 50 miles of bike lanes and made other bike-friendly changes. The League of American Bicyclists now gives Boston a "Silver" (third) level award and ranks Massachusetts as the ninth most "Bicycle Friendly State" in the country. Not bad considering not a single East Coast community earned a "Platinum" (first) or "Gold" (second) level award.
Another impressive example is Medallin, Columbia. Two decades ago, it was the poster child of drug-related violence and earned the notorious ranking of most dangerous city in the world. Today they have shed their violent image and are becoming known for their sustainable transportation system.
"Over the last decade, Medallin has worked hard to change its image. The local government is investing in education and social programs, and the city recognizes the importance of providing an integrated public transportation system as the backbone of these projects."See a video of Medallin transportation transformation.
How have these cities done this? By committing to sustainable transportation from the top down. One of the striking things you will see in the video about Medallin is just how bought-in to the idea of alternative transportation every government official is. I would love to see that kind of commitment here.