Tucson was selected as one of 10 winning cities to join the Big Jump Project, a new initiative from nationally recognized advocacy organization, PeopleForBikes. The project will provide funding and technical assistance to help Tucson double or triple bike ridership in specific neighborhoods over a three-year period. Other cities selected for this project include: New York, Los Angeles, Portland, Ore. Memphis, Providence, R.I., New Orleans, Baltimore, Austin and Fort Collins.
The Big Jump Project focuses on building connected bicycle networks (bicycle boulevards, protected bike lanes on busy streets, separated pathways, etc.) and shifting perceptions to encourage a culture where biking is viewed as ordinary, accepted, and enjoyable. The 10 cities selected will become “laboratories for innovation,” setting an example for how to use bicycling as a tool to improve health and equity.
These efforts will center on a designated focus area: the City of South Tucson and surrounding neighborhoods (see map below). For three years, the city will annually receive the equivalent of $250,000 in technical support and matching funds.
Historically, the focus area has not been adequately heard or considered in the political and planning process, and as a result, we see a disparity in access to safe and connected streets for walking and biking. However, we are encouraged by the momentum of equity-focused, community-minded efforts that are building in south Tucson.
When hearing about Tucson’s selection for the Big Jump Project, Lane Santa Cruz, resident in the focus area said, “As a commuter who has experienced bicycling as an economic necessity, I am a support of better and safer bicycle networks to get around town. I look forward to engaging in a meaningful process of how communities can envision and advise transportation planners on their multiple transit needs and how better bicycle connectivity can help address some of those needs.”
Living Streets Alliance is a committed partner and will serve on the Big Jump leadership team. The team includes a diverse group of neighborhood residents, local bike shop owners, representatives from service organizations, and supportive staff from the City of South Tucson. The specific programs and activities have not yet been determined; however, we are committed to keeping the community members at the center of the conversation and allowing them to direct the efforts.
“From encouraging physical activity to helping with congestion, from better connecting people to work training and education to bolstering economic development, bikes are a rather inexpensive way to improve communities,” said PeopleForBikes Director of Local Innovation Kyle Wagenschutz. “Communities are not looking at bikes as a catalyst for change on their own, but rather as an important part of the momentum happening to change cities for the better.”
To learn more about the Big Jump project and PeopleForBikes, please visit http://www.peopleforbikes.org/.