Critical Mass-New York Style

When I saw the last Friday of the month get closer and closer, I had visions of the 1000+ rider Critical Mass rides that I had seen on the internet. New York's Critical Mass was known for its size and its voice. The videos of the rider being struck by the police officer in Times Square were a hit on YouTube and in the advocate community for years. As I reached Union Square last night, I was surprised to see a dozen or so bikers standing around. Could this be right? Did I have my time right? Something was up, but I soon found out the whole story.

The rides of the past were gone. The city had heard the cyclist message and reacted by introducing bike facilities and legislation that gave the Critical Mass riders very little to complain about. The rides of over 1000 were now simply 75-100, and several of them were tourists and were riding for a once in a lifetime experience of riding through the city at night

There were a few things about this ride that is totally different from Orlando's. The police department gathers at the same square with about 12 scooters, 2 electric carts, 3 squad cars, a paddy wagon van, and a few unmarked cars that contained police higher ups and city commissioner types. These cops are not there to lead the group through the city and give them a safe escort. They are instead there to ticket any cyclists that break any traffic violations. New York laws require lights on their bikes once it gets dark and if there is a bike lane present, the group has to maintain itself in it. Of course they have to stop at all lights and there are no corking of intersections. It basically makes the ride a very uneasy tour through the city.

Either way it is cool to see that the message was sent loud and clear and was heard by the city officials. The new bike culture and facilities in New York have some thanks to give to the Critical Mass movement.

New York At A Glance

Sorry for the gap in posts, but the project that I am working on, and this great city, is sucking up most of my time. I am constantly in contact with bikes, since you can't walk down a single street here in New York without seeing a cyclist ride by or see bikes chained up to racks. Unfortunately for me, my apartment and work building can only allow bikes on their freight elevators and those only run from 9am-4pm. This would mean that my bike would sit outside day and night and I just can't gamble with it getting stolen, vandalized, or weathered.
This one thing is the only thing that is keeping me from buying a cheap bike on Craigslist, but in doing so I would have to buy a $75+ bike lock and pray every day that my bike is still there when I go out to ride it. As you can see in the photo, thieves here will apparently steal everything that isn't locked down, so I would hate to invest the money in something that is temporary, only for it to get jacked in the first week.

All of that being said, this city is great for cycling. The roads are comfortable to ride on, there are enough cyclists out that people are looking for them, and the culture seems to be biker friendly. All that they would need is a few bike stations to allow people to lock their bikes in an indoor facility and provide a locker room/showers, and this place would be on its way to being perfect. I plan on trying to hit their Critical Mass tonight, so I am sure I will learn some more about their biking situation there.

London Cycle Superhighways Open

The Barclays Cycle Superhighways opened up last week and so far, so good. I happen to have a connection to this project since some of my colleagues across the pond are the designers (you can see a slight resemblance to the No Excuse Zone model). The project received criticism just like it would have here in the states, but none the less they installed the system and the world didn't implode as some felt that it might. Just imagine if your city proposed to paint 8 feet wide blue lanes down some of the main streets. Not to mention the different bike advocates that would find some reason to think that they would make cycling less safe. We'll see what the safety record is in a few years and can make our judgments about that when it happens.

The Superhighways were developed to improve cycling conditions for people who already commute by bike, encourage those who don't to take to pedal power and keep fit, help cut congestion, relieve overcrowding on public transportation, and reduce emissions. The project is one of TfL's and the Mayor's main ways of bringing about a London cycling revolution. They aim to increase cycling in London by 400% by 2025 (compared to 2000 levels).

Click HERE if you want to read some frequently asked questions and answers.

Cycle Savy Course Gets Some Good Coverage

As I am getting ready to head out and see Brooklyn, I happened to check out how things are going in Orlando and came across this video from the Orlando Sentinel. I was glad to see that cycling advocate; Keri Caffrey's Cycling Savvy course got the attention of the Sentinel's Dan Tracy. She took him on a ride to prove how friendly Orlando roads are to cyclist.

I have always said that I haven't witnessed enough ill will toward cyclists to convince me that Orlando wasn't safe for riding, but not all cities have the same attitudes toward cyclists and pedestrians. I think that the education that Keri teaches is vital in showing riders how to react around automobiles, but educating drivers how to react around cyclists is just as important. The simple fact that accidents do happen and crashes can occur to the most avid cyclist is why my personal belief in infrastructure and special facilities are a good way for cyclists to become comfortable with riding on the road and let the roadway design help keep cyclists and pedestrians safe.

Here in New York people used to think that you were crazy to mix it up with the taxis and buses of the city, but with the city's emphasis on new bike facilities, cycling has exploded as a common sense way to travel. I plan on seeing even more evidence of this as I head to Brooklyn today. I'll be sure to share what I find.

Hitler Reacts to Contador’s Apology

I am getting settled in here in New York and will have some good stuff about this great city's bike culture and increasing ridership. Below is a funny video that I found that depicts a common reaction to the Contador vs Schleck battles that have been occuring during the Tour de France.

Cop Hits Cyclist in Brooklyn

A New York City police officer has been charged with hitting a bicyclist with his police car and driving off.
The Brooklyn district attorney's office says Officer Louis Ramos was charged Tuesday with assault, reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident.

According to a criminal complaint, Ramos hit the cyclist June 14. The complaint says Ramos got out of the car, pulled the cyclist to the curb, handed him a tissue and then drove off without reporting it or calling an ambulance.
The accident was captured on surveillance cameras, which you can see below.

Ramos has pleaded not guilty. He has been suspended without pay. The cyclist was treated for cuts, bruises and a fractured wrist.

Still Life in Germany

Well I am in New York City for 4-6 weeks, so I am just getting in for the night, but I saw this on Huffington Post and thought it was pretty cool. I am especially liking in since Manhattan's Summer Streets event is coming up in August and I will be able to see it first hand.

I have written before about Bogota's Ciclovia, and I am always looking for ways to reclaim asphalt in favor of human interaction, but I have never seen anything on this scale. A town in Germany recently shut down an entire section of Autobahn—that's right, the famous German highways with no speed limit—in order to hold a gigantic party for upwards of 3 million people!

The event, called "Still Life", was being held to celebrate the naming of the Ruhr region as the European Cultural Capital for 2010. According to the Huffington Post, which has a fabulous slideshow of the Still Life festivities, 3 million people turned out, with one million of them making an appearance on their bicycles, to enjoy the 37 miles of closed highway. To top off the festivities, everyone sat down to break bread at a 60 kilometer (37 mile) table made up of over 20,000 individual tables.

It goes without saying that events like this are an exception from the norm. But what an exception! The more we can learn to look at our public spaces not as routes to get from A to B, but as spaces to celebrate and get to know one and other, the more chance we have of digging ourselves out of the hole we find ourselves in.

Cycling Copenhagen, Through North American Eyes

While I got pulled over for biking on the road last weekend, Streetfilms has been in Copenhagen for the Velo-City 2010 conference. There was an abundance of advocates, planners, and city transportation officials attending from the U.S. and Canada, and Streetfilms got their reactions to Copenhagen's built environment and compared it to bicycling conditions in their own cities.

If you've never seen footage of the Copenhagen people riding bikes during rush hour - get ready - it's quite a site, as nearly 38% of all transportation trips in Copenhagen are done by bike. With plenty of safe, bicycle infrastructure (including hundreds of miles of physically separated cycletracks) its no wonder that you see all kinds of people on bikes everywhere. 55% of all riders are female, and you see kids as young as 3 or 4 riding with packs of adults.

Another Attack on Cyclists in Florida

On the heels of my Saturday group ride being pulled over, I learned some interesting information regarding the representative that worked so hard to get HB 971 passed. Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff (R-Ft. Laud.) sponsored HB 971 (the "Anti-Bicyclist Law") and apparently is planning to introduce legislation to eliminate bike lanes on A1A by eliminating any state requirement to put bike facilities within one mile of beachfront property. From what I have found out, her Chief of Staff, her "advisor" on these issues, including HB971, is the self-proclaimed "bike advocate" Jim Smith from S.A.F.E.

I am not trying to bring politics into cycling, but when politicians are passing legislation that makes it harder and unsafe to ride, then a message has to be sent that we need more money and political power in our favor, and not the direct opposite. Cyclists don't ask or require much. All we need is a clean safe place to ride and laws in place to keep automobile, pedestrian, and bicycle traffic all working together. Proper design and education for all traffic users is the first and best steps in getting this type of multi-modal harmony to occur.

HB 971 Goes Into Affect and Lakemont Group Gets Pulled Over

The Lakemont, group B ride, was having a lovely Saturday ride this morning. We were running a nice pace of 25mph and had just turned off of 434 onto Tuskawilla and had about 15 miles left in the ride. As we rounded a slight hill, we saw the flashing blue lights of one of Winter Spring's finest. A code enforcement officer waved the 90 riders off the road at a driveway entrance and gave us the riot act for breaking the new House Bill 971 Law. We tried to explain that we had just made a turn and to get everyone through the light, we could not ride 2 abreast and get us all through in one cycle.

If you recall, House Bill 971 had language in it that required cyclists to ride in the bike lane if it was present and to not ride more than 2 abreast. I know that many of us called and wrote the governor to try and convince him to veto this bill and have the language regarding bike lanes removed, but it wasn't enough and it was signed.The law isn't supposed to go into enforcement until September 1, but I guess the code enforcement officers feel that since the governor signed it, they are ready to enforce it.

I haven't heard of any other rides being pulled over, but I am sure that this is going to become common. The officer tried to tell us that he was going to sit out there and write us all up, but I think that when he realized that it would take longer than an hour and was getting into the mid 90s in temperature, so he let us go with a warning.

This is just a good example of why bike lanes and laws on 4 lane roads out in the county, can become a problem in certain situations. Hopefully this law will be reconsidered and have changes amended to it. In the mean time, keep riding out there, and if you are in a group ride, try to follow the laws and stay safe.

Florida Racing Magazine - Mid July Issue

Ticket to Ride

These North American cities are hubs for bikers who push the pedal not only as an alternate form of transportation, but as a lifestyle.
By Crai S. Bower for MSN Local Edition
New York caters to bike(© Jonkmanns, laif, Aurora Photos)
Over the course of a week in Montreal, one could easily tomber amoureux, or fall in love, with Bixi, the city's innovative bike share program imported from France in 2005. Bixi stations are as common as the city's bistro bars -- this is a French culture, after all -- so commutes from point to point rarely last more than ten minutes. And since the first 30 minutes are free, many Bixi users avoid fees. Montréalais and visitors see the city, run errands or just save time and money cruising on two wheels. It's not a passing infatuation. Look no further than impending Bixi launches in other well-pedaled North American cities such as Minneapolis, Boston, New York and London to understand its allure.

We've entered the "Cycle Decade," when gas prices, congestion and our desire for exercise will lead more cities like Boston and Cleveland to follow pioneering Portland, Oregon, in shifting gears from cars to bikes. Cities as diverse as Minneapolis (where commuters charge right through the infamous winters) and San Diego (long a locale of dedicated trails) have made bike commuting central to their communities.

New York
While many city residents and non-New Yorkers alike can't imagine pedaling among taxis and delivery trucks, over 100,000 people do just that every day. The 42-mile "Five Boro Bike Tour" (participants celebrate the ride's end at a festival on Staten Island) fills its 30,000-rider allotment in a single weekend. Bike New York, led by former Sports Commissioner Ken Podziba, is among the most active civic orgs in the country, scheduling seasonal rides across the tri-state area, teaching urban ride safety classes and lobbying for cyclists' rights and infrastructure at every opportunity. Look for Montréal's Bixi program to arrive in the next two years.

Ride Portland(© Jan Sonnenmair, Aurora Photos)
Portland, Ore.
Portland was riding high last year when it displaced Copenhagen as the number 2 cycling city in the world (behind Amsterdam, of course). But the bike wave is so high in North America that Bicycling Magazine recently swept the national first place position from Rose City and bestowed it to arctic Minneapolis. Regardless of rankings, what's not to love about a city with 200 miles of bike lanes, 66 miles of bike paths, 30 miles of bike boulevards and a bike-only bridge across the Willamette River that was over capacity at its opening? Portland remains the only large city in the U.S. where a candidate's position on urban cycling affects the outcome of a mayoral race.

Bixi aside, there are several other reasons why Montreal remains the continent's most cycle-centric city, including the mundane (autonomous bike lanes) to the ecstatic: Tour la Nuit, a nighttime, 12K, 14,000-rider strong trip through the streets of the city that launches a weekend long velo celebration concluding with the 50K Tour de L'ile de Montréal which averages over 35,000 participants. Cyclists should check out La Maison de Velo, a clubhouse of sorts for the two pedal crowd, that also houses Velo Quebec, a nonprofit established to improve the cycling experience, both locally or through exceptional bike tours to every corner on earth.

Bixi in Minneapolis(© Jim Mone, AP Photo)
Once the stuff of urban legend, the winter bike commuter has grown to such great numbers that Bicycling Magazine just anointed Minneapolis the premier bike city in the U.S.A., displacing perennial top dog Portland, Ore. But it isn't just the bold and cold that garners status: Minneapolis possesses the 5.7-mile Midtown Greenway, a legitimate inner loop for cyclists, as well as the country's first Midtown Bike Center, with showers, storage and repair shop. There are bike loops around most of the city's lakes, as well as an urban plan to provide bike path access to every neighborhood by 2020. Minneapolis, too, will soon add its version of the Montréal Bixi program.

San Francisco
Hills don't deter more than 40,000 people who commute to work on bikes every day. No visit to the Bay Area is complete without taking an afternoon glide from Fisherman's Wharf over the Golden Gate Bridge and down into Sausalito. Two ferry services will take you back past Alcatraz. As in Portland, cyclists wield political influence here: The San Francisco Bike Coalition endorsed all City Supervisor candidates who went on to win, and schedules the country's most successful Critical Mass community rides, which have closed Interstate 80 on occasion.

Boulder bikes(© Kevin Arnold, Getty Images)
Boulder, Colo.
In 2009, 16 percent of all trips in Boulder were made on two wheels. Long a mountain biking hub, urban touring enjoys over 150 miles of bike paths and 200 miles of bike lanes -- not bad for a city of fewer than 95,000 people. Boulder politicians understand that creating a biking community requires infrastructure (according to the City of Boulder, almost 10 percent of its residents commute to work by bike), so 15 percent of the city's transportation budget in recent years has been dedicated to traffic improvements and maintenance with this aim.

The freeway may have potholes but hardcore rider Mayor Richard M. Daley is determined to make Chi-town the most bike-friendly city in North America, via his "Bike 2015" plan. Each year, new paths join the 315-miles of bikeways, which already include the "Lakefront Trail," one of America's great biking boulevards, along Lake Michigan. The McDonald's Cycle Center at Millennium Park provides commuters and visitors alike with a snack bar, showers, lockers and indoor bike parking. Mayor Daley often leads "Bike the Drive," an annual cycling festival.

San Diego city paths(Courtesy of the San Diego CVB)
San Diego
Recently usurped by Chicago as the best million-plus cycling city, San Diego provides a climate for year round rides on 850 miles of trails, including 300-miles of new trails built in the past two years. The Bayshore Bikeway, a 24-mile ocean-facing ride, is an essential activity for the active tourist, though the more ambitious can also climb into the surrounding mountains via several designated trails. Long considered an ideal training hub, San Diego provides a velodrome and the U.S. Olympic Training Center for America's best competitive cyclists.

Davis, Calif.
It's hard to ignore Davis, which joins Amsterdam in boasting more bikes than cars among its citizens. Davis' stature is even more impressive when we consider its bike boulevard -- including a recently added 7.5 million dollar bike tunnel under I-80 -- connecting this university town with Sacramento, the state's capital, 15 miles away. Close to 20 percent of all traffic here is of the two-wheeled variety, where pedaling denizens can tune into a local "Bike Talk" radio program to talk spokes once a week.

Bike Cities of the (Near) Future
Biking Boston(© Lisa Poole, AP Photo)
Before you type that angry email, I know the Hub has a long way to go to make cycling part of the status quo, not to mention safe, but putting a designated bike lane on Commonwealth Ave. is a great way to start. Mayor Menino has also given the nod to import Montréal's Bixi bike-share program, which will change everything.

In Cleveland, a non-profit is building the first velodrome east of the Rockies, folks can ride an 80-mile converted tow path to Akron, and a new system of bike paths linking all city neighborhoods will be implemented through the decade.

Separated Bike Lanes in Vancouver

Here is some positive cycling news and another good example of new types of successful cycling infrastructure. Vancouver, British Columbia, in response to an infrastructure-driven jump in ridership, is installing a new separated two-way bike corridor on their downtown Dunsmuir Street. The project itself, part of an eventual network of protected lanes, seems impressive enough. But as the videos below show, the would-be "greenest city in the world" absolutely nails the presentation.

In 2006, the Canadian Census reported that Vancouver's bike-to-work mode share increased to 4 per cent (the highest of Canada's largest cities and second highest for all Canadian cities).The experience of other cities suggests that perception of safety is essential to attracting more people to cycling and that separated bike lanes are perceived to be safer and more satisfying to cyclists than cycling next to traffic. The City of Vancouver is moving forward with separated bike lanes on existing bike routes in the downtown to connect key destinations, such as the central business district.

Bicycling in Minneapolis-They Are #1 for a Reason

One of my co-worker/commuter cyclist friend, is from Indiana and has family in the city of Minneapolis. I have read the articles and reports that have been coming out of Minneapolis raving about its success at getting people out of their cars and on bikes, but my friend sent me a link to their Midtown Greenway and it highlighted the great cycling culture that they are creating.
The Midtown Greenway is a 5.7-mile rail trail that consists of two one-way bike lanes and one two-way walking path, though they are combined in some places with space constrictions. The Greenway has been implemented and advanced by a grassroots nonprofit organization called the Midtown Greenway Coalition, that advocated for the Greenway trails to be put in by public agencies. The Coalition envisions a green urban pathway that provides the anchor for a regional, sustainable transportation network, and encourages healthy diverse communities to prosper, participate, and connect to the region. The Midtown Greenway features all-season, fast, safe, and pleasant walking, biking and rolling and vibrant sustainable greenspaces and plazas with opportunities for public art. Greenway edges offer access, safety, new public parks, economic opportunities, and streetcar transit. The Greenway culture has spread throughout the city to improve lives, neighborhoods, region, and the planet.

The Minneapolis Bicycle Program helps those who live and work in the city to use bicycles as a low polluting, cost-effective, and healthy way to travel. Minneapolis has been ranked as the best biking city in the country by Bicycling Magazine, as well as the #2 bicycling city in the nation by the US Census Bureau. Minneapolis has 43 miles of streets with dedicated bicycle lanes and 84 miles of off-street bicycle paths. The city has also been awarded with the League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly Community Award. Minneapolis is home to Nice Ride Minnesota, the Bike Walk Ambassadors, and the Midtown Bike Center.

Bicycle Sharing

Bike sharing allows individuals to check out bicycles for short trips. The local non-profit Nice Ride Minnesota operates Minneapolis’ bike sharing system. Individuals must purchase subscriptions to check out bicycles – these are offered at daily, monthly, and yearly rates. The sturdy bicycles are designed for everyday trips, featuring three speeds, comfortable seating, chain guard, basket, fenders, and built-in lights. Bike sharing provides residents and visitors with a healthy, fun, different way to get around town.

700 bicycles are located at 65 kiosks in Downtown Minneapolis, the University of Minnesota, and nearby commercial areas. View the real-time map to see bicycle availability.

Planning Continues for Bikeway Building Boom

Minneapolis is experiencing a bikeway building boom. During the 2010 construction season 40 miles of bikeways will be built. Most of the changes will be striping and signing on-street bike lanes (about 25 miles). There will also several new bike boulevards (about 10 miles). The remaining 5 miles will be separate off-street bike paths.

To see the location of the projects, view the Minneapolis Bikeways: Existing, Funded, & Planned (pdf) map or New Projects website for individual project details.

It is apparent that the high ranks and awards that have been bestowed upon Minneapolis have been well justified, and that they haven't slowed down on their mission of getting more people on bikes. It is a good example of how other cities and states can make the progressive move in advancing their bike programs.

Clif Bar 2 Mile Challenge

40% of all urban travel in the US happens within 2 miles, and 90% of that is by car. Fight climate change simply by riding your bike. I appreciate that long ago the automobile changed the way the world works; but like anything, it’s best in moderation.
Clif Bar has created a game to see how many car trips we could replace with a bike instead. Join the ride and take the 2 MILE CHALLENGE
Clif Bar is giving away $100,000! To highlight their commitment to bike advocacy and the fight against climate change, CLIF BAR is awarding a $25,000 grant to each of three nonprofit organizations (Alliance for Biking and Walking, Trips for Kids, and Ace Space) that are helping to lead the charge.
They’ve assigned each organization to a 2 Mile Challenge team: Red, Gold and Blue. All you have to do is register, pick your team and start pedaling your bike to earn points and move the goodness forward. The winning team will earn its nonprofit an additional $25,000 grant!

Orlando Mountain Bike Park Clean Up Day

Saturday, July 10th is the first work day for the Orlando Mtn. Bike Park. They need as much help as they can get, to turn the picture to the left, into a trail and park that everyone can go to and ride.

If you need directions, please check out the map link below. Also, please RSVP at the Facebook Event page. Please come out and show your support. This is an important event to show the City of Orlando that the community WANTS this park!

Event details:

Become a Savvy Cyclist!

Monday night, July 12 from 6:00 to 9:00 at the Florida Safety Council for the classroom portion of Florida Bicycle Association’s 9-hour CyclingSavvy course.  This will be your last opportunity to take the course for free; in the future it will cost $30.  For details, go here:

Long-time cycling journalist John Schubert (Bicycling Magazine, Adventure Cyclist) wrote of CyclingSavvy:
“Before you nod off to sleep, take heed.  I am well aware of the bad rap education has received.  Visualize a middle-aged guy with a pot belly filling out his jersey spending way too much time explaining gearing to a bored audience before launching into that overly sincere “bicycles are vehicles” speech.  Now imagine the gearing lecture all gone and the speech replaced by interactive teaching methods that truly engage the students. … Experience has shown that it’s difficult to sell the concept of traffic cycling, but after seeing how Caffrey, Wilson, and the FBA succeeded in Key West, I dare say they have cracked the code.” (Link to article

Mighk Wilson
Smart Growth Planner
One Landmark Center 315 East Robinson Street Suite 355 Orlando, Florida 32801  
P: (407) 481-5672 Ext. 318
F: (407) 481-5680

Oakland Closes Streets For Oaklavia

I have been posting about every Ciclovia type event that I hear about happening here in the states. The concept is most closely associated with Bogotá, Colombia, but can be done anywhere that has teh political will to attempt it. The general idea is to temporarily close down some streets to cars and allow people to take over with various activities (cycling, walking, dancing, sports, music, etc...). Over the past few years, the idea has spread to many other cities all around the world, including Oakland, which held its first 'Oaklavia' by closing down 2 miles of streets on June 27th. It was a great success! Check out the video below. Via Streetfilms. Can anyone tell me why a place like Orlando can't host an event like this.

Hal's Orlando Bike Lane Survey

The founder of the Lakemont Ride here in Orlando, Hal Downing, has a great weekly newsletter that goes out to over 2200 cyclists and advocates in the Orlando area. Hal has become a board member of the Central Florida Bike Association and posed the question below about bike lanes. He posted the responses in last week's newsletter. You can read for yourself, but it appears that most riders want bike lanes and want more of them.  

What did you think about bike lanes?  When last we met, we asked you to say whether you liked or disliked bike lanes.  You werent shy heres just some of the responses:
a.      I’m against the actual lane itself but I am for what they generally require which is a wider lane or shoulder to be constructed than the older narrower 2 lane road designs provided. So get rid of the white stripe but still provide the road width.
b.      . . . segregated bike lanes are nothing but debris collectors since motorists will generally steer clear of them. This in turn allows normal roadway junk to accumulate in the lanes instead of being cleared out by a car’s tires like happens on an un-marked road. I’ve always preferred wider road lanes with “share the road” signs.
c.      I support bike lanes.  When I was commuting to work (WP to John Young/Sand Lake), I did 5 miles or so on South Orange Avenue in the bike lane and it was peace-of-mind riding.  I could get a good sprint in and didn't have to negotiate where I was going to ride vis-a-vis car traffic.  Kind of a Detente.  Without the bike lane on Orange, I may have not been able to do the commute.  So let's not throw the baby out with the bath water.  

d.      I am for bike lanes; they do encourage people to ride.

e.      I have no doubt that my incident with the car last year (even from what the driver told me) was directly related to us riding on the shoulder, out of direct visibility.  Drivers, especially oncoming are looking in the lane and it wasn't super light out and he was a bit distracted, so combine that with not even thinking to look at the side of the road and you have him cutting us off.

Another example, last night on the UCF ride we were riding down Lockwood single file in the bike lane or shoulder or whatever it is there and this huge pickup truck pulled up directly in front of us and turned right in front of us.  We had to all jam on our brak
es and barely avoided a collision.  Drivers just don't view us, relegated to the side of the road, as in the road -- I think they just assume that we're going slow and will stop / yield to them as if we are pedestrians.

f.      I like and hope to see more bike lanes. I just don't want to be restricted to ride there.

g.      I like bike lanes sometimes but need to be able to choose when to use them and when to take the lane. What I HATE are sharrows no one knows what they mean . . .

h.      I'll admit to having a love/hate relationship with bike lanes. Where I live, Kissimmee/SW Orlando, there are streets with wonderful, wide, smooth bike lanes [Orange Blossom Trail, the new construction of John Young Parkway, some of the subdivisions] there are areas with narrow, broken, rubbish strewn shoulders/bike lanes [yes, some of the debris filled areas ARE bike lanes-parts of International Drive, south end of Edgewater] and there are roads with NOTHING, roads that slope off into gravel, sand or grass [most of JYP down this way, residential parts of Osceola County].

My personal preference is for a designated bike lane
. . ..  Where there are bike lanes that are safe, I use them, I love them. I wish every road had a decent bike lane.

Of course, I do 90% of my riding alone or with one fellow rider.

Do I feel bicyclists should have to ride in the lane, when in groups, or at other times? No, I like to think we are smart enough to do what is safe and will have minimal impact on vehicular traffic. When I ride with the SC, 12-18 of us, or with Let's Ride, we ride paceline, double pace line, meandering and talking, depending on where we are, how far into the ride,
if there are any cars around, weather and road conditions.

i.      I like the wide shoulders of the rural roads in Lake county as along routes 19 and 33 but they are not designated bike lanes. In an urban environment I prefer the middle of lane. Bike lanes are only slightly better than sidewalks! And I don't go there. 

j.      I stand in full favor of bike lanes and any other bike facility that is designed correctly for their appropriate situations. Bike lanes help provide a greater comfort level in riding with traffic and in turn get more riders out on the roads. Statistics have shown that more riders on the roads make cars more aware of the cyclists and creates a safer environment for them.  Making everyone ride in the road won’t get more kids, elderly, new riders, etc… out on bikes. We have to provide for all users and create the possibility of future users. Watching a video of someone successfully riding down 436 without getting hit isn’t going to entice many sane people to get out and try it. 

k.      I have two main points regarding the use of bikes lanes and avoiding accidents on the road:

(1) We have a societal issue with the lack of acceptance of many motorists as to the place cyclists have on the road.  I cycle almost every Sunday in Clermont with a group of 50+ riders and we typically get one or two drivers passing us in close fashion.  Forget 3 feet, it's more like 3 inches.  Our group is very conscientious and communicates "car back" so that we can get as single file as possible when a vehicle is behind us. 
A small percentage of drivers do not believe we should be in the road in the first place.

What I believe we have here is the general perception that cyclists do not belong on the road and that we are "in the way" and forcing motorists to slow down for a few minutes.  In America, this is cause for outrage.  In Europe, this is seen as "what's wrong with these crazy Americans."  Europeans perceive us as "spoiled" because our roads are twice as wide and have significantly fewer issues.  However, in the USA some believe we have the right to fast cars and fast roads and anything
that slows that down is a problem.  The American public needs to be educated on the great roads we have in the USA, and that sharing the use of the road is truly American.

I use the West Orange Trail during the week, but on Sundays with a group of riders going 22-mph it is just not suitable for us to use the bike trail.  We would wreck with any on-coming cyclists, or runners, or roller-skaters.  The bike trail is simply not designed for large groups.

(2) Bike lanes are very good and I believe the more we have the better.  At the very least they allow cyclists room to maneuver when necessary
. . ..  Shoulders are also good, but it is best to have BOTH a bicycle lane AND a shoulder so that the bike lane is not sloping at an angle and road debris can be pushed out of the bike lane and toward the shoulder.

Only a cyclist knows how much debris resides in the bike lane.  As a motorist you cannot see it, which is another perception issue.  The last thing I want is to run over
is glass, nails, and shaved metal pieces from car accidents when I am 40 miles from where I started my ride and it's 90 degrees outside.

My recommendation is mandatory bikes lines on all new roads and resurface projects, especially Hartwood-Marsh Road between Winter Garden and Clermont which has neither a bike lane nor a shoulder and is used by 100's of riders every weekend.
l.      Friction between motorists and bicyclists needs to be abated. One way to do it is to provide areas for cars and for bikers separate from each other. When there are enough pedalers on the side of the road, drivers will become aware and be attentive to the bikes sharing the roadway. That they are in a separate bike lane will not hinder their safety, rather will enhance the sharing of the roadway. Bike lanes will emphasize to motorist that bikes belong.
That said, bicyclists need to move with traffic in many situations, such as making left turns or on narrow-lane roadways. The key is to coordinate with motorists, not compete. Coordination with motorists includes allowing faster vehicles to move ahead when safe.

m.      As a bike commuter and road cyclist in Orlando since 1986 I feel bike lanes are a huge improvement over not having them.  I agree that in the downtown urban areas with parking areas on the right side of the bike lanes, they can be dangerous if the cyclist thinks he has the right away and is careless.  I have been hit by 9 cars in one way or another while commuting in Daytona before 1986 when there were no bike lanes and of course I was younger and believed that I had my right to the road.  So I am very familiar with many different ways a car and cyclist can cross paths.  I have also had my share of having a gun fired a foot from my head, hit with sticks, beer bottles, big gulps, and all sorts of trash.  I have even had a car of six guys run me off the road and beat the crap out of me in Daytona.

Since I moved to Orlando in 1986 and had to support a family I have ridden as if I don’t have the right of way and I haven’t been hit once in easily over 100,000 miles of commuting and training on roads around central Florida.  There are many rural roads like through Montverde and down SR33 where I used to cringe every time I heard a truck coming from behind; with the bike lane, I don’t worry at all
Now if you are speaking of group riding, which was never the intent of bike lanes, then those with only experience riding in groups will not view riding in bike lanes as a positive idea.  When I lead a training ride of up to ten riders we easily stay within the bike lane and use maybe one foot of the road in addition to the lane while doing a rotating paceline.  So for training groups of skilled riders, bike lanes are still very positive and worth having.

In summary, bike lanes are our best option to deal with traffic.  I do not agree with any law that says it is safer for 100 riders to be single file on roads . . ..  It is safer for everyone and easier for cars to pass when 100 riders are tightly packed using the entire lane making the length of pass very short in comparison.

n.      I believe, overall, they are a good thing because it means the county planners are at least thinking about creating wider roads which ultimately is a good thing for cyclists.  There is nothing worse than a 2 way country road with no bike lanes or shoulders.  Although we try to stay as far to the right as possible (especially when a car approaches from the rear), it is creates a dangerous pass for vehicles whether they are cyclist friendly or not.  Also, bike lanes creates an overall greater awareness to a motorist that there may be cyclists present.

The problem, however is the following:  “Bike lanes” are not of consistent width nor quality, and frequently contain impediments (potholes, glass, sand etc) that require cyclists to move in and out of them I remember riding on Kennedy Blvd between the I-4 overpass and Forest City Road.  The “bike lane” was a joke, chock full of sand, glass, etc that made riding a road bike  in the bike lane completely impractical.  As I was riding to the left of the bike lane, an angry motorist screamed at me to get in the bike lane.  This was simply not an option for me, given the conditions.  With the new legislation that just passed, motorists will be more inclined to feel that cyclists have no rights to the road, only the bike lanes.  This reduction in our rights will cause even more arguments,  “bullying” and ultimately accidents between motorists and cyclists. 

Unfortunately, there are 2 distinct issues here that may be counter-productive to each other.  Creating more bike lanes -  good thing; passing legislation that ultimately erodes cyclists’ rights to the road – bad thing.   One thing should not be confused with the other, which apparently has occurred.

o.      [Bike lanes] help remind motorists to share the road.  We all need to heed our mothers' advice and be polite and respectful. 

p.      I think we are sending a mixed message. First we want [bike lanes], then we do not. We want roads to be wide enough to accommodate the bikes yet we want to ride in the middle of the road. Yes, I understand the need to be seen and the importance of the driver turning into us. However, this is just educating and making the driver aware of the cyclists' rights on the road. To me, lanes are needed. Over the past years, we have convinced planners to add bike lanes so to now say we don't need them is sending the wrong message.  In group rides, riding two abreast will not block the road If anything, the bike lane will provide relief so only one rider is in the actual road. So many times, there are no lanes.  In this case, there is no way for the cars to go around except to slow down and wait until the traffic clears. To have a bike lane is so much safer for the general type of riders out there.  Adding bike lanes is a start. To now say we don't need them is the wrong message to send.

Rickenbacker Causeway Update

One of my good friends and fellow cyclist, Steve, came up from Miami for the 4th of July weekend. He shared with me some great news from South Florida about the Rickenbacker Causeway, and he had some good things to say about riding conditions here in Orlando.

First the Orlando news. He and his girlfriend went out for a few training rides out they commented that the drivers here in Orlando were some of the nicest that they had ridden around. Every car that they encountered yielded to them, waved them through intersections, and even gave them friendly waves or honks. They said that most drivers in Miami are pretty rude and they had even experienced some drivers being aggressive toward them, just for being on bikes. Ir made me pretty proud of our city, for acting pollitely to my guests and toward cyclists.

The news from South Florida came from the community meeting in Coral Gables, about the Rickenbacker Causeway and the improvements that they are planning to improve cycling there. Below is the official update from the meeting.
Excellent turnout at the community meeting in Coral Gables this afternoon. A great deal of information was revealed concerning the potential future of the Rickenbacker Causeway. Basically the county wishes to allocate 25 cents of every toll collected to proposed projects promoting pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

Here's a summary of projects:

  • "Bike Only" lane at toll plaza will be 365 days a year, no longer available to motorists during hours of high volume traffic.
  • PWD will conduct and evaluate results of speed study in order to determine whether the speed limits need to be modified and implement necessary signage changes. Volume and speed test will commence after July 4th.
  • Installation of permanent electronic ''Your Speed'' information signs/speed radar light boards along causeway, which will alert vehicles to their traveling speeds.
  • Re-design width, and restripe Crandon Boulevard vehicle travel lanes, from the east end of Bear Cut Bridge to the Village limits, inbound and outbound (north/south side), widen existing width of the dedicated bike path. Both 12' car lanes will be reduced to 11' thus widening the 5' bike path to 7'.
  • Multi-use trail along north side of causeway from Bear Cut Bridge to William Powell Bridge. Cyclists can use Mast Academy signal to cross causeway, then use aforementioned path to reach Sewer Beach Road. (Rusty Pelican / Marine Stadium)
  • Re-design, widen to 12', stripe, and sign the existing ped-path/bike lane beginning at the north side (outbound travel) of the West Bridge bike underpass (along condominium wall/I-95 north/south flyover ramp) to Brickell Avenue.
  • SunPass only lanes will be added with a barrier at the entrance to Key Biscayne. The county emphasized that SunPass lanes would not encourage speeding and stated "the Rickenbacker is a causeway NOT an expressway".
  • Modify lanes leading into the toll plaza on SE 26 Road/Rickenbacker Causeway from Brickell Avenue through the toll facility to Hobie Island, to accommodate and improve access to bicycle lanes.
  • Design and install a cyclist/pedestrian traffic light crossing at Hobie Island (Windsurfer Beach). The installation of a traffic light, striping, and signage will allow cyclists to turn from Eastbound to Westbound prior to reaching the toll plaza. (Cyclists will no longer be allowed to make a U-turns near the toll plaza, they will be expected to make U-Turns at new light crossing or under the West Bridge. Expect this enforced Winter/Spring 2011.)
The reception from cyclists/pedestrians was mostly positive with the exception of a few concerned with the potential of the SunPass only lanes encouraging speeding. Also, some "group ride" cyclists were not too fond of U-turns being prohibited at the toll. The proposed traffic light also raised some eyebrows as it can make stopping after the swift westward decent off the William Powell Bridge a bit of a challenge.

More info here.