20's Plenty For Us

20's Plenty For Us from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

In residential areas, lowering the speed limit for cars not only reduces the number of accidents, injuries and deaths, but it also revitalizes the neighborhood by encouraging more people to walk and bike. When people feel safe on the streets, they use greener forms of transportation more often. That's the main argument of the 20's Plenty for Us campaign in the UK, and looking at the results in areas where the 20 MPH speed limit was implemented, it looks like they are right. Via StreetFilms, 20's Plenty for Us (UK site).

E-Bikes On the Way

I have been doing a lot of work on projects in China lately, and a new mode of transportation has been added to my palette of design options. The electric bike (e-bike) has been a growing form of transportation in our new "green" culture. 120 million e-bikes in China as of early 2010, and sales are expanding rapidly in India and the Netherlands. The “Electric Bikes Worldwide Reports – 2010 Update” estimates that 1,000,000 electric bicycles will be sold in Europe in 2010. The same report estimates that sales in the U.S. will reach roughly 300,000 in 2010, doubling the number sold in 2009.

Last night as I was heading to dinner in Winter Park, I am sitting at a stop light, and a bike pulls up in the left turn lane. I didn't even think twice about it. I just thought it was cool to see a cyclist hitting Mills Ave. Of course my surprise was when the light turns green and the guy on the bike takes off and his feet aren't moving at all. Oh yeah, he had an e-bike and was cruising at about 15mph through the streets of Winter Park. It leaves one to ponder; Is he a cyclist? Is that good for the bike community? Is it really "green"? Would I ride one if it was given to me?...

The first question was an easy one. I have a somewhat purest idea about whom and what a cyclist is. If one has a DUI and can't drive, and is left to only bike around town, I don't consider them a cyclist, only a bike rider. Same goes for folks that do any other type of biking out of necessity and then drive everywhere else and never ride a bike just for fun or for simple transportation. On the same note though, any attempt that I see to get more people on the roads and on bikes and out of cars does make me want to grow the tent and pull them all in.

The other questions are interesting ones. These e-bikes are going to push the bike extremists to the edge. Do these e-bikes get to use bike facilities? How will we design for these new vehicles on the road? These e-bikes do become stepping stones for electric vehicles, since it creates a routine of plugging a vehicle in everywhere you go, increases the need for charging stations, and increases battery and clean energy technology for higher demand. Asian countries have seen the transition between the e-bikes to e-cars at a much higher rate than anything that our gas loving countries have experienced.

I would definitely ride an e-bike around out of curiosity, but I do enjoy riding my bike for the physical exercise and calming effect that experience from it. Unless I had a ridiculously long commute, which I don't, I wouldn't buy one of these. It seems to completely take the recreation aspect out of riding a bike. I would rather see these on the road than gas guzzling Hummers or SUVs, so if they catch on, I hope they do so in a way that will help reduce our country's dependency on oil and will reduce roadway speeds and make things safer for the rest of us on "real bikes". I believe that if these e-bikes add to the population of commuter cyclists, it will make it safer for all bike commuters, since I believe whole heartily that more bikes=more safety. There is safety in numbers and e-bikes could help bring those numbers up for us, while we wait for things like bike sharing, special facilities, and a complete streets style to our infrastructure.

Guerrilla Art for Bike Advocacy

I just got through reading the Bike to Work Book.  It will hopefully encourage lots of newbies to try bicycle commuting. Could the same task be achieved with just this one pic?
'This one runs on fat & saves you money' by Peter Drew of Adelaide

It’s by artist Peter Drew. It’s guerrilla stencilling. Here’s one of his car/bike-parking stencils:

Bike Parking by Peter Drew of Adelaide

Artist Peter Drew of Adelaide


Thing is, who will the stencil messages reach? Drivers likely won’t see them, except when they’re pedestrians. Existing cyclists will like them for sure, confirming their mode of transportation has two noteworthy merits. But I think the biggest potential for Drew’s images isn’t in downtown streets: it’s on blogs, it’s on t-shirts, it’s on viral emails. His artwork - which will be copied and adapted - could go viral, passed along by cyclists but reaching a non-cycling audience.

Many of the recipients won’t care. Such imagery may be laughable to some; offensive to others. But for some people, an image like this can be the tipping point. Below is a funny video from Portland that shows other guerrilla art with Mario Kart symbols in the bike lanes. Bold imagery can work wonders. Peter Drew’s images - and others like them - can flick switches in the brain. We need more of these switch flickers.

London Cycling Design Standards

Most of my time at work and in researching bikeway planning and design is spent happy and excited in finding out what other places in the world are doing to make cycling a safe, efficient, and preferred mode of transportation. There is another chunk of my time that is spent in utter frustration at my own city and country in why we aren't willing to embrace such simple solutions to our bike culture regression.

In some of my meetings with the New York transportation officials, they mentioned that their main case study was the city of London and their Design Standards. I have been delving into their strategies and my mixed emotions were again surfaced.

The adjacent graph summed up how simple bike planning can be. My biggest adversaries to bike facilities, typically ask why we are proposing the particular bike facilities in certain locations. The graph simply explains how car speed and volume, regulate when and where to implement certain facilities. I am always the first to try to calm traffic and keep bikes in travel lanes, but in good conscience I cannot put bikes in direct contact with automobiles when speeds and volumes are higher than most people would feel comfortable riding in. Things can be as simple as riding a bike, and America needs to look at the successes of other countries to see where they can crib the solutions and reap the results.

Transportation Alternatives - Bike Rules!

One of my biggest role models for advocacy has always been the Transportation Alternatives organization in New York. While I was visiting there, I found that their office was only one block away from my office and I was lucky enough to attend several of their events and presentations. TA has helped push the bike/ped culture that New York has suddenly gotten in the past few years. They helped implement 200 miles of bike facilities in the past 3 years and proposed 50 miles/year in the future.

Above is a video from their Bike Rules! campaign, from their executive director Paul Steely White. He sums up my thoughts exactly. I personally donated to their organization and received one of their "One Less Car" t-shirts. The money only goes to help New York cyclists, but I figure that by helping them, I may be helping to set a national precedence and get this type of treatment implemented here in Orlando.

Guerrilla Bike Lane In Baltimore

As I was cruising the internet today, I came across this interesting project that was implemented last month. guerrilla bike lanes have popped up in a few cities where cyclists and advocates have stepped up and put the power in their own hands to get the bike facilities that they so desire. Not to say that bike lanes are the best solution for all cases, but they do narrow traffic lanes which slows traffic speeds, and it creates awareness to motorists that bikes may be present. I only wonder what the officials will start doing when advocates start painting protected bike lanes or stripping complete lanes away. Maybe then they will see that the public does have a desire for more livable transportation solutions.

Check out the video of their work here: Guerrilla Bike Lane from Roving Media Productions on Vimeo.

In the middle of the night, on Monday, July the 26th (or more correctly, the morning of the 27th) a group of activist artists made a bold statement on the streets of Baltimore. They left behind a bike lane, stencil art, and their manifesto which reads:

"The Guerrilla Bike Lane arose from a desire to express ourselves and our passion for an escalating need to reduce the use of fossil fuels. We seek to promote and establish fair and safe riding conditions for cyclists in Baltimore. The intention of our guerrilla artwork is to educate the public using environmentally friendly and creative means in a non-aggressive way. We hope this will serve as a catalyst for people to see and build the community within the city, to consciously take action instead of settling for an inactive way of life."

Where will the GBL gang strike next? Only time will tell.

Mayor Bloomburg Pushes for Bike Sharing in NYC

Biking in New York City has been growing at a good clip in recent years, something that the local authorities have been encouraging with new infrastructure and policies. But something in missing from NYC's bike culture: a bike-sharing program. That might be about to change thanks to a proposal by Mayor Bloomberg and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

The New York City bike share proposal would begin with 10,500 bikes, and quickly expand to 49,000 two-wheelers. The city is already home to several private bike rental companies, so the streets are already being flooded with tourists exploring the city by bike. By providing inexpensive alternatives for local residents and visitors to use, the amount of ridership in the city could quadruple and push 5+%.

The main complaints of the proposal is about accommodating more bike parking, reducing bike theft, and educating riders and drivers about the rules of the road. For all the complaints about rogue bike riders, the city says the dramatic reshaping of roads to accommodate riders is calming traffic. Traffic counts and studies are revealing that the notion of more bikes=safer bikes and pedestrians. One study found that after a car lane was eliminated and travel lanes for bicycles were added near Allen and Delancey streets, pedestrian injuries dropped 54 percent compared to the six prior years.

With most debates, there are "two sides to every story" and, after following cyclists going the wrong way or talking to people who have witnessed bike accidents, raises the question "is it a good idea to add more bikes to New York's streets?". Of course, they'd never follow around car drivers who don't follow the law or talk to victims of car accidents and ask "is it a good idea to add more cars to New York's streets?". There's always a double-standard about bikes...

The real solution to delinquent cyclists is not to reduce the number of riders, but rather to educate them about how to ride safely, to create infrastructure that makes it easy to do so, and to enforce the laws that already exist. Cities like Copenhagen have a lot more cyclists per capita than New York and their streets are enviably sane.

It's not yet clear when that program would launch and where the first stations would be, but it appears that NYC's bike culture is about to get even better.

Bicycles as Transport-From Alternative to Mainstream

Last week was so busy and full of cool things in the cycling world, that I don't know what to share first. I think that I have to go with the best and share some of the other findings in later posts.

The AIA Center for Architecture has an exhibit called Our Cities Ourselves: The Future of Transportation In Urban Life, and last Thursday they had a guest panel give a presentation on Bicycles as Transport-From Alternative to Mainstream. The main goal of their presentation was to show that bicycles represent among most sustainable forms of personal transportation. Cities such as Amsterdam and Munich have integrated the bicycle as a key component of transportation modes, and have developed infrastructure, regulatory, and cultural changes as a part of this shift.

The main presentation was broken up into 5 main points, but was prefaced by the statistical data that the NYCDOT has been collecting since it started implementing the City's new bike infrastructure. They have created 200 miles of new bike facilities and plan on doing a minimum of 50 miles/year from now on. Their data showed that crashes have gone down 56% and volume is up 66%. They said that these stats were accomplished by designing safer streets and by increasing the ridership, increasing the awareness of the drivers.

This set up their first point, which was Protection. They didn't want to just put bike lanes on streets, but instead embraced the European and Portland models of road infrastructure. They have concluded that if they can get the ridership numbers up, that the crash statistics will automatically go down because of safety in numbers.

Their next point was to provide Bike Sharing. The goal for NYC is to get a system similar to Paris and have access to trains, buses, and bikes, all on the same Metro-Card. They felt that the bike rental program that is in the city right now is already a success and is a model that shows that adding more riders at all levels of experience and familiarity to the city hasn't been an issue because of the extent of their protected bike facilities.

Parking was the third topic and was the one that I had personally experienced. The city is already introducing hundreds of new bike racks and they are strategizing around metro stops to add new bike corals. They are struggling with the option to build bike lockers or bike stations, because they have such little available land and they are also limited underground because of the amount of utility infrastructure underground. They also emphasized their progress with passing the new legislation that required buildings with freight elevators to allow bike access and that any new or renovated buildings be required to add indoor bike parking and access.

The fourth point was Civic Bike Culture. The different city and advocate groups are trying to work together to build a better name for cycling and to push following the existing rules and get all user types out on the streets and on bikes. They are also working with businesses to create a "bike friendly business" program, that would allow businesses that participate to get a window sticker and give discounts to customers that come in on bikes.

The last point was a blend of the last point and was simply People. They are trying to shift the public opinion of cycling through marketing and sponsored events/rides. It again kept going back to the ultimate premise of the strength and safety in numbers and getting the ridership numbers as high as possible.

Orlando Bike/Pedestrian Meeting Recap

Even though I am not physically in Orlando to participate in this month's Bike/Ped Meetig, I was there in spirit and got a full recap from my friend Geoff. Below is his take from the meeting. It looks like Orlando is making the propoer steps to become a bike/ped oriented city. It feels like good things are on the horizon.

Geoff says-
Wow there was a lot of activity at the meeting today. A large crowd and many agenda items, including;

The Gertrude's Walk plan (they were planning bollards and landscape planters were suggested as an alternate)

A bike share program (Bike About USA), who runs the new Denver program, would center around the Sunrail stations, commuters would be a primary customer.

CITY ARTS FACTORY - The bike kitchen: The August "what moves you" program. Grand opening next Thursday Aug 19th, 6-9pm. Greg Liebowitz is partnering with the Rusted Chain and hopes after the City Arts run is over to keep the project going permanently. Possible connection to the city mountain bike park where there is a spare building.

CITY MOUNTAIN BIKE PARK: Public hearing w the city council next Tues Aug 17 8:30 am... one nearby resident is opposing the 16 acre project. Recommended for advocates to show up and voice our support for the project.

Kenneth Nuckols is looking to open a Bike Commuter Station in downtown, called The Spoke Stop. It will be located on a Lymmo line and be a for-profit business.

Cyclovia - The Sunday Parkway project: Tentative date is March 13, the route is 11.9 miles long, Robinson to McGuire to Bennett to Corrine to Orange and back downtown. Would be for all pedestrian, bike, rollerblade/skate people, highlighting local business districts along the route.

I was unable to stay for the training presentations about Cycling Savvy and Bike 101... I'll attempt to get a recap and share that soon.

It's really great that so many cool bike things are happening in Orlando, NOW is the time to get involved in something and make some of these great ideas successful realities.

Start with the Bike Kitchen opening next Thursday night 6-10 at the City Arts Factory... all you have to do to contribute to the success is just show up!!!

Another Contraflow Lane Opens in DC

DDOT just activated the new contraflow bike lanes on the two blocks of New Hampshire Avenue connecting from U Street. Cyclists traveling against the flow of car traffic now have separate lanes in which to travel all the way to the crossroads of U Street, 16th Street, and New Hampshire Avenue.

At the intersection, DDOT has installed special bike traffic lights to allow cyclists to cross into the bike-boxes ahead of the queues of car traffic waiting on Sixteenth Street. (See the green bike-boxes ahead of the stop lines in the diagram below.)  Click HERE for the District's New Intersection Design user brochure.
This is a pilot project for DDOT and there are a few kinks to work out. First, the bike signals are not placed in ideal positions. Look carefully at southwest corner of the diagram above. Notice that a cyclist stopped at the stop line on New Hampshire Avenue does not directly face a bike signal. The cyclist must know to look to the right and to look up to heights that are unusual for bike signage.

In much of the world, bike signals are placed five to seven feet above the ground. Even if the signals cannot be located to other poles, lowering them on their existing poles could help.

Second, there are induction loops embedded in the pavement to sense a waiting cyclist but there's no indication that cyclists should wait exactly at the stop line in order to trip the sensor. While filming, we pulled to the curb to stop and failed to trip the sensor.

This is merely the first step in DDOT's plan to reconfigure the intersection, which suffers a high number of pedestrian injuries. Until now, these two blocks of New Hampshire Avenue have been the missing link between the New Hampshire Avenue bike lanes and Sixteenth Street and the bike lanes on T and V Streets (eastbound and westbound, respectively).

Be Spoke at Museum of Art and Design

Our apartment while I am working up in New York just happens to be at Columbus Circle, which has me at the southern end of Central Park and a major hub for people riding down Broadway and along the main arteries of the city. it also puts me across the street from the Museum of Art and Design and across from their current exhibition called Be Spoke. Be Spoke is displaying some of the best examples of these custom built bikes and they provide any bike fan enough eye candy to last a good while.

This exhibition features the designs of six internationally renowned bicycle builders who have authored some of the most revolutionary developments in their craft. Through their manipulation of steel, aluminum and titanium, these artisans produce racing bicycles for champion athletes, mountain and cyclocross bicycles for negotiating vertiginous terrain, urban bicycles for stylishly transporting commuters, and elegantly stripped down bicycles for epic journeys.

In the past, bicycles were often crafted by hand to precisely fit a rider's measurements and tastes. In the 1980s and 1990s the demand for handbuilt bicycles was eclipsed by the popularity of factory-produced racing bikes endorsed by star cyclists. Custom frame builders had to contend with a new and booming market for mass-manufactured mountain bikes. Over the past decade, renewed interest in craft, coupled with a rising social movement favoring the durable over the disposable and supporting cycling's physical and environmental benefits, has contributed to a revival of handbuilt bicycles and fostered a new generation of artisans and clientele.

Bespoke Builders
Mike Flanigan, Alternative Needs Transportation (A.N.T.), Holliston, MA.
Jeff Jones, Jeff Jones Custom Bicycles, Medford, OR
Dario Pegoretti, Pegoretti Cicli, Caldonazzo, Italy
Richard Sachs, Richard Sachs Cycles, Warwick, MA
Peter Weigle, JP Weigle Cycles, Lyme, CT
Sacha White, Vanilla Bicycles, Portland, OR

New York Summer Streets

There are several bike rides and cycling events that I have on my must see/do. Needless to say that New York's Summer Streets is one of them. Summer Streets is the temporary closing of Park Avenue and connecting streets from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park to motor vehicles and open it up to people on three consecutive Saturdays in August (August 7, 14, & 21). We went out yesterday to see how this year's event was going, and we were not disappointed.

This year's event kicked off with a fun run, had a "Joy Ride" where groups of cyclists ride with music playing from their bikes, stages with exercise classes, and they even had what they termed Micro Sea but it was simply dumpster pools. They also had bike valets from Transportation Alternatives, free bike rentals, free rollerblade rentals, free picnic from Whole Foods, and tons of activities for kids and adults alike. 

We are going to check it out again next week and do some riding. There is no other way to experience the city like this. 90+ blocks of closed streets on Park Avenue. Awesome!

Colorado Gubernatorial Candidate, Warns Of U.N. Plot To Destroy America With Bike-Sharing Programs

I have stated before that I hate to mix politics into my blog, but when it impacts cycling, I can't resist. I saw this on Huffington Post and thought I would share.

This week, former Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) "made good on his threat" to jump into the race for the Colorado statehouse after a prolonged temper tantrum about how unsatisfied he is with the GOP's two candidates for the nomination, Scott McInnis and Dan Maes. Tancredo -- who will run under the auspices of the American Constitution Party -- immediately threw the GOP's designs on the governor's race into stunning disarray: polls indicate that Tancredo would divide the state's conservatives nearly in half, paving the way for a John Hickenlooper victory.

Dan Maes, however, isn't going down without a fight, and has apparently decided to go all out in competition for Tancredo's natural constituency -- ridiculous xenophobes. So, what crazy paranoia over the creeping menace of foreigners is Maes fearmongering about? The Denver Post reports:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes is warning voters that Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper's policies, particularly his efforts to boost bike riding, are "converting Denver into a United Nations community."

I'm sorry, what?

"This is all very well-disguised, but it will be exposed," Maes told about 50 supporters who showed up at a campaign rally last week in Centennial.

Okay, here's the mystery that Maes alone has penetrated. Denver is a member in something called the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives. They've been a member since 1992. It is an "international association that promotes sustainable development." One of the things that contributes to sustainability and an overall pleasant quality of life is a bike-sharing program called "B-Cycle" which has taken donations and grant monies to make 400 bicycles available for the residents of Denver to tool around on when the spirit moves them. Hickenlooper has praised the program so Maes is trying to make the case that it's a UN plot to deprive people of "freedom."

Also, as Charlie Eisenhood points out over at ThinkProgress, maybe this is the Obamacare of bicycles, or something?

Just last week, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood -- a former Republican member of Congress -- visited Denver, strapped on a helmet to take a bike ride through town, and called the bicycle-sharing program "a model for America."

So, in other words, Dan Maes is deeply, unquenchably crazy. But will he be able to out cray-cray Tancredo? Westword's Michael Roberts offers Maes some suggestions on where to go from here, including doing something about Denver-area "Best Buy outlets still selling TV remotes with SAP buttons, nefariously promoting languages other than 'Merican."

London Gets Bicycle Rental Stations

London's new bicycle rental system is being launched this week. It is called Barclays Cycle Hire, named after the same bank that sponsored the Cycle Super Highways and sponsors the rental stations for £25M. It is modeled after Montreal's Bixi. 6,000 bicycles have been built at Devinci Cycles in Batgotville Quebec. Even though they are not British-made, these cycles are built to last. In fact they are built like two-wheeled tanks: they weigh 50 lbs., so that they can't be vandalized easily. They have three gears so serious riders will pass them by with disdain.

The bicycles have been specially modified for the London user with 43 changes from the Montreal cycles. The lights stay on for 2 minutes after pedaling stops. This means that they are illuminated for the length of a traffic light. There are better mudguards because of the rainy weather. The baskets are smaller on the front handles so that joy-riders are not encouraged (however, not much can be carried in them). There are no locks except at the docking stations. Which means if you run into a shop, you run the risk of the bike being gone when you return.

For now, residents of London can sign up for a day, weekly, or yearly membership. So far 4,500 have already. Tourists are going to have to wait a little longer for the chance to ride one. Below is a step by step guide that I found online that explains how to rent a bike and start riding.
bike canal photo

First the system: after you register for membership you get an electronic key. You put the key in the slot, a light shines red if the bicycle is not available, amber while your details are being checked, and green when they are recognized. Then you hoist the bike out. The seats can be adjusted to any height.
key in photoadjust-seat.png
purse holder photo
perplexed photo
Finding the docking stations is easy. There is an app available for the iPhone. There are good maps at each station which show where you are and where you can go. There is also a computer terminal which helps.
The price: the first half hour is free. After that it is £1 for the first next 30 minutes and so on.

caution left photoThere are some wrinkles to be worked out, of course. The key doesn't work in every slot, people don't put the bikes back properly and get charged for longer periods, the app isn't the most precise about nearest locations, etc.  For short trips, it's faster than the bus, great exercise and a thrilling addition to the greening of London's streets.

New York's Bike Parking Found

I was having a hard time finding secure bike parking, other than the typical street sign post or the single racks that could hold 2 bikes at the most. Many parks have the ribbon style, "wheel bender" racks, but they were not sufficient with the large numbers of bikes that are on the streets and need a place to be stored.

In my exploration of the city, I have found some of the city's newest investment in bicycle parking. The city is installing small kiosk type racks that come with signage and maps of bike routes through the city. They are really clean and give a sense of increased safety, since it would be pretty obvious if you saw someone maneuvering with a pair of bolt cutters in the wide open area of the kiosks.

Another initiative that the city is fostering is a new local law that went into affect last December. Office building tenants may file requests with the city for bike access. Bikes in Buildings Program is expected to lead to a broad expansion of bike parking at commercial office buildings across the city and encourage continued growth in the number of commuter cyclists on city streets. Commuter cycling in New York is already accelerating rapidly, with a 26% increase in just the last year alone, and has more than doubled since 2005. A lack of secure bike access and parking at the office is one of the biggest deal-breakers for commuters who want to get to work by bike. As commuter cycling continues to grow, this new law unlocks a barrier that has stopped an untold number of bike commutes before they even started.

Another initiative for business owners and residents is the City Racks Program. City Racks provides FREE installation of sidewalk bicycle parking racks throughout New York City to encourage cycling for commuting, short trips, and errands. By providing convenient parking to the cycling community, businesses can expand their client base and improve customer satisfaction. The availability of bike parking discourages cyclists from
parking at mailboxes, parking meters, trees, and other sidewalk structures.

Biking is a great way to get to work in New York City and ride around to tour the city, and these new programs makes it easier for workers and visitors to travel on two wheels instead of four. By creating a safe, secure place for cyclists to store their bikes, it helps to promote alternative modes of transportation and a healthy, active lifestyle for millions of New Yorkers.

Central Park's Bike Race

I think you know it is going to be a good day when you get to the corner of Central Park and see a sign that says "Caution Bicycle Race In Progress". I started having flash backs to riding with the Lakemont group, the Horrible 100, etc. The cool thing about this race was that it was almost like watching a professional race. They had motor bikes to lead the race and race officials with referee whistles and orange cones and flags to mark road obstacles.

The Central Park circuit is 6.25 miles and their race was comprised of 10 laps. This gave them a pretty good variety of hills and wide open road to speed through. The race organizers weren't able to close the park, so it was full of spectators and fans that cheered on the riders as they sped by. I watched a few laps and had to head back to the apartment, but I am researching some of their bike clubs to see when their next rides are.