Minnesota's Bike Sharing Growing to 1,200 Bikes

I have been really impressed with the progress up in Minnesota over the past year or so. In the land of cold winters, topography, and varying political winds, they are pushing the boundaries of cycling. Nice Ride MN, Minnesota's great bike sharing program, is growing up fast. There are already a good number of bike stations (as you can see on this map), but they are expanding: They started last year with 65 stations and 700 bikes, and this year they're planning to end up with around 115 stations and 1,200 bikes. Reception has been good so far, and only one bike has been stolen (not bad compared to other public bike sharing programs). Check out the video above for more details on how it works and how - if you ever are in the area - you can rent a bike.

Cycling Up 14% In NYC

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has just announced that biking is up in New York City by 14% from last spring. The NYC Department of Transportation says it recorded 18,809 cyclists per day, up from 16,463 in spring 2010. The figures are being released directly by Mayor Bloomberg’s office, a gesture typically associated with claiming credit for “good news.” Word of increased cycling comes as the city is preparing to roll out an announcement of a vendor for its 10,000-bike bike share system.

And it comes on the same day that a Quinnipiac University poll shows support for bike lanes edging up from a 17 point margin to a 24 percent margin, or from 56 to 39 percent in May to 59 to 35 percent today.  In March, the margin of support was 54 to 39 percent.

Most of the increase in support comes in Brooklyn, home to a controversial lawsuit to remove a two-way protected bike lane next to Prospect Park.  In May, 56 percent of Brooklynites said bike lanes “were a good thing because it’s greener and healthier for people to ride their bicycle,” and 39 percent said bike lane are “a bad thing because [they] leave less room for cars which increases traffic. Now, according to Quinnipiac, that margin is 26 percent — or 60 to 34 percent.

Bike lanes are the least popular in Staten Island, the only one of New York City’s five boroughs where fewer people like bike lanes than like them, 38 to 53 percent.
Consistent with a recent US report on attitudes towards transportation, bike lanes are most popular among those 18-34, where two thirds say the lanes are a good thing, and the least popular among those over 65, where just under half like bike lanes.

New York City says cycling is up by 262 percent since 2000, while, it says, the average risk of serious injury to cyclists declined 72 percent from 2000 to 2010.  But the data shows an uptick in serious injuries between 2009 and 2010, from 100 to 113. In the last decade,  the city has added nearly 400 miles of bike lanes.

Other big city mayors, including Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, have said they want to expand their bike networks — by 40 miles a year in L.A. and 125 miles in Chicago by the end of Emanuel’s first term in office.

New York City counts cycling differently from other cities, which tend to rely on American Community Survey, or census data.  But that data only counts commuters who use say in a survey they cycle as their primary way of getting to work, not actual numbers of cyclists on the streets.

New York City began counting cyclists at six heavily biked locations in 1985, when 3,440 cyclists per day were recorded.  The locations are: the Manhattan sides of the Brooklyn Bridge, Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, Manhattan Bridge and the Williamsburg Bridge; at the Whitehall Ferry Terminal and on the Hudson River Greenway at 50th Street.

Orlando's First Bike Corral

Yesterday was a great day for Orlando and for the state of Florida. Orlando installed its first bike corral, in the Ivanhoe Village District. Compliments have to be extended to FDOT, District 3 Commissioner Robert Stuart, and Ivanhoe Village Main Street. It shows how a need, a simple solution, and organizations working together can implement great things. 

The new corral was installed in front of Ethos Vegan Kitchen, and even though a new bike rack isn't usually news worthy, this type of bike parking could be a break through for the increasing bike problems (lack there of) that face cities. This bike coral takes away one parking space for a car and installs 6 bike rings that could easily hold 12 bikes. 

 Providing ample, convenient, comfortable and secure bicycle parking is an important part of serving those who currently use bicycles for transportation and encouraging future cyclists.  Bicycle parking is an inexpensive and efficient means of increasing both public and private parking capacity for the city as a whole.

Since my visit to the Be Spoke exhibit at the Museum of Art and Design in NYC last summer, I have been interested in custom bicycle design. Of course there are plenty of fancy futuristic bicycle designs, but I always like to know what the future will bring in terms of cooler features and entirely novel forms. You'll notice, that most of the future-oriented bicycle ideas sport a bit of a Jetson's feel while falling short on amenities city cyclists really need - kickstands, fenders, back racks. Oregon Manifest, a bike design challenged sponsored in part by Levi's (recently out with bicycle jeans), is aiming to find the future of utility bikes. Competing for a $3,000 prize, craftspeople and student teams are looking to innovate, show off their bike builder chops, and fashion a bike that makes people able and willing to get out of their cars. Take a look!

"The economy is forcing everyone to focus on cycling as transportation, but too often "city bikes" are just road bikes with fenders and racks slapped on. Everyone's staying in the same box as far as design and approach. But Oregon Manifest is pushing us to find a better answer." - Shane Fedon - De Novo
Oregon Manifest Cyclist in black and white photoA lineup of 34 illustrious bike builders and many student designers from Oregon as well as other U.S. states are working with some fairly specific smart criteria for a city bike. The bikes must have built-in anti-theft devices, fenders, lighting, some load-carrying capability, and some sort of kickstand mechanism so the bike can stand while parked.

Manifest's panel of judges will be looking for entries that also push the envelope in terms of function, materials used, technologies employed, and the ability of the bike to adapt to different environments and lifestyles.

And of course, it has to look good - "a complete harmonious aesthetic and functional whole," as the criteria states, with thought to a modern cycling audience and "curb appeal."

Not only that, right before awards are given, the bicycle design entries will be put through the paces - at least 50 miles of terrains including urban scenes, dirt roads, asphalt, gravel, hills, and stairs. I'll follow the action with posts on how the future of city and utility biking is truly shaping up. Stay tuned.
This past weekend I had some good friends come up from South Florida and do some road riding in the hills of Clermont Florida. We also got to enjoy the final weekend of the Tour de France and some good conversations about the progress in Miami with their bike infrastructure. Apparently lots of new sharrows have been painted throughout the City of Miami and a new bike lane has been installed in Miami Beach.

It is great to see that the City is adding infrastructure to help the new DecoBike sharing program have safe routes for its users. It is also great to see that progress is coming to the Sunshine State and that riding a bike is no longer taboo, but is being embraced by all.

NW 10th Ave, between NW 7th St and SW 8th St (Little Havana)

NW 46th St, between 17th Ave and N.Miami Ave (Liberty City / Buena Vista)

NE 14th St, between NE 1st Ct and N. Bayshore Dr (Omni)

NW 28th St, between 17th Ave and 7th Ave (Allapattah)

Indian Creek Dr, between 41st St and 27th St (Miami Beach)

New Bike Bus Concept Looks Promissing

BIKE GUIDE from Kukil Han on Vimeo.

A designer named Kukil Han from Seoul has posted his well thought-out innovation for a linked vehicle system he calls Bike Guide that would allow people to travel to tourists destinations around the South Korean capital in an eco-friendly manner. Han's concept is one of the best I've seen recently, and has a great deal of potential for European and American cities as well.

The idea is that people can sign-up for a guided tour of Seoul at any of the kiosks installed around the city. At the stations, tourists can see stops along the route, check for the next pick-up time, and pre-pay for the service using a touch-screen display. A hybrid bike-bus equipped with a solar power roof, seen in the image below, takes passengers to central spots around the region, where the bikes then detach for individuals to explore on their own before returning to bus and on to the next location.

Inside the bike-corral, riders can watch a television for information about the next point of interest, and, when exploring on the bike, have access to the same information, including departure time, GPS navigation, historical facts and more, on a handlebar mounted display.

From the video Han has posted, it seem the bikes are of the regular variety, however, I'd like to suggest electric bicycles instead, which would give riders more range. Plus, since the bikes are already mounted with a display unit, a lithium-ion battery system could help power the device, and the once mounted back on the bus, be recharged through its system, or through pedal-assist technology.

Update on Chicago's Protected Bike Lanes

In early June I shared the good news of Chicago's progressive plan for protected bike lanes and cycle tracks under their new mayor, Rahm Emanuel. Unlike some cities, they are keeping their promises about bike lanes and Rahm Emanuel and Gabe Klein are now planning over100 miles of protected bike lanes to Chicago.

Funded by a federal grant, the Chicago Department of Transportation is installing the half-mile bike lane as a pilot program. The protected bike lanes will have a three feet buffer to parked cars and will be separated by delineated posts.
The addition of bicycle infrastructure to the city’s landscape is no surprise, Mayor Rahm Emanuel promised during his campaign for office to install 100 miles of protected bicycle lanes by the end of his term. The city’s new Transportation Commissioner, Gabe Klein, is also on board with adding bike lanes to the city’s streets. In addition to increasing bicyclists in Chicago, Klein’s foremost goal is to slow down traffic in the city.
Previous to his Chicago position, Klein served as the director of The District Department of Transportation in Washington, DC, where during his tenure, the city launched a bike-share program and expanded bike lanes.

I'm looking forward to watching and supporting Chicago’s efforts in increasing sustainable transportation options. Watch the video below to learn more about Chicago’s bike lane expansions.

Getting Rid of Toronto Bike Lanes Makes No Sense

Go to Craigslist here

It's official; Toronto is tearing up its one year old Jarvis Street bike lanes and adding back a fifth driving lane. One Councillor said it's because a constituent complained I have 4 kids and I can't get home to them for dinner." Another said "more roads make cars go faster" which is just what cyclists need on Jarvis when there are no bike lanes.

During the debate about removing two suburban bike lanes, Councillor Michelle Berardinetti said "bike lanes are not a good fit for suburbs because we are forced to use our cars here" and "I never want to see bike lanes in Scarborough ever again." The mayor's brother, also a city councilor, says 'Atta girl, Michelle.' @Richard_Florida, who is living in Toronto for now, tweets: " TO debating taking out bike lanes, while other big cities are building separated lanes. How did it come to this."

Indeed, how did it come to this.

More Data That Proves People Prefer Separated Lanes

In response to the never ending question of whether infrastructure helps increase ridership, Transportation Alternatives counted cyclists at three locations in New York City: one with no bike lane, one with a painted bike lane, and one with a protected bike lane. More cyclists used the safer lanes, which also had a narrower gender gap. The count at Sixth Avenue was taken from 8 - 10 a.m. and the counts on Seventh and Second Avenues were taken from 5 - 7 p.m.

The gender gap in American cycling is a thorny and persistent issue, and New York City performs relatively poorly on the measure. The percentage of female bike commuters has wavered between 20 and 25 percent of the total over the last two decades, but with a marked rise in the most recent years.

One of the best ways to narrow that gap, many experts agree, is to create space to bike separated from motor vehicle traffic. New bike counts from Transportation Alternatives provide a bit more support for that theory in the New York City context.

T.A. tracked the number and gender of cyclists at three Manhattan locations over two-hour spans. On Seventh Avenue at Charles Street, cyclists had to ride in mixed traffic; on Sixth Avenue at 26th Street, cyclists could ride in a painted bike lane; and on Second Avenue at 9th Street, cyclists enjoyed a protected lane separated from traffic by parked cars.

As the roads offered more separation for bikes, T.A. counted dramatically more cyclists using them. The effect was particularly dramatic for women: Only 15 percent of the cyclists on Seventh were women, compared to 32 percent on Second.

Those aren’t apples-to-apples comparisons — the share of female cyclists might vary based on the neighborhood in addition to the street design. More telling, perhaps, is a comparison of T.A.’s counts on Second Avenue to older data from the Department of City Planning.

DCP tracked the gender gap of cyclists on Second Avenue two blocks further south, at 7th Street, from 2000 to 2008. During those years, Second Avenue had a buffered bike lane, but not the physically separated one implemented by NYC DOT in 2010. Over the DCP study period, there were an average of 3.74 men riding the lane for every woman. In 2008, the ratio was 3.26:1.

T.A.’s count, in contrast, showed 2.17 men riding the protected Second Avenue lane for every woman, just three years later. That’s a fast, though obviously incomplete, closure of the gender gap, and it points the way forward.

Queens Plaza Cycletrack is Open

Queens Plaza Protected Cycletrack is Open For Business from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

Using a bicycle in Queens just got more safe and efficient for riders that use the Queens Plaza area to access the Queensboro Bridge bike and pedestrian path.

After the Tour of Queens, the physically protected bike & pedestrian median was finally open. It appears that scores of folks are already taking advantage - many with big, hearty smiles when they saw the path was welcoming their first ride on it.  The video above shows as many angles as possible during this nearly half-mile journey, another protected bike facility in New York City.

Amazingly, one of the most congested, noisy, chaotic and ugly spots in the city, now feels like an oasis of green and safety.  Dare we even say, pleasant!  And more importantly: it now allows cyclists to avoid multiple blocks of annoying navigation to and from Queens Boulevard.  It also gets rid of dangerous wrong way riding by cyclists by finally accommodating their desire to travel east.

Bike Freindly Cities are Safer for Everyone

Davis, California, is widely celebrated as the bicycling capital of the United States with over 16% of the population commuting to work on bikes. What is less well known is the fact that the traffic fatality rate in Davis is also unusually low, at about 1/10th of the California statewide rate. Although this fact is not widely disseminated, there is growing data showing that cities with very high use of bikes for routine transportation almost always have much lower than average traffic fatality rates.

The finding that most bike friendly cities are safer than average has been reinforced by the recent experience of cities such as Cambridge, MA, Portland, OR, and New York. These cities have garnered much press for their success in dramatically increasing bike use over the last several years. This increase in bike ridership has corresponded with an equally dramatic decrease in traffic fatality rates in all three cities.

Interestingly, the decrease in fatality occurred not just for people on bikes, but for all classes of road users – including people in cars and people on foot. In other words, the increase in bike use has benefited all road users by helping transform the streets into safer places.

So what is the cause of this beneficial relationship between bike use and traffic safety in so many American cities? In the early 2000s, Peter Jacobsen, one of the first researchers to report on the subject of high biking cities being safer, suggested that the cause was ‘safety in numbers’. He stated that high bike use cities were generally safer than others because the very presence of bikers conditioned drivers to behave with more care. Since then, the 'safety in numbers' hypothesis has been routinely offered as the default explanation for any improvement in safety associated with increased bike use.

While there is undoubtedly much truth to the idea of 'safety in numbers,' this explanation by itself is incomplete and leaves many questions unanswered. For one, it does not provide any guidance about how to increase bike numbers to a point that will bring about increased safety. Also, it founders on the classic chicken and egg problem. Do high numbers of bikers bring about safety or does a perception of safety bring out more bikers?

The key issue for cities trying to improve their biking environment is for them to understand the strategies that will be most effective for achieving their goal of a safer, more sustainable transportation system. Their cause would be aided by having a better understanding of the underlying factors contributing to the safety of existing bike friendly cities. For example, it would be useful to know the key differences in transportation infrastructure that set bike friendly communities apart from other cities. Also, is there evidence to suggest that these differences contribute to safety?

Recently, in the journal Environmental Practice, we published Evidence on Why Bike-Friendly Cities are Safer for All Road Users, which examined eleven years of traffic safety records for 24 medium-sized California cities with various levels of bike use. One goal of their study was to assess how differences in street and street network design might contribute to higher numbers of bike users and, concurrently, to a better traffic safety record.

Initially, they found that the 24 cities in our study could be divided into 4 distinct groups: 4 high biking cities, 4 medium biking use cities, and two groups of cities with low bike use (4 low biking cities with a low traffic fatality rate and 12 low biking cities with a high traffic fatality rate).

To best highlight the salient differences between the four groups of cities, we limit this discussion to two of the four groups: the high biking cities and the low biking/high fatality cities. They found that the high biking cities averaged 2.5 fatalities per year per 100,000 residents compared to almost 9 deaths per 100,000 for the low biking cities. Moreover, all classes of road users were at greater risk in the low biking cities. For people in vehicles, the fatality level was on average 4 times higher in the low biking cities. This is perhaps not surprising, since there were more people driving in the low biking cities.

What is surprising, and disconcerting, is that there were twice as many bike fatalities in these low biking cities compared to the cities with many, many more bike riders. In other words, for anyone brave enough to use a bike in these low biking cities, the risk of injury or death was astronomical. Conversely the traffic fatality risk from biking riding in bike friendly cities is much lower than is generally recognized.

It important to note that this disparity in fatality rates between cities was not necessarily due to fewer accidents – in fact, the high biking cities had more fender benders than did the low biking cities. Instead, the difference in fatality rates between the cities related to difference in the severity of the crashes that did occur. In other words, most crashes in the high biking cities resulted in little or no injury, while a much higher percentage of accidents resulted in a catastrophic outcome – either severe injury or death – in the low biking cities with high fatality rates.
Photo: Sign for bike lane.

This is a key finding, because it points to one important difference between the groups of cities. The results strongly suggest that crashes in the safer cities are occurring at lower speeds and, as such, the result of any given crash is less catastrophic. We have not yet conducted speeds measures in all 24 cities, but in the 6 cities that we have sampled, the measured speeds on major streets in the safer cities (the high and medium bike use cities) are significantly lower than in the low biking cities.

Although the 'safety in numbers' effect might account for some amount of disparity in vehicle speed, it is likely that a bigger factor is related to the design of the street and the street network in the various cities. Our data provides strong evidence for this conclusion. For example, we discovered that the street network density in the high biking cities is almost twice that in the low biking cities with high fatalities.

The cross-section of the major streets was also different. In general, the streets in the high biking cities were narrower by about 3 ft on average. This is not a huge difference, but these cities with narrower streets also do much more within their street cross-sections, since they have far more miles of on-street parking and bike lanes.

Taken together, these street and street network characteristics of our high bike use cities add up to an environment that is likely much more attractive for the causal bike rider. Cities like Cambridge, Portland, and New York – that have had recent success in increasing bike use – have often taken steps to reduce motor vehicle speeds and volumes on streets with bike facilities or bike facility crossings. They have done this by reducing space for cars and adding space for bikes. They have also employed traffic-calming strategies and focused on providing safe opportunities for people on bikes to cross the busier roads. In other words, they have made changes that make their streets more like the streets in the high biking cities in our study. So it is perhaps not surprising that these cities have also seen a reduction in the traffic fatality rate to a level comparable to that in our high biking cities.

There is also evidence to suggest that just putting down paint to create bike lanes next to fast moving traffic may not get the job done. In fact, a few of our low biking cities did have extensive bike lanes on major arterial roads. However, these cities have not been successful and never saw the biking numbers, or the safety benefits.

Ultimately 'safety in numbers' does not just happen. Instead, their research suggests that the same strategies that attract bike riders are the same ones that improve road safety for all road users. Cities should indeed strive for 'safety in numbers' but before they can get to that point, they need to create bicycle friendly streets that will make it comfortable enough for the average Jane and Joe to take up biking. It is this act of creating comfortable and complete biking networks that ultimately results in both making cities biking friendly and, at the same time, making biking friendly cities safer for all users.

Beautiful Bike Storage in Netherlands

bike storage building nunc architects photo

bike storage building nunc architects photoIn some countries, cyclists are seen as more than rule-breaking freeloaders who slow down cars; they are seen as a viable part of the transportation system that needs its own infrastructure investment. For instance, parking can be a problem in a country like the Netherlands where so many people cycle. In Zaandam, just outside of Amsterdam, Nunc Architects have completed a 700 bike parking building that probably makes every cyclist in North America green with envy.

bike storage building nunc architects photoThe Fietsenpakhuis is designed as a public space, inviting all cyclists to enter. A huge folding door that opens completely gives access to a double-height open space with a gently inclined staircase leading to the upper floor. The street facade is transparent showing off the main function of its existence, the stored bicycles. The ground floor is paved with bricks, visually connecting the outer street with the interior.
bike storage building nunc architects photo
The glass panels in the street facade are stacked in overlap referring to the wooden claddings as seen on regional barns and houses since the 17th century. The transparency of the facades as well as the roof lights allows daylight to enter. On ground level a big window reveals the workshop of the mechanics. They control the free entrance of the parking, and handle the other functions; public toilets, bike repair, renting out bikes and lockers.

The Fietsenpakhuis is sustainable in many ways. Fewer people travel by car. Materials are locally found, the wood used on structure and roof is certified. The building is using passive solar heating and is naturally ventilated. Electricity is generated by using solar panels on the rooftops providing almost all energy needs, keeping the ecological footprint of the building to a minimum.

Check out the full description from the architect in Contemporist, and see more images too.

What is Wrong with Toronto's Bike Lanes? Users Say Nothing

What is wrong with this Bike Lane? from Bike Union on Vimeo.

I have been following developments in Toronto very carefully in the past few months. Not only because there is a ton of development and infrastructure going in up there, but also because they are experiencing the growing pains of becoming a bike friendly city.

Today, every news show in town is leading with the story about a woman being in hospital with serious head injuries after being hit by a jerk on a bicycle who went through a red light, going the wrong way on a one way street. That is tragic and the 49 year old cyclist was given the maximum ticket. The Globe and Mail complains that it isn't enough.
Although the cyclist was given a $400 dollar ticket and remains liable for any injuries if this is pursued in civil court, if he had been driving a motor vehicle he would have received six demerit points, the second highest for a moving violation.
Meanwhile, every comment in every paper is an insane attack on cyclists everywhere.

"The majority of cyclists willfully disobey almost all traffic laws most of the time, largely because they get away with it. It is as if they assume that they are 'entitled' to ignore and inconvenient traffic laws and that they law only applies when it is opportune for them."
"Must be a first. In my world (as an observor) the cyclist reigns supreme ... no rules, no repercussions!"
"Throw the book at him! I'm sick of cyclists running reds and stop signs, going the wrong way down one way streets and THE WORST is the growing trend of people riding on sidewalks. I cycle a lot and while drivers can be idiotic and aggressive....it's FAR more dangerous as a pedestrian with all of the self-centered douche-bag cyclists on the sidewalks!"
There were a couple of voices of reason:
"Just wanted to point out that agressive cars injure cyclists so often in this city that it doesn't even make the paper. A friend of mine was killed by an agressive driver last year, and I can't even find on Google a single newspaper that picked up the story. Cyclist injures pedestrian: News Story
Dozens of Cyclist injured by cars: Statistic"
and one that makes a very good point:
"One thing I notice here is the reference to the woman's head injuries. Had this been a cyclist hit by another cyclist or by a car, or falling after swerving to avoid a middle-of-the-block crosser who darted out between two cars (or hit the crosser not having had time to swerve), and had the cyclist sustained similar head injuries, I can guarantee that people on this thread would be ALL OVER the victim for being "stupid enough not to wear a helmet".

The Mayor wants to pull up the bike lanes on Toronto's Jarvis Street, not on the basis of any studies or research, but because he had "received complaints from citizens." So in an equally unscientific exercise, the Toronto Cyclists Union got their own opinions from citizens on bikes, who happen to support the lanes.
James at the Urban Country complains about Toronto and Our Backwards Approach to Road Safety
The solution to road safety here is not to slow down motorists, or build better bike infrastructure, or better educate drivers, or implement safe passing laws, or change our laws to hold the more dangerous road users accountable, or enforce no parking in bike lanes. No, our solution is to slap helmets on vulnerable road users, tell pedestrians to wear brighter clothes, tell cyclists to always have two hands on the handlebars, enforce cyclists rolling through empty intersections, rip out bike infrastructure, and fail to hold drivers accountable for their actions.

Take Action July 7: Attack on Bike/Ped Funding in Congress

This is a direct message from the Florida Bicycle Association's Executive Director, Tim Bustos:
“In addition to the message I sent about recessions threatening needed improvements in our infrastructure at the state level, we have a new threat affecting our needs at the national level.  Members of congress, including Florida’s own Representative, John Mica, are seeking to gut federal requirements for important bicycle and pedestrian funding.  Please see the message below from the Alliance for Biking and Walking, and spread the word far and wide through your respective networks.  We will need to take action soon, and we’ll have a narrow window of opportunity, so please spread the word through all your respective networks.”

The attack is on: Leaders in the U.S. House and Senate want to cut funding for bicycling and walking.

Today, July 7, 2011, Rep. John Mica (R-FL), chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is holding a press conference to announce his vision for the next federal transportation bill. We anticipate he will include provisions that eliminate dedicated funding for biking and walking.

In order to preserve these critical dollars, we will need you to act immediately.  After the press conference, we’ll work with our partners at American Bikes to craft an urgent action alert to send to your members and supporters tomorrow afternoon.  Our best chance to change the bill is before the official language is released.  To do that, we’ll need all hands on deck, urging their members of Congress to preserve dedicated funding for biking and walking.

The attack has started in the U.S. Senate, too.  Last week, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), the lead Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, stated that one of his top three priorities for the transportation bill is to eliminate ‘frivolous’ spending for bike trails.

If we don’t act quickly, dedicated funding for biking and walking programs may be written out of our transportation system for the next two to six years.  And, once those programs are cut, there’s no guarantee we’ll get them back!

Thank you in advance for your help in this urgent issue.

Find your US House Representative
Find your US Senator

NYC's Gender Gap Brought to Light-But Getting Better

The Times called some attention to New York City’s cycling gender gap this weekend with a feature titled “Women, Uneasy, Still Lag as Cyclists in New York City.” Judging from Christine Haughney’s write-up, the gender imbalance among NYC cyclists is immutable and impervious to policies that seek to shake up the status quo on the streets:
Despite the city’s efforts to become more bike friendly, male cyclists in New York continue to outnumber female cyclists three to one, just as they have steadily over the past two decades.
No doubt the gender gap in NYC and in the US is real and substantial, but it seems to be getting smaller. For some reason, though, Haughney neglected to mention compelling evidence that the number of female cyclists in NYC is growing faster than the number of male cyclists.

In an online response to the Times story, NYC DOT cited a 2010 Department of City Planning study that includes detailed, year-over-year breakdowns of bike counts performed on several Manhattan routes [PDF]. From 2001 to 2008, the ratio of men to women riding in on-street bike lanes declined from a little more than six-to-one to a little less than five-to-one, with most of the change happening after 2005. Counting weekday cyclists on greenways, DCP found that the gender gap narrowed from about 1.9 men for every woman in 2002, to about 1.7 in 2008, with most of the change happening between 2006 and 2008.

Census data, presumably the basis for the Times’ three-to-one male-to-female ratio, also paint a more nuanced picture than Times readers will come away with. According to a 2010 study by Rutgers University professor John Pucher [PDF], NYC’s percentage of female bike commuters dipped from 25 percent in 1990 to 20 percent in 2000, before rebounding back up to 24 percent in 2008. So there has been some fluctuation in the past two decades, including a distinct uptick in the percent of women commuter cyclists over the last decade.

The Times does cite experts, including Pucher, who assert that safer bike networks attract a higher percentage of female cyclists. What never surfaces in the article is the widely held view that the best way to enhance perceptions of safety is to separate cyclists from traffic.

By the end of the piece, the question of how to make streets feel safe for cycling still feels shrouded in mystery. But the answers are not that elusive.

Researchers like Pucher, Harvard’s Anne Lusk, and Portland State University’s Jennifer Dill have all come to the conclusion that the share of female cyclists is higher where separation from traffic is more pronounced. Their positions are consistent with DCP’s finding that the gender gap on NYC’s greenways is substantially smaller than it is on painted bike lanes.

Providing more physical separation for cyclists is, basically, DOT’s chief innovation in the realm of bike policy under Janette Sadik-Khan. The major bikeway projects of the past three years — protected on-street lanes like those on Kent Avenue, Allen Street, and Prospect Park West — are all designed to make cycling more accessible to a wider range of people.

When DCP conducted bike counts for its study, none of the on-street lanes were protected. Since then, some of the routes have been upgraded from painted lanes to protected lanes. So here’s a prediction: Count cyclists at locations like Eighth Avenue and 26th Street, or Broadway and 28th Street, or Second Avenue and Seventh Street — all places where DCP has data on male and female cycling rates — and the gender gap won’t look as wide as it used to.

US Still has a Lot of Work to Do

Copenhagen Bicycle Account

quebec07 063Just when you think things are going well and US cities are making great progress towards being more bike-friendly (which they are…), somewhere like Copenhagen comes along and reminds you just how far we have to go! I just read the incredible bi-annual Bicycle Account published by the City of Copenhagen.

The 2010 report does actually show a decline in the percentage of trips to work made by bike – down from 37% in 2008 to a paltry 35%, but this drop is attributed to two harsh winters and is made up for by a significant increase of 40,000 in the number of kilometers traveled by bike every day (up to 1.21 million) and a drop in the number of serious crashes to just 92 (3 fatal).

The numbers and the overall Copenhagen story continue to be truly inspirational:
  • 93% of residents think Copenhagen is very good, good or satisfactory to cycle in
  • 68% of residents cycle at least once a week
  • 67% of cyclists feel safe (up from 51%)
And the biggest problems? The cycle tracks aren’t wide enough and there aren’t enough of them…only 346 kms of them. Cyclist and motorist behavior are also major factors in what could be done to make cycling even safer.

quebec07 123During the long holiday weekend, I have been catching up on articles and events in the cycling world. I looked at the Ontario Bike Summit that was earlier this week and learned more about Velo Quebec’s latest round up of all things bicycling in Quebec – another impressive set of statistics.
  • Between 1987 and 2010, the total number of bicycles in Quebec more than doubled and the number of regular cyclists increased by 50%. During the same period, cycling-related fatalities decreased by 58%, serious injuries by 72% and minor injuries by 52%.
  • The number of adult cyclists has increased by 500,000 since 2005;
  • More than half (54%) of Quebec citizens cycled in 2010, a return to 1995 levels (53%) after decreases in 2000 (49%) and 2005 (47%);
  • The number of people who cycle at least once a week has increased steadily since the year 2000 (from 1.6 million in 2000 to 1.8 million in 2005 and 2 million in 2010);
  • 84% of children and teens cycle, a 9-point drop in 5 years;
  • The proportion of utility cycling has doubled: 37% of cyclists were using their bike as a means of transport occasionally or daily, compared with 20% in 2000;
La Route Verte, the 2,600 mile cycling network in Quebec is now returning $134 million annually (not including the cost of bikes…that’s just food, lodging and transport) on a total investment to create the network of $180m over 15 years.

Finally, the small principality of Wales is reportedly the first country in the world to require local authorities to provide cycling infrastructure. It is pretty cool to learn that Wales will soon become a cycling paradise – the place certainly has the scenery to make it happen.

welsh cycling_1