Sunday, December 28, 2008

Uncool

About three weeks ago (sorry about the time delay) I was chugging along the St Joseph Pathway in some less than ideal conditions. It was early (about 7:10 AM) and dark but I had my lights on and the pathway is lit so I was visible.
As usual I was very careful to look every direction as I approached the light at the Tennessee Bridge. The light was green and I had the right of way. There was a van stopped at the intersection (in the eastbound lane), it had the words East Wayne Street Center painted on the side. I made eye contact with the driver and felt comfortable to proceed.
As I reached the middle of the intersection the driver thought that that it would be funny to take his foot off of the brake momentarily and then re apply the brake. Obviously in an effort to psych me into thinking that he was going to proceed. The conditions were slick and I almost over reacted and went down but didn't thank God. I made eye contact with the driver and the passenger again to see both of them laughing. In my younger and less tolerant days I probably would have flown the finger. But I chalked it up to the fact that for all of those drivers out there that have been so considerate there are going to be a number of them that aren't. I think the thing that made me the most angry was the fact that those two guys thought it was funny. Another thing that annoyed me was that the East Wayne Street Center does some great things in this community and this type of behavior reflects poorly on that organization. My wife told me that I should call the Center and complain. I told her that they would just deny it and it wasn't worth it. They were just screwing with me. Pretty sophomoric in my opinion.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Nice weather we're having

I mean, it has been nuts. Anyone on a car or bike or bus or just walking could tell you that.
As I stated previously, I have been riding on the more traveled roads and in the travel lane since the weather took a turn for the worst but Tuesday was just insane!
I get off work at 6PM so I ride in the dark. For whatever reason, I think probably from the atmospheric conditions, the generator on my bike was not working and therefore I had no headlight or tail lights. This would not necessarily pose a giant problem, aside from breaking state law, if I was on the side streets. But since I have been riding on Columbia on the way home (Columbia still didn't have lights on it for a few blocks on Tuesday night) this was a problem. So I walked it for a little while and then went north on Crescent to Vermont and then cut into the neighborhood for safety sake.
Now for those of you who were out on Tuesday, you know how bad the roads were. They were the worst I think I've seen since I moved to Indiana four years ago. The rain on the four or so inches of solid ice made them slicker than ... (insert adjective). Anyway, so I put it in first and chugged along. It was at this point that my lights started to work, something about my speed I guess, but that is not the story here. The story is that my studded tires worked phenomenally! It was crazy! Cars are going about as slow as me and spinning out everywhere and I just plugged along all the way to my house with no problem. That is, until I tried to stop and get of of my bike. It was at that point that my foot slipped right out from under me and I ate it in the middle of the street! Quite funny really since I wasn't moving. I guess I'm only safe while riding with the snow tires.
I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and I wish you all the luck in the new year. Hopefully, 2009 will be a good one for bike commuters in the City of Fort Wayne!

Monday, December 22, 2008

It is stuff like this that gets me stoked!



Because Robert Moses Would Have a Coronary If He Were to See Our Streets Now

By Justin Davidson
New York Magazine
Published Dec 14, 2008
New York’s streets are getting new ownership. Lane by lane, curb cut by parking space, in steps so scattered and incremental that they hardly get noticed, people on foot are wresting control of the asphalt from those behind the wheel. Even on a chill winter day, you can take a sandwich and a book and sit in a sunlit patch on Broadway between Times and Herald Squares—not at a curb café but in a lane that once belonged to cars. A strip has been painted tan, flanked by planters, and sprinkled with metal chairs and tables. On one side of this oasis, cyclists speed down their own green lane. Vans and trucks park on the other side of the planters, barricading the new plaza from moving cars. Having lunch in the middle of Broadway can be disconcerting, but it sends a signal of pedestrian pride.

For decades, it was almost inconceivable that any American city would requisition turf from motorized vehicles and turn it over to people who would use it for such low-speed, inefficient activities as strolling or sitting around. Robert Moses, who didn’t drive, nevertheless believed that the well-made street should speed the car. That long-unchallenged assumption has found an opponent in Commissioner of Transportation Janette Sadik-Khan, who last year hired Jan Gehl, the Danish guru of pedestrianism, to help transform traffic arteries into more-textured public places.

In the twenty months since Sadik-Khan took office, she has swiftly refashioned miles of streets, using inexpensive materials and commando operations. The commissioner often commutes by bicycle, and she made sure her two-wheeled people got their very own slice of Ninth Avenue in Chelsea, delimited by the curb on one side and a landscaped median on the other. Where the avenue widens at 14th Street, a low-tech armory of heavy planters, paint, and metal chairs has secured a pleasant haven in the middle of southbound traffic. Two blocks farther downtown is Gansevoort Plaza, where blocks of salvaged granite arranged into funky seating and a phalanx of spherical, nippled bollards protect a new pedestrian habitat. Across town at Madison Square, another loiterer’s haven has sprouted at an intersection that once was clogged with traffic.
Behind such tinkering with blacktop and hardware is an attempt to change the way people see and use their city. Sadik-Kahn has been called a “guerrilla bureaucrat,” and her experiments do have a revolutionary cast. On Saturday mornings last summer, vehicles started to vanish from various streets—without being replaced by tired fairs. First, in local actions taken under the city’s approving eye, parts of Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights and Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg became temporarily pedestrian. Then, for three Saturdays in August, a seven-mile stretch of Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge up Park Avenue to 72nd Street was transformed into a motor-free allée. Children played in the street, a brass ensemble oompahed, adults scooted along on their kids’ Razors, and Pomeranians promenaded down the center lane.

Public space comes in a range of shades. In the sixties, its cultivation was effectively delegated to private developers, who were permitted to put up bigger office buildings if they provided sidewalk-level oases where workers could eat their lunch. In the eighties and nineties, New York began to rejuvenate its parks, restoring enclaves that offer a cushion from noise and congestion. Now the Department of Transportation has realized that its jurisdiction covers the basic unit of urban life: the street. There, lifestyles intersect and city dwellers co-exist with people different from themselves. It’s where we learn toleration, where leisure shares space with urgency, commerce with activism, baby carriages with handcarts. When it is narrowed by garbage or overwhelmed by traffic, then the street reverts to its most primitive use: as a corridor. But a truly public place allows people to move at many different paces, or not to move at all.

Complete Streets

I just recently found out that there is a movement to design streets "completely" for everyone and there are actually cities out there that are trying to implement it. Check it!
http://land.asla.org/2008/1216/missouri.html

I am a vehicle!

Well, as you all know it has been a rough few days for those of us living in the Fort.
I am not going to get into it very much because that is all I have been slammed with by every news station and a few of the blogs.
I will tell you this though. I didn't bike on Friday due to the seriousness of the weather. I know, I know you are saying to yourself, "I thought you were going to ride everyday FW Bike Commuter!"
Yeah, I should have said in any condition other than a freezing rain storm.
Oh well, I did bike today though. That has gotta mean something, right?
Since the roads have been so bad I have been forced onto the main drags since those are the only half decent roads.
It has been great. I am actually riding like a vehicle. I am not cowering near the curb in fear for my life. I am riding in the street in the right hand tire tracks of the cars and it has been treating me well so far. People are forced to pay attention to me when I am in the middle of the road. Surprisingly, I have only had a couple occasions in the last few days when the angry driver floors it by me because I have caused them to add 15-20 seconds to their journey to the suburbs. People have been very patient and courteous and for that I am very appreciative.
I am a vehicle!
Anywho...I hope that everyone gets power back soon. Stay safe out there and keep riding!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Ultimate Commuter Bike!


Maybe I spoke too soon?

I spoke last week of having found a great way to stay safe in the inclement weather was to ride through the neighborhoods rather than the more well traveled (by cars) roads. I believe that I might need to eat those words. In the last few days I have almost been run over on two different occasions. Once on Forest Park Blvd and once on Florida (I mix it up between these two depending on my mood).

I wear light colored clothes and I have a lamp (front and rear) powered by a generator that complies the Indiana bicycle law (this can be viewed at:)
http://bicycleindiana.org/merchant/1419/files/Indiana%20Bicycle%20Laws.pdf

Yet these cars still do not see me. I have thought about it and I equate it to the lack of good lighting in the neighborhood. On the main streets they have the be cobrahead lights that allow for much better lighting and since I leave in the dark and return in the dark that might be a better bet. Or maybe it is six of one, half dozen of another. The saga continues.

Back to the Indiana Bicycle law for a second. Who enforces that? The way I understand it, if the City has no tougher law then it is to use the State law. Is that true? Because someone needs to read that. There are many requirements that people are unaware of, or ignore. I know because I was unaware of the lamp rule until I read it. So get out there and get a lamp!

Another interesting law is that if you ride a bike you are required by state law to have a bell or some other audible device that can be heard from 100'. So get out there and get a bell!

Stay safe and enjoy the ride. I would love to hear from everyone on what is going on with their ride so let me know and thanks for reading.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Winter (kind of) weather update

Well, I continue to bike to work.
My bike commute has been transformed into more of a labor of love.
I don't get there as fast though mainly because:
1. The roads have been a little slick of late as you might have noticed
2. It seems as though that it is always windy and that it is always in my face!
3. Cars have less patience for me because I am traveling at a slower rate of speed.
4. Everyone seems to think that to get your leaves collected, that they have to be piled in the street.
Hazardous is the word that comes to mind.
So, I have resorted to going the back roads and cutting through the neighborhoods.
Surprisingly, this has solved most of my problems!

My advice to all three of you out there is to not be afraid to ride in the winter, you just have to ride differently.
Stay safe.

How bad do we want it?

PPS is Project for Public Spaces and I stumbled across this article today.
It makes interesting points that are nothing new.

We all know that we need a more pedestrian friendly downtown. We all know that a sense of place occurs outside of your automobile. We all know that we are going to have to spend a lot of money to make downtown Fort Wayne be what it has the opportunity to be. Namely, a community that we want to get out, see, and enjoy.
We might actually have to park and then, God forbid, walk....I know, it is a bit scary.

I don't know if a light rail system would work here but we could do other things. Like make this the most bike friendly city of its size in the country! Like putting an urban greenway in place that gives everyone who wants it, an enriching experience! It will take an amazing amount of work, money, time and chutzpah to get it done.

Hey, I can dream can't I?

A Smart Investment for Our Future
A wave of new transit projects bring major economic, social and environmental benefits
By Craig Raphael, Associate and Renee Espiau, Senior Associatecraphael@pps.org; respiau@pps.org

On Election Day 2008, American voters made an impressive commitment toward the future vitality of our economy and society, supporting measures that will enhance public health and public transit. From Honolulu to Milwaukee, tax levies and bond measures supporting new and existing public transit systems were approved by local voters. Nearly three-quarters of all transportation initiatives on ballots nationwide were approved 1, resulting in $75 billion towards future transportation investment.

A train station in South Orange, New Jersey served as a catalyst for nearby development.
The significance and timing of this overwhelming support for a new transportation policy cannot be underestimated. The impact of rising congestion levels, volatile gas prices and climate change—direct results of decades of car-oriented transportation planning—have never been more apparent. With an administration coming to Washington in January that is sensitive to the importance of transportation alternatives and the potential of a major reauthorization of the federal transportation bill scheduled for next fall, now is the time to push for wise transportation decisions that will affect our quality of life for years to come.

There is still a lot of work to be done. Only fifty percent of Americans have access to public transit, and for many it is not a convenient option. Zoning and planning practices in most areas still favor low-density, single-use development that renders transit use impractical and discourages the kind of high-quality gathering places that create a strong sense of community.
Current planning policies prevent many communities from enjoying the benefits that come from transit and mixed-use developments On the other hand, investment in public transit saves people money, which is more critical than ever in these economically troubled times. The average American family spends 19 percent of household income on transportation, while those who live near public transit spend only 9 percent on transportation.

But equally important is the fact that investment in transit spurs other investment in the community. Charlotte, North Carolina (where PPS is involved in plans to create a more livable downtown) has seen major financial returns on their investment in light rail transit, as well as ridership figures that far exceed initial projections. Developers are flocking to the areas around the new stations. In addition to already-built residential, office and retail space along the lines, plans call for 7,000 new housing units. New transit lines in cities as diverse as Portland, Dallas, Minneapolis and Salt Lake City are experiencing similar increases in local property tax rolls.

These experiences show that transit investments are effective in revitalizing communities and encouraging economic development when stations and transit stops are comfortable, welcoming places that are well connected to the surrounding neighborhoods and offer a variety of uses and activities. Project for Public Spaces runs a comprehensive program devoted to making that happen, Thinking Beyond the Station . We worked closely on the "Transit Friendly Communities for New Jersey" initiative, a partnership between New Jersey Transit, various state agencies, and non-profit organizations. PPS provided technical assistance to municipalities on promoting walking, biking, the concept of traffic calming, new types of developments, new zoning strategies, the revitalization of shopping districts adjacent to transit stations, the creation of an effective community visioning process and other changes that could transform transit stations into important community places and stimulate the development around them.

PPS launched our national “Thinking Beyond the Station” initiative, in conjunction with the Center for Transit-Oriented Development, to popularize this approach to transit planning. The work includes training of transit service providers, establishing pilot projects that showcase station improvements, and advocating for policy changes that support the funding and construction of community-friendly transit facilities.

Light rail brings sustainability and urban revitalization to Houston, Texas.
PPS is also a major supporting partner in the Transportation for American campaign (http://www.t4america.org/) , a broad coalition of groups that seek to link national, state, and local transportation policies with efforts to improve economic opportunity, energy security, public health, climate change, housing and community development. Transportation for America publicizes the fact that a shift in our transportation priorities to build new transit infrastructure (much of which has already been planned) would create 6.7 million jobs in 78 metro areas throughout the country.4 These new jobs are producing significant and immediate benefits for local economies.

Federal and state allocation to highway infrastructure spending will certainly continue, but these projects should be carried out in a way that respects local communities, encourages walking, biking and transit, and supports opportunities for Placemaking. Rather than constructing new roads and highway lanes, which only serve to reinforce our overdependence on the automobile, we should focus on making existing roads more conducive to multiple modes of transportation. This strategy will also aid efforts to revive the economy, since road maintenance and repair create an estimated nine percent more jobs than construction of new road capacity.5
The facts are impossible to ignore: focusing on places, health and walkability requires increased public transit infrastructure, which creates new jobs, enlivens neighborhoods, creates local business opportunities and connects communities, both vulnerable and thriving, to vital amenities and resources.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Best Cities For Cycling: Still The Greatest

So what can Fort Wayne learn from these cities?
1. That bike infrastructure will cost a lot of money (what doesn't?), but that other places have shown that it can be done. And today their communities and most importantly their citizens are reaping the benefits. Will Fort Wayne make the leap? Only time will tell.
2. That when we plan we need to have specific goals in mind. For example: Having 10% of all trips under two miles be by bicycle in 5 years, or having 100 miles of bike paths in 5 years, or increasing the number of cyclists at a rate of 5% per year for the next ten years, or encouraging kids to ride their bikes to school with a safe routes to school program (you get the idea).


Portland, Oregon
What perennially puts Portland atop our list is that you don't need to know anything about bike lanes or city planning to see that it is a haven for cyclists. Just hang out in a coffee shop and look out the window: Bikes and riders of all stripes are everywhere. City support is important, too. In response to six fatal car-bike crashes last year, Portland rushed approval of 14 bike boxes--painted areas in front of cars at red lights that give bikes priority--at high-risk intersections, among other safety measures.

Seattle
The city council has unabashedly stated that its goal is to unseat Portland as the best U.S. city for cycling. Its 10-year, $240 million bike master plan, passed by a unanimous council vote last fall, may just get it there. Among the objectives: tripling the number of journeys made by bike and adding 450 miles of bike paths.

Chicago
Richard Daley, the mayor for the past 19 years and a dedicated roadie, has ushered in a bicycle renaissance, with a growing network of bike lanes, a bike station (pictured) with valet bike parking, showers and indoor bike racks. Plus, the city council recently outlawed dooring. Next up: The new downtown Chicago Criterium debuts in July.

San Francisco
All bike infrastructure projects here have been halted since 2006, when two "concerned" groups sued the city for not putting plans through the environmental impact review process. A judge ruled that the review needed to happen, and the city may not get back on track until 2010. But here's why San Fran rules: The local bike culture has stood strong, and the number of cyclists increased by 15 percent last year alone.

Boulder, Colorado
The most physically fit city in the most physically fit state is an outdoor paradise. No surprise there. Fourteen percent of all trips here are now taken by bike--an almost European figure. Perhaps even more telling is that Boulder is raising the next generation of cyclists: The city's Safe Routes to School program has had such an impact locally that one school reports that 75 percent of its students now bike or walk to school.

as more cyclists and more motorists crowd our city streets and rural highways, the two groups are going to have to coexist

I found this article the other day and I think it realy makes some great points that I totally agree with.. I have edited out all the things that were specific to the jurisdiction of Sacramento so...

The Conversation: Can bikes and cars coexist?
Drivers are asked to share the road, and bicyclists need to do their part

By Daniel Weintraub

Driving home from work after dark a couple of weeks ago, I was just about to turn left off a busy commercial street near my house when I spied, out of the black, a cyclist coming at me from the opposite direction. He was clad in dark clothes, had no light or visible reflectors on his bike, and was powering, head down, as fast as he could go.

I paused, muttered something to myself, then prepared to turn again. This time I saw a second bike, which at least had a tiny, dim light, and I waited for him to pass as well. Figuring there might be one more, I peered into the darkness, and when I didn't see anything, I began my turn. Half way through the intersection I took a final glance out my passenger window and saw, coming at me, one more cyclist without a light. I sped up and made it through safely as he passed behind me.

The experience left me rattled. And mad. As a frequent cyclist myself, I know how dangerous riding a bike on city streets can be. I also know that many motorists have no patience for bikes and those who ride them. Riders such as the ones I encountered on my commute that night are one big reason why.

But as more cyclists and more motorists crowd our city streets and rural highways, the two groups are going to have to coexist. With gas prices volatile and expected to rise again with worldwide economic growth, more people are leaving their cars at home. Some cyclists who could drive to work still prefer to ride, for the health of it.

But there remains significant conflict and misunderstanding, about the rules of the road. Many motorists I encounter while I am riding act as if they think that bikes have no right to use the streets, or, if they do ride, should stay on the shoulder.

On the road, it is cars that pose the bigger hazard, although some cyclists push their luck.

Cyclists must ride as near to the edge of the roadway as "practical." But practical is in the eye of the beholder. It is generally not practical, and can be dangerous, to ride on a rutted or trash-strewn shoulder. As a result, it is common for people to ride on the edge of the road rather than on the shoulder. It is also hazardous for cyclists to ride within inches of parked cars, since people frequently open their doors without looking back to see if any bikes are coming.

When there is no shoulder at all, bikes are free to ride in the road, and they may ride in the middle of the road if the lane is too narrow for a car and bike to travel safely side by side. Also, if they are moving at the legal speed limit, bikes may use the entire road, although doing so can be unsafe since drivers often speed and fail to see a bike they are overtaking.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hybrid Bike?



The other day I had a cable break on the way to work. It was very annoying since I was stuck in my highest gear all the way to work! Anyway, I had the wife pick me up and head to Summitt City Bikes to have it repaired.

We were there for a few minutes when I noticed a few bikes that I hadn't seen before. I checked them out and they have this huge hub on the front wheel. I asked one of the very knowledgeable staff about it and he lit up. They are really excited about the bikes.

It is called a Twist Freedom and the hub is for the power assist feature that it has on it. It has a battery that gives power to the front wheel as you pedal! It is Giant's Hybrid Technology.

He insisted that I take it out for a spin. He told me that you have to be pedaling or the assistance won't kick in. He also said that I have to walk it out of the store because the power is so good that it has been a little much for some people. I said I understood and was off.

It is amazing. Nothing short. You aren't even working and you are going at max speed (he said 17 MPH). If you have the means I would highly recommend it. It is so choice. I guess you can go 20 miles or so on a charge. It would be ideal for those who live far enough away from where ever they needed to go, that, riding a regular bike, would be get a serious workout on the way. It is seriously terrific. Price tag = $1,850. he told me that they had them for a week now and one has sold. Pretty cool.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Another way to go about it

There are many angles that municipalities can take to make cities more bike friendly. Some have been discussed previously. One that I have not tackled is the law.

City Councils and Plan Commissions have the ability to change City Ordinance to further increase the bike-ability of their Cities and Towns.

I know this in fact does work as it was added to the Zoning Ordinance of South Bend that for a certain amount of parking spaces at new buildings, there had to be a certain number of bike racks. It sounds small and insignificant, but it in fact, along with other tools, can help to make communities more bike friendly.

The City of New York is considering similar legislation as well.
http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D94CBKE80.htm

Sunday, November 9, 2008

South Bend has done it.....

As a former resident of South Bend I am just so proud of how far they have come in not only implementing portions of their Comprehensive Plan but that they have gone so far, so quickly, in creating a bicycle friendly City. (Actually, I am a little jealous)


Mayor Stephen J. Luecke in his 2007 State of the City address directed staff to:
Develop bike paths that share the road with vehicular traffic by establishing "one major north-south and one major east-west bike path each year during the first five years" of implementation. At 10 miles per year, this will establish a substantial 50-mile network of bike lanes in South Bend.
Complete our riverwalk system from Logan Street to Darden Road in the first five years of the City Plan implementation.

This is from a recent press release from the Mayor.

Expanding on Mayor Stephen J. Luecke’s commitment to develop a 50mile network of bicycle routes in five years, the City of South Bend has unveiled a map showing a proposed bicycle network of more than 88 miles.
“This map will serve as a longterm planning tool for my administration as it continues to add a minimum of 10 new miles of bicycle routes each year,” Luecke said. “It will also show the entire community our vision for a comprehensive network that provides safe routes for bicyclists to reach every segment of South Bend.”


Now in the second year of implementation, the emerging network is expected to have 32.8 miles completed by the end of this year (24.5 miles since the mayor’s 2007 State of the City 50mile pledge). The proposed new routes will feature a yettobe determined combination of:

Bicycle lanes – Painted fivefootwide lanes on each side of the road between traffic and parking lanes. (Example: Mishawaka Avenue)

Multipurpose paths – Offroad, paved pathways limited to bicycles and pedestrian traffic. (Example: Riverside Trail, Portage Avenue)

Designated routes – Streets marked by “Share the Road” signs that are recommended for bicycle and vehicular traffic. (Example: Ford Street)

The network map is now available on the City’s web site at www.SouthBendIN.gov/bike
It shows already completed routes, proposed routes to be added by the city by the end of 2011 and beyond as well as adjoining bicycle routes outside the city limits. Of the more

than 106 miles on the map, more than 34 miles will be in place by the end of 2008.
How amazing is that! When I lived there I can't remember there being any bike lanes, and now they are going to have 34 mile of lanes/paths! Hat's off to the Mayor and his entire staff proving that they can work together to acheive such great things!

In creating the proposed network, city officials identified routes that provide safe access to destinations, including employment centers, schools, libraries and parks as well as connect to existing routes in neighboring areas. The routes were selected in consultation with representatives of the Bike Michiana Coalition, a nonprofit advocacy organization representing eight local bicycle groups.

The City will determine priority routes to implement each year based on its desire to link key destinations, construction schedules, existing road conditions, funding and other factors. A street must be at least 48 feet wide to incorporate two 11foot travel lanes, two 8foot parking lanes and two 5foot bike lanes. With a limited number of City streets of that width, the City in some places would need to remove a parking lane on one side of a street to add painted bicycle lanes.
“With high gas prices and efforts by residents to keep in shape, more people are riding bicycles. They legally have the same access to roadways as cars, trucks and other vehicles,” said Gary Gilot, director of public works. “We’re trying to balance the interests of bicycles, motorists, and neighbors and businesses who rely on onstreet public parking.”
As the City implements new routes each year, planners will work in consultation with
adjacent property owners, neighborhood groups and the bicycling community for optimal
results.

This is near and dear to my heart because after looking at the map, they put a bike lane on the road that I used to ride to work on!
http://www.southbendin.gov/docs/IT_SouthBendBicycleNetwork_1.pdf

Now, Fort Wayne already had many many miles of paths with the Rivergreenway already in place so comparing the two is not apples to apples but still....

I beleive that Fort Wayne has the talent and ability to work together to accomplish this and more in the future.

Winter


Well, it feels as if it finally has arrived.
I have challenged myself to ride full time this year and if I am going to do that then I need new tires and here is what Joe Breeze (The guy who made my bike) recommends.
Marathon Winter HS 396
For a safer journey. You have full control on icy roads with the Marathon Winter. Even in tight bends and under violent braking everything remains under control. The spikes work best on ice when running at minimum pressure, while at maximum pressure the tires can be ridden on ice-free roads with minimal road noise..

Granted, these things are not cheap. So I figured out how much I was going to spend on riding the Citilink bus every day and figured that I would ride it at least until the middle of March and I am going for it!
So I should have some interesting stories to tell come the next few months.
I have already started to scout some more less traveled routes to keep safe so i know that it is going to take me longer to get to work but I am really looking forward to it. the change should be nice.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bike sharing on campuses around the country

My wife found this for me the other day and instead of linking to it I am just going to post the whole thing because it is so great and with all of the college campuses in this town I think this would be a great idea! One less parking garage is a nice bonus...

With Free Bikes, Challenging Car Culture on Campus
('http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/20/education/20bikes.html');


By KATIE ZEZIMA
Published: October 19, 2008

BIDDEFORD, Me. — When Kylie Galliani started at the University of New England in August, she was given a key to her dorm, a class schedule and something more unusual: a $480 bicycle.

The University of New England
Bicycles to be given to freshmen at the University of New England in Biddeford, Me.
The University of New England bikes are personalized. Free or subsidized bike programs at colleges have had mixed success.

“I was like, ‘A free bike, no catch?’ ” Ms. Galliani, 17, a freshman from Fort Bragg, Calif., asked. “It’s really an ideal way to get around the campus.”

University administrators and students nationwide are increasingly feeling that way too.

The University of New England and Ripon College in Wisconsin are giving free bikes to freshmen who promise to leave their cars at home. Other colleges are setting up free bike sharing or rental programs, and some universities are partnering with bike shops to offer discounts on purchases.
The goal, college and university officials said, is to ease critical shortages of parking and to change the car culture that clogs campus roadways and erodes the community feel that comes with walking or biking around campus.

“We’re seeing an explosion in bike activity,” said Julian Dautremont-Smith, associate director of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, a nonprofit association of colleges and universities. “It seems like every week we hear about a new bike sharing or bike rental program.”

While many new bike programs are starting up, some are shutting down because of problems with theft and vandalism. The program at St. Mary’s College in Maryland was suspended because bikes were being vandalized.

“Ours was one that was totally based on voluntary taking care of the bike,” said Chip Jackson, a spokesman for St. Mary’s, “and I guess that was maybe a tad unwise. So the next generation of this idea will have a few more checks and balances.”

At Ripon, and the University of New England, officials say that giving students a bike of their own might encourage them to be more responsible. Ripon’s president, David C. Joyce, a competitive mountain biker, said the free bike idea came in a meeting about how to reduce cars on campus.

The college committed $50,000 to the program and plans to continue it with next year’s freshmen. Some 200 Trek mountain bikes, helmets and locks were bought, and about 180 freshmen signed up for the program. “We did it as a means of reducing the need for parking,” Dr. Joyce said, “but as we looked at it from the standpoint of fitness, health and sustainability, we realized we have the opportunity to create a change.”

The University of New England here in Biddeford had a similar problem — too many cars, not enough space and a desire to make the campus greener. So it copied the Ripon program, handing out 105 bikes in the first week of school. Because of the program, only 25 percent of freshmen brought cars with them this year, officials said, compared with 75 percent last year.

“We felt the campus could devolve to asphalt parking lots, and a lot of people didn’t want that to happen,” said Michael Daley, head of the university’s environmental council and a professor of economics.
The bikes are marked with each student’s name.
“I don’t have to fill it with gas, and it doesn’t hurt the environment,” said Kaitlyn Birwell, 18. “With a car, you need a parking permit, gas, and it breaks down. I’m a college student and don’t have the money for that.”

Michelle Provencal, 18, said she hopes her bike will help her avoid a dreaded side effect of being a college freshman. “Maybe instead of gaining the freshman 15 I’ll lose it,” Ms. Provencal said.
When Mercer University in Macon, Ga., asked for donations of old bikes, it received 60, which are being fixed up and painted orange and black, the university colors. Forty are available for weeklong rentals, and Mercer has organized mass rides to downtown Macon, about three miles away, to promote the program.

“A lot of students haven’t ridden a bike since middle school or even younger, but when they get back on it their faces light up,” said Allan J. Rene de Cotret, director of the program. “So why not leave your car parked where you live or back home with your parents and ride your bike around campus?”

Emory University has partnered with Fuji Bikes and Bicycle South, a local bike shop, to provide 50 bikes that can be rented at no charge at six spots on campus. Students can also buy Fuji bikes at a discount and receive a free helmet, lock and lights from Emory.

Students, faculty and staff can go to a rental station, show their Emory ID and check out bikes. The program plans to add 70 more bikes and four checkout points in the next year. In addition, about 150 bikes have been sold through the partnership in the past year, said Jamie Smith, who runs the program, called Bike Emory.

“We like the idea of bolstering the cycling culture here,” Mr. Smith said, “and ultimately it supports alternative transportation.”

Bikes at some campuses were treated as toys rather than transportation. Others were difficult to maintain or were not used.

“The kids weren’t taking care of the bikes, leaving them wherever instead of parking them in the bike racks,” said John Wall, a spokesman for Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa., which eliminated its two-year-old bike-sharing program this year. “The other problem was that the bikes weren’t the greatest to begin with. They were donated by Wal-Mart, and others were rehabbed. They had also been out in the weather. It just didn’t work out.”

The elements are a concern at other universities as well. More than 150 students at the University at Buffalo signed up for a city bike-sharing program that has drop-off points on campus, but it suspends service from November to April.

“It’s hard to maintain all the bikes during winter, and usage drops dramatically,” said Jim Simon, an associate environmental educator at Buffalo.

Here at the University of New England, officials wonder what will happen when snow starts falling, but they are looking toward bike-sharing programs in cities like Copenhagen and Montreal as proof that they can work in the cold.

St. Xavier University in Chicago this month is unveiling the first computer-driven bike sharing system on a college campus.

Students can wave their ID card over a docking port. The port is attached to a rubber tube, which can be used as a lock and opened by entering an access code. Students must enter the bike’s condition before it can be unlocked. The system is used in Europe, but with credit cards.
The first 15 minutes are free, and users pay 60 cents for each additional 15 minutes, or $2.40 per hour. All 925 resident students automatically become members through their ID cards. The system was intended to be environmentally friendly, with solar panels powering the ports.
A tracking system similar to G.P.S. will keep tabs on the bikes.

“You can’t throw it in Lake Michigan,” said Paul Matthews, the university’s vice president for facilities management, “because we’ll know if you throw it in Lake Michigan.”

I'm guilty?

It is truly amazing to me how riding a bike seems to have become such a political statement of late. Don't get me wrong. I think that it is a good thing that our public leaders have taken notice and care about the issue. I believe that it will be a good thing for Fort Wayne in the long run. I mean everytime I turn around there is someone on one of the many local blogs talking biking. I think it is terrific that so many people are talking about it and trying to bring things to light.

As I have stated earlier, I rode a bike through High School and through most of college. Back then it was not any sort of political statement. It was biking in it's truest form, for transportation. As it was originally intended. To get from one place to another.

I talk to a lot of people and a lot of people do bike but they do it for fun or for exercise. I cannot blame them. It is fun and it is good exercise. Many of them ask me if I do bike other than for transportation. Now there is an occasion when my five year old and I will go around the block a few times so that she can get some time in, but for the most part I only bike when I need to go somewhere. I know that it might be strange to some. Biking is fun but I don't bike for fun. Biking is good exercise but I don't bike for exercise. Those are just bonus.

I would love to sit here and tell you that I have no statement to make by biking. No politics. But I can't. When we decided almost four years ago, to go to one car, we did it for economical reasons. Having only one car saves quite a bit of money each month.

Then when my wife was pregnant with our son (who is 2 now) I felt bad dragging her out of bed to give me a ride to work. I suggested that we invest in a nice bike so that I could commute the 1.8 miles to work each day (we lived in South Bend at the time). It was at that time that we started to pay a lot more attention the the ecological reasons for biking and although we weren't doing much, I was putting my money where my mouth was. I consider myself to be an environmentalist and this just made me feel, and look, more the part.

So, I guess the verdict is, I'm guilty. I am political just because I am riding a bike and I am coming to grips with that. As much as I say that I ride for transportation, just by riding, I am making a statement and you are too. So thank you for saying it and keep it up out there.

I know that the weather will keep many of the bike commuters in their cars until March or so but my goal is to see how long I can make it until I give up and start riding the bus to work. My goal is to see if I can make it until the first of the year (or further). We'll see.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

From the Councilman......

I noticed this one on Councilman Mitch Harper's blog today and it is pretty cool to see Indianapolis steppin' it up with regard to the bike lanes.


http://indiana.typepad.com/fwob/2008/10/indy-star-headl.html

Thanks

At a little after five on Wednesday, as I was unlocking my bike in the City County Building parking garage, I had a lady that I did not know offer me a ride home (due to the massive rainstorm).
She said that she too was a biker and that it really would be no trouble.
Granted this is prior to me suiting up in my raingear. I thanked her but declined.
Soon after that a co worker of mine offered to take me home as well.
I would just like to thank these two fine ladies for caring enough to ask even though.
It is nice to know that there are people that care enough to offer help.
I gotta tell you it was a wet ride but totally bearable.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

At least 700 billion get us bike commuters something

Pretty cool that the Oregon delegation has stood strong on the bike commuting for such a long time.

I guess they have been trying to get a bike commuter tax credit for a number of years now but always were shot down. That is until their vote was really needed for something!
The bicycle commuter act was passed last week as a part of the bail out!

Check it out!

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/10/09/BA1D13DRO7.DTL&type=politics

Bummer for those of us whose employers don't pay federal taxes though. All the rest of you, take advantage and that is all.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Planning

It is exciting news that the Mayor has started the data collection phase of the Bike Planning process. Thanks to Ashley (Commentor on this blog) for reminding me that this is something that needs to be spoken about.

Currently, the City is asking members of the community to give input so that data can be compiled for the City's bike lane/route planning. If you ride a bike, thought about doing it, whatever, please follow this link and fill out the questionaire.

http://www.cityoffortwayne.org/forms/bicycle_survey.php

From what I have heard there have been literally, hundreds of responses sent in so far and it has only been a week or so since the thing was launched! (A hard copy survey is also in this month's City Utilities bill) That is great to hear.

Let it be known to all of you out there that this is the beginning of something that could be great for this City and all who choose to commute on a bike. But, this survey is just the very beginning. Planning can be a long process, and for good reason. To look at everything involved takes a while. Below is the definition of Planning according to the American Planning Association.

What Is Planning?

Planning, also called urban planning or city and regional planning, is a dynamic profession that works to improve the welfare of people and their communities by creating more convenient, equitable, healthful, efficient, and attractive places for present and future generations.
Planning enables civic leaders, businesses, and citizens to play a meaningful role in creating communities that enrich people's lives.


Good planning helps create communities that offer better choices for where and how people live. Planning helps community members envision the direction their community grow and will help them find the right balance of new development and essential services, protection of the environment, and innovative change.


Planning is done in many arenas and involves professionals who are planners and those who are professionally certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). Planners work with elected and appointed officials, such as mayors and planning commissioners, to lead the planning process with the goal of creating communities of lasting value. Planners help civic leaders, businesses, and citizens envision new possibilities and solutions to community problems.

The American Planning Association and its professional institute, AICP, help planners, officials, and citizens better serve their communities by providing research, educational resources, practical advice and tools, and up-to-date information on planning. Planners working with community members help communities meet the challenges of growth and change.

You really start to understand what is involved, who is involved, and what the stakes are after reading the above. Don't you? Lines like, "that works to improve the welfare of people and their communities by creating more convenient, equitable, healthful, efficient, and attractive places for present and future generations. " I mean that's great stuff! This bike plan could do all of these things.

I will make a confession here that I was a professional Planner in a past life and I am a firm believer that Planning, when done right, can do a great deal to improve the quality of life of the residents of the community. To be honest, I am just so happy that the can of worms has been opened. What do I mean by that you ask? I think that by asking for public input on this subject, the Mayor and the City is now going to gain a much clearer understanding about how many people bike, where they live, where they want to be able to bike to safely, what specific roads they want to do all of this on, etc. (I really feel for the lowley planners that have the job of complilng all of that information!)

Where are you going? Planning takes a while. We need to be patient. I want bike lanes everywhere yesterday too. But chill. It will take months to even compile all of this data! It is okay. This is not going to be a quick win, but, I guarantee you that in 10 years when we all look back as to what happened to get Fort Wayne to be such a bike commuter friendly town, it started with Planning.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Nothin' Much

I gotta tell you all that I have sure seen a lot of people on their bikes lately.
Most of the time they don't seem like they are going too far on their bikes just because they don't really have any gear with them and they seem to be riding at a leisurly pace but it is nice to see none the less.
They other day I was on my way back from...I don't remember where but I was at the light to turn left onto Parnell from Clinton.
I saw a bicycle commuter that was merging from Parnell onto Clinton Northbound! He had to be a commuter (the backpack is always the dead giveawy) but no helmet! What? No helmet! Clinton! Are you nuts! I was thinking about it though and what are the alternatives for people to commute on North of Coliseum Blvd? If you need to go north of Coliseum then you could take Crescent if you are going NE. But if you need to go straight north your choices are Clinton or Coldwater. It is no wonder that people are afraid to ride their bikes! And if you want to go NW then you get Lima. Wow. When gas gets up to 5 bucks a gallon, I would estimate that there will be a few bike commuter fatalities a year in this town.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Bikes against Cars (I am a bad blogger!)

So today we commuted to Johnny Appleseed.
Me and the family. I had the 5 yr old on the tagalong and my wife had the two yr old in the trailer.
From where we live we can cut through the neighborhood for most of the way but once you get near the park it gets a wee bit hairy. I am much more comfortable with cars around me than the wife but still, with the little one in the trailer behind her, I feel her stress as well.
At St. Joseph and Parnell there is no room on the side walk so we had to cross the bridge in the street and it wasn't too bad but not too good either. We got there safely, had a great time and saved 4 bucks on parking.
On the way home there is no way to make a left turn out of the park to head south on Parnell so we ended up walking our bikes to St Joseph and mounting up there. It was super hairy as people are flying every which way and once we got on St joseph (where there is no shoulder or sidewalk and the trailer is a bit wide) we held up traffic pretty well until we got to our turn. The cars behind us were courteous though and for that I am thankful. We returned home safely.

A little later I drove to a garage sale on Parnell to pick up a bed at a garage sale that my wike had purchased the day before.
As I was loading up the bed I noticed a lady riding her bike south on Parnell at a decent clip.
Traffic was heavy on Parnell with the festival going on and they were afraid to try and pass her. As they were going by the third vehicle was an old Chevy truck with a (what turned out to be a very impatient) gentleman at the wheel. He laid on the horn not once, but twice in 100 feet or so. My heart went out to the bike commuter and the peoople who felt that they could not safely pass her. And once again realized that in many drivers minds, the roads are not for bikes. Parnell has no shoulder and no sidewalks either leaving this bike commuter no choice but to brave the road.
Kudos to her for riding her bike! And to all those people who braved the traffic on Parnell to bike to the festival as well. We saw at least 50 bikes locked up to gates and trees and signs (No they don't have bike racks at the park).
For the three of you that are reading this, sorry it has been so long, I have been slammed at work.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Be a Part of the action!

Fort Wayne is planning a bike route leading from Renaissance Pointe and South Central neighborhoods and wants to hear what you think!

The planning of
Fort Wayne’s FIRST
Bicycle & Pedestrian Route
from Renaissance Pointe
and South Central
Neighborhoods to
Downtown Fort Wayne
Walk
Bike
Live
You’re Invited to Participate in:
For more information:
Call Jane Yoh at 427-2175
TIME: 6:00 P.M. TO 8:00 P.M.
DATE: THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2008
LOCATION: CITY/COUNTY BUILDING ~ 2ND FLOOR OMNI ROOM
1 EAST MAIN STREET

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The River

As I have stated previously, I find extreme pleasure in being able to bike along the St. Joseph River every day going to and from work. I am a "river person". The river seems to me to be more alive than, let's say, a lake. I have been lucky enough in this life to have spent some time running one of this country's great rivers, the Colorado. It was then that I fell in love with rivers.
I spent some time in Arizona on a Pima indian reservation. The Pima name for their tribe was Akimel O'odham, which means "River People". They were dependant and very connected to their rivers. Here in Fort Wayne, it seems the only time we care about the rivers are when they flood.
It is crazy that I have found myself in the City of Three Rivers. And that I get to commute along one of them each day. For that I am truly thankful.

Where the heck am I going with all of this river stuff you ask?
Well, the St. Joseph River, on which I commute, is probably one of the uglier rivers of the three that we have here in Ft. Wayne. I understand that the levies are a necessity but it makes for a very un-natural appearance. That is until the rivers have been allowed to flow more freely in the last few days. Finally, I saw the geography of the river, Where it wants to flow and where it wants to deposit its sediment. It has actually come alive. I have been able to see it in it's more natural state.
So today as I was taking all of this in and traveling north looking at the Tennesee bridge I see a splash that, I thought, came from an extremely large fish. I kept my eye on the spot as I got closer and then had a horrible realization. Someone driving on the Tennesee Bridge had thrown a can of Mt Dew into the river as they passed over it. It made me sick to my stomach that this living river could take such abuse. This river, that is on of the main reasons that the Indians were here before the whites chased them out. The reason that we are here still today. We throw our trash and our poop and whatever else into out rivers. It is no wonder that the wildlife seems so absent form this stretch of the St. Joe. With the water low you can see a shopping cart and an old camper shell too. If I am being too dramatic then I guess I just don't get it. These rivers are a resource, not a flowing trash can. That is how I view them at least. Although the prevailing attitude seems to be different from my own. I mean, the only reason we are doing the storm water separation project that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars over the next twenty years is so the City won't get fined by the EPA! I guess I don't get it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Some bicycle articles from the Christian Science Monitor

These really hit home with the problems that can arise from more people biking.
Should we be looking to solve them now, or should we wait until the problem gets a bit bigger?
They both should give you all some interesting food for thought.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0825/p01s01-usec.html

http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0619/p03s03-ussc.html

Critical Mass Ride gets some press

Check out the press on What's Going Down(town) blog!

http://www.whatsgoingdowntown.com/2008/08/26/more-press-for-critical-mass/#more-405

I will be attending my first Critical Mass ride this month and I hope to see you all there.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bike trails and bike lanes plan

Cities such as Portland, OR and Minneapolis, MN have terrific alternate (especially bicycle) transportation systems. The city governments went out of their way many years ago to plan for what exists in those municipalities now.

Fort Wayne is no where near those other cities as far as infrastructure, but there is a pedestrian and bicycle planning process that has taken place. And a plan that has been produced. That of course is the first step in creating a network of trails and bike lanes that would help to connect the city and county. The Northeastern Indiana Regional Coordinating Council is the agency that completed the Bicycle/Pedestrian transportation Plan.

Here is a little snippet about who NIRCC is and what they do (taken from the Public Participation Plan dated May 2007)

The Northeastern Indiana Regional Coordinating Council (NIRCC) is the agency
designated by the Governor of the State of Indiana to perform general purpose planning
on a regional basis for Adams, Allen, DeKalb, and Wells Counties. NIRCC functions not
only as the regional development agency, but also as the Intergovernmental Review
Agency for this multi-county area. In addition, NIRCC serves as the Metropolitan
Planning Organization (MPO) for the Fort Wayne-New Haven-Allen County Urbanized
Area.

The Northeastern Indiana Regional Coordinating Council as the Metropolitan Planning
Organization is charged with performing comprehensive transportation planning in the
Urbanized Area. Under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity
Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) regulations, the metropolitan transportation
planning process must occur in an atmosphere of public involvement and participation.
The regulations state that each “MPO shall develop and use a documented participation
plan that defines a process for providing citizens, affected public agencies,
representatives of public transportation employees, freight shippers, providers of freight
transportation services, private providers of transportation, representatives of users of
public transportation, representatives of users of pedestrian walkways and bicycle
transportation facilities, representatives of the disabled, and other interested parties with
reasonable opportunities to be involved in the metropolitan transportation planning
process.”

The public participation plan in its entirety can be viewed here:
http://www.co.allen.in.us/images/stories/planning/NIRCC/Participation%20Plan%20Final_approved0507rev.pdf

It explains, in case you don't want to read the whole thing, how the agency went about coming up with the bicycle/pedestrian map for the future of Fort Wayne.

This map can be viewed here:
http://www.co.allen.in.us/images/stories/planning/NIRCC/Bike%20Ped%20Plan%2012_07%20Large.pdf

The map shows proposed and existing, on and off street trails, sidewalks, bike lanes, curb lanes and shoulder lanes.

Obviously a lot of time, energy, and money went into this plan but from what I can tell by examining it, very little has been implemented. I do not know the reason for that but, it is good to know that there is a plan out there that seems to be quite comprehensive if and when the appropriate agencies decide to implement it.

Bad Bikers, Bad.

Today I witnessed two different sets of bikers completely ignoring the rules of the road and I said to myself...Self, bikers will always have a bad rap as long as there are bicycle commuters out there who refuse to obey the rules of the road.

One guy seemed like he was a bicycle commuter (the backpack, the helmet, etc) and was on Main St heading east at Ewing. The light was red and he waited for the traffic to clear and then ran the red light. As a motorist on occasion, I can tell you that this type of behavior typically infuriates me. As a bike commuter it just makes me shake my head and know that this is one example of why I, when on my bike, get yelled at and sometimes cursed at by motorists for apparently just existing in their immediate area.

The other set of bikers were on Coliseum right by the Kmart and Lakeside golf course. east side of the street. They were, I assume, Mormon Missionaries. They had the white shirts and ties (I am from Arizona so I am pretty sure that I know what I am talking about). They proceeded to ride against northbound traffic on the shoulder across the bridge over the Maumee! Wow. Not only dangerous and totally against the rules of the road, but crazy.

So, the underlying theme of this post? We will not be respected as bike commuters if we do not follow the rules of the roads that we ride on, period. Think I'm wrong? I'd love to hear your point.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bike Language: The Wave, the Yell, and the Nod

This comes from Nate Berg by way of Paul S. and is pretty right on.

City cycling can be hectic. Let's be realistic: most American cities are not meant for cyclists. It would be great if they were, but for now, our city forms are primarily designed for the movement of cars. Because cities are made for cars, it's understandable that car drivers tend to disregard the fact that somebody might be riding a bike out there. Until our urban forms and public policies encourage the use of roads by a variety of transportation types, the burden is on cyclists to assert their role in the transit jungle. Communication is key to achieving this goal. Safe cycling (and safe transportation in general) relies heavily on communication. Safe cyclists speak bike language -- a rudimentary system made up of three main components: the wave, the yell and the nod.

1. The Wave
The wave is a critical part of cyclist communication. The wave is the simple use of the arm to indicate where one is heading. To show others where they intend to go, bikers can merely point in the direction of a turn, just like a driver can use a turn signal. When people know what to expect on the road, they can react appropriately. It's a pretty simple concept, and one that is incredibly easy to put into action. In addition to being a basic safety measure, the wave can also be used by bikers to thank others for acknowledging their presence. For example, when a car yields to the right-of-way of a cyclist, or when drivers stop to let a signaling biker turn, a friendly wave is a nice way of saying "thanks for not killing me."

2. The Yell
The unfortunate reality of city biking is that cyclists are often unnoticed. The wave helps to make bikers more noticeable, but sometimes a wave is not enough. The yell is an important part of bike language, as it tends to be used when there's little time to do anything else. A brief yelp has saved many bikers' lives from blindly merging cars and distracted drivers. It's also a highly effective method of reminding people that cars are not the only occupants of the road. Car drivers are used to seeing the roads filled with other car drivers, so many don't often even consider the fact that there might be a biker infiltrating their playgrounds. This is a symptom of sloppy driving, but one more deeply caused by a road network design focused on serving one type of user. Ignorant drivers should by no means be forgiven for overlooking cyclists, but we should recognize the root cause of their ignorance. The yell is a great way to help drivers transcend from this ignorant state and attain the true understanding of the road as a multi-user medium.

3. The Nod
The third of the three most important elements of bike language is the nod. While the yell and the wave are mainly instruments of cyclist safety, the nod is more about community. As cyclists pass each other on the road, they can often be seen giving each other a quick nod of the head. It’s a sign of solidarity in a world where the cyclist is a second-class citizen of the road. This simple gesture creates a subtle but real sense of community amongst bikers, reminding that, no, they are not alone.

Using these three basic forms of bike language will make city biking a lot safer, and a lot easier to integrate into the fast-moving oblivious world of the automobile. Now, I'm sure many drivers out there have had some frustrations with self-righteous bikers at some point, and I know for sure that many cyclists out there have had some scary and painful interactions with inattentive drivers in the course of their city cycling. Let's remind ourselves that the few outliers can't possibly represent the entire spectrum of bikers and drivers. Yes, many are conscious and respectful of each other, but it's best in this situation to assume the worst and proceed as cautiously as possible. A lot of people say the best way to drive is to drive defensively. I think the best way to bike is to bike communicatively.

Nate Berg is assistant editor of Planetizen

Friday, August 8, 2008

Bike news briefs

This just in.
Newsflash!
Here are some great articles that are worth the read on bikes, bike lanes, and bike commutes. In that order.

This one speaks to european style bikes which are terrific for commuting comfortably.
http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/business/story.html?id=5b8ec27c-f2c4-482b-b6d7-ac2b07b60383

This one is particularly interesting because you wouldn't think that a city like Boston would just be dedicating the first two stretches of bike lanes this last week. It's true. You know how I know? I found it on the internet!
http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/green/articles/2008/08/06/bostons_bike_lanes_nearly_set_for_riders/

I only have to bike 2.1 miles form my house to work. It is an easy, easy commute. I have asked around and no one seems to know the breaking point at which people would no longer consider riding their bike but would drive instead, For me it is about 5 or 6 miles. I'm spoiled. But check out this article about a guy in New York that does 12 miles, one way!
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/27/nyregion/nyregionspecial2/27RBikeNJ.html?_r=2&pagewanted=1&oref=slogin

Stay safe out there!

We're out there!

This last week has been an exiting one for me because I spotted a couple of bike commuters.
I was on the River Greenway on my way to work and I had run over a piece of glass so I stopped to get it out of my tire and all of a sudden was passed by a fellow bike commuter heading (I can only assume) downtown.

Then, on Monday I was riding with a buddy of mine in his car on our way to golf and we passed another bike commuter on Spy Run! I couldn't believe it! She was brave and on a pretty sweet hybrid type bike.

You may be asking yourself how do I know that these people are bike commuters? Well we are usually unmistakeable because of all the gear we have to haul around. I have a big pack that I carry rain gear, change of clothes, my lock, water, etc. That is the necessary equipment. I get the question all the time in the elevator. So now you know.

The more I ride, the more I can't help but think of how great a town this is for biking even without bicycle specific infrastructure. Downtown has great neighborhoods that make it an enjoyable place to commute on one's bike. So if you have thought about it in the least, get out and give it a try. You don't need any specific bike or gear to get started. As you do it you will find out what you need and what you don't.

Someone passed my wife on her bike the other day and yelled at her to get on the sidewalk. I will say this, from what I understand it is against the law to ride bikes on sidewalks in the downtown and I think that everyone would agree that it is unsafe to do so. Have you ever tried to ride on the sidewalk? (I know that the guy in the truck yelling at my wife hadn't.) Pretty bumpy ride let me tell you. The street trees as they mature sure help to wreak havoc on a sidewalk. The road at least gets needed attention so my advice to all of you bike commuters out there, ride the street.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Fort Wayne Politics talks Bike Commuting!

I was pleasantly surprised to find Mike Sylvester blogging about commuting on his bike on Fort Wayne Politics. Worth checking out. Thanks for the material Mike.
http://fortwaynepolitics.com/2008/08/bicycling-on-the-north-side-of-fort-wayne/#more-539

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Head East Young Man!

A while back I had a meeting at Goeglein's http://www.goegleins.com out on Maysville Road. It is located over five miles from my house. It wasn't the distance that was the trouble. It was more the "friction of distance"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friction_of_distance. It wasn't the difficulty of the distance but how to get there in the most safe manner.
I mapquested it and it said to take Lake across to Maysville and then up. Anyone who has ever driven n Lake east of Anthony knows that to ride a bike on lake is just asking for trouble. I could take State Blvd out there too but that is about as safe as Lake.
I could take Anthony down to the River Greenway and out, but there is no way to get off of it at Maysville. I would have had to go all the way to Kreager Park and then back track on Lake to get to Maysville.
So, I finally decided to take Vance. Vance is about 1/2 mile north of State and runs parallel to it (in case you didn't know). It runs from Parnell to Maplecrest. It is a great route to use if you live on the East side. Granted the Right of Way is not all that inviting, but the traffic on it is light (even at peak hours, which my journey was).
So I took Vance all the way to Maplecrest and then Maplecrest south to State and then State to Maysville. Just an FYI, Maplecrest has a lot of room on the shoulder in most places so it was not that bad but State Blvd. and Maysville Road are different stories. It is not for the faint of heart if you know what I mean.
Vance worked great though and I would and will recommend it to anyone who asks.
That leads me to another point. I didn't have to take Vance the whole way. Here in the older parts of Fort Wayne there is a welcoming (at least to bikes and pedestrians) grid pattern of streets for the most part and it is easy to use lower traffic residential streets to get around within the immediate area. A plus for those who live in and around downtown.
Ride safely.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Trip to Summit for a little repair



I am still trying to figure out where this blog is heading so if anyone is actually reading it, thank you for visiting, and bear with me.


As I have previously stated, I ride my bike to work everyday and love it. The ride and my bike. When it was decided that we would be giving up a car and that I would be biking to work I didn't really know what kind of bike that I wanted to get. I did know that I needed a few extras though. A light, fenders, and a rack for my stuff to name a few. I was under the impression that there probably were going to be a number of bikes that I could choose from, wrong. I quickly found out that there were not hardly any bikes that I was going to be able to get everything I wanted without having to add a bunch of extra stuff to it. I did finally find one though. And I had to drive to St. Joseph, Michigan to get it. The Breezer Villager. If your are at all serious about commuting on a bike, then you have to check out Breezer. http://breezerbikes.com/

Anyway, back to my trip:

My bottom bracket started to make some noise a couple days ago and I had needed some brake pads for a while so I rode to Summit http://summitcitybikes.com/from my workplace at the City/County Building.
I first checked mapquest and decided that I would go up Wells Street. Even though it is narrow and there would be a lot of traffic after 5PM, I felt that the cars are moving at a slow enough speed through the little commercial stretch, to have it be somewhat manageable. I left my office and traveled north on South Calhoun St until I hit the Rivergreenway. I decided at that point that I would avoid Wells for a while and continue north on Harrison. Harrison is an awesome little stretch up to Putnam where you must take a left to head west. From Putnam it was right onto Wells. It is a little narrow up to State Blvd., but not terrible. I continued through State and headed up the hill. As you get further north up Wells the sidewalk and curb disappears. It seems to me that the Right of Way is wider than the street is. You have a white line that you have to hug with very little room for error because the pavement drops off about 5 inches behind the line. You have to be careful, but even at that hour the traffic was fairly minimal. I rode past Edy's and took it to Fernhill where I turned right and took that to Lima. I made pretty good time because when I got to the intersection of Lima/Fernhill I recognized a few cars that had passed me back at Putnum and Wells. I then turned right onto Lima for about 100 yds and I arrived at Summit.

As usual, the guys at Summit treated me right and fixed the bike while I waited. I didn't need a new bottom bracket (thank goodness, those are pricey) and got new brake pads. While I waited I talked with David while he priced some socks or something. He said that it is too bad that there isn't a market for bikes like mine in Fort Wayne because they would love to carry brands like Breezer. He said that there just isn't the infrastructure that there are other places. Not yet anyway. I told him that cities like Portland, OR started 15 yrs ago with their bike infrastructure. He asked if I had seen the CBS Sunday Morning (here is the link because I am so new that I don't know how to embed it just yet) http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/i_video/main500251.shtml?id=4297826n
show last Sunday and I had. He spoke about how amazed he was that cities like Seattle are planning to invest hundreds of millions of dollars on bike infrastructure. I agreed.
I asked him if they were still selling a ton of bikes. He also said that up until they started road construction on Lima, that the sales at their shop were record breaking. I asked if it was people planning on commuting and he said he didn't think so. Oh well. At least they are on their bikes. It is a start.
I said goodbye to David and headed home. There is something about a bike repair/tuneup that makes the ride so much more satisfying.
Until next time....



Monday, July 28, 2008

Logansport to look at Bike Lanes

It is refreshing to see that local communities are looking to the future with respect to bicycle safety for those who choose to use their bikes as transportation. Cheers to Logansport and their leadership for seeing a need and moving forward toward a solution. Kudos to the News Sentinel for running the story. Click on link to view story.
http://www.news-sentinel.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080728/NEWS/807280316

Thursday, July 24, 2008

My new route

I work for the City of Fort Wayne in the Community Development Department. I am the Construction Manager in Housing and Neighborhood Services. We rehabilitate home for people with Low/moderate incomes within the City. I write these posts during my lunch hour. Anyway, the Division Director, John Urbahns, came to me last week to see if I'd like to voluteer to walk the Packard Park Neighborhood with Mayor Tom Henry (The Mayor has this program that he is doing where he and members of his staff walk various neighborhoods throughout town and knock on doors to see if anyone has anything they would like to say to him). I, of course, said yes and am glad I did. It was cool. Many people took advantage of it and really seemed to enjoy it.

We all had to meet at the old drive in (Humpty Dumpty?)on Fairfield and Packard and I rode my bike.

I haven't done much commuting to the south so I thought that it might be helpful to analyze the route for bike friendliness for others out there that ride.

I started at the City/County Building and rode south on Calhoun Street and turned right on Berry. Traffic was a lot lighter than I would have expected for after 5PM and Berry was not bad. I then turned left on Fairfield and took that south all the way to Packard Park. Fairfield was better than I expected. There was an area south of Creighton where the ROW narrowed a bit but overall the route was a good one with not too much traffic. I would recommend it.

After the Neighborhood walk I decided on an alternate route bck to my house in the Northside Neighborhood. I took Calhoun and it was wonderful. There was no traffic at all that time of day and not many cars parked on the street. But the Right of Way was wide enough for me to feel safe and it was a pleasant route to take. I would actually recommend it over Fairfield because the scenery is a little more interesting (the older storefronts). I took Calhoun to Douglas and Douglas to Barr. Barr is going through a streetscape makeover right now and there appears to be a bike lane although I don't think that it is staying. Barr St north to Main and then onto the Greenway and home.

I guess I never realized what a gem Calhoun St is. A lot of little Mom and Pop stores still exist and the sidewalks are nice and wide for good pedestrian accessibility. I am surprised that it hasn't been concentrated on for redevelopment. I did notice what looks like a new restaurant a block or two south of the Oyster Bar that looks new though but I didn't catch the name. You go to other larger cities and they always seem to have streets that have a concentrated number of restaurants and bars on them making them a destination point for younger people. Calhoun Street could be Fort Wayne's. Just an obeservation.

Regardless, it was a great north/south route from downtown to the southern parts of the city for all of you out there who walk and bike.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Following the rules

It gives all bicyclists a bad rap when there are people on bikes that refuse to obey the rules of the road. This is a very contentious subject as one might imagine. I was just reading on Fort Wayne Observed about the Cyclist in South Bend (Patrick Sawyer) that was struck and later died of his injuries. I lived in South Bend for a while and I know that road that he was struck on (Cleveland). The 4 lanes are narrow. I wouldn't ride my bike on it. Where he lived though, he had no choice to ride in it to get where he was going. He was doing it right. He is a vehicle and he was riding on the street. Now I don't know how well lit his bike was (It was at 5:40 AM when he was struck), he was wearing a helmet though and still died from massive head injuries (I won't pass that information on to my wife), there are no Bike lanes on Cleveland, and cars really move on that road.
I believe that it is stories like these that cause cyclists to move onto the sidewalk and who can blame them? I know of one person who was killed this year riding his bike on Rudisill. I don't think that there have been any other bicycle fatalities but I might be wrong. So bikers, since they do not feel comfortable on the road, move to the sidewalk for fear of getting struck. That fear is well founded. I have been hit before on my bike. The one on the bike always loses.
My advice to bike commuters is this. Ride on streets that are a bit less traveled if at all possible. Where light colored or reflective clothing. Have a headlight and tail light that are operational and bright. But follow the rules of whatever road you choose to ride on. If you are not comfortable look to find an alternate route. Stay safe out there.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Does Fort Wayne need Bike Lanes?

When I thought about starting this blog, it was originally because I have the great luxury, on my commute to and from work, to bike along the St. Joseph River for roughly a mile. I often see animals such as Heron, or Beaver, or other birds that I have to look up in the bird book when I get home. I know that I am lucky. Some of my commute takes place on the Rivergreenway system. It is relaxing and safe and I have time to look around at all of the natural sites. That time that I spend is the polar opposite of the time that I spend on the street. There is very little time to do anything but pay attention to what is going on around me with respect to other vehicle traffic.
So, I got to thinking, there is no way to have the Rivergreenway experience on the road, but how could some one's bicycle commute be improved? One way that I see that a bike commuter's experience could be improved would be the installation of bike lanes. I have lived in other cities that have bike lanes and it really helps to take a lot of the stress out of the commute. There is just something about that white painted line that separates the Bike commuter from the motorized vehicle traffic. So that is the thought for today. Bike Lanes.
Now I am fairly certain that the City of Fort Wayne does not have a bicycle plan for future addition of such lanes so will we ever have them? Where would you start? It is a big, hard problem to solve. You would have to look at where people live and where they would bike to, right? Or would you just put them everywhere? It's just Paint, right? Hardly. In many cases the major roads have Right-of Ways that are too narrow to paint in a bike lane. So you would be looking at acquisition of ROW and that gets expensive. You could eliminate park strip in areas to allow for the bike lane but most people (including myself) like trees in the park strip. There does not seen to be an easy solution and you can come up with a heck of a lot more issues once you open that can o` worms. But in the age of $4 + gas prices shouldn't we be looking for solutions in order to make Fort Wayne a great place to live now and into the future?