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.

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.

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.

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

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!

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.


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.