Sunday, December 28, 2008


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!

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:)

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;

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 ( , 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.