Friday, February 20, 2009

A great reason to ride your bike, it can help to save the planet

You can help to make the planet better for you and for those you love.
Great post from a reader of the FWBC. Thanks Ben.

We all need to get off our asses and start caring about all that we do. From what we buy and consume to how we get to work, it all makes a difference.

On that note, while I was at the State of the 2nd District with our Councilwoman, Karen Goldner, the topic of recycling came up. Deputy Mayor, Greg Purcell got up and told the group that only 30% of the people in Fort Wayne recycle. This statistic is abominable. C'mon people. WAKE UP!

That is all.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bike Boulevards

I am a proponent of the concept of Bike Boulevards. I think that this concept works particularly in the older urban neighborhoods of Fort Wayne. It just makes good sense. Fiscal sense as well. Check it out.

Bike Boulevards: Social, Healthy, Economic
By Sam Seskin
For Release Sunday, February 15, 2009

How about a stimulus package that comes with two wheels instead of four, a package that delivers a boost to your health and your 401(k)? That wondrous stimulus item is the bicycle. And an ingenious new way to pave the way: bicycle boulevards.

Cycling, of course, isn’t news. Its health benefits are touted weekly by physicians, journalists and cyclists themselves.

My Congressman, Oregon’s Earl Blumenauer, founder-leader of the Congressional Bicycle Caucus, notes: “Bicycling has immediate and direct benefits for communities that invest in bicycle paths, bike lanes, trails, and secure bicycle parking[...]. Bicycle and pedestrian paths are precisely the kind of infrastructure projects our country needs. These projects tend to be the most ’shovel-ready’ and are more labor-intensive than other projects– therefore putting more people to work per dollar spent.”

So if cycling facilities are good investments, where and how should we build them? Traditionally, planners and engineers have accommodated cyclists by designating bike lanes, separated from vehicular travel by striping. The lanes have become commonplace, and they are a step forward for bike mobility.

We know one alternative: cycling paths on a separate right of way. Such bike trails and paths are usually quieter, safer and often more scenic than the lanes that we find on our streets and roads. They’re great candidates for stimulus fund outlays. Observers like Anne Lusk of Harvard’s School of Public Health argue that full “cycle tracks” are ultimately the only way to go.
But that alterative will take a long time. So is there a shorter-term alternative to the hazards of cycling between rapidly moving vehicles on one side and a string of parked ones on the other, with the ever-present risk of someone throwing open their door as you approach?

Yes — the bike boulevard. It means a not-too-busy street where cars and bikes share the roadway, moving at safe speeds. No fancy striped lanes. Just a street like the one you may have grown up on as a kid. In Portland, where I live, there are a number of such streets. Cyclists prefer them because the traffic is calmer and slower, and motorists who use them most often are familiar with the street, travel it regularly and expect and respect the cyclists who share the road with them.

Sound myopic or na├»ve? It’s not. It’s happening in a number of cities. Slower auto traffic is welcome everywhere people live. And the cyclists themselves add a dimension to the life of the neighborhood and the street.

What steps make successful bike boulevards? Signage and/or pavement markings help cyclists find their way. Techniques to calm the traffic may vary, in response to local conditions. They may limit the number of points at which cars can enter the street, to reduce traffic volumes. They may slow speeds through the installation of “speed humps” or flower boxes that slow down all comers.

Cyclists and city staff have learned that cycling use depends as much on cyclists’ perceptions of safety as on the facts themselves. Bike boulevards offer cyclists a more comfortable environment, one in which they feel welcome in the travel lanes, rather than rats in a maze of narrow bike alleys. And cyclists are responding enthusiastically. On the street where I live, nearly a thousand bikes pass every day. That’s nearly equal to the number of cars.
This stream of travelers, of course, is greatest in the times of day when people travel to and from work. But the riders are visible, and welcome, throughout the day.

For those who live in communities whose streets are defined as places for cars, (and that includes almost all of us) this seems odd, maybe even threatening. Perhaps the cyclists will stop at random and steal furniture from our front porches? Or shout at our kids? Throw trash?

Congregate in the wrong places?
On my street the facts are quite the opposite. Cyclists are traveling for a purpose, just as auto drivers. When they pause, it’s to talk to a neighbor or a friend. And when they travel, the songs they sing aren’t muffled by steel doors. Their voices are yours to hear. In the morning, many are riding with their kids, sometimes on tandems bikes, sometimes with those bright yellow wagons, like a caboose on a train with zipped-up doors. (Have you ever looked inside? It’s quite a sight.)
In the summer the street is our entertainment, our morning and evening news, as riders of all ages pass our house engaged in conversations that range from trivial to sublime, profane to profound. Breakfasts and dinners on the front porch give us a front row seat at our community’s theater. Together with our neighbors who use the sidewalks, cyclists bring our street to life.
And that’s indisputably good stimulus — economic, convenient, social and practical, all at once.
Sam Seskin’s e-mail is

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Bicycle Diaries

Sweet three part audio seris from the BBC about bikes in the world.

Light Lane

This is great and I want one right now!
Thanks to Matt Peters for pointing me to this.
Fed up with seeing friends getting clipped by cars, the designers at Altitude combined two things we love -- bikes and lasers -- to create an instant bike lane and make nighttime cycling a whole lot safer.
Their bike-mounted gadget, called LightLane, beams two bright red lines and the universal symbol for cyclist on the pavement, neatly delineating a bike lane to remind motorists to yield a little space. It should make everyone feel a little more comfort on the road.
"Clearly one of the biggest benefits of bicycle lanes is that there is an established common boundary that both drivers and riders respect and must stay within," designer Evan Gant told "However, this requires a great deal of resources and planning to implement, so we decided to focus on the fact that the bicycle lane establishes a safety buffer outside of the bicycle's footprint."
It should cost around $50, and we think it's the best idea for a laser since Andy Samberg put one on a cat.
The LightLane started life as an entry to a design competition aimed at promoting bicycle commuting. "Having witnessed several friends be hit by cars while in traffic, we felt the intimidation of sharing the road was one of the bigger barriers to commuting by bicycle," Gant said. He designed the gadget with Alex Tee.
They experimented with different ways of increasing the perceived size of bicycles, but decided they wouldn't work. "We quickly realized all of these would compromise the rider's safety by increasing the probability of accidental clipping," said Gant.
Such an approach also didn't consider the appeal of small size and maneuverability. After all, if bikes were big and bulky they'd be called pedicabs. Once they decided tinkering with the physical boundaries were out of the question, Gant and Tee considered virtual boundaries created by lasers. They decided it was a much better approach.
"Although it doesn't establish a clear and predictable path for a rider to follow, it does encourage a driver to provide the rider with a wider berth by capturing their attention in a different way," Gant said.LightLane is only effective at night, of course, something Gant said underscores the need for proper bike lanes. "Permanent lanes are much more proactive and LightLane is more of a reactive solution to the problem," he said.
Gant and Tee are trying to determine the best color and orientation for the lasers. Once they tackle that question, they'll turn their attention to financing and building a prototype that is resistant to rust, easy to clean and difficult to steal.
If we're lucky, they'll figure out how to make it scorch the paint off any car parked in a bike lane

Older cities have safer streets

Great story about study of older urban areas compared to younger ones. (Yeah, Fort Waynians, it is in California, so what)
Here in Fort Wayne we have both. The older safer streets of the central city and the newer not so safe streets of the newer parts of the City.
This has got to be a great reason why everyone on the outskirts wants an off street "trail".
Good read.