Tag Archives: Cycling

"Bikenomics" – An Instant Classic for Planners and Bicycling Advocates

Source: takingthelane.com

Certain books become a classic in their field of study because of their comprehensive nature (i.e. The City in History). Others do from their advocacy and groundbreaking nature (i.e. Silent Spring).  In the case of Bikenomics: How Bicycling Can Save the Economy, both of these reasons apply. Author Elly Blue has written “the” definitive book on bicycle planning that clearly identifies the societal, physical, environmental, and economic benefits of bicycling, while also completely debunking the myths, fables, urban legends, half-truths, and outright lies spread by naysayers and automotive apologists.

Facts are funny things. They tend to get in the way of spurious and superfluous arguments. In Bikenomics, Ms. Blue lays down the gauntlet with factual truths about bicycling and how a vibrant cycling culture can go a long way to curing many of our nation’s ills. If one could quote the entire book in a blogpost, I would.  There are so many quotable gems contained within this publication, that I could fill gigabytes of pages with them. But alas, you should read the book, so I have only provided a few of them at the end of this post.

Believe me when I say this is a book that every planning professional must read and own. It will single-handedly serve as your go-to resource on the benefits of bicycle planning in your community. Kudos to Ms. Blue providing all of us with a fantastic source of information. Enjoy!

Here are a sampling of quotes from the book:

“People who ride bicycles also pay taxes, which means they often pay more into the road system than they cost it. By one estimate, a carfree cyclist would overpay by an average of $250 a year — a few dollars more than the amount that the average driver underpays.” (page 13)

“As it turns out, gas taxes have paid for about 70% of the construction and maintenance costs of the Interstate system to date, with that percentage going down with each passing year. Local roads fare worse when it comes user funding. If you take the nation’s road system as a whole, only 51% of its cost over the years has come from direct user fees.” (page 39)

“When you brush away the rhetoric, though, even the fanciest bikeways are a screaming bargain. For the cost of one freeway interchange, you can completely transform your city and immeasurably improve the wealth, health, and happiness of its citizens.”  (page 49)

“Large road projects are often funded in a down economy because they create jobs. But roads are actually the least job-intensive of any transportation investment. Bikeways are the most, creating more jobs per million dollars spent than roads-this is because there are so few materials involved and most of the budget goes to workers.” (page 51)

“Bikes may not be able to solve our health care crisis singlehanded…But bicycling is one of the rare areas where people can directly and concretely address our own health and the health of our community, and quickly see big results. In this light, bicycling for transportation isn’t so much a lifestyle choice as it’s a form of civic action.” (page 61)

“Minimum parking requirements act like a fertility drug for cars’ – Donald Shoup.” (page 89)

“In the US, 99% of trips by car end up in a free spot [parking spot]. The value of that land—and to a lesser extent, the costs of paving, sweeping, policing, and maintaining it—makes [parking one of the largest subsides going.” (page 90)

“In a car-oriented world, old age becomes a disability for many, long before it might in a more walkable neighborhood. The more car-reliant your daily life, the lower the threshold becomes for frailness, injury, or failing eyesight to be experienced as outright disabling.” (page 104)

– Rick Brown

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Is the Rust Belt Starting to "Get It" on Bicycling?

Photo: Flickr user DewCon, LaCrosse, Wisconsin

At the conclusion of this post is a list of Rust Belt metropolitan areas where clusters of bicycle-friendly organizations (communities, colleges, and businesses) have agglomerated. The numbers are based on those organizations which have been recognized as “bicycle-friendly” by the League of American Bicyclists. These clusters are important for several reasons:

  • The data shows that more places are “getting it,” not just “progressive” enclaves.
  • They show that coordinated efforts are taking place in a variety of metropolitan areas, and broadly within each metropolitan area, not just in lone islands of bike friendliness.
  • They show healthy participation by the public sector, private sector, and by non-profits.
  • The data shows that one smaller Rust Belt metropolitan area deserves extra special recognition for the extent of bicycle-friendly organizations in their community compared to much larger urban areas – La Crosse, Wisconsin. On a per capita basis, La Crosse is definitely the most bicycle-friendly metropolitan area in the Rust Belt and may be in the entire country.

Source: cityoflacrosse.org

If your Rust Belt metropolitan area is not included in the list, consider contacting your local public officials, area business leaders, and local educational institutions or non-profits and ask them if they have considered becoming a bicycle friendly organization. If not, then ask them why not?

There is a good possibility that those metropolitan areas that fail to act soon will be left in the proverbial wake of the active/non-motorized transportation revolution. We are at an important crossroads in the Rust Belt, working to remain competitive in the 21st century. Being left behind from a dynamic trend of active transportation could spell the difference between future economic growth or gradual economic decline. Fortunately, those cities listed below, such as La Crosse, Wisconsin have taken the important steps necessary to define their future in a positive (and healthy) manner.

Here is the list:

  • (29) Twin Cities, MN – two communities, one university, and 26 businesses
  • (18) Pittsburgh, PA – one community, one university, and 16 businesses
  • (15) Indianapolis, IN – three communities and 12 businesses
  • (15) Madison, WI
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    two communities, one university, and 12 businesses

  • (14) La Crosse, WI/MN – one community and 13 businesses
  • (11) Chicago, IL/IN/WI – three communities and eight businesses
  • (10) Philadelphia, PA/NJ/DE – two communities and eight businesses
  • (6) Bloomington, IN – one community, one university, and four businesses
  • (6) Cedar Rapids-Iowa City, IA – two communities and three businesses
  • (6) Columbus, OH – one community, one university, and four businesses
  • (5) Champaign-Urbana, IL – one community and four businesses
  • (5) Detroit-Ann Arbor-Flint, MI – one community, one university, and three businesses
  • (5) Grand Rapids, MI – one community and four businesses
  • (5) South Bend-Elkhart, IN/MI – two communities and three businesses
  • (4) Burlington, VT – one community, one university, and two businesses
  • (4) Greater Lansing, MI – one community, one university, and two businesses

Rick Brown

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"Bicycle Friendly Communities" of the Rust Belt

Source: ribike.org

At the end of this post is a list of those communities in the Rust Belt that have been designated by the League of American Bicyclists as a “Bicycle Friendly Community” on its 2012 list. A total of 210 communities have received this honor nationwide, including 47 (22.4%) here in the Rust Belt.

Nine communities that are shown in italics were added to the list in the past year.  Another 11 communities in the Rust Belt where named honorable mentions. Please note the list does not include several communities in the Boston, New York City, and Washington, DC metropolitan areas. Some feel these cities should not be considered part of the Rust Belt.

More details about criteria and how your community can be designated a “Bicycle Friend Community” and are available through this weblink to the League of American Bicyclists website.  The five categories (or E’s) which are used for judging a community’s bike friendliness are:

  • Engineering
  • Education
  • Encouragement
  • Enforcement
  • Evaluation and Planning

Separate designations are possible for states, college campuses, and businesses.  Congratulations to all those communities so designated, especially to those in the Rust Belt.

PLATINUM (0)

  • None (only three communities nationwide – Boulder, CO; Davis, CA; and Portland, OR)

GOLD (2)

  • Madison, Wisconsin
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota

SILVER (5)

  • Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Bloomington, Indiana
  • Burlington, Vermont
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • La Crosse, Wisconsin

BRONZE (40)

  • Baltimore, Maryland
  • Brunswick, Maine
  • Carmel, Indiana
  • Cedar Falls, Iowa
  • Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Columbus, Indiana
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Dayton, Ohio
  • Des Moines, Iowa
  • Eau Claire, Wisconsin
  • Fort Wayne, Indiana
  • Franklin, Pennsylvania
  • Goshen, Indiana
  • Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Greater Mankato, Minnesota
  • Houghton, Michigan
  • Indianapolis/Marion County, Indiana
  • Iowa City, Iowa
  • Keene, New Hampshire
  • Lansing, Michigan
  • Marquette, Michigan
  • Morgantown, West Virginia
  • Naperville, Illinois
  • Newark, Delaware
  • Northampton, Massachusetts
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Portage, Michigan
  • Rochester, Minnesota
  • St. Louis, Missouri
  • St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Schaumburg, Illinois
  • Sheboygan County, Wisconsin
  • South Bend, Indiana
  • South Windsor, Connecticut
  • State College, Pennsylvania
  • Traverse City, Michigan
  • University Heights, Iowa
  • Urbana, Illinois

HONORABLE MENTION (11)

  • Detroit, Michigan
  • Dubuque, Iowa
  • Elmhurst, Illinois
  • Gahanna, Ohio
  • Hagerstown, Maryland
  • Huntington, West Virginia
  • Middleton, Wisconsin
  • Monroe County, Indiana
  • Portland, Maine
  • River Falls, Wisconsin
  • West Des Moines, Iowa

Rick Brown

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East Lansing Org: Helping the Poor, One Bike at a Time

Founded in 1994, Share-a-Bike is an East Lansing, Michigan-based charity that receives old, unused, discarded, and donated bicycles. Whenever practical, these bicycles are completely refurbished and then donated to the underprivileged in the community, including the homeless, new immigrants, and the poor. Last Saturday, I had the honor to work with them collecting bicycles at a local spring recycling event in cialis e viagra a confronto the community.

For many of the recipients, the gift of an operable bicycle may be their lifeline of last resort. Either they cannot afford to purchase or maintain an automobile, may have never learned to drive a car, live too far away from transit routes, or work hours that are not conducive to transit usage. Likewise, the bicycle provides them greater mobility and reliability for job hunting, shopping, or attending school.

Share-a-Bike accepts donations of new and used bicycles as well as monetary canadian pharmacy spam 2013 donations. Those donations which cannot be reused are sold at a metal salvage yard and the cash generated is used to purchase bicycle helmets at a discount for those receiving the bikes. In case you are wondering if there is a ready market for such a venture, there most definitely is. According to a representative of Share-a-Bike, in each of the past three years they have given away 600 or cheap cialis more bicycles and could have provided generic viagra even more if their donation supply had kept up with demand. He also explained how it is estimated that a minimum of $250,000 per year is contributed to the local economy if only 50 of the 600 bicycle recipients (or 8.3 percent) obtained a part-time job from having reliable transportation.

If an organization similar to Share-a-Bike exists in your community, please consider making a donation that will assist their efforts. It can be a very rewarding way to give back to your local community, while strengthening the economy at the same time.

Rick Brown

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Cycling up 50% in Cleveland

Good news out of Cleveland! (God, it feels good to say that.)

Cycling is up 50% in the county, according to a study by the regional planning agency NOACA.

Comin at 'cha! Two-wheeled Clevelanders brave mostly bikelaneless streets in the name of sustainability.

Because Cleveland is awe-some! Or, if you ask the experts  …

A news release from NOACA said reasons for the increase may include the downturn in the economy, higher gas prices, buses being outfitted with bike racks and the growing number of bike lanes.

There really aren’t too many bike lanes in the city, actually, I have to add, as a bike commuter. But now that there has been a groundswell in public support for the practice, I’m sure that will change ;).

Kudos to Clevelanders for taking matters into their own hands.

-AS

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As The Crow Rides: Cleveland’s Cyclists Rally for I-90 Bridge Path

Cleveland's cyclists

Cleveland's cyclists at Carnegie Ave. & Ontario St., rallying for a bike path on the new I-90 Inner Belt Bridge. Sunday, Dec. 6.

Don’t let the sunshine in the photos fool you.

It was a cold one in Tremont on Sunday, as temperatures in the low 30s heralded winter’s tightening reins on Cleveland. But the weather didn’t deter over 100 cyclists and pedestrians from rallying in support of a path to connect them to downtown. United States Representative Dennis Kucinich made an appearance, pledging his word for a path with a letter to Ohio Governor Ted Strickland.

From the neighborhood on Cleveland’s west side, a leap over the milky Cuyahoga River, bikers rode and walkers strode to the lawn at Carnegie Avenue and Ontario Street.  The broad swath of concrete is one of the largest intersections in the city, linking downtown to I-90 and I-77.  Two riders reportedly got flat tires on Scranton Road in The Flats (go figure), the pot-holed tangle of roads along the Cuyahoga River underneath the bridges above.

Dennis Kucinich

Dennis Kucinich

For several years, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has bristled at including a bike/pedestrian bath in plans for a proposed $450-million bridge over the Cuyahoga River. That’s the I-90 Inner Belt Bridge, among the vital east-west transportation links in the US. After almost a year of lane closures to reduce the bridge’s carrying weight, plus sporadic, complete overnight shutdowns for repairs that are keeping I-90 on life support, the bridge has beset Cleveland’s interstate highway traffic with detours and frustration.

Residents in Tremont, one of Cleveland’s fastest growing neighborhoods, were cut off from downtown when ODOT closed an onramp last year that connected the area to downtown with virtually a straight line.

The bridge is going to be replaced anyway, beginning in 2011. So why not include such a path? It seems rare nowadays that the common sense, the public interest, and federal agency’s directives are on the same page. The Federal Highway Administration’s officially adopted policy for new transportation infrastructure, you would think, makes it easy for ODOT to give the path a green light:

“Every transportation agency has the responsibility and the opportunity to make a difference to the bicycle-friendliness and walkability of our communities. The design information to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians is available, as is the funding.”

ODOT’s main alternative is improving existing roads that snake their way downtown. Easy enough to pitch, especially considering that the agency did not include any plans for a path to begin with, leaving it up to supporters of a multi-modal path to independently come up with a blueprint. The Plain Dealer reported recently that Cleveland lawyer Kevin Cronin, president of the nonprofit ClevelandBikes, filed a lawsuit against ODOT on November 18, “asking the U.S. District Court in Cleveland to stop the state agency from proceeding with the bridge until the needs of bicyclists are addressed.” However, ODOT’s work has not halted.

Let us cross the bridge.

Let us cross the bridge.

Aside from the immediate ramifications of ODOT’s refusal of the path (circuitous, potentially dangerous routes; neighborhoods hemorrhaging into the Flats and into each other instead of being funneled downtown, etc.), I’m curious of the long-term precedent ODOT is setting for future projects. Given the scale and scope of the I-90 Inner Belt project, the state and feds cannot afford to be prudent to invest in infrastructure that solely caters to the automobile.

Equal should be the consideration for multi-modal options, particularly in Midwest Rust Belt cities, where the populations have bled into urban sprawl. And if a bike/ped path along the contour of a roaring interstate highway bridge isn’t easy and innocuous enough, then the horizon is bleak for our Clevelands, Detroits, Buffalos and Toledos. (From personal observation, Pittsburgh has done an amazing job reinvesting in the urban core. There are bike/ped paths that seemingly run the lengths of all the rivers in the city.)

Kent State University’s Urban Design Collaborative and the Green City Blue Lake institute have shouldered the current path proposal’s development, but the support doesn’t end there.

At the rally, Jim Sheehan of the Ohio City Bike Co-op encouraged everyone to attend an update meeting on the bridge. Info: 10 a.m. Friday at NOACA, the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, 1299 Superior Ave., Cleveland.

As of now, Tremont residents are looking down Abbey Avenue, through Ohio City, via the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge as the easiest route to downtown.

Links to some further reading:

An editorial by American Trails Board of Directors Chairman Robert Searns

Cleveland Scene (weekly) coverage: http://www.clevescene.com/scene-and-heard/archives/2009/12/02/a-bridge-plan-too-far

– Nick Wright

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