Bike Advocacy


3
Nov 2014
by larry

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Biker Part 2: The Trip

gw

In Part 1 of this blog post series I described the context of my journey to NYC last September. I made the trip to demonstrate the feasibility of long distance travel by electric bike, and the People’s Climate March provided the perfect opportunity. This second part describes some details of the trip itself, then indulges in a vision of the future of long-distance biking.

One of the first mistakes I made was trusting Google maps to come up with a good route. In the past I’ve used the “bike button” on Google maps to show me bike trails along my route. For example, on a trip to Washington D.C. I was able to travel two-thirds of the 350-mile trip on scenic bike trails (in particular the C&O canal). Google recommended traveling south through Pennsylvania and then east through New Jersey, and promised a few rails-to-trails along the way. It looked good on the map! What happened in reality is that Continue reading →


25
Apr 2014
by larry

Calling All Cargo Bikers: Support Liz Canning’s Documentary

Screen Shot 2014-04-25 at 9.16.05 PM

If you are a cargo biker you probably know that there is this way cool videographer in California who has been working on a documentary about cargo biking for a few years, collecting footage from cargo bikers like you all over the world. Heck, some of you may even have been inspired to take up cargo biking because her trailer was THAT GOOD. Her name is Liz Canning and she needs your support. She recently launched a kickstarter campaign to raise money to complete the video and distribute it properly. This video has the potential to bring cargo biking into the public eye in a big way. If you want mainstream America to recognize cargo bikes as a legitimate form of transportation, if you’d rather share the road with more fellow bicyclists than motorists, if you want to celebrate what you know in your heart to be the best form of transportation on the planet, run (not walk) to your nearest Internet browser and contribute to Liz’s kickstarter campaign!


26
Jun 2013
by larry

Permission to Bike: A Report on New York City’s New Citi-Bike Bikeshare System

Like Christmas in June!

Like Christmas in June!

New York City recently initiated an elaborate bikeshare system called Citi-Bike. It is a great gift to New Yorkers that goes beyond mere shiny bikes, practical and enjoyable as they may be. Citi-Bike’s greatest gift is that it legitimizes bicycling in a previously forbidding place: downtown Manhattan. Previous to Citi-Bike only daring, athletic and counter-cultural young men ventured onto Manhattan’s chaotic streets. But Citi-Bikes empowers people of all ages and abilities to think the formerly unthinkable: Continue reading →


2
Jun 2013
by larry

Americans Are Driving Less Thanks to Millenials; Teens Need Cargo Bikes Too

Three Millenials on a cargo bike.

Three Millenials on a cargo bike.

A recent report released by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group finds that “a six decade-long period of steady increases in per-capita driving in the United States is over”. Furthermore, this downward trend is due in large part to the driving-aversion of Millennials—people born between 1983 and 2000. “Young people aged 16 to 34 drove 23 percent fewer miles on average in 2009 than they did in 2001—a greater decline in driving than any other age group.” And a 2011 study by the University of Michigan found that only 22 percent of drivers are 20-somethings or teenagers, down from a third in 1983.

A parallel trend is the rise of the cargo bike. Cargo bike use has increased dramatically in Europe, and the U.S. seems poised for a similar explosion. Continue reading →


27
Feb 2012
by larry

Should Humans Be Allowed to Drive?

Robotic Drivers Will Make Streets Safer for Bicyclists and Pedestrians

NPR had an interesting article this morning about robot-driven cars.  Apparently Google has had several of these vehicles on the road for years. Up until now they have taken a “don’t ask permission and apologize afterwards” approach. But recently Google hired a lobbyist who is promoting the idea that these vehicles should be allowed to have driver’s licenses. The idea is that while the robot is in training it will have a bright red license plate so that people know it is a “student driver”. And after it proves itself it will have a bright green license plate.

Many people may balk at the idea of robots on the road. My perspective as a bicyclist is this: the sooner the better. Nothing could be worse than human drivers. Here are a few reasons we should welcome the robots:

Continue reading →


9
Jul 2011
by larry

Proud Hardworking American Bicyclist Disrespected by Own Government

Yesterday the Bikes Belong folks sent me an email urging me to write to my congress people. Apparently a Representative Mica and a Senator Inhofe are attempting to “eliminate dedicated funding for biking and walking programs” because they feel these programs are “frivolous” and “do not serve a federal purpose”. Instead of sending the message suggested by Bike Belong, I wrote the following:

Dear Congresspersons Maurice Hinchey, Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer:

I am keenly aware of the connection between my car use and America’s shameful oil dependence. So two years ago I made a personal commitment to reduce my car use. I’ve been using an electric cargo bike to run most errands around town and even make long trips. Last month I made 30 bike trips adding up to 254 miles. Many of those trips were carrying a passenger or hundreds of pounds of cargo; all of them used a hundredth the energy of a car; almost all of them were immensely enjoyable. In contrast I made 10 car trips adding up to 181 miles.

My point is this: my bike use is not recreational. It is not “frivolous”. It is a valid solution to very real problems America faces. For Representative Mica and Senator Inhofe to reduce funding for bike programs is short-sighted and intolerable. It is a slap in the face to my efforts. Please see to it that bike funding is not cut. And please encourage Americans to bike not just for recreation but to replace their car; not just for their own health but for the health of the nation.


21
Apr 2010
by mark

Build a Better Block for $1000

For less than $1,000, Oak Cliff performed a make-over of a city block, making it more walkable, bikable, enjoyable and prosperous. Here’s a “before” shot:
Oak Cliff street in the "before" state
See the video for the result of the final transformation, complete with temporary businesses like a cafe, flower market, kid’s art studio and live music.

Visit the Streetsblog.net post for more information on this DIY street makeover.
Is this an event that could work in your town?


17
Apr 2010
by mark

Bike/Walk improvements as a “Context Sensitive Solution”

Ron and Annetta

I’ve recently written about why INDOT should revise the plan for US 27. to follow Complete Streets principles.

I recently found another reason why INDOT should do this– because it would follows their own policy on Context Sensitive Solutions.

Ashley Hungate, an INDOT spokeswoman was quoted on a topic in a recent article by AARP, covering improvements needed elsewhere in the state to make Westfield, Indiana more bikeable, walking and livable. Here’s the quote:

INDOT strives to design its roadways for all users through its Context Sensitive Solutions policy, Hungate said. It uses community input to strike a balance between providing safe, cost-effective highways and protecting local values. “If we’re doing a project in a community, and they express opinions on what’s important to them, we try to accommodate them when appropriate and feasible,” Hungate said.

And “expressing opinions” is exactly what’s recently happened in Richmond. The City asked for a plan based on Complete Streets and over 100 people petitioned support for it.

I looked up the Context Sensitive Solutions program and found that “making streets more bikeable is often a goal of CSS projects”. CSS is also used to implement bike and pedestrian bridges like the Freeman Park / Oak Drive Connector which would truly be an improved and viable alternative to US 27 for non-motorized traffic.

With so many reasons to support Complete Streets in Richmond, I hope INDOT will respond soon to let us know that they will be following the new federal transportation policy as well as their own policies regarding accomodations for walking and biking.


28
Mar 2010
by larry

Does Driving Cause Cancer?

Internationally acclaimed environmental activist Sandra Steingraber spoke with my First Day School class this morning. (“First Day School” is Quakerese for Sunday School; I teach the 6th to 8th graders.) Sandra’s specialty is researching and writing about the links between the environment and cancer. It’s truly sobering stuff, which you can read about in her books or see about in the movie Living Downstream to be released next month. I invited Sandra to speak with us because I admire her as an activist, and I hope to emulate her approach in my work as a bicycling activist. She describes herself as a “shy activist” who would rather do the science side of things and support brasher activists rather than be a brash activist herself. And maybe people would rather listen to the science than the rhetoric any maybe people would rather hear it from a shy person than a brash person.

Because of my quest to Blame the Cars for All Badness I was pleased to find the following paragraphs in Sandra’s book Living Downstream:

The even better news [better because environmental causes of cancer are fixable whereas genetic causes are not] is that the synthetic chemicals linked to cancer largely derive from the same two sources as those responsible for climate change: petroleum and coal. Finding substitutes for these two substances is already on the collective to-do list. The U.S. petroleum industry alone accounts for one-quarter of toxic pollutants released each year in North America. This does not include the air pollutants generated from cars and trucks burning the products that the petroleum industry makes…vehicle emissions are linked to lung, breast, and bladder cancers…Investments in green energy are therefore also investments in cancer prevention. In this, it feels to me that we are standing at a historic confluence, a place where two rivers meet: a stream of emerging knowledge about what the combustion of fossil fuels is doing to our planet is joining a stream of emerging knowledge about what synthetic chemicals derived from fossil fuels are doing to our bodies.

…By-products from the burning of fossil fuels are under particular suspicion. Breast cancer, as we have seen, was first linked to potential sources of air pollution in Long Island. Subsequently, associations have been found between exposure to traffic exhaust during puberty and risk of early-onset breast cancer. Perhaps not coincidentally, a growing body of evidence suggests that tailpipe emissions have estrogenic activity. Air pollutants may alter breast density in ways that raise the risk for breast cancer. A 2007 review of the literature concluded that the risk of breast cancer associated with exposure to engine exhaust and other aromatic hydrocarbons is roughly equivalent in magnitude to some of the well-established risks for breast cancer, such as late age at first childbirth and sedentary lifestyle. Corroborating evidence comes from the laboratory: members of a family of combustion by-products called aromatic hydrocarbons—of which benzo[a]pyrene is one—cause breast cancer in animals. According to researchers at Albert Einstein College in New York, aromatic hydrocarbons inhaled by the lungs can become stored, concentrated, and metabolized in the breast, where the ductal cells become targets for carcinogens.

Bladder cancer, too, has been linked in several studies to air pollution. The strongest evidence comes from Taiwan, where researchers found positive associations between air pollution, especially from petrochemical plants, and the risk of dying from bladder cancer. An investigation of bladder cancer deaths among children and adolescents in Taiwan found that almost all those afflicted lived within a few miles of three large petroleum and petrochemical plants.

That caught my attention.


21
Mar 2010
by mark

Highlights from the federal bike and pedestrian policy

detour on the way to church

I’ve recently mentioned the summary of the current federal transportation policy for bicycling and pedestrian accomodation which was signed on March 10th, 2010.

The document is accessible and relatively brief. I recommend reading through it yourself, but have included below some key highlights I believe are of interest to those advocating for improvements for bicycling in federally funded projects (which includes many state projects).
Continue reading →