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Bike-Share Comes to Philly With the Launch of Indego

On Thursday, Philadelphia’s long wait for a bike-share system came to an end with the launch of the 60-station, 600-bike Indego system, which is set to expand in the near future. At the kickoff, volunteers and officials — including Mayor Michael Nutter — rode about half of those bikes to their docking stations.

I got to talk to most of the movers and shakers who helped come to fruition. Even more fun, I got to ride with Mayor Nutter’s platoon of Indego-ers to a station near City Hall.

The pricing system of Indego is what sets it apart. Instead of a yearly fee with trips capped at 30 or 45 minutes before extra fees kick in, which is the most popular subscription option offered by most other systems, Indego is going with a fee of $15 per month for unlimited one-hour per trips. This allows people to avoid the larger upfront cost of an annual fee, and subscribers who, say, only want to ride during warmer weather can also save some money. Another option is IndegoFlex, which provides a year of access to the system for a base fee of $10, with a per-trip fee of $4 for rides up to one hour long.

Indego is the largest bike-share system in the country that uses BCycle bikes and stations. It’s going to be a great addition to Philly, which has the largest bike commute mode share of any American city with more than 1 million people.

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Bike Lanes on Track for Staten Island’s Clove Road Early This Summer

The project has three segments: sharrows north of Forest Avenue, narrowed car lanes to make room for bike lanes south of Broadway, and a road diet plus bike lanes in the middle. Map: DOT [PDF]

The project has three segments: sharrows north of Forest Avenue, narrowed car lanes to make room for bike lanes south of Broadway, and a road diet plus bike lanes in the middle. Map: DOT [PDF]

Clove Road is set to get bike lanes this summer, including a half-mile road diet, nearly two years after Staten Island Community Board 1 asked DOT for the street safety fixes.

Running past the Staten Island Zoo on the way from Wagner College to Port Richmond, Clove Road is a key diagonal connection across North Shore neighborhoods. The project covers 2.3 miles, from Richmond Terrace to Howard Avenue, just north of the Staten Island Expressway.

With 7.3 traffic deaths or serious injuries each year per mile, this section of Clove Road is a “high-crash corridor,” according to DOT [PDF].

The northernmost section, between Richmond Terrace and Forest Avenue, will get sharrows. On the southernmost section, from Broadway to Howard Avenue, existing car lanes will be narrowed to make room for five-foot, painted bike lanes on each side of the four-lane road.

For the half-mile in between, which runs from Forest Avenue to Broadway near the Staten Island Zoo, DOT is proposing a road diet. The street will be converted from four lanes in each direction to two, with a striped center median and turn lane. Painted bike lanes will be added in both directions.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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Minneapolis Sets Out to Build 30 Miles of Protected Bike Lanes By 2020

Minneapolis is planning to construct 30 miles of protected bike lanes over the next 5 years. Image: City of Minneapolis

Minneapolis is planning to construct 48 miles of protected bike lanes over the next 10 years. Click to enlarge. Map: City of Minneapolis

Minneapolis is one of the best cities for biking in the U.S., and it wants to get better. Last week the city released a plan to build 30 miles of protected bike lanes over the next five years and a total of 48 over 10 years.

Minneapolis has an expansive, widely used trail system, and its 4.5 percent bike commute mode-share is second among major American cities, after Portland, Oregon. Still, it currently has fewer than two miles of on-street protected bike lanes.

“Biking is part of our identity. It’s part of what makes Minneapolis a great place to live and protected bike lanes are the next step forward,” said Ethan Fawley, director of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition. “It’s investments in quality of life, it’s investment in health and access that helps attract people here.”

The 30-mile plan is expected to cost about $6 million, with funding coming from city, county, and federal budgets. Minneapolis will also save money by folding bike lane construction into regularly scheduled road resurfacing projects, according to the Star Tribune. The paper notes the entire plan will cost less than building a single mile of roadway.

The city has tentatively identified 19 corridors that will get protected bike lanes. About half are in downtown or the University of Minnesota area. The other half are in outlying neighborhoods that aren’t currently well-served by bike infrastructure, said Fawley.

Fawley says the plan will undergo a public comment period but he doesn’t expect there to be much resistance or major changes. The city had hoped to install 8 miles of protected bike lanes this year, but it doesn’t look like it will quite reach that goal, due to some construction delays.

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Kent Avenue: A Bikeway for All Ages

While Clarence was out this weekend taping Right of Way install a memorial to victims of traffic violence, he also got this footage of the Kent Avenue bike lane in Williamsburg. Where else but a protected bike lane will you ever see so many kids biking on the street in NYC?

Not that long ago, Kent Avenue was a high-speed truck route where only the bravest souls ventured forth on a bicycle. Today it’s a low-speed neighborhood street and one of the most important bike transportation links in the city.

NYC DOT’s 2009 redesign of Kent Avenue added a two-way protected bike lane while converting motor vehicle traffic to one-way flow. For fast-growing waterfront neighborhoods that don’t have great walking access to the subway, the bikeway is a transportation lifeline.

Note that many shots in Clarence’s video show a temporary design that preserves the continuity of the bike lane and walkway on a block that’s been narrowed by construction. The whole Kent Avenue bikeway is an intermediary step on the way to a permanent Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, running from Greenpoint to Sunset Park.

Streetsblog USA
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Which Matters More — A Bike Network’s Connectivity or Its Density?

The "connectivity" of bike infrastructure a city has matters, but not as much as some other aspects. Image: University of Minnesota

Adding to total bike lane mileage without creating a denser network does not seem to affect ridership. Image: University of Minnesota

What’s the secret to designing a bicycle network that will get people riding?

A pair of researchers at the University of Minnesota recently set out to test the theory that a connected bike network — where bike lanes provide continuous routes between many possible destinations — is a major determinant of how many people bike. What they actually found was a little unexpected. Connected bike infrastructure matters, according to the study [PDF], but not as much as the density of bike infrastructure.

UMN’s Jessica Schoner and David Levinson used GIS software to map cities’ bike networks and rank them according to connectivity, size, density, and other factors. (“Connectivity” is basically a measure of the degree to which bike lanes intersect within a city, and “density” is a measure of bike lane mileage within a given area.) Then, using Census data, they determined the relationship between each factor and the number of people who commute by bike.

Bike lane density was the most important factor, with each standard deviation (about 1 kilometer of bike infrastructure per square kilometer) associated with an additional 150 bike commuters per 10,000 commuters. For connectivity, one standard deviation correlated to an additional 37 bike commuters. Other factors — the overall size of the bike network, the directness of routes within the system, and fragmentation (separate clusters of bike lanes within the same city) — were not shown to have a statistically significant effect.

Schoner and Levinson caution that correlation does not equal causation, so it’s unclear whether the dense networks enticed more people to bike, or if higher numbers of cyclists helped create denser bike networks. The study also did not distinguish between protected bike lanes, painted bike lanes, and off-street paths, so it does not account for the degree of separation between cyclists and traffic.

But the study does indicate that the density of bike lanes within a city could be an under-appreciated factor in getting more people to ride. “These findings suggest that cities hoping to maximize the impacts of their bicycle infrastructure investments should first consider densifying their bicycle network before expanding its breadth,” the authors concluded.

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Two Community Boards Sign Off on Greenpoint Avenue Bridge Bike Lanes

New bike lanes on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge (solid blue arrows) have received support from two community boards. Tweaks to Greenpoint Avenue in Brooklyn are also moving ahead, but bike routes in Queens CB 2 are on hold as  Map: DOT

New bike lanes on the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge (solid blue arrows) have received support from two community boards, but the intersection of Greenpoint and Borden Avenues (purple dot) remains in question. Map: DOT [PDF]

Four years ago, DOT shelved a plan that would have added bike lanes to the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, also known as the J.J. Byrne Bridge, after a year of outcry from area businesses and residents. Now, a modified plan has cleared two community boards little more than a month after it was first proposed.

Unlike the previous plan, which put both eastbound and westbound traffic on a road diet, slimming the bridge from two lanes in each direction to one, the new proposal has one Brooklyn-bound car lane and two Queens-bound car lanes [PDF]. Cyclists will have six-foot bike lanes on either side, with four-foot buffers. As in the previous plan, the bike lanes will not be protected from car traffic.

DOT is also proposing adjustments to the Greenpoint Avenue bike lane from McGuinness Boulevard to Kingsland Avenue, where it connects with the J.J. Byrne Bridge. Some blocks will be converted to sharrows, while others will be upgraded to curbside buffered bike lanes that are wider than the current, faded markings, and will be painted green for improved visibility [PDF].

Resolutions supporting both the bridge bike lanes and the Greenpoint Avenue tweaks received overwhelming support from Brooklyn Community Board 1 at its general board meeting on Tuesday evening, according to Transportation Alternatives Brooklyn committee co-chair Becca Kaplan, who was there.

On the other side of the bridge, Queens CB 2 also voted overwhelmingly for the bridge bike lanes at its general board meeting on April 1, according to former CB 2 member Emilia Crotty.

While it’s given a thumbs-up to bike lanes on the bridge, CB 2 has yet to take action on DOT’s second phase of bike routes planned for Sunnyside and Long Island City [PDF].

The proposal, which calls for shared lane markings on Greenpoint Avenue leading northeast from the bridge, includes the intersection of Greenpoint and Borden Avenues, which has long been of concern to local residents.

Read more…

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NYC DOT Now Using Automated Counters to Measure Bike Trips

There’s some neat news in NYC DOT’s 2014 bike count announcement that I missed in my haste to post about it yesterday. Last April, the agency began to use loop induction counters to measure bike trips on the East River bridges. The automated counters enable DOT to collect data more often, so we can have greater confidence in the accuracy of the numbers.

Here’s what DOT says about the counters [PDF]:

Starting in April 2014, automated loop induction counters were used on the East River Bridges replacing manual counts by human enumerators. Automated counts have the benefit of providing continuous and more robust data throughout the year. To best equate the automated count data with historical data, each monthly count consists of average daily volume for every non-holiday weekday without precipitation. A typical monthly count now consists of between 11 and 17 days of data, versus 1 to 2 days of data in the previous system.

All told, during the peak months of April through October, DOT collected bike counts on 93 days last year, compared to 10 days in previous years. DOT periodically tests the accuracy of the automated counters by comparing the tallies against hand counts of cyclists.

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City Council Regresses on Street Safety, Weighs Fines for Cyclists

Less than a year ago, the City Council overwhelmingly passed a raft of bills designed to protect New Yorkers from reckless driving. Was it the beginning of a new era, where street safety is taken seriously by city legislators, or was it a fluke? The council could go either way, based on a transportation committee hearing today that considered a new bill to fight the phantom menace of cyclists on cell phones.

Council Member Mark Treyger, sponsor of the texting-while-biking bill.

Council Member Mark Treyger’s bill to ban handheld cell phone use while bicycling came up for a hearing today at the transportation committee. Texting while bicycling isn’t a safe choice, but neither has it been shown to be a significant factor in serious crashes. Most of the people testifying about the bill urged Treyger to either amend it or focus on dangers that are actually proven to kill and injure New Yorkers on the street.

“While cyclists would benefit from more safety education, drivers account for the overwhelming number of crashes that lead to fatalities or serious injuries on our streets,” testified DOT assistant commissioner Josh Benson. “The Council may want to consider ways to promote expanded safety education for drivers, which will go much farther in making our streets safer.”

Instead of taking the advice, Treyger seems intent on passing the bill after he saw a near-miss involving a texting cyclist in his district last year. But does one anecdote constitute a real problem?

Council Member Antonio Reynoso asked DOT how many pedestrian deaths are caused by cyclists on cell phones. “Zero per year,” Benson said. “We did not find any reports where texting was a factor in bike-related crashes.”

“It’s a piece of legislation that is bringing attention to an issue that doesn’t even exist,” Reynoso said. “It’s very dangerous to do that. ‘We should start asking pedestrians to start wearing reflectors when they cross the street, just in case, because they might be the problem next. The problems are not pedestrians, they are not cyclists. They are vehicles, and I just think that we are fooling ourselves with these pieces of legislation.”

Read more…

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3 Big Takeaways From NYC DOT’s 2014 Bike Count [Updated]

2014_screenline

The last double-digit percentage jump in the screenline bike count came in 2010. Graphic: DOT

NYC DOT has posted the 2014 screenline bike count [PDF] (after some prodding from us last week), showing a 4 percent increase over the previous year. Following double-digit percentage growth every year from 2006 to 2010, this marks the fourth consecutive year without an increase of 10 percent or more.

The screenline captures bike trips across major thresholds to the Manhattan central business district: The four East River bridges, the Hudson River Greenway at 50th Street, and the Staten Island Ferry Whitehall Terminal. With counts going back to 1985, it’s very useful for tracking trends in cycling to and from the city’s biggest job centers, but its flaws as a proxy for overall city cycling activity become more apparent every year.

Here’s a look at what we can glean from this year’s count and what we can’t.

Growth in cycling to and from the Manhattan core is slowing

Until 2014, DOT conducted bike counts only once or twice per month (last year the agency started using electronic counters that can continuously collect data), so in any given year the screenline count could deliver a number that’s off the mark a bit. But it’s now been four years in a row without a double-digit jump. The rate of growth has definitely slowed since 2006-2010, when the annual increases ranged from 13 to 35 percent.

The de Blasio administration has an ambitious bike mode-share target — 6 percent of all trips by 2020. Imperfect as it may be, the screenline is sending a clear signal that more must be done to make biking feel safe for large numbers of New Yorkers.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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FHWA Will Help Cities Get Serious About Measuring Biking and Walking

This counter in San Francisco gives planners reliable, up-to-date data about bike trips on Market Street. Photo: Aaron Bialick/Streetsblog SF

The lack of good data on walking and biking is a big problem. Advocates say current metrics yield a spotty and incomplete picture of how much, where, and why Americans walk and bike. The U.S. Census only tells us about commuting — a fairly small share of total trips. The more detailed National Household Transportation Survey comes with its own drawbacks: It’s conducted infrequently and doesn’t provide useful data at a local scale.

Without a good sense of people’s active transportation habits, it’s hard to draw confident conclusions not only about walking and biking rates, but also about safety and other critical indicators that can guide successful policy at the local level. A new program from the Federal Highway Administration aims to help fill the gap.

U.S. DOT announced today that FHWA will help local transportation planners gather more sophisticated data on walking and biking. The agency has selected metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) in 10 regions — Providence, Buffalo, Richmond, Puerto Rico, Palm Beach, Fresno, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Milwaukee and Memphis — to lead its new “Bicycle-Pedestrian Count Technology Pilot Program.”

FHWA says the program will provide funding for equipment to measure biking and walking trips. Writing on U.S. DOT’s Fast Lane blog, FHWA Deputy Administrator Gregory Nadeau adds that “each MPO will receive technical assistance in the process of setting up the counters; uploading, downloading and analyzing the data; and –most importantly– using the data to improve the planning process in their community.”

The first counts will be available in December. Following the initial pilot, a second round of regions may be chosen to participate, Nadeau writes.

This would be an enormous improvement over what they do in Cleveland, where I live, as well as many other regions: recruit volunteers to stand at intersections with clipboards once a year and count cyclists by hand.