Skip to content

Posts from the "Bicycling" Category

Streetsblog USA No Comments

Trading Cars for Transit Passes “in the Middle of the Corn and Soybeans”

The Champaign-Urbana managed to boost walking, biking and transit rates. Photo: Wikipedia

The Champaign-Urbana region managed to boost walking, biking, and transit rates. Photo: Wikipedia

This post is part of a series featuring stories and research that will be presented at the Pro-Walk/Pro-Bike/Pro-Place conference September 8-11 in Pittsburgh.

If Champaign-Urbana can make it easier to leave your car at home, any place can. That’s what local planner Cynthia Hoyle tells people about the progress her region has made over the last few years.

With great intention and years of work, this region of about 200,000 has reversed the growth of driving and helped get more people biking and taking transit. Since 2000, Champaign-Urbana has seen a 15 percent increase in transit ridership and a 2 percent decrease in vehicle miles traveled. The percentage of the population biking to work is up, and the percentage driving alone is down. Champaign-Urbana tracks its progress toward these goals on a publicly available report card.

“What I tell people is that if you can do it out here in the middle of the corn and soybeans, you can do it too,” said Hoyle, a planner with Alta Planning + Design who helped lead the process. “Everyone thinks this kind of stuff just happened in places like Portland.”

Hoyle outlined a few key steps along the region’s path toward more sustainable transportation:

1. Coordinate between government agencies to create walkable development standards

Champaign-Urbana’s sustainable mobility push began with the adoption of a long-range plan in 2004. The plan was part of a collaborative effort by local municipalities, the regional planning agency, and the local transit authority.

Read more…

79 Comments

Irving Schachter Killed By Cyclist in Central Park Earlier This Month

A teenage cyclist killed a 75-year-old man jogging in Central Park earlier this month.

At around 4:52 p.m. on Sunday, August 3, Irving Schachter was jogging on the east park loop near 72nd Street when he was hit by a 17-year-old cyclist traveling in the direction of traffic, according to NYPD. Schachter was admitted to New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center with head trauma. He died on August 5.

According to a post from Schachter’s wife Hindy on the New York Cycle Club message board, the cyclist veered into the pedestrian lane on the loop. The crash is under investigation by NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad, and no charges or summonses have been issued yet.

This marks the first time a pedestrian has been killed by a cyclist in New York since 2009, when a wrong-way cyclist in Midtown struck Stuart Gruskin, who, like Schachter, died of head trauma.

Schachter was a long-time member of the NYCC who led rides and was an active cyclist and runner at age 75. He was training for the 2014 New York City Marathon when he was struck.

Hindy Schachter included these words of caution on the NYCC board:

…this short message also should remind folks of the cyclist’s dual nature. Many of us see cyclists as potential victims of cars. And we are. The city still needs to do much more to secure our safety on Manhattan’s streets.  To that end we should support the many Transportation Alternative campaigns.

But we are also potential predators. One careless move on a bike and we can take down a runner, a walker, a child skipping along.  As we want car drivers to be alert to our rights, so too we must act to protect the rights of other people.

31 Comments

Will This Year’s “Operation Safe Cycle” Make Anyone Safer?

The Park Row bike lane by City Hall, full of illegally parked vehicles as usual. Photo: Keegan Stephan

Yesterday NYPD showed New York that police do actually enforce the speed limit on local streets. Check out the radar guns on Broadway. Today the department is showing the city that cyclists get tickets too.

NYPD’s “Operation Safe Cycle” is a two-week enforcement campaign targeting “hazardous violations that create a danger for pedestrians and cyclists.”

Usually, when the NYPD embarks on these bike ticket blitzes, you’ll see police focus on the most inane and harmless transgressions, like cycling through red lights at T-intersections with bike lanes, where motor vehicle traffic and bike traffic don’t conflict. Equipped with cheat sheets that included non-existent infractions, cops have been known to hand out tickets that don’t stand a chance in traffic court. It created the impression that traffic enforcement in New York is about the appearance of “evenhandedness” more than the prevention of violent injuries and deaths.

Will this time be any different? As always, devoting limited resources to bike enforcement is bound to yield really poor bang-for-the-buck compared to speed enforcement or failure-to-yield tickets. And the very act of marketing a special operation targeting cycling — as opposed to consistently enforcing laws that keep everyone safe on the streets — doesn’t inspire confidence.

At least NYPD’s communications seem to be improving. The “Operation Safe Cycle” notice says police will be focusing on motorists obstructing bike lanes as well as cyclists for “failure to stop at a red light, disobey a traffic signal or sign, riding the wrong direction against traffic, riding on the sidewalk, and failure to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.” That’s clearer than a cheat sheet with bogus bike infractions.

But there is simply a huge degree of discretion available to cops when it comes to bike enforcement. Blowing through a red light with lots of pedestrians in the crosswalk is illegal, and so is stopping to check for cross-traffic and pedestrians before proceeding safely through a red. It’s a lot easier to hand out tickets to safe riders who may not be following the letter of the law than to rule-breakers who are actually putting other people at risk.

Read more…

16 Comments

Where Cyclists Have the Power to Ride Straight Past Turning Motorists

Hey, so it turns out the all-powerful @BicycleLobby didn’t actually scale the Brooklyn Bridge and plant white American flags at the top. That was two all-powerful German artists.

But courtesy of Clarence Eckerson Jr., here’s some footage of raw bicyclist power in Copenhagen, where turning drivers defer to people on bikes at intersections. I guess this is what you would call “soft power.” So many people bike in Copenhagen that all these polite motorists are probably either cyclists themselves or know close friends and family who bike. Each person on a bike going by could be a neighbor, an aunt, or an old roommate.

Streetsblog USA No Comments

The Plan to Build Bicycle Highways Where Cleveland’s Streetcars Once Ran

A local group is proposing repurposing old streetcar rights of way into protected bike lanes. Image: Bialosky & Partners

A local group has proposed repurposing old streetcar rights of way as protected bike lanes. Image: Bialosky & Partners

Like many cities in America, Cleveland grew into its own as a streetcar city. In the early part of the last century, hundreds of miles of streetcars connected all corners of the city as well as its inner suburbs. The streets where tracks carried passengers — Lorain, Superior, Euclid — were the circulatory system of the city, around which neighborhood life was organized.

St. Clair Avenue in Cleveland was once bustling with activity, when it was a streetcar route. A group of Clevelandites wants to make it active again with bike infrastructure. Image: Google Maps

St. Clair Avenue in Cleveland bustled with activity when it was a streetcar route. A group of Clevelanders want to make it active again with bike infrastructure. Image: Google Maps

But around the middle of the 20th century, streetcars gave way to private cars — upending this way of life. Many Clevelanders got in their cars and abandoned historic urban neighborhoods at disastrous rates, moving to former farmlands where they could shop in big box stores. Streetcar tracks were mostly paved over and forgotten, leaving extra-wide streets behind. The retail spaces that lined those routes are now pocked with vacancies.

But some local residents see an opportunity to transform these historically significant corridors back into something vital and attractive. They call their plan the Midway — a proposal to transform former streetcar rights-of-way with landscaped, center-running bike lanes.

“It seems so obvious to me,” said Barb Clint, director of community health and advocacy at the YMCA of Greater Cleveland. Clint is also a board member at Bike Cleveland, the city’s bike advocacy group. (Disclosure: I’m also on the board of Bike Cleveland and have helped promote the Midway in Cleveland.)

Clint is a veteran of the Cleveland public sector and non-profit scene, and she knows the problems with the city’s streets well. ”We have these massive streets, with severely low volumes of traffic. They’re not comfortable to walk along, they’re not comfortable to bike along because people are driving so fast,” she said. ”We can’t preach at people and tell them they should be more physically active if we’re not providing them safe places to do so.”

Two years ago, Clint and another Bike Cleveland board member, John McGovern, came up with the first iteration of the Midway plan. The beauty of the streetcar routes is that they’re nicely dispersed throughout the city. And in almost all cases, the space is ripe for reuse: Cleveland’s streets lack the traffic congestion of larger, growing cities.

Read more…

15 Comments

Manhattan DA Subpoenas Twitter to Solve Vexing @BicycleLobby Case

The Twitterverse had a good laugh on July 22, when the Daily News and the Associated Press reported, in all seriousness, that the @BicycleLobby had claimed responsibility for planting white flags on top of the Brooklyn Bridge. Both outlets reversed course after it was pointed out that @BicycleLobby is a self-identified parody account. But it looks like some people in NYC law enforcement thought they still had a promising lead.

On July 23, the Manhattan DA’s office issued a subpoena to Twitter requesting contact information and IP logs for the @BicycleLobby account and the offending Tweet. @BicycleLobby posted the subpoena online today.

The subpoena includes no details about why the DA’s office is seeking this information, and doesn’t mention the “white flag” incident except to identify the URL of the Tweet.

Here again is the Tweet we’re talking about:

In the past, NYPD has asked the DA’s office to issue subpoenas in cases involving social media accounts, even though the agency has subpoena power itself. The DA’s office declined to comment about this subpoena, and NYPD’s public information desk has not returned Streetsblog’s inquiry.

No word yet on whether police and prosecutors are investigating @BicycleLobby’s threats against the editor of the New Yorker:

Read more…

Streetsblog USA No Comments

How Bike-Friendly Streets Help Denmark Combat Inequality

danish bike use by income 570

Source: Transportvaneundersøgelsen, DTU Transport. 2011. Currency conversion: 7.69 DKK/USD via OECD PPP charts, 2011.

pfb logo 100x22

Michael Andersen blogs for The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets.

We don’t have to dream of a country where protected bike lanes and other quality bike infrastructure have dramatically improved life for poor people. We can visit it.

It’s called Denmark, and it’s arguably the most egalitarian country in the world.

Data published online for the first time suggests that bicycle transportation has been part of that triumph.

After embracing cars in the 1950s and 60s, Denmark took a U-turn around 1970 and began using protected bike lanes and low-speed side streets to make bicycle transportation an efficient, comfortable option. Today, this small, prosperous peninsula (whose capital, Copenhagen, is about the size of Columbus, Ohio) has the second-highest biking rates in the developed world after the Netherlands.

Ask Danes what sort of Danish people bike and they will probably say: “everyone.” In a sense, that’s true. But it also obscures something you’ll almost never hear a Dane mention: the massive benefit biking provides to the country’s poorest.

As you can see in the top chart, people of all incomes bike in Denmark, but biking is most common among the poorest Danes.

Read more…

12 Comments

A Year Later, Cyclist Nearly Hit by NYPD Gives Up on CCRB Complaint

St. Nicholas Avenue at 145th Street, where a cyclist says she was nearly struck, and then harassed, by two NYPD officers in a marked patrol car. Image: Google Maps

St. Nicholas Avenue at 145th Street, where a cyclist says she was nearly struck, and was harassed, by two NYPD officers in a marked patrol car. Image: Google Maps

A resident of Upper Manhattan who said she was almost hit, and was then harassed, by NYPD officers as she rode her bike has given up on her complaint to the Civilian Complaint Review Board, which made no progress on the case for close to a year after the incident.

En route to Central Park, Joan (not her real name) was headed south on St. Nicholas Avenue, through the 30th Precinct, at 6:30 a.m. on July 31, 2013. As she crossed 145th Street, she told Streetsblog last year, “a cop car double-parked on the right made a U-turn in front of me — apparently without looking or he would’ve seen my bright orange jersey in his mirror.”

“Thankfully I just barely missed a collision,” Joan said. “After passing I heard the cop yelling so I stopped and turned around. The cop in the passenger seat called me a ‘Jackass’ three times, gave me the finger, and the driver took off.”

She saw the car number — 2516 — but did not see if the marked cruiser was assigned to the 30th Precinct.

Joan filed a complaint with the Civilian Complaint Review Board, an independent agency that, according to its web site, is “empowered to receive, investigate, mediate, hear, make findings, and recommend action on complaints against New York City police officers alleging the use of excessive or unnecessary force, abuse of authority, discourtesy, or the use of offensive language.” She sat for an in-person interview in August, which the CCRB audio taped. When she hadn’t heard anything by early November, she emailed the assigned CCRB investigator.

The investigator responded by email the next day. She told Joan she had some follow-up questions — which according to Joan turned out to be questions she addressed during her interview. Still, she answered them again, this time in writing.

“Why did you believe that both of the officers inside of the police vehicle were uniformed?” the investigator asked. (Joan replied that she saw both of them from the chest up.) “Were there any witnesses that you can identify and/or provide their names and contact information, of this incident?” (There weren’t.)

In addition, emails show the investigator informed Joan that her complaint about almost being hit by the officers’ patrol car was outside the CCRB’s jurisdiction, and would be taken up by a different agency, which would be in touch.

Read more…

11 Comments

Paint It Green: The Grand Street Protected Bike Lane Is Almost Back

dsf

After three years in hibernation, the Grand Street protected bike lane is about to return. Photo: Ben Fried

The Grand Street protected bike lane is on its way back after three years out of commission during construction of the Third Water Tunnel, the biggest capital project in New York City history. The Department of Design and Construction has repaved Grand between Lafayette Street and the Bowery, and preliminary markings for the bike lane are visible.

Grand Street has Manhattan’s only crosstown protected bike lane of significant length outside of Central Park — a key eastbound route that links up with the Manhattan Bridge and the Williamsburg Bridge. For the last three-plus years, though, this part of Grand has been a non-stop construction zone, with pavement rough enough to untrue even the toughest spokes.

Now the street is smooth, except for a few blocks west of Lafayette, where crews are still at work. That stretch should get better pavement and protected bike lane markings soon, as work on the water tunnel shifts east to the section of Grand between the Bowery and Essex Street.

The thermoplast and green paint can’t come soon enough. Gotta stop this from becoming a habit:

grand_cop

Streetsblog USA No Comments

How Brownsville, Texas, Is Using Bikes to Address Social Problems

Brownsville, Texas' open streets events CycloBia has been a huge success. Photo: CycloBia Brownsville

Brownsville’s open streets event, “CycloBia,” has been a huge success. Photo: CycloBia Brownsville

This post is part of a series featuring stories and research that will be presented at the Pro-Walk/Pro-Bike/Pro-Place conference September 8-11 in Pittsburgh.

Brownsville, a Texas border town, is frequently cited as one of the poorest cities in the country. It also has one of the highest obesity rates.

But local officials have taken on some of the city’s health problems. And one of the key tools they’re using is cycling.

Planning Director Ramiro Gonzalez says it’s been about two years since the city of 180,000 people — 93 percent of them Latino — began its cycling push. City Commissioner Rose Gowen, a doctor, made health-based initiatives a key part of her agenda.

"People inherently want to be active. But there’s always an excuse," says Brownsville's Planning Director Ramiro Gonzalez. Photo: CycloBia Brownsville

“People inherently want to be active. But there’s always an excuse,” says Brownsville’s Planning Director Ramiro Gonzalez. Photo: CycloBia Brownsville

“It really started at the level of getting people active to improve [their] health,” Gonzalez said.

Since then, the city has implemented a complete streets policy and adopted the National Association of City Transportation Officials‘ Urban Bikeway Design Guide — which, unlike older American engineering guidelines, includes protected bike lanes.

The city has been putting that guidance to good use, adding about 30 miles of bike lanes in the last year.

But once you have bike infrastructure, how do you get people to use it? City leaders brought in livable streets expert Gil Penalosa, former director of parks, sports, and recreation for Bogotá, Colombia. He got the idea of an open streets or cyclovia event percolating. This year, Brownsville has held eight open streets events, which it calls CycloBia, clearing major downtown avenues of car traffic and opening them to active play. The city is planning two more before the year’s end

Read more…