Urban Velo

Undercover Houston Bike Cops Bust Dangerous Drivers

3028416-poster-p-houston-police Houston has a thriving bicycle culture, but ranks among one of the least safe places to ride in the country according to the Alliance for Biking and Walking. Fast Company is reporting on a new program to catch dangerous drivers in the act, and bring cycling fatalities in the city to “Goal Zero.”

“We asked them to put police officers in plain clothes on bicycles with support in the area, so if someone did pass them too closely, they could call on their support to pull over that driver and issue a citation,” explains Mike Payne, executive director of BikeHouston, the organization that originally went to the mayor’s office with the idea. “They just started running special missions, if you want to call them that, where they send people out to different neighborhoods to do this. And they start writing citations and warnings.”

Payne hopes that policies like these will turn Houston into a cycling mecca. The city is flat, he points out, and has wide streets–ideal for riding bikes.

No word on the actual number of citation issued yet. Read the original article at www.fastcoexist.com

No More Bike Paths Ever!

LW0727_bikerulesOk, this is an interesting case of which the ramifications are probably no need for concern. Still..

This Salon article details the case of Marvin Brandt Revocable Trust vs. United States, in which the courts ruled in favor of the family who opposed a bike path being laid through part of their land. Here’s the amusing hypocrisy. They are descendants of the owner of a sawmill that built railroad ties, and they stated,

“They want to bring a train through here, that’s fine. We never expected and we never agreed to a bicycle trail.”

To the family, it isn’t that the government is using their abandoned land through right-of-way privileges, but that it’s a bicycle path and not a TRAIN. Umm…OK.

The larger ramifications of this case are more concerning, in the decision undermines the legality of already established bike paths obtained through right of way privileges. But yeah, good luck fighting the established benefits of Rails-To-Trails programs and tearing up all that asphalt.

Read the full article on Salon.com

Protected Bike Lanes Mean Business

PBL_report_coverFrom the Alliance for Biking & Walking:

In a new report from PeopleForBikes and the Alliance for Biking & Walking, 15 entrepreneurs and business leaders from major U.S. cities explain how protected bike lanes — on-street lanes that are physically separated from automobile traffic by curbs, planters, parked cars or posts — has meant big benefits for their companies.

The report combines this original reporting with an overview of the latest academic and technical research to find changes associated with four mega-trends.

Check it out.

Los Angeles Bicycle Commuter Festival & Summit


The first of its kind, the Los Angeles Bicycle Commuter Festival and Summit is a coordinated effort between an array of local advocacy organization, not least of which is AIDS Lifecycle and the Bicycle Culture Institute. The day-long festival will include workshops, vendors and food throughout the day, party to follow, all at the Village at Ed Gould Plaza in Hollywood. Workshops covering everything from commuting, locking up and navigating transit to choosing the right bike, legal issues for cyclists, and more will be hosted by experienced cyclists and advocates from the L.A. Bike Coalition, L.A. Bike Trains, CicLAvia, CICLE, SoCalCross, Wolfpack Hustle and several of L.A.’s bike collectives. Tickets for the festival are $10/individual or $15/family (two plus kids), available here.


Amsterdam Children Fighting Car Culture in 1972

Bicycle Dutch posted a great piece on this 1972 documentary and the beginnings of Amsterdam’s transformation into the bicycle and pedestrian friendly place it is today. Nothing is perfect and there are still plenty of motor vehicles in the Netherlands, and the traffic deaths that come with them, but it’s been quite the transformation over the past 40 years. All residential streets in Amsterdam today have a speed limit of 18 mph, just as the Dutch traffic expert in this film pointed out as a potential to bring back neighborhood and save children’s lives. Check out the English-subtitled video above, read the entire article at bicycledutch.wordpress.com and get inspired to fight the good fight in your town.

Power2 Live Green – Plaza Midwood Bike Corral

Plaza Midwood is a diverse urban neighborhood on Charlotte NC’s east side. The community benefits from engaged citizens who collaborate to improve the community through arts, environment, education, entertainment, safety and public service. With a growing cyclist community, Plaza Midwood Neighborhood Association received a Power2 Live Green grant to promote alternative transportation including custom designed bike racks, Charlotte’s 1st bike repair stand and an upcycled garden-style bike corral.

“Dial S for Sharrow”: The Lady & the Shared-Use Lanes

From the Edmonton office of Transportation Planning.

People For Bikes: Selling Biking


A former employer shared the wise words of “perception is reality” whenever faced with a situation where the customer was taking our plan in a different direction than expected. It’s an important lesson in bicycle advocacy too — we’re not just speaking to life long cyclists with advocacy efforts, but to the legions of sometimes-riders who may not understand the finer points of traffic markings and control, and may not care. Perception is reality. People For Bikes posted the results of an online scientifically controlled survey on positive/negative perception of various city cycling images from people who own bikes but don’t necessarily ride them daily.

A scientific online poll of Portlanders and San Franciscans who own bikes but don’t ride frequently — in other words, about half the voting population — asked respondents to rate the following photos on a scale of 1 to 4 based on how each “impacts your feelings.”

There’s a common thread to the popular photos, said Mary Lauran Hall, communications manager for the Alliance for Biking and Walking: order.

“The images that are most appealing are the ones where everybody seems to be in the right place,” she said. “There’s a very clear delineation … this is where the bikes belong, and this is where the cars belong.”

It is worth checking out the whole series of images for advocates, daily and casual riders alike. As someone heavily involved in local bicycle advocacy, I found the images pretty enlightening as to how people would really like their commute to look. See the entire piece at www.peopleforbikes.org

World Bicycle Relief Mobilize Me

“Mobilize me and I will…” Help the World Bicycle Relief continue to mobilize people to a better life. They’re at 800,000+ people and counting. www.worldbicyclerelief.org/mobilizeme

The Future of Transportation in America, with Ray LaHood

Mobility Lab recently held an event at George Mason University’s Arlington, Virginia campus with former Department of Transportation secretary Ray LaHood on the future of transportation in America. He predicts that in the next 25 years we will see a huge expansion of nationwide passenger rail, wide adoption of driverless cars, and continued gains in biking and walking infrastructure.

“Transportation is always about the future,” LaHood said. “There are no Republican roads or Democratic bridges,” he added.

About his prediction that America’s future transportation needs would be met more by passenger rail than automobile, LaHood referenced a “pent-up demand for passenger rail,” and said, “The people almost always get it right.”

LaHood told the audience that if Eisenhower had signed a “Passenger Rail Bill” rather than the Federal Highway Act, then America would look much different than it does today. LaHood envisioned a future America that looks, transportation-wise, more like Europe. Smart-growth advocates in the audience undoubtedly were pleased, as the Federal Highway Act is widely considered to have played a significant role in urban sprawl.

When asked by an audience member how a major infrastructure project like the rail LaHood envisions would be funded, LaHood was unequivocal in his response. He called for an increase to the national gasoline tax ”not raised since ’93″ of 10 cents, tied to the inflation rate. He also referenced the Highway Trust Fund as a good starting source of funds, but said it should be supplemented by a vehicle-miles-traveled (VMT) tax, tolling, and public-private partnerships operating to cover the shortfall.

LaHood’s final pronouncement was that while America is no longer number one in transportation, it can be. The countries that are surpassing us, such as China, are investing heavily in rail. If America does that as well, it will create jobs in the short term and ensure our competitiveness in the long term.

Check out the video above and read more at www.mobilitylab.org

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