Urban Velo

People For Bikes: Selling Biking

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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

Ghost Bikes of L.A. at Red#5 Yellow#7

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Ghost Bikes of L.A. will open this weekend, and the show will be the first gallery display of the memorials, which have served as a unique and positive response to bicyclist fatalities on city streets.

This year marks the 10th anniversary the first Ghost Bikes erected in St. Louis, Missouri. Quickly adopted in other communities as a way to memorialize fallen cyclists, ghost bikes have established an important place in bicycle culture as an icon of community and solidarity among cyclists, and a powerful public awareness tool that communicates value for human life and safety to all street users. Often, ghost bikes are installed through the collaboration of community bicycle advocates and the family and friends of fallen cyclists.

Year-to-date, more than 70 cyclists have been killed on roads in Southern California alone, making this a particularly sensitive subject in Los Angeles and surrounding areas. The Red#5Yellow#7 gallery is partnering with families and the Los Angeles bike community to recognize and reflect on the international movement and how it has contributed to the way cyclists respond to and engage with the communities they ride in.

Several public discussions and events will take place as part of the show:

Sunday, Oct. 27: noon – 4pm family members speak + How to make a Ghost Bike
Saturday, Nov. 2: Ride to Hollywood Forever’s Day of the Dead
Thursday, Nov. 14: 7pm LA Memorial Ride on Anthony’s Candle Light Vigil
Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013: 4-8pm Closing Reception

To learn more about ghost bikes and their role in the Los Angeles cycling community, listen to an interview with Jesse Ramon of GhostBikesLA.

Cultivating Conversations at BikeBike 2013

Image by Brian O'Doherty

Image by Brian O’Doherty

More than 300 individuals representing 80 organizations gathered in New Orleans for the 10th anniversary of BikeBike, revisiting the city where volunteers and organizers gathered at the first BikeBike, setting the wheels in motion for a cross-cultural exchange with biking at its center.

An opportunity to share ideas, stories, and support, the 4-day conference brought together a wide range of people and projects that represented the efforts of a collective bike community from across North America and reaching as far as Austria.

“They come from so many different areas and places,” said Vincenzo Loconte, “from places that are very religious and conservative to places that are very anarchist or liberal, very high-income to very low. You hear a lot of different experiences from everywhere.” Loconte, who volunteers at two Los Angeles coops (Bici Libre and the Bikerowave), shared his knowledge in education through a workshop on how to use the bicycle to teach concepts in science, math and other areas.

In an effort to support the broad scale phenomenon of community bike projects and promote a greater level of exchange, this year’s conference included a third day of workshops. Topics ranged from teaching the basics valuable to newer organizations such as how to acquire shop tools to knowing when to grow, to detailed presentations on how to take a volunteer who knows nothing about bikes and turn them into a confident volunteer, to creating better exchange between other organizations, from bike shops to local community groups and businesses, as well as within and among other projects.

“This year was part of a concerted effort to expand it a little bit, because the past few years it seemed like there wasn’t enough time,” said Victor Pizarro, executive director the New Orleans-based community bike project Plan B, the host organization for this year’s event.

“There’s nothing better than face to engagement,” said Momoko Saunders of Portland, Oregon’s Bike Farm. “Particularly around some of the more touchy subjects of privilege, of sexism, creating safe spaces.”

The topics addressed at BikeBike each year reflect the current goals and challenges of the various community bike projects that take on different forms in different environments. Accordingly, the focus has grown from solving internal organizational issues to building a network that can leverage shared knowledge and resources between groups.

“Global cross pollination is one of our long term goals,” said Pizarro. This theme reappeared in workshops throughout BikeBike, and built upon mutual shop-collective support, collaboration among projects, comparing notes on different cultural settings and facilitating national and cross-border exchange.
Read more →

Manhattan Traffic Moves Faster After Bike Lanes, Pedestrian Enhancements

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One of the more common reasons the general public resists the addition of bicycle lanes and pedestrian enhancements is the (false) thought that it will increase traffic congestions. On the contrary, getting people out of cars and onto bikes, public transit and their own two feet lessens congestions, making automobile traffic move easier and faster. Everyone wins. Streetsblog reports on the latest NYC DOT transit survey results:

After several blocks in the heart of Times Square were pedestrianized and protected bike lanes were added to five avenues in the middle of Manhattan, motor vehicle traffic is actually moving more smoothly than before, according to the latest release of NYC DOT’s annual Sustainable Streets Index.

In Manhattan below 60th Street, predictions that reallocating space to walking, biking, and transit would only worsen traffic have not come to pass. In fact, average traffic speeds have picked up. GPS data from yellow cabs below 60th Street show that average speeds are up 6.7 percent since 2008. The average speed of a taxi trip, which was 8.9 mph in 2011, inched up to 9.3 mph last year.

Read more at www.streetsblog.org

Drive With Care Public Awareness Campaign

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Cyclists are people too; that’s the ultimate message of this campaign by BikePGH meant to humanize bike riders and counter the “us vs. them” attitude too common between drivers and riders. Local riders are featured in all of the placements, including Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown who has been known to ride his bike to practice. Featured on billboards and bus shelters, the campaign is reaching those that traditional bike advocacy misses — non-riders. Share the message and help to bridge the divide between motorist and cyclist while on the roadways. Check out short video interviews with the featured riders at www.bikepgh.org/care

Aprendiendo a Pedalear – Learning to Ride

Through Minneapolis’ Cycles for Change Community Partners Bike Library people are learning to ride bikes and expand their access to education or health opportunities. You know, and all of the great people and fun experiences bikes bring us. This is what bike advocacy is all about.

BikeBike 2013

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BikeBike is under way in New Orleans this weekend – and there’s a storm coming in from the Gulf to keep everyone company.

The annual conference for bike collectives will be celebrating a very important milestone this year, as it is the 10th anniversary of the international gathering. Four days of workshops, bike rides, races, outdoor concerts, dancing, and a 10th birthday celebration will be hosted by members of the New Orleans Community Bike Project. This weekend volunteers from collectives and community bike projects from all corners of the globe will collaborate, share and teach each other what works and how to do it bigger and better. As a restless bike traveler, the value of community bike co-ops in cities across the globe is, quite frankly, immeasurable. For more information and access to an international collection of resources by and for collectives, visit www.bikebike.org.

California Cyclists Get 3 Feet – Brown Signs AB 1371

The third time’s a charm for California’s “Give Me 3″ push. California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1371 on Monday, amending the current vehicle code from requiring passing at a “safe distance” to a distance of at least three feet. 3-feet-poster

This is the third year in a row that a bill that would require a 3-foot passing distance has hit Brown’s desk. In 2011 Brown vetoed AB 910 because it asked drivers to slow to 15 mph if a three-foot clearance was not possible. In 2012, SB 1464 was introduced, amending the 15 mph limit to “a speed that is reasonable and prudent.” Brown vetoed SB 1464 on the basis that it would explicitly legalize crossing over a double yellow line in order to maintain a safe passing distance–a practice already in use on the roads. This provision has been withdrawn from the latest version in lieu of directing drivers to have “due regard” for road and traffic conditions.

The Vehicle code will be amended to read: “The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle or a bicycle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left at a safe distance without interfering with the safe operation of the overtaken vehicle or bicycle, subject to the limitations and exceptions set forth in this article.” The Three Feet for Safety Act also establishes two penalties for drivers. The fine for unsafe passing without injury is $35 ($154 after court and administrative fees). The second penalty is applied to drivers who are involved in a collision that results in injury to a cyclist, with a fine of $220 ($959 after fees). This second penalty is equal to the fine imposed for reckless driving with injury.

While Gov. Brown is a member of the elite club of only two U.S. governors who have vetoed safe passing legislation (along with Texas governor Rick Perry), California has joined the ranks of 21 other states (plus the District of Columbia) with three-foot laws. The Three Feet for Safety Act goes into effect in California a year from now, on September 16, 2014.

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