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Posts from the "Bicycling" Category

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What They’re Doing for Bike Safety in Wyoming: Mandatory Orange Vests

It could become illegal to bike in Wyoming without this accessory. Photo: Team Estrogen

It could become illegal to bike in Wyoming without this accessory. Photo: Team Estrogen

A bill introduced in the Wyoming statehouse would require cyclists to wear “two hundred square-inches of reflective neon” and carry a government-issued ID. The legislation would also require cyclists to have a rear light, even though another law already requires that, according to Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Brian Schilling, coordinator of Jackson Hole Community Pathways, told the paper he thought the measure was “a little onerous.” He said his 5-year-old daughter could technically comply with the ID requirement because she has a passport. But, he added, “I don’t think her entire surface area is 200 inches.”

The law would require at least 200 square inches of “of high-visibility fluorescent orange, green or pink color clothing visible from the front and rear of the bicycle,” whether the cyclist is riding during the day or night. According to the News and Guide, it has six sponsors: House Reps. David Northrup, Donald Burkhart, Hans Hunt, Allen Jaggi, Jerry Paxton, and Cheri Steinmetz, although none would comment for the newspaper.

Walkable City author Jeff Speck called it the “We are America’s biggest dorks and will never get it” cycling bill.

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Anthony Foxx Challenges Mayors to Protect Pedestrians and Cyclists

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx wants mayors to step up bike and pedestrian safety efforts. Photo: Building America's Future

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx speaking at the U.S. Conference of Mayors yesterday. Photo: Building America’s Future

With pedestrian and cyclist deaths accounting for a rising share of U.S. traffic fatalities and Congress not exactly raring to take action, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx is issuing a direct challenge to America’s mayors to improve street safety. Yesterday Foxx unveiled the “Mayor’s Challenge for Safer People and Safer Streets” at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Transportation Committee meeting in Washington.

Overall traffic deaths are on a downward trend in the U.S., but the reduction in pedestrian and cyclist fatalities is not keeping pace with improvements for car occupants. Pedestrians and bicyclists now account for 17 percent of all traffic fatalities in the U.S., and most of these deaths are in urban areas, Foxx noted.

Back in September, Foxx told the Pro-Walk/Pro-Bike/Pro-Place conference in Pittsburgh that U.S. DOT is “putting together the most comprehensive, forward-leaning initiative U.S. DOT has ever put forward on bike/ped issues.” The Mayor’s Challenge fleshes out that initiative to some extent.

Foxx wants mayors to implement seven key recommendations from U.S. DOT. In March, mayors and local leaders will convene at DOT headquarters to discuss how to put the recommendations into practice. Participating cities will implement the strategies in the following year, with assistance from U.S. DOT.

Read more…

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Philly Urbanists Launch Political Action Committee to Shake Up City Council

In a move that may mark, in the words of Philadelphia Magazine, ”New Philadelphia’s political awakening,” a group of Philly urbanists launched a political action committee earlier this month to support candidates who will reform local land use, transportation, and taxation policies.

One of the planks of The 5th Square’s platform: getting the city to follow through on its protected bike lane plans. Image via 5th Square

The new organization is called The 5th Square, a reference to the public space at City Hall, and it was founded by Geoff Kees Thompson, who writes at This Old City. The platform, which is still in development, urges the adoption of a Vision Zero policy to eliminate traffic fatalities, the construction of 40 miles of protected bike lanes in four years, and tripling the city’s parks budget.

The 5th Square will use its candidate surveys, political donations, and volunteers to influence City Council races. ”What [the city] needs now more than ever are better leaders who think progressively about our city, not retrograde candidates stuck to our decline-filled past,” Thompson wrote in the manifesto announcing the PAC’s launch.

So far the group has raised about $3,500 toward its first-month goal of $5,000, a figure Philly Magazine called “pretty much the pizza budget of the mayoral campaign.” But as StreetsPAC has demonstrated in New York City, money is just one of many factors that determine a PAC’s influence.

In 2013, StreetsPAC spent only about $40,000 in its first election cycle, a pittance compared to the real estate interests that dominate the NYC political scene. What it lacked in money it more than made up for in media savvy and grassroots enthusiasm, with 13 of its 18 endorsees going on to win. StreetsPAC organizers credited their success to a hardworking volunteer network and the ability to broadcast endorsements to a large, committed constituency.

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Seattle Seahawk Michael Bennett Joyously Bikes to the Super Bowl

Following a thrilling comeback win for the Seattle Seahawks in Sunday’s NFC championship game, defensive end Michael Bennett had to express his euphoria. So he grabbed a bike from a police officer stationed on the field and did a celebratory cruise in front of the fans.

The image was broadcast to millions: The pure joy of riding a bicycle combined with joy of victory beaming from Bennett’s face and his whole demeanor.

For Bennett, it was a chance to express his love of biking. ”I bike all the time,” he said, according to the Seahawks. ”I’m a real biker. I’ve got three bikes at my house, so I was just having fun.

“Best bike ride I’ve ever had.”

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Dutch Suburbs Are Like America’s, and Protected Bike Lanes Work Fine There

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This post is part of The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets.

This is the first in a two-post series on Dutch suburbs.

People the in U.S. street design world — sometimes even people who write for this very website — regularly say that U.S. development patterns mean that Dutch street designs can’t be immediately adopted in the States.

That’s a lot less true than you might think.

Of course some ideas can’t/won’t port over wholesale. But especially by European standards, the Netherlands is actually probably one of the most spatially similar places to much of the U.S. Guess where this is:

Count the fast food signs, the car lanes all leading up to a big freeway underpass. If not for the protected bike lane this could be Anywhere, North America. But this is actually in Amsterdam proper.

The reality is that only a minority of Dutch people live in the medieval centers of Amsterdam, Gouda, and Utrecht. Though many tourists visiting Amsterdam for a couple of days don’t typically see this, many Dutch people’s daily reality includes stuff much more like this:

Read more…

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DeFazio, Norton, and Larsen Take on Dangerous Street Design

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) is already proving that he’ll put some muscle into the fight for bike and pedestrian safety in his new post as ranking member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Before even starting his new job as Ranking Member on the House Transportation Committee, Rep. Peter DeFazio is going to bat for bike and pedestrian safety. Photo: ##http://bikeportland.org/2012/03/27/rep-defazio-takes-us-inside-the-transportation-fight-and-the-republican-psyche-69482##Jonathan Maus/Bike Portland##

Before even starting his new job as ranking member on the House Transportation Committee, Rep. Peter DeFazio is going to bat for bike and pedestrian safety. Photo: Jonathan Maus/Bike Portland

DeFazio and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), top Democrat on the Highways and Transit Subcommittee, have signed on to fellow T&I Democrat Rick Larsen (D-WA)’s letter asking the Government Accountability Office to look into the recent rise in bike and pedestrian fatalities, which increased 6 percent between 2011 and 2012.

At the state and federal level, efforts to improve the safety of walking and biking often blame the victim — as the Governors Highway Safety Association did when it flagged the recent increase in cyclist fatalities without noting that biking rates have gone up much more. DeFazio and company are emphasizing a much more fundamental problem: street design.

In their letter, they state:

[W]e are concerned that conventional engineering practices have encouraged engineers to design roads at 5-15 miles per hour faster than the posted speed for the street. This typically means roads are designed and built with wider, straighter lanes and have fewer objects near the edges, more turn lanes, and wider turning radii at intersections. While these practices improve driving safety, a suspected unintended consequence is that drivers travel faster when they feel safer. Greater speeds can increase the frequency and severity of crashes with pedestrians and cyclists who are moving at much slower speeds and have much less protection than a motorized vehicle affords.

The GAO responds to lawmaker requests like these by investigating the matter and reporting back to help members of Congress develop a deeper understanding of the issues so they can set better policy. The GAO itself makes recommendations for improvement in the reports.

Read more…

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How Pittsburgh Builds Bike Lanes Fast Without Sacrificing Public Consultation

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.

Four months — that’s how long it took Pittsburgh to announce, plan, and build its first three protected bike lanes.

One of the country’s most beautiful (and probably still underrated) cities has proven this year that it’s possible for governments to move fast without neglecting public outreach. Instead of asking people to judge the unknown, the city’s leaders built something new and have proceded to let the public vet the idea once it’s already on the ground.

That’s part of the magic of the simplest protected bike lanes: unlike most road projects, they’re flexible. The construction phase can come at the middle or the beginning of the public process rather than the end of it.

For a city full of hills, narrow streets and short blocks, building a great bike network isn’t easy, a point acknowledged by Mayor Bill Peduto in the above video.

“We have all of the detriments to building a bike system that people could argue,” Mayor Bill Peduto says in the video above. “But we’re still doing it. And we’re going to beat every other city.”

You can follow The Green Lane Project on Twitter or Facebook or sign up for its weekly news digest about protected bike lanes.

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Will DC Finally Repeal Its Unfair Treatment for Injured Cyclists and Peds?

In Washington, DC, if a driver crashes into a person on foot or on a bike, and that person walking or biking is deemed to be even 1 percent at fault, he or she cannot collect any damages from insurance.

DC's law severely restricting damages for people hit by cars could go down tomorrow. Photo: ##http://personalinjurysupport.wordpress.com/category/bicycle-accident/##Personal Injury Support##

DC’s law severely restricting damages for people hit by cars could go down tomorrow. Photo: Personal Injury Support

Shane Farthing of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and Tracy Hadden Loh of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy put it this way in a story for Greater Greater Washington:

Say you are riding along on your bicycle. Your tail light battery dies one evening, and then a texting driver crashes into you. Can you recover your medical costs from the driver?

Or, say you are on foot and need to cross a street where the nearest crosswalks are far away. But then a drunk driver speeds by and hits you.

Or, you’re biking and get doored. A police officer, confused about the law, incorrectly tickets you for riding too close to parked cars.

In all of those cases, DC’s unjust contributory negligence law would bar you from collecting damages from that drunk or distracted driver.

The DC Council’s Committee on the Judiciary is set to vote on the bill tomorrow. But it’s not looking good.

‘Contributory negligence’ bill may stall tomorrow at D.C. Council. CM Cheh vote may be decisive; undecided at moment. @wamu885news #bikedc

— Martin Di Caro (@MartinDiCaro) November 6, 2014

In addition to Cheh, bill co-sponsor Tommy Wells sits on the committee, as does mayor-elect Muriel Bowser, who said in a pre-election candidate survey that replacing contributory negligence was an “issue that deserves further consideration.” She has until tomorrow to consider it.

If the bill fails, WABA has pledged to release a scorecard with council members’ votes to hold them accountable for supporting the so-called “one-percent rule.”

Only four states — including neighboring Maryland and Virginia — join DC in holding onto this discriminatory and punitive law. This is the third time the bill has come before the DC Council.

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The Best Thing About a Bike-Friendly City Isn’t the Bikes — It’s the City

Photos from Amsterdam: Jonathan Maus. Used with permission.

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Zach Vanderkooy manages international programs for The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes.

It’s not about the bike.

When U.S. city officials visit the cities of Northern Europe with PeopleForBikes, the sheer volume of ordinary people going about their lives on bikes is captivating. But it’s not the quantity of bicycles that makes us look to Northern Europe for inspiration. It’s the quality of the cities.

More people, less space

The places in American cities where people want to be the most are, naturally, crowded. The eternal challenge is how to fit more people — but not necessarily more cars — into tight quarters. Northern Europe’s thriving cities demonstrate simple spatial logic: you can fit a lot more customers, employees, residents and visitors in your city’s most desirable places if they arrive on foot or on a bike than in a car. Read more…

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Talking Headways Podcast: Dear Bike People

podcast icon logoDo people of color and low-income people ride bikes? Not as much as they could, given all the great benefits biking offers, particularly to people without a lot of disposable cash. But yes, non-white and non-rich people ride bikes — in high numbers compared to the general population, by some measures.

Even though they’re biking the streets, people of color and those with low incomes are largely missing from the bicycle advocacy world. The League of American Bicyclists, along with many other advocacy organizations around the country, are out to change that. We covered the League’s report on equity in the bicycling movement last week — but there was still lots more to talk about.

So Jeff and I called up Adonia Lugo, who manages the equity initiative at the League. We talked about what local advocacy groups can do if they want to reach out to new constituencies, whether infrastructure design really needs a multicultural perspective, and how the movement can start “seeing” bicyclists that don’t fit the prevailing stereotype.

We know you have strong feelings about these issues. Tell us all about ‘em in the comments  – after you listen.

And find us on  iTunesStitcher, and the RSS feed.