Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Charleston Couple on Epic GREEN Bike Voyage

Charleston pair plans to bike around the world

Charlestonians Jessica Kapicka and Aaron Hicks are using their planned bike trip around the world to promote a green lifestyle and raise money for sustainable housing.

On August 15 they started their 40,000 mile trip will by heading to Columbia, then Atlanta, the west to Los Angles, New Zealand, Asia, Russia, the Middle East, Europe, and the even hope to touch a bit of Antarctica over the next two-and-a-half years.

Click to view a "Digitel" account of their plans.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Palmetto Cycling Coalition News

...from our friend Natalie Cappuccio-Britt:

Happy Monday morning! I have a few exciting updates to share!

  • We’ve always wanted the PCC website to be the one stop shop for all cycling information. Unfortunately due to our limited budget we’ve not been able to hire a professional to re-design the site. Finally we’re able to hire a professional web-designer to completely re-vamp the site and provide a great resource to our members. This is all made possible by a single sponsor that has agreed to fund the website initiative. Peter Wilborn of SCBIKELAW.COM is the sole sponsor of the PCC website re-design. We at the PCC cannot thank Peter and SCBIKELAW enough for this amazing sponsorship. Please visit Peter’s website at www.scbikelaw.com and be sure to thank him for his constant support of cycling advocacy in SC. The new site should be up and running in about two weeks.
  • The PCC Board met a couple of weeks ago and approved our 2009 Legislative Agenda. This is going to be a truly exciting year for cycling. The PCC is embarking on a comprehensive Complete Streets initiative. On the legislative side we will be lobbying for a more balanced transportation budget, one that dedicates a set percentage of funding specifically to bike/pedestrian projects. Secondly, through a grant and partnership with Eat Smart Move More we will be providing Complete Streets trainings across the state working with local communities to adopt bicycle friendly policies, including complete streets ordinances, bike parking ordinances, employee incentive programs and much more. The legislative portion of the program will work specifically to provide more funding for bicycle infrastructure statewide(bike lanes, pathways, etc). We know if we do not do this now, no one else will. More details to follow on the legislative program in the next month.
  • The Bicycle Safety Bill trainings kick off at the SC Department of Public Safety Conference on September 23rd. Hundreds of police officers attend the conference from across the state and one of the major focal points of the event will be improving bicycle safety. The PCC along with Peter Wilborn of SCBIKELAW will provide training to the officers on the new bill and how to effectively protect cyclist’s rights.
  • The driver’s manual will be updated to reflect the new bicycle laws. The PCC has provided the new information to DMV. The enhanced Share the Road section of the Drivers manual will be released this fall. The PCC would like to thank Partners for Active Living (PAL) in Spartanburg for providing the information for a new enhanced pedestrian section of the manual.
  • In addition to the driver’s manual, the PCC is working hard to update the Commercial Driver’s Licensing (CDL) manual and exam to include bicycle safety information and testing questions.
  • The PCC continues its partnership with the League of American Bicyclists providing Bicycle Friendly Workshops across SC!
  • The PCC will have an exciting announcement in the next couple of weeks, stay tuned J

That’s all for now, folks! Thanks to all you that support the PCC. We truly depend on your membership to keep us going! Please encourage other cyclists to join so together we can fight for a more bicycle friendly South Carolina!

If New York. Why Not Charleston??

For the last two weeks, NYC has experimented with an idea of making a major avenue in Manhattan car-free for no particular reason than for the enjoyment of residents and visitors. There were no streetfair vendors hawking $3 tube socks or blended drinks from noisy & polluting generators. Nor was there any excuse like the Marathon or a parade where only invited guests are allowed to run or walk down the middle of the streets.

This was different. Click here to check it out!!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

D.C. First to Adopt Public Bike Program

D.C. First to Adopt Public Bike Program

Clear Channel Puts 120 Bicycles on the Streets of Washington

By Sherry Mazzocchi

Published: August 14, 2008

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Washington now looks a little more like Paris or Barcelona after Mayor Adrian M. Fenty unveiled the SmartBike DC program this week.

The SmartBike DC program, which will be operated and maintained by Clear Channel Outdoor, is the first such program to go into effect in North America.

The SmartBike DC program, which will be operated and maintained by Clear Channel Outdoor, is the first such program to go into effect in North America.



While other cities, including Chicago and New York, have toyed with the idea of a self-service public bike rentals, this is the first such program to go into effect in North America. It all comes down to who ultimately pays for the service. In this case, the city's Department of Transportation is partnering with Clear Channel Outdoor, which will operate and maintain the SmartBike program as part its bus shelter advertising program.

French hop on for a ride
Clear Channel isn't the only out-of-home company venturing into the public transportation space. JCDecaux's similar program in Paris provides more than 10,000 bicycles to the city, which people can rent free of charge for the first 30 minutes, with any additional fees charged to a credit card. Once the bike has been registered, a Bluetooth application is sent to the rider's phone, offering free directions to the many destinations in Paris and listing drop-off points for the rental bike.

Parisian bikers aren't serviced with ads by their "Bike Revolution," but similar iterations of JCDecaux's program in Marseilles and Toulouse, France, allow for bikes to be completely branded or open the Bluetooth content to ad messaging. Chicago was one city that considered using JCDecaux to set up a bike program last year, but it appears D.C. and Clear Channel beat them to it.

With the high price of energy, adding low-cost transportation alternatives is beneficial not just for commuters but for municipal governments as well. Washington plans to create four miles of extra bike lanes, for a total of 39 miles.

The initial rollout features a total of 120 bikes at 10 rental sites near downtown Metro stations. Other locations are planned for Union Station and outer parts of the District. Rack locations were identified using a number of factors including access to the Metro, employment and residential density, popular destinations, customer survey feedback and proximity to other racks (approximately five blocks apart). Members can rent the bikes for up to three hours.

Built for city use
Unlike the Parisian "VĂ©lib" bikes, the D.C. three-speed bikes are small and lightweight. Designed for an urban commute, they come equipped with mudguards, covered chains and a luggage carrier. They even have motion-activated lights that automatically turn on at night. Their ergonomic design allows skirted riders to go for a spin. The bikes don't come with helmet or locks, but both are strongly encouraged even though Washington does not have a helmet law. If a bike is lost or damaged, the renter is responsible for a hefty $550 fine.

Anyone age 18 and older can sign up online for a $40 annual fee. Bikes are rented every day from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and can be returned at any location. Members swipe their cards over a chip in the handlebars to unlock a bike. Bikes may not be available at every station, but the website has a real-time inventory of bike availability and the number of open slots for returns at each site.

Bikes must be returned within three hours to any SmartBike location, but a member can immediately rent another. Subscribers are free to pedal anywhere, as long as they remain within city limits.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Wow! She Ditched Her Car!

"Nikki" just wrote us about her blog!! She did it! Sold the Car and goes most everywhere by bike! Check it out!

It's What Charleston Needs, too!!

Pittsburgh, on its way to bicycle-friendly city status, has taken a major step toward that goal by hiring a bicycle-pedestrian czar. Read more about it in Dave Moulton's Bike Blog.

Friday, August 15, 2008

This is what it's about..baby...Free their minds!


A Velorution is in progress... we just need to tell the rest of the world...

Challenge car culture by spreading an optimistic message about sustainable transportation. Leave stickers and flyers in cafes, on bulletin boards, on car windshields and spread the word. Too lazy to get out there? It doesn't have to be such a chore. Just make sure to pack a few stickers/flyers into your bag, and when you're out on the street, just leave one behind now and again. It's no big deal, plus it's fun. Click here to get your PROPERganda.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

National Geographic Pick * Charleston a future 'adventure' locale


You don't need a national magazine - or a degree in rocket science - to know that Charleston is an outdoors kind of place.

Just take a stroll on the Ravenel Bridge. "look what happened to the bridge". They (with the help of Charleston Moves) "put a sidewalk and bike path, and there are always people on it.

Now our little secret is out. In the new issue of National Geographic Adventure magazine, Charleston is named one of "the next great adventure towns" -in which to live and play.

Roger Warren, vice chairman of the board of governors for the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the designation is an honor.

"Whether scouring historic forts, biking the longest cable-stayed bridge in North America or kitesurfing off our beautiful beaches, there are many adventures to be had in the Charleston area," Warren said.

On the web: for the full story in the Post & Couier, go to
http://www.charleston.net/news/2008/aug/12/charleston_future_adventure_locale50522/









Mount Pleasant: Tentative GOOD NEWS

At its meeting last night, the Mount Pleasant Town Council accepted a much-improved plan for the re-make of Johnny Dodds Boulevard, one that includes much better provisions for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Both Charleston Moves and the East Cooper Planning Council had provided substantial feedback through the entire process, even hand-delivering letters to each member of the Council yesterday in advance of the meeting.
Key elements of the plan include bicycle lanes in both directions on the "local roads" (frontage roads) as well as space for sidewalks. The Charleston County road-planning entity, Roadwise, also promised much better pedestrian crossings, some with pedestrian signal buttons.
Apparently defeated was a Roadwise "wish" to build a so-called continuous flow intersection at Houston-Northcutt Boulevard, which we found to be a huge, complex invention that would have required acres and acres of asphalt. We found this proposal to be the antithesis of bike/ped friendly and told Councilmemers so. (more on this type of intersection in other earlier posts below)
Council also urged Roadwise to reduce the number of left-turn lanes in some spots so that pedestrians crossing the boulevard would have "refuge" in the middle as they made their way from one side to the other.
There was widespread understanding that Johnny Dodds Boulevard is not just a major highway whose main purpose is to move cars and trucks, but that it is a huge connector that can either improve or hurt connections of all kinds for Mount Pleasant residents. We consistently spoke up for this viewpoint and we applaud the Council for understanding it.
This is an unofficial account of the results of the meeting. It is important to note that there are many decisions still to come as the fine points of this plan are drawn up. Charleston Moves and the East Cooper Planning Council will continue to monitor this process.

Monday, August 11, 2008

CYCLISTS V. MOTORISTS: RISING RAGE??

You tell us. Clearly, more people are resorting to two wheels for shorter trips. But is this leading to more conflict on the roads?? Go to our "Wheels of Change" blog and read about this conflict, then post accounts of your experience and what should be done to keep the peace on our roads.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

ROADWISE PLANS FOR JOHNNY DODDS BLVD TO BE PRESENTED TUESDAY

JOHNNY DODDS BOULEVARD PLANS: THE GOOD, THE BAD, THE UGLY

Charleston Moves, East Cooper Planning Council Assess Roadwise Recommendations (and find some NOT so wise)***

After months and months of inactivity, Roadwise, the County group in charge of all road projects under the half-cent sales tax program, has released the final recommendation for improvements to Johnnie Dodds Boulevard. There is some good news, and some bad. But we are confident that with your encouragement, Town Council and County Council will make the necessary changes to ensure that JDB is a transportation corridor that benefits ALL residents of our community.

In our view, any new road project should be assessed not only on how well it moves motorized traffic, but also on how it unites a community by enhancing connectivity for all modes of transportation including pedestrians and bicyclists. These concerns have become dramatically more urgent recently in view of gas prices and a new awareness of the price we pay for physical inactivity.

Mount Pleasant has a wonderful collection of neighborhoods. Many of them are either bisected or divided from one another by relatively high-speed auto thoroughfares. Many residents will tell you that while it may be possible to walk or bicycle within quiet neighborhoods, it is dangerous to walk or bike to other more distant places. In Mount Pleasant, steps to remedy this should be taken wherever and whenever possible.

Underlying our concerns about the Roadwise recommendations is our overall doubt about statistics cited. Their plans for JDB are based upon traffic projections that don’t take into account any of the huge shifts in public priorities we are beginning to see today. According to the Washington Post, Americans drove 9.6 Billion fewer miles in May, 2008 than the in the same month a year earlier.


COMPONENTS OF THE ROADWISE PLAN
Here is the overview of the Roadwise proposal for Johnny Dodds Blvd. (JDB - Rte. 17), with our observations:

In general there will be three lanes of thru traffic in each direction along JDB and the frontage or “local roads.” Bowman Road is proposed as an elevated overpass with JDB passing over Bowman Road. Here are our major concerns in a nutshell:

THE FRONTAGE or “LOCAL” ROADS:
The Roadwise plan calls for the existing frontage roads to become “local” 2 way streets with 4 foot bikes lanes in each direction, 11 foot travel lanes, spaced street trees to allow for future on-street parking and a 5 foot sidewalk. This is a wonderful improvement to existing conditions.

RECOMENDATION: We would suggest reducing the travel lanes on these “local roads” to 10 feet in order to gain a wider sidewalk and/or wider bike lanes. (Mathis Ferry Road’s travel lanes are 10.5 feet wide and they safely accommodate reasonable levels of speed.) Further narrowing the “local roads” flanking JDB would ensure lower driving speeds and make them even more bicycle and pedestrian-friendly.

HOUSTON NORTHCUTT INTERSECTION:
In what may be the most counter-productive element of the plan, Roadwise recommends what is called a Continuous Flow Intersection (CFI) for this major hub of economic activity in our community. Simply, a CFI is a vast, complicated at-grade intersection that dedicates the entire area to fast-moving vehicles. Pedestrians and bicyclists simply cannot use this intersection safely. Worse, the intersection is so large it effectively prevents pedestrian movements off of the intersections. In no way does a CFI encourage economic development.


Huge areas of asphalt are required for a CFI. Few have been built across the US.


RECOMENDATION: We would recommend either (1) a standard intersection with additional left turns similar to that designed for the intersections at Shelmore and Anna Knapp; or (2) revisit the possibility of a multi-lane roundabout. Either would better accommodate the multiple users and COST LESS. Also, the difference in level of service is minimal!
---------------------------------------------------------------

To see video of what it is like to negotiate a left turn in a Continuous flow intersection, click here.

Click here for a Utah Department of Transportation demonstration of how a CFI works.
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MAGRATH-DARBY INTERSECTION:
Roadwise recommends closing the left-turn from JDB at Magrath Darby and making it a right only turn. This recommendation actually limits connectivity, when in fact the goal of an efficient system is to enhance connectivity.

RECCOMENDATION: This intersection should remain a left and right turn intersection so that local traffic has an opportunity to leave the main arterial of JDB, use local streets to get home, and thus reduce traffic on the main line.


OUR CONCLUSION: As the long term forecast calls for higher gas price and with our Town’s growth rate a standstill, NOW MORE THAN EVER is time to build multiple-use transportation systems that encourage economic development near existing residential development.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Please contact Council members (see below) and encourage then to make the necessary changes. You may e-mail the members at: mailto:COUNCILCLK@TOWNOFMOUNTPLEASANT.COM
Letters can be mailed to them in care of the Clerk of the Town Council.

TOWN OF MOUNT PLEASANT
PO BOX 745, MOUNT PLEASANT, SC 29465

Mayor Harry M. Hallman, Jr.
Mr. Joseph Bustos, Jr.
Mr. Nick A. Collins
Mr. Paul S. Gawrych
Mr. Billy Swails
Mr. Gary Santos
Mr. Kruger Smith
Ms. Thomasena Stokes-Marshall
Mr. Kenneth T. Glasson, Jr.

**This position paper was prepared jointly by Charleston Moves and the East Cooper Planning Council.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Planners: New Intersection Type Planned for Johnny Dodds Blvd,

TransSystems, the transportation consultants working with Charleston County, are moving toward completion of plans for huge changes in Johnny Dodds Boulevard (Rte. 17) in Mount Pleasant.
One of the possible major elements in the new plans is a so-called "Continuous Flow Intersection" (CFI) at Houston Northcutt Boulevard. The video here shows an example of the CFI from a project in Utah. It is posted here as an example. All elements may NOT be precisely the same as plans for Johnny Dodds Blvd.

We will post more information on this issue as we study it and as developments warrant.

From The Washington Post:

washingtonpost.com



Gas Prices Apply Brakes To Suburban Migration

By Eric M. Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 5, 2008; A01


That 1958 brick rambler inside the Beltway is suddenly looking a lot better to Dawn and Jeff Schaefer, who are buying their first house in Northern Virginia.

Not too long ago, they were looking farther out -- for a newer house, a bigger yard and all the amenities. But no more. "You get less house and property for the same price, but we're willing to make that sacrifice to save on gas prices and commuting costs," Dawn Schaefer said.

Cheap oil, which helped push the American Dream away from the city center, isn't so cheap anymore. As more and more families reconsider their dreams, land-use experts are beginning to ask whether $4-a-gallon gas is enough to change the way Americans have thought for half a century about where they live.

"We've passed that tipping point," U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said.

Since the end of World War II, government policy has funded and encouraged the suburban lifestyle, subsidizing highways while starving mass transit and keeping gas taxes much lower than in some other countries.

Americans couldn't wait to trade in the cramped city apartments of the Kramdens and Ricardos for the lush lawns of the Bradys. Local land-use policies kept housing densities low, pushing development to the periphery of metropolitan regions and forcing families who wanted their dream house to accept long commutes and a lack of any real transportation choices other than getting behind the wheel.

Even the way the government pays for roads and transit is dependent on gas taxes, which is effective only if Americans keep driving.

"There is a whole confluence of government policies -- tax, spending, regulatory and administrative -- that have subsidized sprawl," said Bruce Katz, director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution. A gallon of gasoline costs more than $8 in Britain, Germany, France and Belgium, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Much of the price difference is due to higher taxes.

Federal spending is about 4 to 1 in favor of highways over transit. Today, more than 99 percent of the trips taken by U.S. residents are in cars or some other non-transit vehicle, largely as a result of decades of such unbalanced spending.

The policies -- building so many highways and building so many houses near those highways -- have had a direct bearing on how and where people live and work. More Americans, 52 percent, live in the suburbs than anywhere else. The suburban growth rate exceeded 90 percent in the past decade.

But there's been a radical shift in recent months. Americans drove 9.6 billion fewer highway miles in May than a year earlier. In the Washington area and elsewhere, mass transit ridership is setting records. Last year, transit trips nationwide topped 10.3 billion, a 50-year high.

Home prices in the far suburbs, such as Prince William and Loudoun counties, have collapsed; those in the District and inner suburbs have stayed the same or increased. A recent survey of real estate agents by Coldwell Banker found an increased interest in urban living because of the high cost of commuting.

Brookings says transportation costs are now second only to housing as a percentage of the household budget, with food a distant third.

The people are leading the revolution, but land-use experts wonder whether a government policy so etched into the American fabric will follow.

"When people bought homes, they punched the numbers and said can we afford the mortgage payment and taxes," Katz said. "This new paradigm is going to have families being more deliberate about the cost of transportation spending and energy costs. That's a new phenomenon in the United States. That will be the change that will change development patterns."

Katz and others said high fuel prices will increase demand for transit-oriented development, where homes, townhouses and office buildings cluster around transit hubs that link jobs with population centers.

That is Fairfax County's policy at Tysons Corner, where the Board of Supervisors has approved high-rise office buildings, condominiums, a hotel, restaurants and stores -- on the condition that the area receive four Metro stops as part of the proposed rail extension to Dulles International Airport. The idea is that residents of Tysons would never have to leave and those wishing to shop, eat or work there could leave their cars at home and take the train.

On a much smaller scale, the county, for years derided for pro-sprawl policies, has approved or is considering similar proposals near the Dunn Loring, Springfield and Vienna Metro stops. Although the policy changes were in the works before fuel costs skyrocketed, the guiding philosophy was getting people out of their cars.

"We need to change the patterns of development," said Gerald E. Connolly (D), chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. "We have to move to a new transit-oriented development paradigm and concentrate development and avoid the sprawl that we've allowed in the past and undo some of the environmental damage."

He pointed to nearby Arlington County and its Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, alive with pedestrians and dense housing development.

"We actually know it works," Connolly said.

That is also the model that Tom Darden, chief executive of Cherokee Investment Partners, is betting on. His Raleigh-based firm snaps up urban land, often used industrial sites, near transit stations and transforms it into housing.

He said the days of building giant houses on former soybean fields on the outer fringes of metropolitan areas are over.

"What were pluses of that lifestyle are now liabilities: a big SUV, a big home to heat, the energy needed to mow the lawn," he said.

He said his urban properties in Charlotte, Raleigh, N.C., Montreal and Denver are doing well, while exurbs like those in California's Central Valley are "turning into ghost towns."

"And we're only at the shallow end of the pool," Darden said.

In Montreal, Cherokee bought a former General Motors plant in 2004 and is creating a mixed-use development that will include 1,200 residential units on a transit line stop. In Denver, Darden's company is doing something similar with an abandoned rubber plant.

"Longer term, rising fuel prices produces a positive effect: people living closer-in and in smaller homes and close to transit," Darden said.

David Ellis, a researcher with the Texas Transportation Institute, said the desire for such development is driven by demographics and public demand, not government fiat.

"Government can facilitate only when there is a demand," Ellis said. "If government does something against the market, it is going to fail."

But density remains a tough sell to those who want a house with some land and who don't live or work where the trains go.

"It is fatuous to believe that because fuel costs $4 a gallon today that we will all decide to live in apartment houses," said Alan E. Pisarski, author of Commuting in America and a leading national expert on driving habits and trends.

"The economic reality is that people get forced to the edge of metropolitan areas," Pisarski said, adding that the decades-long outward march made economic sense in the days of lower home prices and cheaper commuting costs.

Even at these high gasoline prices, he doesn't foresee a major shift in those trends.

"The only answer over time is that the jobs come to them," he said, referring to employers moving out to be closer to their exurban workers. That phenomenon is in play in the Washington area, with high-tech jobs along the Dulles corridor and Interstate 270 in Maryland and all the government contracting work near Tysons Corner.

Pisarski and others say technological advances, telecommuting, flexible scheduling, carpooling and stringing errands together can reduce vehicle use. After all, most vehicle trips and miles are compiled not on commutes to work but on other trips. The eventual turnover of the nation's vehicle fleet, with the shift to more fuel-efficient vehicles, will also ease the pain.

Guy Saffel is thinking along those lines. Saffel, who works in the District but lives in South Riding, a fast-growing exurb near Dulles, is trying to sell his family's GMC Yukon Denali. He said he is sick of buying gas for a vehicle that gets 12 miles a gallon.

The Saffels recently upgraded to a 6,000-square-foot house that doubled their mortgage payment. Saffel, his wife and his son are living what many in the country's far-out suburbs describe as "The American Dream" of a big house, a big lawn and a big vehicle in the driveway.

"We kind of fell into the trap of our neighbors," he said.

But even though he'll trade in the Denali, he's not leaving the big house. "My son is happy with schools and friends," Saffel said. "But I'll be honest, if I was single guy -- if we didn't have a kid and my wife was for it -- I would probably move out of the area."

The debate over density is not just limited to the East and West coasts.

Mayor Randy Pye, mayor of Centennial, Colo., a suburb of Denver, has been called a socialist by fellow Republicans for his pro-density and pro-transit views. He was a supporter of the Denver area's new light-rail system, a system built largely without federal funds.

Pye said he doesn't see a way out of high gas prices and our collective national traffic jam that doesn't involve higher-density development and mass transit.

"We hate density; we hate sprawl," he said. "But we can't continue doing what we're doing."

Monday, August 4, 2008

Columbia Bike Commuter Dead After Hit by Minivan

A young Columbia, SC cyclist was killed late last week. Commuting to his home after finishing a late shift at a restaurant, 19-year-old Jessee Gamble was riding in a bike lane.
CLICK HERE TO SEE COVERAGE FROM CHANNEL TEN, COLUMBIA