Thursday, November 20, 2008

Pedal Power Gaining Speed in Columbia

We've been talking about making Charleston a legit "Bicycle-Friendly City" for a long time. Now, two South Carolina communities (Spartanburg and Columbia) have beaten Charleston to the punch!

(...from Columbia's Free weekly newspaper, the Free Times)
Public, Private Bicycling Efforts Signal Progress
It might be at a two-wheeled pace rather than a four-wheeled speed, but Columbia is becoming a more bicycle-friendly city and beginning to reap the attendant economic, environmental, civic and wellness benefits.
Maybe it’s hard to believe.
After all, some recent local headlines told of tragedy in regard to bicycling — at least three people just since October 2007 who died after cars ran into them while they were riding.
And, not to feed Columbia’s self-confidence deficit and all, but this is a city where sidewalks are a novelty.
Nevertheless it’s true that Columbia is doing a better job of looking out for the two-wheeled set, and the losses of those riders — Lee Anne Berry, Thomas Haskins and William Wilson — will not be forgotten as the city moves forward.
It is lined up to do so Thursday in bronze.
In a 2 p.m. ceremony at the local Rosewood Market & Deli, Palmetto Cycling Coalition director Natalie Cappuccio-Britt of Columbia is scheduled to present a bronze-level bicycle friendly community designation to Mayor Bob Coble from the League of American Bicyclists.
Cappuccio-Britt is an advisory board member of the league, a nonprofit headquartered in Washington, D.C. Its top bike-friendly award: platinum, followed in order by gold, silver and, the first level, bronze.


Sign the Petition to Back Funding for Bicycling, Walking!

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, with the Thunderhead Alliance, has been spearheading an information-gathering effort to make sure that the incoming Obama administration has strong input as it considers projects for its economic stimulus package.
Charleston Moves participated in this project, suggesting three important Charleston-area projects, including the Ashley River crossing and the West Ashley Greenway.

Here is a communication just received from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy:
Within days of President-elect Obama taking office, Congress will likely pass a new large-scale economic recovery package, aiming to create millions of jobs.

A significant percentage of this package may be allocated specifically to transportation infrastructure. This presents both a threat and an opportunity.

The threat: Unless we speak up, these transportation funds will go overwhelmingly to road projects—the same unbalanced strategy that has created our existing transportation problems.

The opportunity: Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, in partnership with Thunderhead Alliance and America Bikes, has collected a list of hundreds of ready-to-go active transportation projects from communities across the country. These projects would create new jobs and revitalize communities by funding trails, bike lanes, sidewalks and other infrastructure.

This would meet the ultimate goal of the recovery package: creating immediate jobs. Additionally, such an investment strategy would provide both immediate economic benefits and lasting positive change.

The long-term benefits are many: promoting local businesses along active transportation corridors; reducing health care costs; and curbing climate change emissions and oil dependency. These projects would also establish the principle that active transportation infrastructure is a wise, efficient and desirable public investment.

Please sign our petition to President-elect Obama and key congressional leaders
, encouraging them to fund these important bicycle and pedestrian projects:

I support explicit funding for trails, walking and biking in the upcoming economic recovery package. Funding active transportation is a cost-effective investment that creates jobs and leads to healthier people, stronger communities, decreased oil dependency, and reduced climate change emissions.

Add your name to the petition now

Thank you,

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Adapt to Biking Growth


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Charleston metropolitan area has a growing bicycle culture that recognizes the recreational, health and economic benefits of cycling. It presents a challenge to provide for its growth in a way that allows riders, motorists and pedestrians all to benefit.

S.R. Whitt, in a letter to the editor today, is dead-on in calling for local law enforcement to stop looking the other way when it comes to bicycling. Bicyclists shouldn't be allowed to blithely pedal through red lights or otherwise ignore traffic laws. Similarly, motorists who fail to give bicyclists enough room or who cut in front of them should be stopped.

Failing to enforce those laws could provoke tensions between motorists and bicyclists and, even worse, cause accidents. Charleston Moves, a non-profit organization that promotes the safe and efficient use of bicycles, acknowledges that many people just don't know the rules.

One of its missions is to educate bicyclists and motorists about pertinent laws and safety. Tom Bradford, with Charleston Moves, says that should be a mission of local police as well.

Cities should advocate for safer and more efficient ways for bicyclists and pedestrians to get where they need to go. Goose Creek, for example, has made a commendable effort to provide a network for bicyclists to get around town safely.

The city of Charleston also is working on plans to accommodate bicycle and pedestrian traffic, most notably between West Ashley and the peninsula. A major component in that effort is a bicycle and pedestrian lane to be built alongside the Legare Bridge over the Ashley River. That link will provide for easier access to the peninsula by recreational cyclists and biking commuters. As a consequence, it will provide even more reason for planners and city officials to keep bicycles on their radar screens.

Mr. Bradford, for example, cited the plan promoted by the Charleston Parks Conservancy to make Rutledge Avenue narrower to accommodate a landscaped buffer between the sidewalk and motorists. "I plan to write a letter asking them to consider bicycling as they make their plans," he said.

You need only stand on a street corner in peninsular Charleston to see how bicycling has increased. The growth isn't just among students or people out for some exercise. You will see people biking to work — some by choice and some by necessity.

There are bound to be growing pains as the bicycling culture grows. Education, caution and law enforcement can go a long way to make things progress more smoothly. Health, environment and financial benefits make it worth the effort.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Re-Doing Rutledge: No Bike Lane??

This is the tentative plan for narrowing Rutledge Avenue at Colonial Lake in order to make more space available for parkland adjacent to the lake.

While we're usually in some agreement with what the City of Charleston's Parks and Recreation Department plans (Matt Compton is a good bike transportation advocate), and welcome the new Charleston Parks Conservancy, we're scratching our heads as to why a plan such as this wouldn't include provisions for a bike lane on Rutledge Avenue.

Click here for the Post and Courier's account of this plan.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Big Apple Moves to Ensure Secure Bicycle Parking

New York City Proposes Bike Parking Ordinances

Cities everywhere are taking step after step acknowledging the important role of bicycles in their overall transportation plans. New York City has taken a significant step.
The City's Planning Commissioner, Amanda M. Burden, has announced a new initiative require secure parking for bicycles in new multi-family residential, commercial and institutional buildings throughout the city.

A new zoning text, which will enter the Public Review Process on Monday, November 17, would encourage bicycle ridership by providing a long-term and secure place to store bikes at home and at work.

Recent studies by City Planning have found that the lack of safe and secure bicycle parking is a leading factor preventing people from cycling to work. In other news in NYC, they have proposed a new subway flood prevention design that includes benches and bicycle parking. Click here to see the prototype.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Multi-Modal Paths: Good for Everyone! (Norman, OK Makes Progress)

Barriers to 'living'

Conditions improving, but not at pace many hoped for
By Carol Cole-Frowe

Editor's Note: This is the first in a weeklong series on people living with disabilities and the challenges they face.

Motorized wheelchair user E.Z. Million used to have trouble going to vote without driving his wheelchair through the streets of Norman.

Last Tuesday, he didn't.

"Now, I voted on Tuesday and used the 'E.Z. Million Memorial Curb Cut' at Westbrook (Terrace) and McGee (Drive)," Million said, of the curb cut he lobbied the City of Norman to build.

Barriers for people with disabilities block their paths in so many ways -- transportation, employment, shopping, entertainment venues and participating in life in general.

They are falling, but not as fast as many expected 18 years after the Americans with Disabilities Act passed July 26, 1990.

The goal of the ADA was not to create special privileges for persons with disabilities. The goal was to provide accessibility to the same services as for the non-disabled.

We're not there yet.

Defining disability usually falls into one of two areas. How people function on the basic things humans do is one of them. Activities are another -- the things we have difficulty doing or have limitations in. And it's all a matter of degree.

According to the 2000 Census, there are about one in five people with disabilities translating to about 50 million people nationwide. About half of those are termed "severely disabled."

Those number may sound high, but experts say it may actually be low.

And the 2000 Census numbers show that in Cleveland County, there were more than 30,000 people with disabilities over the age of 5. Of those, about 13,000 of them live in Norman.

Quantifying young people between ages 5 and 20 with disabilities, Census figures indicate there are 1,638 Norman young people or 7 percent with disabilities.

That's more than children enrolled in nurseries or preschools at 1,403, or children enrolled in kindergarten at 1,077.

Among the city's population ages 21 to 64, there are 7,786 persons with disabilities or 13.6 percent.

The percentages grow as the population ages, with 41 percent of people over 65 or 3,307 having a disability.

Many of Norman's disability community laud Norman for generally having a progressive attitude about accessibility. But there are still many challenges to be met, especially with the aging baby boomer population. Products are still too high in grocery stores. Many store aisles are still too narrow to allow a walker or wheelchair. Service station gas pumps are still too high. And numerous restaurants don't have accessible bathrooms.

In Norman, as it is in most of the rest of the nation, enforcement of ADA standards is reactive, driven by complaints and lawsuits instead of enforcement through regular inspections.

There are notable exceptions like the City's strict enforcement of handicapped parking, but there are still many areas that need addressing. The goal of this series is to bring attention to those areas.

Getting there

Friday, November 7, 2008

Portland: An Example for Every City!

I've completely cribbed the following squib from
This city long ago took a completely new look at transportation and as a result, made itself the absolute poster child for alternative modes of transportation. But it is more than just "Bike Friendly." In Portland, using a bicycle has become a serious, integral part of its overall transportation picture.

These statistics are STUNNING!

PDOT reveals latest counts: Bikes are now 20% of all Hawthorne Bridge traffic

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Editor) on November 6th, 2008 at 5:42 pm

Bike traffic in Portland has tripled since 2001.
(Photo © J. Maus)

I gave you a little sneak peek last week, but now PDOT has released their full, 29-page, 2008 Bicycle Count Report (download the 11MB PDF here). In general, biking is way up all over the city. That’s not exactly earth-shattering, but some of the numbers and findings are quite interesting.

I don’t have time to get into many details, but below are the highlights.

* Bicycle use in Portland showed a double-­digit increase for the fourth straight year.
* Bicycle traffic on Portland’s 4 bicycle-­friendly bridges and at 68 non-­bridge locations city­wide showed annual increases of 15% and 32%, respectively.
* Compared to 2007, overall bicycle use in Portland increased 28%.
* Bicycles represent approximately 20%, 15%, 14%, and 5% of all vehicles on the Hawthorne, Steel, Broadway, and Burnside bridges (compared with 18%, 15%, 12%, and
3% in 2007), respectively; overall, bicycles represent 13% of all vehicles on these four bicycle-­friendly Willamette River bridges.
* Bicycle traffic in Portland has nearly tripled since 2001.
* Helmet use is at an all-­time high, and has risen steadily since the 1990’s. In 2008, 80% of recorded cyclists wore helmets, up from 63% in 1997 and 76% in 2007.
* The proportion of women riders is at an all-­time high. In 2008, 32% of all cyclists were female, up from 26% in 1997 and 31% in 2007.
* Bicycle counts conducted in March were approximately half those of the summer, but are nearly identical to the summer counts recorded in 2002.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Obama, Smart Growth, Bikes and Walking

There's ample reason to be hopeful about what the election of Barack Obama bodes for the causes we support.

The following is an excerpt from The National Resources Defense Fund Switchboard, posted by Kaid Benfield in Living Sustainably , Moving Beyond Oil , U.S. Law and Policy

Here's a little about what this week's historic election may mean for smart growth, sustainable development, and metropolitan America, based on Barack Obama's statements and literature. There is ample reason to believe that the president-elect has a better understanding of these issues than any other modern president.

The effect of land use on transportation & oil

First, his campaign's position paper on oil security and energy independence explicitly recognizes the benefits of smart growth:

"Over the longer term, we know that the amount of fuel we will use is directly related to our land use decisions and development patterns, much of which have been organized around the principle of cheap gasoline. Barack Obama believes that we must move beyond our simple fixation of investing so many of our transportation dollars in serving drivers and that we must make more investments that make it easier for us to walk, bicycle and access transportation alternatives."

Importantly, Obama has also stressed that energy conservation should be made one of the explicit goals of the transportation planning required of metropolitan regions in order to secure federal dollars for roads, transit, and related projects. And he has indicated his support for leveling the tax subsidies afforded to employers who now may spend and deduct twice the amount, per employee, for automobile parking that they may spend on transit, carpooling or vanpooling.

read the entire post by clicking here