Friday, February 26, 2010

StreetFilms: "Fixing the Big Mistake -- Auto-Centric Planning


"Fixing the Great Mistake" is a new Streetfilms series that examines what went wrong in the early part of the 20th Century, when our cities began catering to the automobile, and how those decisions continue to affect our lives today.

In this episode, Transportation Alternatives director Paul Steely White shows how planning for cars drastically altered Park Avenue. Watch and see what Park Avenue used to look like, how we ceded it to the automobile, and what we need to do to reclaim the street as a space where people take precedence over traffic.

Drop a comment, below!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Your chair is your enemy.

(from the New York Times Blog)
It doesn’t matter if you go running every morning, or you’re a regular at the gym. If you spend most of the rest of the day sitting — in your car, your office chair, on your sofa at home — you are putting yourself at increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, a variety of cancers and an early death. In other words, irrespective of whether you exercise vigorously, sitting for long periods is bad for you.

(this is an excellent article... check out the whole thing by CLICKING HERE)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Smooth bumpy road for bikes

Editorial: Post & Courier Charleston
Sunday, Feb. 21



The latest assessment of bicycling in South Carolina isn't pretty. The state ranks second in the nation for hazards to bicyclists. It is 44th in the use of bicycles for commuting. And it is tied for dead last in spending on bike and pedestrian projects.

But those discouraging statistics do not have to be debilitating. They should challenge state and local governments and individuals to turn things around.

The report, published by the national Alliance for Biking and Walking, comes not long after local elections in which a common campaign theme was making the area more bike- and pedestrian-friendly. Candidates said they have the will to work on the issue. Now they have some ammunition.

Tom Bradford, acting director of Charleston Moves, is convinced that South Carolina can do better. He said Boston, which faces some of the same challenges of the Charleston area, has made great strides in improving conditions for pedestrians and cyclists.

Local government officials say they want the same for this area, and have made some progress. For example, the city of Charleston's greenway west of the Ashley, and the bike path ending at the Cooper River bridge are both successes. The Highway 61 hiker/biker trail is a popular way for children to get to school.

Yvonne Gilreath, mobility manager for the Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments, sees more improvements on the way. For example, eight local schools are spending $200,000 in grants to make it safer to get to school on a bicycle or on foot. Local governments have committed to having "complete streets." That means making streets accessible for cars, public transportation, bikes and pedestrians.

Ms. Gilreath concedes that there is a lot more to do. And improvements aren't going to happen without lots of effort, particularly in this puny economy. It is important for municipal and county governments -- and especially the reluctant state Department of Transportation -- to consider bicyclists and pedestrians in all related projects. Residents should insist on it.

The interest is there: Charleston County residents voted for the half-cent sales tax in support of bike and pedestrian projects, as well as green space. The city of Charleston's comprehensive Green Plan has ideas for improved cycling.

The Medical University helped get flashing lights for some of the stops along the Greenway. It's a good time for the health care community to do more. According to the report, South Carolina, which has relatively low levels of bicycling, has an overweight population of 65 percent and obese population of 29 percent.

Leaders in government, health, education and business need to pool their insights and energy to make the area, and the state, more welcoming to bikers and walkers. That means finding ways to connect neighborhoods to each other and to allow people to park their gas-using, emissions-spewing, traffic-producing cars in the driveway and bike or walk to work.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Minneapolis (think LONG Winters!) plans ‘bicycle boulevard’

A new and improved way of bicycle transit in Minneapolis may be available by this time next year.

Plans for a bicycle boulevard extending from Columbia Heights to Marcy-Holmes are underway.

This would be the first bicycle boulevard in Minneapolis, said Shaun Murphy, project coordinator from the Minneapolis Department of Public Works.

Murphy said the number of bicyclist commuters in Minneapolis has quadrupled to more than 8,000 since 1980. However, a city survey indicated that bicyclists were concerned with a lack of bicycle trails and bicycle-friendly streets.

To read the entire article at MNDAILY.COM click here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

East Coast Greenway Route Awarded Largest Bike/Ped Stimulus Grant

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE



TIGER grant to create unified regional trail system in Pennsylvania & New Jersey

Pennsylvania/New Jersey, February 18, 2010 – The East Coast Greenway (ECG) is about to get safer and more accessible throughout the Philadelphia region thanks to significant support from the US Department of Transportation (DOT). On Wednesday, $23 million was awarded to complete numerous sections of the ECG through the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER)grants program.

The federal stimulus grant will create jobs and improve the quality of life throughout the region. East Coast Greenway Alliance Executive Director, Dennis Markatos-Soriano, remarked, “The Department of Transportation made a great choice today. Not only will this grant create and save around 1,000 jobs, but it will also improve the region’s air quality and give people access to a safe route for bicycling and walking to lower transportation and health costs for generations to come. By connecting this effort to the East Coast Greenway, the project both unifies the Philadelphia region of six million people and connects them to a corridor that goes North all the way to Canada and South all the way to Key West, Florida.”

While some of the 51 TIGER projects funded were bigger (such as a $105 million rail project in Tennessee and Alabama), the East Coast Greenway package was the largest bike and pedestrian recipient in the country. For significant funds to go to efficient modes of transportation like bicycling, walking, and transit is a testament to the current DOT’s commitment to a green economic recovery in the months and years ahead. Developed trail systems like the East Coast Greenway are well documented to support economic development and raise real estate values. And the economically distressed urban areas that this grant helps the ECG connect (to be constructed over the next two and a half years) are important targets for economic recovery.

The Pennsylvania section of the 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway is poised to grow quickly from its base of 22% completion today. The application was coordinated by the Pennsylvania Environmental Counciland the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, regional partners of the ECGA, in collaboration with six counties and agencies in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

##

Background on ECGA:

The East Coast Greenway Alliance is a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to establishing a safe, accessible 3,000-mile greenway from Maine to Florida through major urban centers along the East Coast. Mobilizing our network of staff, volunteers and partners, ECGA works to achieve its vision of an extensive bike/pedestrian corridor that links communities to the areas of natural beauty around them. By serving non-motorized users of all abilities and ages, the East Coast Greenway will help people safely bicycle or walk for their daily commutes to work, school, and play as well as for long-distance travel. The greenway will help free America from its expensive dependence on oil, lower health costs by improving citizens’ fitness, address climate change and air quality concerns by reducing pollution, and provide good construction and maintenance jobs to help our economy recover. Further details and membership information to support the project can be found at www.greenway.org.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

OK, It's California, But All The Same....

(Hey! Aren't Those Palmettos? guess not)

PASADENA - A plan to make Pasadena more bicycle-friendly by building 16 new miles of bike lanes, a new biking path, "emphasized bikeways" and other improvements is set to go to residents next week.

It would add 16.3 miles of new bike lanes to 18.6 miles of existing lanes that run along the sides of several major roads - nearly doubling current bike lanes by adding long stretches to Union Street, Arroyo Boulevard, Sierra Madre Boulevard and Pasadena Avenue.

"We're very supportive of the plan," said Joe Linton, an advocate for C.I.C.L.E., a county biking advocacy group. "It is going to really improve the city for cyclists."

The plan, which has an estimated implementation cost of $6.2 million to $7.9 million, also calls for a 2-mile bike path along the Eaton Wash in the eastern part of the city. It would go from the Eaton Canyon Natural Area south along a concrete river channel that is now off limits to people.

More bicycle parking, new bike lockers, directional signs for bicyclists and 18.5 miles of marked bike routes are also included in the bike plan, which took about a year to develop and is expected to be unveiled at a public hearing Feb. 23.

City officials hope to see a final plan approved by the City Council by this summer. There is not yet a schedule for implementation.

Councilman and avid bicyclist Steve Haderlein, who has been following the planning process, said he expects one part of the plan calling for limiting vehicle traffic by erecting traffic diversion barriers on 11.1 miles of small neighborhood streets could meet with opposition.

The barriers would block cars from entering the streets at most intersections, but would let bikes pass through. Local drivers would be able to access the streets, but it would be impossible to drive for more than a half-mile without running into a barrier, which would eliminate through-traffic.

That would make the streets what planners call "emphasized bikeways," where low car traffic makes it easier for bikes to use the streets.

The city's plan calls for an east-west bikeway on Mountain Street, between Marengo Avenue and Sierra Bonita Avenue. It also proposes north-south bikeways on Marengo, Sierra Bonita, El Molino, Wilson Avenue and Craig Avenue.

While there could be some community resistance to limiting car traffic in those areas, Haderlein said he believes it's a good idea.

"It's not too radical for me... The more bike-friendly we make the plan, the better," he said, noting that attitudes toward bicyclists have changed since he was first elected in 1999.

"I remember at the time the idea of bike lanes was viewed as being way out there," said Haderlein. "In 10 years, who knows what people might think is normal?"

There could be changes to the plan in a final draft, and Linton hopes the city considers even stronger measures, like putting bike lanes along Colorado Boulevard in Old Pasadena and other heavy commercial areas.

He cited a city survey of 1,138 bikers that showed that, after recreation and exercise, doing chores is the most popular use for the bike in the city, with more respondents using their bikes for that than to commute to work.

Pasadena should also consider imitating Long Beach, which has designated traffic lanes where cars must yield to bikes, he said.

"In comparison, it is a pretty mild plan," said Linton.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Seattle's Mayor Bikes to Work and Creates "Ideas for Seattle"

Check out this great film from Streetfilms, a comprehensive resource for livable streets around the country. Seattle's new mayor bikes to work and discusses his initiatives. Of note is "Ideas for Seattle" - a new website created by Mayor Mike which asks citizens to submit their ideas for the city, discuss and vote on them. Wouldn't this be a great model for Charleston?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Greenville Strides Ahead on Bicycle-Friendliness



Greenville is discovering the economic value in promoting things like bicycling and alternative means of transportation far outweigh the costs.

The city’s growing “green” reputation for things like bike lanes and its sterling downtown have been key selling points in luring companies like energy-efficient bus maker Proterra, said Greenville city Councilwoman Amy Ryberg Doyle.

That’s one of the reasons Ryberg Doyle pitches the city’s nascent bicycle master plan at every opportunity.

READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE IN THE JOURNAL-WATCHDOG

Thursday, February 11, 2010

New York Makes Mid-Town Car-Free Zones Permanent

....from Crain's New York Business...

It's official. New Yorkers who cross the street in Times Square are safer than they were almost a year ago when the city embarked on a pilot program to create a pedestrian mall along Broadway.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced today that his experiment, Green Light for Midtown, has achieved its goals and will become part of the permanent landscape in both Times Square and Herald Square.

The Department of Transportation spearheaded the initiative and completed a comprehensive report that looked at traffic congestion and pedestrian safety.

“The bottom line is overall traffic in midtown has improved,” the mayor said.

click here for the whole article


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Vision for Charleston's Union Pier

(...first impressions positive..)
I attended the community session held by the Port Authority today. On display was the ambitious plan not only to move the cruise ship terminal farther northward (above the rice mill facade) but to restore public use of much of the waterfront now devoted strictly to port activities.
Noted planner Jack Robertson of Cooper, Robertson & Partners described the 'homework' that had been done, pouring over documents and maps at the Historic Charleston Foundation.
The hallmark of the plan is the restoration of the historic waterfront configuration at the foot of Market Street, involving the excavation of the original stone structure of the public "gateway" just in front of the Customs House.
The plan is heavy on restoring line-of-sight to the water from a number of the east-west thoroughfares, heavy on restoring the history of the waterfront in keeping with the preserved nature of much of downtown Charleston. Since the cruise ship terminal is to be relocated further north, much of the downtown auto traffic problems should be relocated with it.
Another big attribute: the creation of a waterfront pedestrian walkway. One idea mentioned for the Bennett's Rice Mill facade: use it as the backdrop for an outdoor concert venue.
As Robertson pointed out, what exists on paper now is an extensive idea about the general goals -- not detailed schemes on just where things will be built and precisely how they will look.
The time frame for realization of the plan is given as "15-20 years." As the planners get down to business on the details, everyone must remain watchful. Details like precise traffic flow and provisions for pedestrians, bicyclists and mass transit still must be considered.
Among the objections heard today: the fact that cruise ships even use the port, concerns about sewage discharge and other environmental concerns, questions about funding the project.
But (first impression only): A good beginning.

Friday, February 5, 2010

A VISION FOR MOUNT PLEASANT'S WATERFRONT


A VISION FOR THE FUTURE...BASED ON ACTUAL HISTORY.

Doc

1944 plat plan of Mount Pleasant

Sixty years ago, there was 1.4 miles of publicly accessible waterfront in Mount Pleasant, and the public right-of-way still exists -- on paper.

The image above is a copy of a 1944 plat plan for the Town showing Beach and Bay Streets running along the water’s edge of the Old Village – a distance of 1.4 miles. The “paper” right-of-way still exists in the tidal marsh. At some point after 1944 jetties were built in the vicinity of Alhambra Hall. The construction of these jetties slowed tidal flow and caused the public waterfront to silt in and marsh to form.

To put this in perspective, Mt. Pleasant, a roughly 100-acre village at the time, had 1.4 miles of publicly accessible waterfront along Charleston Harbor. Today’s Mt. Pleasant comprises approximately 36,000 acres of land and has very little publicly accessible waterfront along Charleston Harbor.

Patriot’s Point presents an opportunity for Mt. Pleasant to reclaim a signature waterfront. The peninsula of Patriot’s Point could be to greater Mt. Pleasant what the Charleston peninsula is to greater Charleston. Even better, the two are now linked by the pedestrian/bike lane on the bridge.

On a related note, Charleston Moves is advancing Mt. Pleasant Town Council member Paul Gawrych’s idea for a “Battery to the Beach” program, which would enhance pedestrian/bicycle accessibility along the 10.00 mile (exactly) distance between the intersections of East Battery and South Battery Drives in Charleston and Middle Street and Station 22½ on Sullivan’s Island. A three mile “Liberty Trail” along the waterfront of Patriot’s Point could offer a significant enhancement to this program. Imagine the most scenic half marathon route on the east coast.

-Vince Graham

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

JAMES ISLAND -- A 53-year-old man was killed when a bicycle he was riding was struck by a vehicle about 8:30 p.m. Sunday night on Folly Road, authorities said.

Stephen "Bryan" Budak, of James Island, died of massive blunt trauma, Charleston County Deputy Coroner Kelly Myers said Monday. He had been rushed to Medical University Hospital by Charleston County EMS but he died of his injuries.

A 2008 GMC vehicle that struck the bicycle had front-end damage, according to a Charleston Police incident report. Budak was thought to have been crossing the road on the bicycle when he was struck.

The driver of the GMC, Jacob Andrew Stone, 25, of Folly Beach, was charged with driving under the influence, police public information officer Charles Francis said. Investigators determined that Stone was not at fault in the accident, Francis said.

Folly Road was blocked off in the vicinity of Fort Johnson Road late Sunday night while police investigated the fatal collision. The road was blocked in both directions.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Revolution on 2 Wheels Lecture Series



CAC.C/CCDC LECTURE SERIES
Clemson Architecture Center/Charleston
Charleston Civic Design Center

sponsored by:
MyBikeLaw.com
and CharlestonMoves


REVOLUTION ON2WHEELS
Across America, a cycling revolution is underway. Bicycles are changing the way people get around, and therefore how they see and understand the city—not to mention how we plan it. Bikes aren’t just for fun; more and more, they’re a primary means of transportation! And they're becoming a key to wellbeing in city settings. This Spring will examine this amazing phenomenon and consider its consequences for the metro-Charleston area.


Thursday FEBRUARY 4
7:00-9:00 PM

author JEFF MAPES ---
Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists are Changing American Cities
South End Brewery, 161 East Bay Street
lecture sponsor: Blue Bicycle Books

Jeff Mapes is a senior political reporter for The Oregonian and the author of Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists are Changing American Cities.

He is riding a wave of excellent reviews about his book to which the influential Library Journal (which many schools and libraries base their purchasing decisions on) gave their coveted rating of “highly recommended.” Mapes has put together a broad survey of the burgeoning urban bike movement. He covers everything, from the role of the bicycle in American society in the nineteenth century to the current revolution in cycling.

In preparing for his book, Mapes traveled the country (and the globe) to ride the streets he writes about and to talk directly with the people who are playing pivotal roles in America’s bike movement. Mapes moves from the warfare between the NYPD and the bike-activist group Critical Mass, to the utopian bikeways of Davis, California and the biking capital of the world, Amsterdam.

His extensive research, solid reporting, and anecdotally-infused style offer a story that, so far, has been largely unknown to all but bicycle advocates.
You can’t have a revolution (pedaling or not) without information, and this lecture just might become one of the sparks that fuels biking’s upcoming boom in Charleston, just like his book is doing across America.

Come meet the man behind the book and get a glimpse of the bike revolution that is sweeping the country.

COMING EVENTS:

February 25th
GETTING FRAMED: the design and building of bikes
TBA

March 4th
ARCHITECTURE FOR BIKES: new facility types and their design
William Gallagher, Architect
KGP Designs, Washington DC
March 25th
BY ALL RIGHTS: bike activism in perspective
Preston Tyree, Director of Education
League of American Bicyclists
April 8th
LOOK SHARP: how bikes are changing American cities
Chris Kluth
San Diego Association of Governments
April 15th
AROUND TOWN: the past and future of biking in Charleston
Donald Sparks, Ph.D.
Professor of International Economics, The Citadel University
PLUS
Panel of metro-Charleston planners

all events are free and open to the public