New York City - The Deputy Mayor charged with getting more people to bike has taken up bike commuting. [He even bought the same bike I own]. “I’m sort of proof that if I can do this,” he said later, “anyone can do this.”
Meanwhile, the widow of a man killed by a salmoning bike delivery person, is working to make the roads safer and make sure cyclists are educated. "The cyclist who hit Mr. Gruskin wasn’t charged and quit the catering company. Ms. Gruskin sued the company that employed him, which settled for $1 million, said Chris McGrath, her lawyer. She set up the Stuart Gruskin Family Foundation to push for safer streets....ONE project that absorbed her was finding out how many people were hurt in collisions with bicycles. “If you wanted to find out how often cars hit bike riders, or cars hit pedestrians, you could get statistics about that,” Ms. Gruskin said. “If you wanted to know how often bicyclists hit pedestrians, there were no statistics for that....The standard form used by police officers who respond to a traffic accident does not include any place to list bicycles if they are involved. A new law calls for the collection of that information."
And, a NYC Councilman suggested legislation that would require bike license plates for messengers and food delivery people. This is law in London I believe.
Portland, OR - Mia Burk, President of Alta Planning + Design, which I'm pretty sure is related to Alta Bicycle Sharing (the company that operates CaBi) calls for the Idaho Stop in Oregon, among other ways of dealing with stop signs and bicycles.
Germany - Ride your bike on a pedestrian mall, and you could get a yellow card. “It is best to give it to them like this,” Kaufmann says, slipping me a card underhanded. “You cannot hold it up like a referee.”
Alex Baca at City Paper went to the Build it and they will Ride presentation at the Building Museum and reports that future cycling infrastructure in DC is going to be more likely to take space from drivers than in the past. Many bike lanes, up to now, have been built by taken a wide single lane and splitting it into a bike lane and all-traffic lane. "The next step for safe, dedicated bicycle infrastructure in D.C. will be more intrusive than simply throwing down some paint."
Meanwhile, Harry Jaffe at the Examiner is a believer in CaBi. "I thought the rent-a-bikes were goofy and the program was doomed to failure. How wrong I was. The system is a raging success." But he includes some bad news that I missed 'Gray reduced the bike and pedestrian budget by about 30 percent. "We can still do a lot of work for pedestrians and bicyclists," Sebastian says.'
A nice profile of a retiring bike messenger. "The twilight of the city’s once booming courier business is ironic and a little sad, because it comes amid a huge bicycle renaissance....Keefe joined the bike messenger scrum in its pre-fax, pre-e-mail glory days, when there were about 400 of them downtown, and they could easily pull down $100 for a couple hours’ work. (Today, they might not even break $75 in a 10-hour day.)...Keefe was a Vietnam War veteran who was studying physics while working on satellite projects for NASA." What is is with satellites and biking?
With increased cycling, there is concern with increased competition for space (Frankly I don't think it's true. 75-80% of my commute is spent on bike lanes, trails, shoulders or riding in the pulses between cars on quieter streets. Whereas when I drive, I'm always mixing it up with other drivers). 'Farrell has this take on the problem: "Beyond enforcement, beyond education, which, as important as those two things are, there's a long-term need to rebuild and restructure the infrastructure that we have."'
U-MD aerospace engineering students are trying to build a flying bicycle. Literally. But they call it a human powered helicopter. This is how I plan to commute in 2021, and I will blow every stop sign when I do. On a serious note, I'm surprised they have the cyclist in the recumbent position. I'd think you'd get more power standing, but the video says they studied that to get the ideal position. Maybe they're trying to keep it closer to the ground for more ground effect.
How to buy a bike advice in the Post. BTW, Complete Bike Maintenance by Fred Milson, which I'm currently perusing has some good bike shopping advice too. This weekend, I'm going to try some of the repairs and so we'll see how idiot-proof it is.
Tales from the sharrows has an interesting post on facilities and commuting. His workplace has the ideal set-up for bike commuters (indoor, secure bike parking; a secure locker room with showers; the bike commuter benefit and a CaBi station) yet few people bike commute. I wonder how much each of those items induces bike commuting. People always tell me they'd love to bike commute, but there's no shower. Are they all liars?
Laurel's new bike lanes are finished. "City Engineer Bryon White announced April 14 the completion of bikeways on Fourth and Fifth streets that connect Riverfront Park in historic Laurel to Gude Lake Park on the south side of Route 198....He said the next step in the bikeway master plan will begin this summer with road markings and signs from the Laurel Municipal Center to Montrose Avenue through West and Eighth streets. This bikeway will connect with the new ones on Fourth and Fifth streets."
DDOT is repaving East Capitol between Lincoln Park and RFK. Yesterday I noticed the prep lines for the street marking and it appears they're extending the bike lanes east from 17th to 19th. Delicious, low-hanging fruit.
No amendment directly targeted the transportation enhancements program. An amendment that would cut funding for the popular Land and Water Conservation Fund, which funds some trails, was defeated by a “nail-biting” 213-216 vote, with 32 Republicans voting against the cuts.
Podium - ICYMI, Alberto Contador = cleared of charges. Meanwhile Lance Armstrong has retired again, and this time he means it. I place his return from retirement as better than Brett Favre's and Michael Jordan's 2nd but not Jordan's 1st. Massive understatement award:
Lance came back in to do two things: raise awareness for his foundation and cancer victims by putting the issue on the world stage, which was tremendously successful; and to win the Tour de France again, which turned out to be a lot harder than he thought.
What will he do now
Armstrong, 39, will also announce that he will co-chair a campaign for the California Cancer Research Act initiative, which would fund cancer research by adding $1 to the price of a pack of cigarettes in the Golden State, the adviser said.
If he doesn't go to prison, I expect him to run for Governor of Texas, which he'll win, but not without allegations that he cheated.
Podium - The guy from "Third Rock from the Sun" and the girl from "Real World: San Diego" are starring in a movie about "a New York City bike messenger who is pursued by a dirty cop." It's called Premium Rush and is set to come out in 2012.
Maillot Vert: In favor of bicycling facilities. Speaking of which, the proposed Portland-Milawaukie light rail will feature a parallel bike path, and where the bike path crosses the Willamette River, they're thinking about a "sonic bike path". It's not a tube that pushes you at near sonic speeds, but rather grooved pavement that plays Simon and Garfunkle's "Feelin' Groovy" as a bicycle rides over it. I like the idea, but I have to wonder about the state of art when they're stealing from car commercials. Also, Chicago is planning a sweet flyover bridge to deal with a lakeshore drive chokepoint.
Maillot a Pois Rouge: As the Fabulous T-Birds asked, ain't that tough enough?
[The] bill failed amid concerns from Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell, that it mandated to people what they could and couldn't do.
Isn't that what laws do?
Anyway, speaking of safety, hybrid cars really are a risk because of how quiet they are, (and because soccer moms drive like maniacs?)
the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which found that hybrid vehicles were involved in “significantly” more collisions than vehicles with internal combustion engines, under certain circumstances.
Lanterne Rouge: During NYC's crack down on scofflaw cycling, a man was issued a ticket for riding without a helmet, which is not illegal. Also, NYPD is ticketing cyclist who run red lights in Central Park even when the roads are closed to cars. Those tickets carry the same fine as for those for drivers ($270). So when you're doing your crackdown at a time and place that only cyclists can ride, that would be targeting.
Caroline Samponaro, Transportation Alternative’s director of bicycle advocacy, says, "Police enforcement of the most dangerous behaviors on the loop drive is important. However, reports to Transportation Alternatives in recent weeks all sound like the NYPD is undertaking a ticket blitz, targeting bicyclists only, rather than targeting the most reckless behaviors that endanger walkers and fellow riders. This lack of discretion undermines the type of enforcement needed to make our streets safer.
"At a recent meeting to discuss the loop drive in Central Park, safe cycling advocates proposed flashing yellow traffic signals during car-free hours. The park is open to car traffic for only a handful of hours each day, but the rules for cars are in effect 24/7. It’s time to institute more rational regulations that serve the safety, exercise and transportation needs of the supermajority of people who use the park on foot and bicycle."
And NYC wishes they had bike racks on their buses like DC does. Don't they....Don't they...
Snack delivery entrepreneur Matt Mandell says
that DC Snacks was open for business until about 10 p.m. last night. He
hopes to resume delivery service again this evening, provided that the
snow slows enough to ensure safe conditions for his delivery fleet.
Since most DC Snacks snacks are delivered on bicycle, tonight’s service
depends on whether the main city arteries get plowed. “Our people on
bikes can usually ride until we hit about six inches of snow, and then
it’s hard to get traction. That’s when we pretty much closed,” says
Mandell. Mandell doesn’t like to be closed. “We’ll do our best. In some
areas, we’ll have to walk the bike. Some areas we can do it by
motorized transportation . . . if it’s close enough, we’ll try to walk
it there,” he says. “I’m almost positive we’re going to be open tonight.”
If DC Snacks is operational this evening, be sure to take advantage
of the extras. “There are always people who request that we throw a
bunch of condoms in the bag,” says Mandell. “We will definitely do
But will Blumenauer deliver condoms via cross country skis? It's probably best that he doesn't.
All of the volunteers were then asked to rate how immoral it would
be for someone to take an abandoned bicycle rather than report the
bicycle to the police. They were also asked, if they were in real need
of a bicycle, how likely they would be to take it themselves and not
The “powerful” who had been primed to believe they were entitled to
their power readily engaged in acts of moral hypocrisy. They assigned a
value of 5.1 to others engaging in the theft of the bicycle while
rating the action at 6.9 if they were to do it themselves. Among
participants in all of the low-power states, morally hypocritical
behaviour inverted itself, as it had in the case of tax fraud.
“Legitimate” low-power individuals assigned others a score of 5.1 if
they stole a bicycle and gave themselves a 4.3. Those primed to feel
that their lack of power was illegitimate behaved similarly, assigning
values of 4.7 and 4.4 respectively.
The Ohio Turnpike is now treating cars with a bicycle roof rack as Class Two vehicles and charging 75% more. I guess the GMC Granite can corner the Ohio cyclist market then.
AskMen Rank the Top 10 Bicycling Cities. Portland is the only one in the States. (Via CommuterPageBlog)
Kessler, 30, a former rider for the Kazakhstan-based team Astana,
swerved to miss a cat, crashed headfirst into a wall and suffered a
The next time people complain about bike messengers and how crazy they are and how they never follow the law, you can point out how they saved the world.
The Cuban missile crisis in 1962 not only showed how close the United
States and Soviet Union could come to a nuclear war, but also the sorry
state of the communication channels needed to avert it. During one
point in the crisis, the Soviet ambassador to Washington had to rely on
a bicycle courier to take his urgent messages for Moscow to the local
Western Union office.
Adam Voiland has a roundup of the Philadelphia crack down after two pedestrians were killed by cyclists.
In the first homicide a wrong-way cyclist hit a paralegal and left him to die in the street without giving assistance. Authorities are still trying to find the cyclist. In the second homicide, a pedestrian was again hit by a wrong-way cyclist, who did not flee the scene. That cyclist has not been charged at this point (which I think is very unfortunate. The cyclist was riding in an unsafe manner, saw the pedestrian and hit him. He should be charged, IMO).
As a result, a pair of Philadelphia City Council Members introduced tougher penalties for bike violations.
Kenney's legislation would increase the fine for riding on the sidewalk
from $10 to $300, increase the fine for riding with headphones from $3
to $300 and require that people on bicycles without brakes face a
$1,000 fine or confiscation.
$3 does seem ridiculous, but then so does $300, especially since the fine for driving while talking on the phone is only $75.
In PA, bikes are required to have a "braking system" which includes fixed gear bikes according to Mark J. Ginsberg a Portland, OR bike lawyer.
Mr. Ginsberg said that most states have adopted a standard definition
of bike’s brakes that is technology independent. “No where does it say what the brake should look
like; it only says what it should do,” he said. In most states — though
not New York — the rule is that a bike moving at 15 miles per hour must
be able to stop in 15 feet, something that is “easily done” on a fixed
gear by riders of all levels, Mr. Ginsberg added.
But Bob Mionske is less sure, and calls out DC as the exception:
“Fixie riders argue that the fixed gear hub functions as a brake when
backwards pressure is applied to the pedals, and that they are capable
of meeting the required performance standard for stopping,” said Robert
Mionske, author of Bicycling and the Law. “So far, that has tended to be a losing argument in traffic courts.”
There have not been other attempts to legislate fixies off city
streets, Mr. Mionske said. “In fact, Washington D.C. has gone the other
route, and embraced fixies, by revising their bicycle ordinance to
specify that a fixed gear hub is a brake.”
The crazy thing is that even if you put a brake on a fixed gear bike, there is no obligation to use it. So it's kind of pointless. And I'd still love to see that research that points to the fact that fixed gear bikes are involved in more collisions.
As for sidewalks, you know how I feel about that law. These laws assume that one can't safely operate a bike on the sidewalk or without brakes - but I'm not sure those assumptions are valid.
DiCicco's bill would require registration of all bicycles owned by persons 12 and older.
I can't figure out for the life of me how registering bicycles makes pedestrians (or anyone) safer.
"This is not an attempt to put any roadblocks on that effort," he said.
"This is a way in which we can educate people riding bicycles to obey
the rules of the road." DiCicco said that his proposed legislation would make it easier to track bikes involved in accidents.
Turns out he actually wants cyclists to have license plates. So, how do I get around if I bring my bike to Philly?
And I don't see how registration helps education. Even the Inquirer thinks it's "silly" and they welcome the crackdown. They wrote a whole opinion piece on the registration in which the author, a cyclist, talks about pedestrians in exactly the same way drivers talk about cyclists.
A cyclist must obey traffic laws, but a pedestrian listening to an iPod
- and completely oblivious to his or her surroundings - is somehow free
of any guilt.
Odd that wrong-way cycling wasn't one of the violations to get an increased fine since it was the cause.
Meanwhile, State Rep. Angel Cruz (D., Phila.) introduced a bill similar
to DiCicco's that would require bikes in the city to be registered and
have the same safety features as motorcycles, such as lights.
Lights at night or in low light? Absolutely. On a sunny afternoon? Stupid.
A Daily News Columnist, Stu Bykofsky, got in the act with a ridiculous anti-cyclist article. Let's start with the title "If cyclists want rights
they should follow rules." No, that's not how it works. Cyclists have
rights. They are inherent. Yes, they should follow the rules, but it
is not a quid pro quo. Drivers don't follow the rules but no one questions there rights to the road.
In September, the city surrendered one of two traffic lanes on Spruce and Pine streets in Center City to cyclists.
What kind of a perverted quota system gives 50 percent of any city
street - designed for cars - to bikes, which account for 1.2 percent of
cyclists have 50% of ALL roads. I think not. Faulty logic.
if we get
more cyclists, as seems to be the city's wet dream, we'll get more
injury and death.
He actually wrote about nocturnal emissions - classy. And he's wrong.
If there more cyclists that would probably mean fewer drivers, which would surely lead to less death
DiCicco's idea was a good start.
Let's put more on the table. If you want parity with cars, how can
you not agree to be insured?
Let's license adult bikers as we do motorists, to assure that they are competent and know the law.
No more parking anywhere you want for free. Like cars, you will park
only in designated areas. You will feed a meter or pay for space on a
rack, in a lot or garage.
Did I mention that your bike must have a horn or bell, brakes, a
rear-view mirror, front and rear lights, all of which will be tested
annually in a city-licensed bike shop? You will wear a helmet and
reflective tape for safety.
Which reminds me of people who objected to the ERA by
saying women would have to serve in the military (I know, a crazy idea)
and use the men's room. Besides if he's interested in parity then he'd have to make kids wear helmets in cars and drivers stay in the right
lane. And he goes way over with the helmets; drivers don't wear helmets. It's a ridiculous premise and based on the false idea that cyclists want parity. We don't any more than pedestrians do. Would he like to license pedestrians?
[Bicycling] will never be a serious mode of transportation in and around Philly.
I'd say at 1.2% it already is, and I'd be willing to make a wager on it not rising to his definition of "major". Never is a very long time.
Later the same columnist responds to his critics by complaining about how bike lanes have made it harder for him to drive across town (from 7 minutes to 5 minutes) and sail through lights, and suggests 3 foot wide cycletracks. That does not sound safe. And he continues to say that cycling is a tiny fraction of road traffic, so why is it such a safety hazard? Why make such a big deal about it?
also criticized Mayor Michael A. Nutter’s decision this summer to have the city give equal consideration to bikes in future transportation efforts.
“The message these city council members is sending is: We don’t want people riding bikes,” said Mark J. Ginsberg, a Portland, Ore., cycling lawyer who helped draft the state’s bike laws. In Oregon, there had been similar legal confusion over the status of fixed gear bikes
— whether the act of pedaling backward constitutes a brake — and Mr.
Ginsberg sought to add language to specifically address the issue in
2006. “What got shot down was the extra ‘and a fixed gear has a
brake,’” he said.
All of this has led to a protest by bike messengers.
Nearly 100 bicycle messengers rallied at John F. Kennedy Plaza
yesterday evening to protest what they called a growing "anti-cycling"
mood in the city.
They also decried an incident in which they said an angry motorist ran
a cyclist off a Center City street on Thanksgiving morning, causing her
to land on her face and suffer a broken jaw.
The Philadelphia City Paper calls for the Idaho Stop, which they call the Boise Stop.
"Cyclists tend to avoid streets that have stop signs because it's too
much of a hindrance. So they move over to the more traveled arterial
In other words, Boise Law would curtail interaction between cyclists
and motorists. It would also, according to Mionske, encourage cyclists
to use neighborhood streets and would reduce the amount of time spent
in intersections where many collisions occur.
Bob is smart.
The Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia participated in a live chat on cycling and have submitted an editorial that will run some time this week.
It's very unusual for a cyclist to kill a pedestrian. So when it happens it is a man bites dog story, especially if it happens twice in one year or if a reward is offered in one case. But it's sadly normal for a driver to kill a pedestrian and so this is not nearly as newsworthy. I think the two cyclists who were involved in these crashes should be prosecuted appropriately, but if you really want to make streets safer, you're cracking down on the wrong group. This is like not allowing passengers to board planes with knives, but allowing guns. Yes, bad cycling can kill. But bad driving is the real risk. The ratio is something like 1000 to 1. So for every cop you have writing cyclist tickets, you need 1000 writing tickets to drivers.
Adam Voiland points out that even though the candidates for Governor of Virginia are talking a lot about transportation, they aren't talking about cycling.
Neither Deeds nor McDonnell use the word bicycle -- not even once -- in their transportationproposals. Debates comes and go with no mention of bicycles as a viable part of the state's transportation mix. And Google searches of either of the candidates' names and "bicycle" come up with little that's relevant.
Silver Spring Trails wonders if Gallatin Street in DC, which serves as the interim MBT and allows for contraflow cycling, should have a contraflow bike lane like Cedar Street.
I’m still not a big fan of counterflow bike lanes. But there are
situations, like at Gallatin Street, where we only need a short
counterflow bike lane to close a difficult gap in a bike route.
Richard Layman discusses the K Street/Parking vs. Bikes & Transit issue
The reality is that urban customers are different from suburban
customers. Accommodating urbanites helps urban businesses. And
expecting your customers to be suburban in distinctly urban settings
(such as on top of a subway station, in a dense part of northwest DC,
for stores in high demand and not otherwise located close by), such as
with the big box stores and the underutilized 1,000 space parking
garage in Columbia Heights (see "At NW Mall, So Many Spaces, So Little Need DC Losing Millions On Empty Garage" from the Post)
often backfires, as the city becomes denser and more amenities become
available as a result. That means more walking, more bicycling, and
more transit use, and less car usage.
The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail's... er, path to completion is a long one
to say the least. Since many of the pieces are built in conjunction
with other projects, those parts are at the whim of the construction
downturn. In this case it's at Florida Rock, which has the piece of the trail between the
Douglas Bridge and the nearly complete Diamond Teague Park. Florida Rock Properties asked for a two year
extension on their permit application for the property south of the ballpark and the ANC has voted to support
it. Via JDLand
Richard Layman also writes about the K Street Transitway and how the 300 on-street spaces, in a downtown with 15,000 parking spaces in garages is a small price to pay for a complete street.
The Post had a front page story on the impact (negative) that 9/11, digitization and the economy have had on the bike messenger business.
The courier business -- for decades a quirky by-product of Washington's
No. 1 industry, paper-pushing -- finds itself in rapid decline.
The number of full-time couriers in Washington has fallen from a high
of about 400 in the 1990s to about 150, said Andy Zalan, a longtime
bike messenger and head of the D.C. Bicycle Couriers Association.
"Those of us left are making a lot less money," Zalan said.
The decline is being felt in all cities, according to Michael
Gualtieri, president of the Messenger Courier Association of America.
In New York, consolidations and business failures have cut the number
of courier companies from a high of almost 500 to about 40, he said.
But the beginning of the end came with the security shocks of 2001,
first the attacks and then anthrax. Messengers were relegated to alley
entrances and basement mailrooms.
Veteran riders still find ways to get their rushes through; White
House staffers, who aren't allowed to accept handoffs through the iron
fence, have been known to meet couriers at nearby coffee shops.
"Almost in one day, we were getting a lot fewer rush jobs," said
Marcia Vottero, 28, a rider for Washington Express. She knew of 25
female riders when she started in 2000. Now, she says, she is one of
two who ride regularly. Like a lot of messengers, she works a second
job, as a bartender, to supplement her salary.
"I used to be able to make $1,500 a week, not even working long
hours," said Vottero. "Now that's cut in half, and I've got to work all
Vottero, who has clearance to deliver inside the Department of
Justice and the World Bank, is on the high side of earners. More
typical now, according to several couriers, is $400 to $500 a week.
Stories about the demise of bike messengers are nothing new, but this one makes the point that the economy is having an effect as well.
In a world where it's possible to instantly send a document almost anywhere in the world, it does seem a bit anachronistic to have a fleet of people physically transporting paper around town. I'm probably ignorant, but frankly I'm surprised there ARE still bike messengers. I'm also surprised it took 5 comments on the Post piece before you finally got to someone who said something negative about messengers - and the comments are mostly positive.
Despite their pessimistic plight, the article goes a long way to discuss the unique cultural position that messengers fill in this town, and that maybe they will be nostalgically missed - like phone booths and streetcars. Maybe, like streetcars, they'll even come back - UPS started as a bike messenger company and I suspect bike messengers could move packages around downtown faster and with less illegal parking than the big brown trucks. It all makes me think of all the cultural references to bike messengers, the TV Shows Double Rush (underrated, with a young D.L. Hughley and David Arquette), Dark Angel and Streetwise; the movie QuickSilver and that episode of Red Shoe Diaries when Joey from Friends played a bike messenger...
Since he's at the top of the news, Adam Voiland takes some time to point out that, among other things, Arlen Specter is a good friend to cyclists, which isn't surprising considering he used to be a bike messenger.