Bike to Work Day/Week/Month as an opportunity for assessing the biking as transportation agenda
-- Here Is Your Bike To Work Day Pit Stop Map, DCist
-- Bike to Work Day MetroDC
Sustainable transportation and the Five "E's". In bike and pedestrian planning they refer to the "Five E's" of planning: Engineering (infrastructure); Encouragement (promotion); Education; Enforcement; and Evaluation (planning).
Where bicycle planning needs new and renewed emphasis is on "Enforcement" and "Equity," the "sixth E." And "Engineering" needs to move beyond infrastructure and expand its focus on "facilities."
Cycling for transportation is rising. New data from the US Bureau of the Census (Modes Less Traveled – Bicycling and Walking to Work in the United States: 2008-2012) shows an increase in the rate of bike-based community ("Biking to work increases 60% in past decade," USA Today), although I hesitate to write about the percentage increase, because the general level is so low that the percentages increases are misleadingly high.
In any case, in places where there is great opportunity to capture trips, and where there is the addition of quality infrastructure, especially cycletracks and other separated cycling infrastructure, it appears that greater strides are being made.
See these past blog entries:
-- Best practice bicycle planning for suburban settings using the action planning method
-- Ideas for making bicycling irresistible in Washington DC
-- Paradigm change and setting goals for mode split for biking
Lots of cities want to take credit for this, but we probably owe the biggest debt to Paris, which was by no means the first city to adopt bicycle sharing, but was the first city to develop a bike sharing system at such a big scale, with more than 15,000 bikes and 1,000 sharing stations.
Encouragement: Biking to work needs a year round emphasis. When I worked in Baltimore County, the metropolitan planning organization, the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, was the coordinator across the Baltimore region for Bike to Work Day, which is the third Friday in May, the same in DC.
I said that the problem with focusing on "one day," is that it takes away from focusing on building ridership throughout the year, and that in any case, there should be follow up activities plan to leverage the "one day" involvement to something more.
Local Motion information rack (on the right) includes the Alexandria bike map.
In Alexandria the other day, I noticed that the city's transportation demand management unit, branded Local Motion, has information displays about sustainable transportation including cycling, placed in many local businesses and shops.
Of course, I have argued that bike maps need to be displayed at transit stations and on street signage, etc., and that cycling trails need to be better marked, not just for informational purposes, but also as a form of marketing.
NYC has bike parking shelters (repurposed bus shelters) with large bicycle maps posted inside.
Spreading events throughout the day. In any case, I've noticed that some places which are more "origin-generators" of bicyclists but not their final destination are organizing afternoon and evening events on Bike to Work Day to welcome people back from work and to use that as an opportunity for additional organizing.
-- Columbia Heights afternoon pit stop, DC
Extending Bike to Work Day for a week or month. Similarly, other places have developed Bike to Work Week ("Milwaukee celebrates Bike to Work Week," WISN-TV; "Bike to Work Week off and rolling in Fort Wayne," Fort Wayne News-Sentinel; Bike to Work Week a growing affair in Salisbury," Delmarva Daily Times) or Bike to Work Month ("Bike Month | League of American Bicyclists; Federal Bike to Work Month Challenge," US EPA; "Bike to Work Day rally kicks off celebration of bike month," Salt Lake City Deseret News) to "draw out" and extend the programming effort and better leverage the activities.
Equity. I wrote a couple months ago about how the Boston Bikes program of the City of Boston is formulating a broader emphasis on equity--biking for transportation tends to be practiced more by men of higher income--by treating "equity" as the "sixth "E"" within sustainable transportation planning. See "Equity as the sixth "E" in bike and pedestrian planning."
Note that the Community Cycling Center of Portland also has a number of programs within this area and the Recycle a Bicycle program in New York City has a number of well developed programs focusing on youth.
Enforcement. An entry in GGW "Driver assaults bicyclist, police ticket bicyclist," about a bicycle accident caused by an aggressive motor vehicle operator but resulting in a ticket for the cyclist reminds us that for the most part, the "E" focused on "Enforcement" fails in terms of balancing the relationship and privileges of motor vehicle operators versus pedestrians and cyclists. This happens all the time.
The "accident" end of motor vehicle operation is seriously weighted or privileged in favor of the motor vehicle operator in ways that condone illegal behavior based on the excuse of not paying attention (a/k/a "I didn't see...").
The legal system is set up to coddle motor vehicle operators, out of an expectation that "accidents happen" and it isn't the driver's fault. Malcolm Gladwell wrote a piece in the New Yorker Magazine, "Wrong Turn: How the fight to make America’s highways safer went off course," many years ago about this.
This needs to change.
1. I argue that we should consider moving the special traffic enforcement functions of police departments to transportation departments, with a concomitant upgrading in the training and skill level of the officers as it relates to sustainable transportation modes. (Some transportation departments have parking enforcement duties, but I don't think any agency has taken on the traffic enforcement units from police departments.)
2. Initiatives like "VisionZero" type programs focused on reducing traffic-related deaths are a step forward (this has come to the fore in New York City specifically, see "" from ), but don't address how motor vehicle operation laws favor reduced responsibility for operators of motor vehicles, when motor vehicle operators should have heightened responsibilities because of the speed and power and ability to harm that lies within the operation of motor vehicles.
-- The original Vision Zero initiative was in Sweden.
-- "The Quest For Zero Fatalities," Public Roads Magazine, about a program in Utah
-- the first such initiative along these lines that I came across was in Minnesota, and there Minnesota Towards Zero Deaths program.
3. I recommend that we work towards the adoption of Dutch "sustainable safety" laws and practices, which require that motor vehicle operators take on much more legal responsibility for the operation of motor vehicles vis-a-vis accidents, especially concerning pedestrians and bicyclists.
In the Netherlands, motor vehicle operators are responsible outright for at least 50% of the cause of an accident involving pedestrians or cyclists, and this can rise to as much as 100% depending on the actual circumstances. See "Strict liability in the Netherlands" from Bicycle Dutch (which is also the source of the image).
This is much different than in the US, where in many states contributory negligence laws obviate claims by pedestrians or cyclists if they contributed to the accident, and where police officers accustomed to operating motor vehicles generally presume that the pedestrian or cyclist was automatically at fault.
4. The first thing most motor vehicle operators will counter with is that cyclists run stop signs and red lights. It's true, we do, and there are many good reasons for doing so--not if there is oncoming traffic, but if there isn't, it makes sense to encourage cycling rather than hinder and cripple its efficiency and this is one area to do so (see writings on the "Idaho Stop" for more, especially in Washcycle).
The Clarendon Metro Station in Arlington County, Virginia has covered bicycle parking and a repair stand with an air pump. Flickr photo by BeyondDC.
Engineering (infrastructure) and a greater emphasis on support facilities. The next stage of infrastructure development beyond cycletracks and other separated infrastructure are a greater focus on providing the facilities that support the cyclist throughout the trip, including air and repair and parking. Arlington County is installing bike repair stands at Metro stations in their jurisdiction.
See "Bike "fix-it" stands appear at Arlington Metro stations" from GGW. (My 2008 piece "Ideas for making bicycling irresistible in Washington DC," argues that all Metro stations should have air pumps...)
Best (or at least better) practices in bike parking and bicycle facilities implementation." These are particularly good resources for parking:
-- Bicycles at Rest, bicycle parking, Capital Walk and Bike, Victoria, BC
-- Cycling Support Services Study - Strategic Plan, Translink transit agency, Greater Vancouver, BC
Interestingly, today's Express has a piece ("Locked and overloaded: D.C.’s bike racks can’t keep up with demand") about skyrocketing demand for bike parking in DC.
Evaluation-planning. For a number of years I have argued that the next stage of bicycle planning needs to:
1. integrate the provision of programming more directly into bike programs using what I call the action planning method
2. moves to move from the city or county wide level to the sector/district/neighborhood level, including the integration of programming
3. including within parks and recreation departments.
We are starting to see some of the changes, but it's still a few years out.
Bike House Co-op in the Petworth neighborhood of DC, familiy oriented initiatives like Kidical Mass, and women and race-based equity initiatives such as BlackWomen Bike effort in DC and the League of American Bicyclists' Women Bike initiative and the equivalent effort locally by the Washington Area Bicyclists Association, and their Women & Bicycles program.
And in the meantime of course, bicycle retailers have been stalwart in all the time that bicycling has been out of fashion.