Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Biking roundup (updated with items 6 and 7)

1.  Designing conflict in.  One of the points I make in terms of (1) shared use paths and "sharing" between modes moving at significantly different speeds; (2) significantly varying speeds among bicyclists; and (3) widths of shared use paths not being adequate for the amount and type of use (see the Shared Use Path Level of Service Calculator for guidance) is that too frequently we are "designing conflict in" to the situation when the point of planning and engineering is to design conflict out.

The New York Times has a piece, "Deaths Expose Chaos of Central Park's Loop," about two recent pedestrian deaths in Central Park, the pedestrians having been killed by stepping into the path of a high-speed bicyclist.

On the weekends you get a lot of biking and walking in Central Park on "The Loop" and fast moving "recreational cyclists" can travel at speeds of 20 to 30mph.  This is complicated by high demand destinations being located across the travel path.

I have no problem in "separating" uses, and moving high-speed bicyclists out of such conflictual situations.

2.  As another example of designing conflict in, DC's special events street closure permitting process for festivals should automatically include a requirement that bicyclists dismount.  Too frequently, bicyclists will ride through at speeds significantly higher than walking pace.  This is a problem at Eastern Market, DC's public market, where the street in front of the market is closed to traffic on weekends.

3.  Provision of event bike parking needs to be added to the special event approval process as well.  (I've argued this for awhile...)   Although as the Cleveland Plain Dealer points out, such a practice would require the provision of more bike parking ("Festival organizers adapt to growing number of bicyclists: Breaking the cycle."

4.  Bicycling-promoting cities should be concerned about bicycle theft.  Just as I mention that the "walking and bicycling city" should pay attention to the provision of sidewalks and bike lanes and all-season maintenance ("A "maintenance of way" agenda for the walking and transit city"), bicycle cities should address bicycle theft.  Last week the Cleveland Plain Dealer ran a series on the topic.  It wasn't particularly scintillating but it's important to shed light on the issue.

However, what was "path breaking" was the newspaper's creation of a database of all reported bike thefts in Cleveland and 12 suburbs.  That link provides links to the other articles in the series. re

Relatedly, Temple University argues that campus bike registration reduces theft.  See "Bicycle registration program contributes to cycling culture at Temple, cuts thefts in half."

5.  Jersey City opts to join Citibike rather than a bike sharing program unique to Hudson County, New Jersey.  Separately from NYC, Hoboken and neighboring cities have been testing bike sharing, as part of their commitment to sustainable transportation practices--Hoboken uses car sharing as a way to reduce demand for street parking and the city has the highest use of transit for work trips of any city in the US.

(Both Hoboken and Jersey City are connected to Manhattan by the PATH subway system, which is run by the Port Authority separate from New York State's MTA.  The fare media system is not integrated with the NYC Subway cards.)

When we were attempting to build a business in that sector we tried to bid on one of the early tests, but even then I thought it made more sense for them to consider integrating with New York City...

Well, Jersey City is deciding to do just that ("Three Cities in New Jersey Alter Bike Sharing Plans," New York Times) even though Hoboken and other Hudson County jurisdictions are pursuing their own program.  From a branding and identity and community connectivity standpoint, I think it makes a lot of sense.

(Now all they need to do is extend the 7 Subway into New Jersey.)

6.  The Friday Wall Street Journal housing section had a big piece on biking amenities as part of upscale residential developments.  (A couple years ago, I proposed something like this as part of a large residential and retail development in DC, but sadly, the developers just didn't get it.  I guess you have to see a bunch of articles in the national press before it sinks in.  Still, the complex I proposed this to is five times the size of the Velo Fremont building in Seattle.)

7.  A couple years ago Philadelphia instituted a law giving Councilmembers the ability to prevent a bike lane from being created in their wards.  That leads to a problem on Fairmount Street today.  See the column, "Changing Skyline: Battling over bikes in Fairmount," by Inga Saffron from the Philadelphia Inquirer.  From the article:
... the department's traffic engineers made the mistake of mentioning the B-word - as in bike lane - and now the worthy improvement project is ensnared in the web of City Council politics.

Leading the charge is Councilman William K. Greenlee, an at-large representative who lives in Fairmount. Although he says he's not anti-bike, he asserts that putting a bike lane on this part of 22d Street will slow automobile traffic and cause "serious backups."

His solution? Eliminate the bike lane, and devote it to cars.

Caught off-guard by his demand for more automobile capacity - most neighborhoods want less - the Streets Department has responded by delaying the striping until a consensus can be reached.
Such laws, giving Councilmembers final signoff on planning and zoning decisions, tend to be great opportunities for mischief. This is true in Philadelphia, Chicago and elsewhere, where such policies are in force. Interestingly, a property owner challenged aldermanic privilege in Chicago, as being unconstitutional. This makes sense, in terms of being a 14th Amendment violation. But the plaintiffs did not prevail on that claim

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