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, May 17, 2016

Bike to Work Day, May 20th/May is Bike Month -- revised

I forgot a couple of important things, hence the revision.  ... such as Friday bike car service on the Penn and Brunswick Lines.

M.P. King, Wisconsin State-Journal photo. Bicycle Counter Display on the Capital City Trail adjacent to John Nolen Drive in Madison, Wisconsin. The meter has counted more than 384,000 bicycle trips since it was installed in June 2014.

May is Bike Month and I have been remiss in not using it as a hook to write a summary piece, which I will do separately.

In the DC area, Bike to Work day is this Friday, and there are 83 pit stops either in major employment centers, on the way to work, and some now even in the evening on the way home--the first Bike to Work Day had 5 pit stops.

Working with the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, there are "convoys" where people can ride together to various end destinations, and a separate "Bike Buddy" program where people wanting to ride but needing some support to make the transition as part of BTWD.

As a critic pumping out critical analysis and constant recommendations for improvement, I can point to how in Minneapolis, they have made Bike Week a seven-day event with activities each day, from Bike to Work Day on Friday to Women's Day on Thursday and Sunday's Families Ride to Park Day, and a more formal Bike Buddy program--participants in the Bike Buddy program get lights and other goodies.

On "Nice Ride Day" tomorrow--Nice Ride is the bike share program in Minneapolis--people can get discounted memberships and free helmets from signing up, and according to the Bike Events page, there are a number of activities that people can participate in, including an Environmental Justice Ride.

There have been some Bike Month activities not formally connected to BTWD last weekend that I didn't get around to writing about, including a ride between libraries in DC and Montgomery County, and a river/parks ride in Montgomery County.

In the San Francisco Bay area, the bike share program allowed free use of bikes on Bike to Work Day, for people who registered in advance.  And San Mateo used BTWD to launch their bike share program ("San Mateo Launches a Bike Share System on Bike to Work Day," KQED).

BTWD: incremental and significant progress.  But the reality is that the area's BTWD is a story of year-by-year progress that should be celebrated. More than 18,000 people sign up and more than that number will participate.  There are 83 pit stops, from a start of 5, with many locations outside of DC, where the bulk of activities had occurred in the past.

While I prefer the Minneapolis example of spreading out a focus on biking beyond the single day of BTWD, based on various studies of participants, almost 20% of the people participating say they took up bicycling regularly for transportation by starting out with participating in BTWD.

Continued progress and growth with BTWD participation: focusing on increasing participation by women and people of color.  This year, Commuter Connections, the transportation demand management program of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments/Transportation Planning Board, has done more focused outreach to women and to people of color, by working with organizations serving those populations, as a way to broaden participation beyond the typical participant demographics which tend to be male, under 35 years old, and white.  There is a lot more that can be done, but this is a good step forward.

As part of this new emphasis, they have produced video interviews with some prominent elected officials in the area.

DC Bike Ride on Sunday.  And while not marketed as a part of "Bike Weekend" so directly, the inaugural DC Bike Ride is on Sunday, May 22nd, and "extends" BTWD to more recreational ends.  Registration closes tomorrow.

Image from DC Bike Ride.

Maryland adds bike car service to Penn Line and Brunswick Line railroad passenger services on Friday for BTWD.  This is a big deal.  Normally, MARC only has bike cars on the weekends, on the Penn Line between Baltimore ("Bike cars on weekend trains a 'big first step' for cyclists," Baltimore Sun).

Image from Pittsburgh Mainline blog.

This year, for BTWD they are extending to Friday May 20th and in a first, to the Brunswick Line between Martinsburg, WV and DC.

BikeMaryland lists the schedule for the bike cars here.

Future thoughts: linking Bike to Work Day with "Open Streets" initiatives.  One of the things I spoke with Nick Ramfos, Director of Commuter Connections, was the idea of linking BTWD with "street closures"/Bike Expo/Open Streets type activities.  He said that there have been some examples of street closures in association with BTWD, but not many, and it is tough since it's a work day.

Maybe, along the lines of how Minneapolis has extended "Bike to Work Day" to Bike Week, with a particular theme for each day, the DC area could extend BTWD by having Open Streets activities on the weekend following.  The inaugural DC Bike Ride is one way to move this idea forward.

Image from Unbored Hands blog on the Southeast Cities CicLAvia.

Or it could be the weekend before as a lead in to "Bike Week."  The CicLAvia in Los Angeles County brings out as many as 100,000 out on a weekend Sunday--they have days each Spring and Fall, and move the activity around to various places across the County--not just in LA proper.

Many groups and organizations and businesses along the route leverage the initiative for promotions and activities of their own.

Last Sunday was the most recent CicLAvia ("CicLAvia arrives in Southeast Los Angeles," Los Angeles Times) and for the LA area, this Thursday is BTWD.  From the article:
CicLAvia's organizers are also trying to boost the event's economic impact, encouraging businesses to stay open even though streets are closed and coordinating special offers for CicLAvia riders and walkers. A 2013 UCLA study found that sales for businesses along CicLAvia routes increased by anywhere from 10 to 57%.

1.  Make the Bike Buddy program more prominent and systematic.  Use the Minneapolis program as a best practice model.

2.  Consider developing a full "Bike Week" of events that support biking for transportation, using the Minneapolis Bike Week as a model, with Bike to Work Day as the premier Friday event that it already is.

3.  Build on nascent efforts and develop more systematic programs for engaging traditionally underrepresented demographics, particularly women and people of color, in Bike Week/biking for transportation activities ("Urg: bad studies don't push the discourse or policy forward | biking in low income communities (in DC) edition").

4.  Work to develop an Open Streets weekend event as a lead in or denouement to "Bike Week."

5.  Develop a sponsorship arrangement with Capital Bike Share so that new riders can get free access to bikes on Bike to Work Day, as a membership promotion (models are special promotions for the Divvy program in Chicago, and San Francisco Bay Share's BTWD promotion).

6. Create a bike share promotion program for Bike Week comparable to "Nice Ride Day" to promote new memberships in the bike share system.

7.  Work with the jurisdictions, including the National Park Service, to focus on launching-ribbon cutting of new bike infrastructure and facilities, during Bike Week, as a further leveraging of attention on biking for transportation during Bike Month.

This BTWD video features DC City Councilmember Elissa Silverman.

This video features Cathy Hudgins, who is a Fairfax County Supervisor and sits on the Transportation Planning Board.

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At 9:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Today is BTW day- and yet I did not see more than the usual numbers of cyclists on my ride to work- at least considering the time of day I ride in [ I usually leave my house anywhere from 6- 830 am- which is seemingly early for most people here] and also the weather- which is one of the best days in the past 3 weeks of gloomy conditions. It also strikes me that on Cap Hill where I live, we have far fewer cyclists than other parts of DC- we have more families and more people who depend on cars to get around. Group houses and millennials are less frequent as it is too expensive from what I have seen here. Yesterday I was disturbed by the WaPo article talking about the bad /negative things about cycling to work- why all of the negativity from these people? And even worse- why such an emphasis on vehicular cycling and riding with car traffic [ " following the rules of the road"] I do not even ride my bicycle on the road if I can help it- I have no desire to be killed- and I have been riding a bicycle here on the sidewalks of DC for 50 years or so now. I use a bell- which few racers ever use- and I ride slow.

At 11:11 AM, Anonymous Richard Layman said...

1. I had to drive people to Dulles this morning, so I missed being able to participate, and the area where we traveled is not particularly conducive to biking, so I didn't see anyone out.

wrt Capitol Hill though, most of the biking is probably more to the center city and you might not see it riding in the center of CH.

e.g., years ago, on BTWD I took great photos of people in the PA Ave. bike lane with the Capitol in the distance, because there were so many people. Most days you couldn't get a shot like that.

2. While that Post article wasn't awesome, the Express ran a whole special section of articles. Not scintillating and inadequately called attention to (e.g., should have been the cover page, and it wasn't, it was inside as the Thursday entertainment section), but still a step forward.

3. It is worth considering how to focus specifically on federal agencies wrt BTWD and other promotional activities, along the lines of that AOC blog entry.

I just wrote a memo for a local jurisdiction about how to significantly refocus their Safe Routes to School program.

It's worth writing one about this. This blog piece sort of is a step towards that.

I am working on an idea to develop "best practice manuals" to expand on/leverage my writing and my concern that we move best practice forward so slowly.

I have a very rough outline on one for biking as transportation. The primary part are best practice examples. It's very rough, not organized, in fact, I haven't even figured out how to organize the best practice examples, but so far, I have 170+.

Probably can pull out 10-20 for BTW

At 11:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

cant say this enough times but there needs to be a focus AGAINST vehicular cycling and athletic oriented cycling and more towards everyday regular non- lycra cyclists. Too much of the focus is against those of us who are practical cyclists and the crap I see about NOT using sidewalks is insane- I ALWAYS use sidewalks whenever I can because I do not wish to be killed or door-ed. Anyone who claims sidewalks are unsafe for cycling should go to Europe. Or they should make their children or elderly parents bicycle on a highway with the cars. People need to get over this nonsense. It really is an under rated problem and people do not seem to grasp its implications. Just the other day I had to ride on a segment of a street on CH that is relatively quiet- and was nearly door-ed by a stupid suburban woman. She did not even see me at all-luckily I saw her just in time and a car driver to my outside who was tailgating me saw this and stopped in time. I hate cycling on streets even in so-called residential areas. DC DOT needs to re- energize the cycling tracks and put them on major arteries like Independence Avenue- and separate them from the damn cars- don't place them in the middle of the avenue like on Pa Avenue. Would you really allow a 5 year old to bike on that god forsaken idiotic excuse for a bike track?

At 12:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


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