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.

Friday, May 28, 2021

(May is) National Bike Month as an opportunity for assessment: Part 2 What are the big things we should be advocating for?

Photograph from a Wonder Bread ad, c. 1960s/1970s, probably from Life Magazine.

In thinking about National Bike Month as the primary opportunity to assess where we've been and where we're going in terms of "bicycling as transportation" -- not recreation -- these are my issues.

Of course, the ur issues are as mentioned in the previous post, "May is National Bike Month: Advocating for Vulnerable Road User laws," 

  • changing road user laws to protect vulnerable users
  • making pedestrian, bicyclist, and transit accommodation required as part of transportation planning, projects, and funding, not merely "a nice thing to do, if we remember to think about it."

1.  (DC) area bikeways plan(s) -- "building it and they will come is not enough".  (Points 1-3 pertain generally, to just about every community and metropolitan area.) 

The Post reported ("Completing network of trails in the D.C. region would bring a financial boost, report says") on the release of a Greater Washington Bikeways Plan (The Economic, Health, and Environmental Benefits of Completing the Capital Trails Network) outlining a system of almost 900 miles of lanes and tracks, but focusing on the economic impact.  

I haven't yet read it.


It's not just bikeways that are important, you need a system of support for bicycling, "cycling as traffic" as termed in an older Germany Federal Bicycle Plan, with a system of support that makes cycling as convenient as driving.

2.  Trails and bikeways planning initiatives should be part of the MPO, not an independent effort.  And fwiw, I don't think there should be a Capital Trails Coalition so much as a standing committee of the Metropolitan Planning Organization, tasked with transportation planning for he region, focused on this, although I did acknowledge awhile back that the advocacy element is an important one (""Government" or "advocacy" approaches: either/or vs. and/and and DC area regional trails planning,").

Parkiteer system, Melbourne.  Flickr photo by Daniel Bowen.

3.  Paths and lanes aren't enough, creating a "cycling system" should be the priority including a regional system of secure bicycle parking and facilities ("Bike to Work Day as an opportunity to assess the state of bicycle planning: Part 2, building a network of bike facilities at the regional scale").  

If you're going to cycle for transportation, you need secure places to park your bike, free of fear from theft, complemented by other facilities that make bike riding convenient -- air pumps, repair stands, wayfinding signage, mapping systems, posted maps, trailheads, etc. -- comparable to the services provided for motor vehicles.

Most public schools fail to provide secure bike (and scooter) parking. Bonneville Elementary School, Salt Lake City.

That includes K-12 schools, college campuses, workplaces, etc.

4.  Trailhead system/bicycle hubs.  As part of a cycling system major nodes in the transportation network need trailheads and bicycle hubs.  Transit stations, central business districts, airports, college campuses, etc., need to be treated as bike mobility hubs the way Heathrow Airport is ("Why not a bicycle hub at National Airport?, focused on capturing worker trips but open to all) and the bike hubs at transit stations in the San Francisco Bay and Greater Los Angeles ("Los Angeles County Metro (MTA) understands biking"). 

5.  A basic requirement is a set of systematic programs designed to assist people in direct ways in making the transition from driving to bicycling ("Revisiting assistance programs to get people biking: 18 programs").

6.  Regular smaller-scale community bike rides to stoke participation.  I'm embarrassed that the list of 18 programs doesn't include community bike rides as a promotion activity, involving local parks, neighborhoods, schools, etc., held on a frequent basis. 

They don't have to be "all-city" initiatives, which are more complicated to organize.

Think Critical Mass but not in your face.  Kidical Mass, community rides, rides in state parks like the Antelope Moonlight Ride in Davis County, Utah, etc.

WalkArlington does community walks.  It's the same concept.

7.  Integrating bike sharing systems with transit.  Over the past 10-12 years many cities have developed bike sharing programs, with the aim of the bike helping a transit user get from a transit stop to their final destination.  

But for the most part these systems are independent of transit systems, and require additional costs.  

For many years, the only transit system that I was aware of that provides access to bike share bicycles for free is the system in Medellin ("Encicla: A Guide to Medellín's Free City Bikes System").

It turns out that the Comet transit system in Columbia, South Carolina has set up a similar program.  

Since August 2020, transit riders can use the community's "Blue Bike" system, for free rides up to 45 minutes, in association with a bus trip ("The COMET Riders Can Ride Blue Bike For Free!").  Maybe other systems do this, but this is the only one I know of.

Relatedly, Salt Lake's Green Bike program is providing super low cost membership for "key workers" in 2021 ("GREENbike offers $1 annual pass for essential workers in 2021" Utah Policy).

8.  Annual Urban Mobility/Biking Expo during Bike Month.  There are various forms.  Years ago, Arlington County, Virginia used to sponsor a sustainable mobility expo.  The UTA transit agency in Salt Lake City a Bike Expo.  Berlin has an annual Urban Mobility Day ("Berlin’s Urban Mobility Day showcases E-Mobility and new Apps," Urban Transport Magazine), and some colleges have Bike Weeks ("This week is Bike Week at the University of Utah").  NYC sponsors(ed?) a Bike Expo in association with the 5 Boro Ride, which had more than 100 exhibitors and 50,000 attendees in 2014.  Richmond hosted a Bike Expo in association with the UCI Race.

Such an activity should be a key event during National Bike Month, in every major metropolitan area.

9.  Sponsor the International Trails Symposium as a way to push improvements forward more quickly.  FWIW, more than a decade ago, I suggested that the DC area should hold the bi-ennial American Trails conference, now called the International Trails Symposium, as a way to build greater visibility for transportational cycling in the region.  Next year it's in Reno.

Richmond did this to great effect through its sponsorship of a leg of the 2015 UCI Road Cycling Championship ("‘Cycling rebuilt this city’: How the 2015 road world championships showcased Richmond’s bike legacy," Canadian Cycling, "Developing hosts through cycling," Host City News, "Street Cred: With the Eyes of the World Upon Us, Has Richmond Finally Achieved Bike-Town Status?," Style WeeklyUCI ROAD WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS SUSTAINABILITY REPORT -- chapters on legacy and Green Event toolkit, which led to a wide variety of infrastructure improvements, the launch of bicycle sharing, etc.

10.  Increase acceptance of e-bikes as a component of biking as transportation.  E-bikes are a way to extend biking for transportation as people age, for longer trips and in hilly places ("(Still) tired of mis-understanding of the potential for e-bikes," 2015).  

At the same time, it creates a "design problem" because e-bikes are 2x faster than regular biking ("Huntington Beach to discuss allowing e-bikes on beach path,"San Clemente is latest coastal town discussing dangers of e-bikes," Orange County Register).

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At 9:11 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Bike brigade in Toronto, people serving as helpful couriers for people in quarantine during covid.

Volunteer cyclists help community during the pandemic

At 10:32 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

KTLA: I rode the Tesla of electric bikes and it completely changed the way I think about getting around town.

At 9:05 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said... Completion of the Towpath Trail in Cleveland hailed as a milestone, and a goad to keep adding regional trails.

At 9:27 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Story on the Bala Cynwyd Trail in Lower Merion Township, PA, across from and connecting to the Manayunk neighborhood of Philadelphia.

"Galvin and the Penn Group are so committed to embedding Pencoyd Landing into the region’s trail network that they purchased the Main Street movie theater property in Manayunk. They’ve already given the city an easement so it can complete a missing trail segment between the Wissahickon Transportation Center and the Pencoyd Bridge, a major bicycle highway that will allow people to travel from Bartram’s Garden to Lower Merion and Pottstown. The Penn Group also has plans to extend its own river walk farther south, where it can connect with a Lower Merion trail that will connect to the Falls Bridge."

Foot bridge connecting to the site from Manayunk reopened in 2017.

"Chris Leswing, Lower Merion Township's assistant director of building and planning, helped negotiate public use of the privately funded Pencoyd Bridge and trail. He said he was delighted but not surprised by how a new riverside recreation asset is stimulating development on the former industrial site.

Leswing, who cut his community-building teeth turning West Philadelphia's Clark Park from a drug-infested wasteland into a neighborhood jewel, hiked two miles along abandoned SEPTA tracks in 2005 from Cynwyd station to the Manayunk Bridge and across the Schuylkill into Manayunk, ate lunch, walked back."

At 9:28 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

The 2017 article on the Pencoyd Bridge lists Suburban Cyclists Unlimited, a "recreational cycling club" for Montgomery and Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

They hold many types of rides and events. Is this a way in for promoting transportational cycling?


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