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.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

May is National Bike Month too: Part 1 -- a good time to assess planning and programming

-- "May is National Bike Month too: Part 1 -- a good time to assess planning and programming"
-- "May is National Bike Month too: Part 2 -- Advocating for Vulnerable Road Users"

I've argued in the past that events like Bike Month are a good time for reflection and evaluation, as well as a time to call attention to new infrastructure and facilities.  I haven't heard much about Bike Month this year, but I am not really connected to local information systems in Salt Lake the way I was in DC.  

Typically, the biggest promotional event of the month is "Bike to Work Day." That's still messed up because of covid and the fact that a lot of large workplaces have for the most part shifted to work from home, so this has reduced the prominence of biking as an element of transportation practice and planning.

Except for the claimed significant increase in the sales of bikes because of covid--although here in Salt Lake I haven't seen much of an increase in transportational bicyclists ("Consumers Turn To Biking for Safe Fun and Exercise During Pandemic: Surge in Demand Prompts Bicycle Shortages, Higher Prices," Census Bureau) although there are plenty of recreational cyclists.

1.  Building a mobility system that supports cycling in a manner that is systematic, complete, and structural.  My biggest gripe in sustainable mobility planning is that when it comes to "biking as transportation," we're focusing on building lanes and trails--very important to be sure--but not on working in substantive ways to get people biking.   What good are lanes and trails if few people are biking?

The German National Bicycle Plan, 2002-2012 makes this point of treating "Cycling as a system."

This includes equity considerations ("Urg: bad studies don't push the discourse or policy forward | biking in low income communities (in DC) edition," 2014).

2. Biking planning needs to have a higher profile as part of Metropolitan Planning Organizations, the organizations tasked by the US DOT for area transportation planning.  This should include the creation of regional bikeway networks, integrated maps and signage, support for area-wide bike parking initiatives, provision of facilities like repair stands and air pumps at transit stations and other public facilities, etc.   This should include systematic marketing and promotion activities that cross jurisdictional borders.

-- "Wanted: a metropolitan scale bikeways/trails program run by the Metropolitan Planning Organization," 2016

3.  Planning requirements need to require quality bicycle parking and other facilities to serve employees and residents.  This is still hit or miss.  Communities need to review their building regulations, zoning use requirements, and capital improvements planning processes to ensure that stated outcomes -- "sustainable mobility" -- are actually required.

Misters on Las Vegas Boulevard.  Photo: Richard Brian, Las Vegas Review-Journal.

4.  Plan for seasons and time of day.  That means snow clearance in winter , shade and misters in summer, and lighting at night, especially in winter ("Night-time safety: rethinking lighting in the context of a walking community," 2014).  

In Maryland, certain state parks provide special permits for bicycle commuter access to trails when the park would normally be closed ("at dusk") which is so much earlier in winter.

A consortium of cities, the Winter Cycling Federation, has an annual conference.  Boulder sponsors a Winter Bike to Work Day.

5.  Independent advocacy efforts are still necessary.  Government doesn't move very fast.  Advocates can push change along.

One of my best ideas ever was setting up the Baltimore County Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee--each Councilmember appointed one member--so that each Council District could have a subcommittee, with the plan's recommendations as an agenda, such committees would bring the legislative and executive branches together with advocates.  It was optional but the districts with the active subcommittees got more projects done than the districts that didn't.

Cities and counties need to do this.  And still have independent advocacy organizations functioning at the city and county scale.

-- ""Government" or "advocacy" approaches: either/or vs. and/and and DC area regional trails planning," 2020

6.  Communities need a set of systematic programs designed to assist people in direct ways in making the transition from driving to bicycling.  Over the decades we've developed systems to support automobility, including driver's education so people can get licensed.  We don't have comparable programs for biking.  "Revisiting assistance programs to get people biking: 18 programs," lists various ways to work with people and places to support switching to cycling as a primary form of transportation.   

Bike sharing systems can be great ways to introduce people to biking, especially when they include active promotion efforts with organizations, community tour events, etc.  Most bike sharing systems aren't great at that but Chicago and London are particularly exemplary.

7.  Besides paths and lanes, complementary facilities including a regional system of secure bicycle parking and facilities are required ("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").  

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

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.

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

Photo: Denver RTD.

8.  The model for secure parking systems is the  Parkiteer program in Melbourne, Australia (Victoria State).

Apparently, Denver's RTD transit system is creating a network of "Bike-N-Ride" shelters that are a baby version of Parkiteer, but it's a start.  

The stations are on RTD property, but administered by other organizations, such as Boulder County (which was the first to do these in the Denver metro area) and Commuting Solutions, the Transportation Management Association for the US-36 Corridor between Boulder and Denver.

Some communities have similar programs, Santa Ana California has a few small bike parking shelters in its Downtown, and the transit systems in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area have bike hubs at many of their train stations.

The next step is to expand protected bike parking facilities to activity centers that aren't necessarily transit stations, including office buildings, schools, parks, etc.

9.  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"). 

Major train stations, airports, etc. should be anchor hubs.

10.  Formalize bike and walk to school programs ("Safe Routes to School") especially because infrastructure for schools also supports neighborhoods ("Why isn't walking/biking to school programming an option in Suburban Omaha? | Inadequacies in school transportation planning," 2022).  

Safe Routes to School Maps are posted in school buildings in Palo Alto.

Secure bike parking at schools is a way to begin to build wide area bicycle parking networks.

11.  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.

Although major colleges should have a Bike Week/Bike Expo event during the first few weeks of the Fall Semester.  And for K-12 schools, International Bike and Walk to School Day is October 6th.

During Bike Month, besides "Bike to Work" Day, some places sponsor a "Bike to Shop" day to neighborhood commercial districts, supermarkets, etc.

12.  A program of "Open Streets" events, like CicLAvia in Los Angeles, "Sunday Streets" when streets are closed to cars should be organized throughout the year, but with at least one event during Bike Month.

Open Streets events and Mobility Expos should be anchor events as part of broader marketing and promotion of sustainable mobility.

-- "Open Streets DC as an event versus an agenda," 2021
-- Open Streets Project
-- Open Streets Toolkit 

13.  Regular community bike rides to stoke participation at various scales including neighborhood, council district, all city, etc.  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.  Some library systems do bike tours between libraries.

They don't have to be "all-city" initiatives, which are more complicated to organize.  But are a good promotion tool.

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.

14.  Maps and trail signage/maps need to be posted and distributed widely.  A few places have map signage along trails but not many.  

Having area bikeway maps posted in transit stations, libraries, schools, and other public facilities is an easy way to encourage people to think more about biking as transportation instead of as a toy.  The pocket sized Salt Lake City bike map is distributed through local libraries (as are transit schedules).

Bethesda Trolley Trail, Montgomery County, Maryland

Bike route map sign, Austin, Texas

NYC Bike parking shelters are based on bus shelters.
The city bicycle map is displayed in the shelter.

I recently came across a set of trail maps for Pocatello Idaho posted on the wall of a local brew pub.  I've seen such maps very rarely posted in bicycle shops, never elsewhere.

The bicycle station at The Blairs apartments in Silver Spring, Maryland posted the area bikeways map.  

One issue with maps is regularly updating them.  For example, the Silver Spring Maryland bikeways map is 17 years out of date.  That means that the sign at The Blairs isn't particularly useful...

15.  Bike route signage should have a brand, and include contact information (e.g., a QR code, etc.)  I really like San Diego's "Go By Bike" brand.  Years ago, graphic designer Joseph Prichard created a signage concept called "Better Bikeways" which had some great ideas.

This sign has a brand, but not contact information.

Boise is big on street sign toppers denoting neighborhoods, historic districts, etc.
This is for a neighborhood bikeway (Berkeley, California has neighborhood bikeway signs too.)

Labels: , ,


At 2:40 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Here's one I hadn't thought of, appointing a bicycle/pedestrian advocate to transit agency boards.

STM, the transit agency in Montreal, is also appointing a paratransit advocate to their board.

At 12:50 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

7 L.A. cyclists share how to go car-free, ride safely and have fun

The Guardian: Reform cycle to work scheme so it can be used by lower-paid, Sunak urged.

At 7:57 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

The New Yorker: Bicycles Have Evolved. Have We?.

At 6:59 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said... Electric bike charging stations installed on the West Coast Electric Highway.'

The West Coast Electric Highway goes from Mexico to Washington along I-5. In Oregon, the State DOT is installing regular plugs at the charging stations, so they can also be used by electric bikes.

At 2:42 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

"Doctors can make bicycling safer in D.C."

Letter to the editor. My response:

n Ontario and maybe other provinces, over the years the chief medical officer/coroner has done multiple systematic reviews of cycling deaths, and made recommendations.


We don't seem to have those kinds of systematic approaches (this might also be common to the UK, Australia and New Zealand) in the US. Although I seem to recall the auditor or such in Philadelphia doing something like this once.

Technically, the review process for pedestrian and bicycle crashes mandated as part of the NHSTA safety program that states are required to participate in does a form of this, and is supposed to make recommendations for structural changes if needed. The FHWA BIKESAFE and PEDSAFE programs are designed to assist professionals in making those decisions.

My experience in DC is that these reports aren't made public, and I don't know if there is much of a sense of urgency for making physical changes. It's been years since I've looked at the DDOT Dashboard. I never found the traffic safety presentation to be useful or actionable.

Traffic safety units in police "crime data analysis" do track locations of incidents, and multiple incidents. My understanding is that Austin Texas is particularly good at using this data to spark change.

Fwiw, years ago I suggested that there be ward committees on pedestrian and bicycle issues, and that safety data be tracked and addressed at that scale.

Wrt your experience, that's why there's signage along the streetcar route warning cyclists to be aware of the tracks and to not ride on them. (Probably there could be additional signs that say if you do, cross them transversely, but there aren't.)

At 3:00 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

This “network connectivity” is a key recommendation of a new guide called “Safe Bicycle Lane Design Principles: Responding to Cycling Needs in Cities during COVID and Beyond.” Produced by the World Resources Institute (WRI), an international non-profit, it underscores how Toronto was not unique in its uncharacteristically quick implementation of COVID-infrastructure. The WRI found that “between March and July 2020, 394 cities, states and countries reported interventions that reallocated street space for people to cycle and walk more easily, directly and safely.”

There wasn’t much good about the pandemic, but the WRI points out that the “shift to cycling comes at a perfect time when cities have been making efforts to meet greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.” Safe car speeds, good signage, and proper management and enforcement are other recommendations if these “pop-up” lanes are to become permanent additions to our cities.

The WRI guide was presented at the International Transportation Forum in Leipzig last week, a global summit on all things mobility I attended. It was supported by other civil society cycling organizations and a few more things stood out to me as I watched the discussion.

Safe Bicycle Lane Design Principles: Responding to Cycling Needs in Cities during COVID and Beyond

WRT "network connectivity" see

the Bicycle Dutch blog entry on the first Delft bicycle plan in 1979, which was focused on eliminating gaps in the network of bike lanes etc.

At 10:20 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Denverite: Denver invested in electric bikes, but RTD still bans them on buses and trains.

At 1:09 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

E-bikes in parks and trails. Not exactly a city/transportational cycling issue, but still one to watch.

'An electric bike rode into the backcountry. Now there’s a nationwide turf war' here: or you can directly access the content using this link here:

It starts out with an example of two parks next to each other in Arizona, but in different jurisdictions. One allows e-bikes, the other doesn't.

The one thing that stands out more generally though was this, which is something to think about in terms of serving bicyclists more generally:

The county park’s [McDowell Mountain Regional Park] 40 miles of trails include specialized tracks for competition, plus rest stops with air pumps and spare inner tubes. More than half of the visitors are cyclists. A plaque at one canopy urges, "Of all the paths you take in life, make sure some of them are dirt."

At 1:24 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

While this article discusses difficulties in accommodating recreational bicycle tourism, it makes me think that because recreational biking (racing, road biking, etc.) is so prevalent here, that they believe it means they're succeeding at transportational cycling as well. OTOH, in Salt Lake City I don't see that many transportational cyclists.

"‘Holy Grail’: Utah bills itself as bike-friendly, but can the state handle an influx of two-wheeled tourists?
Utah is being built up as the next cycling mecca while also seeing the most deadly month for bikers in state history"

The reality is that motor vehicle operators don't pay attention. And two of the deaths were a freak "accident" although such "freak accidents" happen more often in more places. But "freak accidents" seem to be particularly related to driver impairment.

At 1:26 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...


LA’s potential as a cyclist’s paradise rests on a cultural gear shift

Cars are still king in a city that has otherwise perfect conditions for bike-riding

2. Merely another example of how if places want bicycling to be a significant element in the transportation mix, they'll have to work at it.

At 1:28 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Salt Lake has a big critical mass biking event, held weekly. It pisses people off. I understand "oppositional defiance" and why bicyclists get angry vis a vis motor vehicle operators, but this doesn't help build a strong basis for transportational cycling.

"Salt Lake City’s massive weekly 999 bike ride: public nuisance or kind of cool?"

At 2:39 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Pedal for the Park, fundraiser to create a bike park in Leadville and Lake County, Colorado

2. Wildflower Trailfest, specifically for women.

3. Some mountain bike events are termed "festivals." Bike week type events can also be festivals. I seem to recall Montreal doing that for their bike the city event.

At 2:40 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Bike Month

1st -- National Ride a Bike Day

4th -- National Bike to School Day

16th-20th -- National Bike to Work Week, 20th -- Bike to Work Day

At 2:44 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Small towns lack e-bike infrastructure

Innovations for Better Rural Mobility

At 3:31 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

First bike path in Seattle dates to the 1890s.

UPS has its antecedents in a bike messenger service founded in Seattle.

Burke-Gilman Trail, 1978, early "rail to trail," and foundation of trails development in Greater Seattle.

At 3:33 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

First bike path in Seattle dates to the 1890s.

UPS has its antecedents in a bike messenger service founded in Seattle.

Burke-Gilman Trail, 1978, early "rail to trail," and foundation of trails development in Greater Seattle.

At 1:13 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Really great article about the group "Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz" and how they've developed into a major force, with a real focus on partnership and volunteerism, in expanding the trails network, using trails as a way to "add eyes on the street," their success in advocacy etc.

At 12:59 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

CarScoops: UPS’s Delivery Truck e-Bikes Are Now On The Bike Lanes Of Manhattan.


Post a Comment

<< Home