Friday, March 30, 2007

Seattle: Cyclists soon to get safer routes

Image of bicyclists in Seattle
From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 03.28.09:

Cyclists soon to get safer routes
10-year plan calls for more than 200 miles of designated lanes

Making bicyclists of all ages feel more secure in city traffic is a top goal of the city of Seattle, which will soon release the final draft of its Bicycle Master Plan for public comment.

At the heart of the 10-year strategy is a call to designate more than 200 miles of roadway as bike lanes, along with guidelines for safely sharing roads and trails with cars and pedestrians. While the city currently offers only 25 miles of designated bike lanes, the plan anticipates a huge increase in recreational and commuting bicyclists.

What excites Wayne Wentz, the city's director of traffic management, is that the plan was mandated by the people--as part of a $360 million property tax levy passed last fall--which means it comes with the funding to make it happen.

"It's about building a society where people want to get along and know what to expect," he said. (Read more.)
This is a great article from a couple days ago. (I've been negligent in my blogging; the approach of April means tax preparation at home, budget preparation at work, and the opening of baseball season.) Among the great points the article makes is the improved safety for bicyclists as the number of pedalers increases; and it credits the Cascade Cycling Club for its efforts to promote safe conduct by motorists and bicyclists.

Image: Mike Urban/Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Cyclists in Seattle, Washington.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Google (Europe) gifts bikes to staff

Google logo
The inimitable Fritz at cyclelicio.us shared this earlier, but it's worthy of additional exposure. From BikeBiz.co.uk, 3/23.07:

The web giant wants its staff to be fit and lively and so has 'done an Ikea' and has provided staffers with a catalogue from which they can choose free bikes and kit. The eco- and health-conscious largesse is for Europe, Africa and the Middle East only, Google staffers in America can go whistle...

At Christmas, the UK arm of Ikea gifted all 9000 staffers with free folding bikes, sourced by Raleigh UK from a factory in Eastern Europe.

Now Raleigh Germany has done a deal with Google to offer bikes of all shapes and sizes to Google staff across Europe. All the bikes will be branded with the Google logo. (Read more.)
One wonders when Google--purportedly supportive of bike commuting--will provide a similar bike perk to its employees in the U.S.

I don't think the primary obstacle to bike commuting is lack of bicycles. A primary challenge is the way employers in the U.S. encourage their staff to drive, by locating facilities in sprawling office parks far from transit and absorbing the cost of providing free parking. (Parking costs include land, construction, maintenance, security, and lighting.) It's amazing--and sad--that these same employers often vigorously resist creating bicyclist-supporting facilities (bike racks, showers, lockers, etc.) One automobile space could be converted to create parking for 10-12 bicycles.

Bike promotion activities by major employers such as Google could greatly help foster a more bicyclist-friendly U.S. The benefits to employers of increased bike commuting are many, including reduced medical costs, improved employee health, reduced absenteeism, improved productivity, and reduced parking costs.

Employee demand for enhanced bike facilities at work can often yield results. I encourage you to raise the issue with your employer. If you have a supportive employer, I'd like to hear about it.

Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Friday, March 23, 2007

Where's the bike rack (retail)?

Image of bike rack at Best Buy in San FranciscoMany communities recognizing the benefits of increased bicycle use understand the importance of facilities (bike lanes, bike paths, etc.), intermodal access to transit, and encouragement (Bike to Work Day, Safe Routes to School, etc.)

However, many of these same communities overlook bike parking. Bike racks lack the visibility of other facilities, where politicians and bureaucrats can smile for ribbon-cutting photo ops. The news cameras turn out when the mayor dons a helmet and joins the annual Bike to Work Day. But the media pays no attention to the DPW employee installing a rack.

And then there are commercial enterprises who believe: Motorists equals trunk space equals major cash register action. Hence, they provide ample vehicle parking, and, if they bother to consider bicyclists at all, their parking is often poorly installed, ineffective, or hidden.

This is the surely the case with the bike rack pictured here, at the Best Buy store in San Francisco's Mission district. Best Buy provides about an acre of car parking--not in sprawling Houston, mind, but in densely populated and transit rich San Francisco!--and locates its bike rack on the remote side of the building near the dumpster. And this Best Buy outlet is very close to some of San Francisco's most notorious chop shops.

Any wonder this bike rack is unused?

Many recreational bicyclists might considering commuting and shopping by bike if they were assured of a secure parking space. They aren't going to leave their $2,000 titanium road bike locked to a pole in a dark alley. Secure bike parking is a critical factor in the attractiveness of bike commuting.

Image: Marianne Skoczek.
Visit: Changing Skyline: The city needs to get creative on bike parking, Philadelphia Enquirer
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Connecticut: Not A Bike-Friendly State

Bicyclists in Connecticut
From the Hartford Courant, 03.18.07:

Not A Bike-Friendly State

Around the country, forward-looking public officials are working like mad to make their cities and states bike-friendly. In Chicago, Mayor Richard Daley is building hundreds of miles of bike trails. From Washington, D.C., to Washington state, officials are promoting biking.

But alas, not in Connecticut.

Yes, mostly volunteer efforts have resulted in a growing but still fragmented network of trails around the state. These trails could be more quickly sewn together if the state made biking and bike trails a priority. But the state Department of Transportation, reluctant as always to embrace any form of transportation besides the car, can't be bothered. (Read more.)
This is a positive editorial from Connecticut's leading daily newspaper, in support of a bill to provide funding to complete the state's section of the East Coast Greenway, an off-road trail being built from Maine to Florida.

Image: Ted Bowman. Bicyclists in Connecticut.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Pedal-pushers seek ways to make city more bike friendly

Image of bike commuter Paul Anderson
From the Post-Bulletin, (Rochester, MN) 03.21.07:

Paul Anderson, a Mayo Clinic computer programmer, is a two-wheeled commuter. He rides his bike to work year-round.

"I do have my limits," said Anderson, 60. "If it's below zero, I don't do that. Too cold. And usually not the day after it snows."

The start of spring heralds a season when thousands of others, like Anderson, can confidently brave the elements almost every day for their commute. An estimated 5 percent of Rochester (Minnesota) workers walk or pedal to their jobs.

That's uncommonly high -- comparable to such bike nirvanas as Portland, Ore. -- and is just one of the reasons why Rochester won an honorable-mention award from the League of American Bicyclists in the group's most recent "Bicycle-friendly Communities" contest. (Read more.)
This is a optimistic, positive article from chilly Minnesota. It considers the challenges, motivations, and satisfactions of everyday bike commuters, and thankfully doesn't give voice to motoring objectors. And it conveys the optimism of the community's bicyclists for future progress.

Image: Post-Bulletin (Rochester, MN). Bike commuter Paul Anderson.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Monday, March 19, 2007

Bicyclists as fringe interest

Image of bicyclist in Washington D.C.From The Politico, 03.19.07:

Last week, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) braved a cold, rainy day to zoom around Capitol Hill on his Trek bike--appropriately, the Portland commuting model--to celebrate the National Bike Summit hosted by the CBC.

That's not the Congressional Black Caucus--it's the other CBC: the Congressional Bike Caucus...

As for the majority of the caucuses that focus on a single issue, many health-related, Smith said their work probably helps keep some legislative efforts alive. They can, he said, "make a difference at the margins."

The bike caucus, for example, promotes funding for cycling activities. It introduced the Bike Commuter Act to give transit benefits to bicycle commuters and establish a federal safe-routes-to-school program.

So far, no luck: The Bike Commuter Act has been introduced three times and has yet to pass. (Read more.)
Sigh. Bicyclists in the U.S. have spent most of the past two decades organizing as a political constituency, and the only way the beltway pundits can acknowledge us is as a wacky special interest.

I date the new paradigm of bicycle advocacy to the pivotal passage of ISTEA in 1991, which for the first time made federal transportation money available for bike and pedestrian facilities. Prior to ISTEA, bike advocacy was more pessimistic about the possibility of changing the streetscape, and bicyclists pursued adaptive "bike education" approaches. Sadly, many of these "old paradigm" bike advocates continue to push a narrowly defined approach to education.

The 2007 National Bike Summit attracted a record 430 advocates, and the primary announcement was the aforementioned reintroduction of the Bicycle Commuter Act. Eventually, we two-wheeled pedaling types will be recognized as legitimate commuters, and the BTA or something like it will succeed. However, it's hard to imagine this petroleum-soaked Bush administration actually signing the BTA. But we can always hope.

I'm more optimistic about the possibility of cycling improvements at the local and state level. The strong turnout at the National Bike Summit is indicative of the grassroots growth of our movement. (Or is it a cause?) We're making progress. At least the beltway pundits are noticing, even if they feel compelled to be dismissive. At least we aren't ignored anymore.

Image: BikePortland.org. Cyclist in Washington D.C.
Visit: League of American Bicyclists
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Friday, March 16, 2007

Sacramento: Complete river bike trails

Image of bicyclists on the American River trail near Sacramento, CaliforniaAn op-ed from the Sacramento Bee, 03.16.07:

Time to complete river bike trails
By Tom Higgins

In the 10 years since the city adopted its parkway plan to provide a continuous trail on the Sacramento River levees, several short stretches have been completed to improve public access...

Opening the stretch (of Sacramento River shoreline) through the Pocket area would finally make it possible for families to ride bicycles from anywhere on the city's west side to Old Sacramento and River Cats games, even all the way to Folsom by connecting to the American River Parkway. It is also a key gateway to the newly adopted California Delta Trail.

The huge public turnout and show of support for the recent Amgen Tour of California bicycle race confirmed that this is indeed a bicycle town. Last year, the city earned a bronze medal from the League of American Bicyclists for its efforts to promote bicycle riding and commuting. Together, we can--and should--go for the gold.

This trail could become a heavily used commute route and a significant, enjoyable recreation path. Think of the benefits: energy conservation, air quality improvements and a reduction in traffic congestion. The public is ready to take action on the environmental issues of the day, but they need the leaders to provide practical tools for making progress.

Outdoor enthusiasts crowd the 23-mile American River Parkway and its celebrated trail every day with bikers, skaters and strollers. They want to have fun outdoors, but they're also using that path for basic physical fitness, in turn combating another pressing contemporary problem -- the obesity epidemic. (Read more.)
Tom Higgins was the founding president of the California Bicycle Coalition, which I had the privilege to lead--or tried to lead--as executive director for a short year. Higgins continues to be a cycling enthusiast and advocate, working as a legislative aide to pro-bicycling California State Senator Tom Torlakson.

Recreational bike trails, such as the Sacramento River trail proposed by this persuasive op-ed, often become important commute corridors for biyclists. We enthusiastically support this proposal.

Image: Web capture.

Visit: Bicycling along the American River, Manteca Bulletin
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Stay off the sidewalks

Signs like these have popped up in San Francisco, ever since some "fist-shaking" senior citizens started campaigning against bicyclists. Good for them.

While bicyclist behavior that annoys motorists doesn't bother me much, pedestrians are already marginalized and abused enough. I always discourage bicyclists from riding on sidewalks. As I say on my Bike Commuting Tips pages:

Many beginning cyclists think that riding on the sidewalk is safer than riding in the street. They couldn't be more wrong. Cycling on the sidewalk means you have to dodge pedestrians, pets, scaffolding, garbage cans, parking meters and signs, vehicles exiting driveways and garages, landscaping, trees and leafy debris, motorists turning off the street, pedestrians leaving buildings without expecting a high velocity traveler sharing their space, and police officers with a ticket quota to meet.
Senior citizens and pedestrians are also oppressed by motorists. They should be allies of bicyclists, not enemies. When they see bicyclists organized as an effective political force against threatening traffic, they will join in our efforts against the automotive scourge.

In the meantime, stay off the sidewalks.

Image: Marianne Skoczek
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Where the bikes are

Image of bicycling students at the University of California, DavisFrom the Chronicle of Higher Education, 02.23.07 (requires subscription):

Where the bikes are
By Scott Smallwood

Within Davis, the campus of the University of California attracts even more bikes. All college campuses are teeming with them, but Davis is in another league. With the core of campus off limits to most cars, the roads have become a two-wheeled version of a California freeway, with hundreds of students dodging one another around traffic circles.

At the center of the campus sits the Bike Barn--a remnant of Davis's roots as the "cow college" extension of the Berkeley campus. Built in 1910, it was a dairy barn for years. Now it houses a bustling bike shop where students repair more than 10,000 bikes a year...

When you repair 10,000 bikes a year, you see some crazy ones. One guy regularly brings his bike in with broken spokes and busted rear wheels. The problem, Mr. (UC Davis Bike Barn manager Robert)St. Cyr tells him, may be the garden that he grows on the rear rack. He carries 150 pounds of dirt and geraniums around the campus.

But mostly the shop deals with cheap department-store bikes. "You pay $50 for one from K-B Toys or Wal-Mart, and then instantly, the bike falls apart," Mr. St. Cyr says. And then he corrects himself. He shouldn't call them bikes: "Really it's an imitation bicycle."

He outlines a few of their failings. The brakes squeal terribly on the painted rims, giving off a toxic smell. And the wheels are so weak, he says, that properly inflating the tire will sometimes bend them in half...

Here's a surprising thing about the university in Bike City USA. "It's the scariest place I've ever ridden," says Mr. St. Cyr.

"You can ride through gangster neighborhoods, and it's safer than riding through here," he says. "Students will obey basic traffic signs off campus, but the minute you get on campus, it's just lawlessness. That's how you survive. That's how you get around on campus and you realize that no one behaves in a predictable manner. The pedestrians don't look when they cross the street. The cyclists just ride wherever they want to ride, and no one pays attention."

Sounding like a grandfather complaining about the younger generation, Mr. St. Cyr derides the students who ride while listening to their iPods or talking on their cellphones. All of that has made it even more dangerous. (Read more.)
I've provided extensive excerpts from this article, as it requires a Chronicle of Higher Education subscription to read the online archive. These are the primary points: that university students waste too much money on junky bikes; and that lacking much experience operating a bicycle, these students needlessly endanger themselves.

I'm an admitted enthusiast for "Bike City USA" Davis, California--where I am now employed at the University of California, Davis. With its high mode share for bicycling, the city has become a laboratory for traffic engineering for two-wheeled transportation. As the article indicates, there are challenges remaining to be sure. These shortcomings were the topic of a recent presentation on the city's bicycling history.

Image: Debbie Aldridge/University Communications/UC Davis
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Sharing road can be bumpy for cyclists, drivers

From the Iowa City (IA) Press Citizen, 03.13.07:

Sharing road can be bumpy for cyclists, drivers
Frustration goes both ways

As the weather warms up and spring nears, you can expect to see more bicycles on the roads. While some bicyclists...ride in harmony with motorists, there are others who say there is friction between drivers and bikers.

Some cyclists say drivers go too fast around them or don't give them enough room. On the other hand, some drivers accuse bicyclists of taking up too much space, not paying attention to traffic around them and disobeying traffic laws.

"I suspect there are some bicyclists out there who aren't as law abiding as they should be," (University of Iowa English professor Judith) Pascoe said. "But the problem is the bicyclists are much more endangered than the person in the car no matter what the bicyclist does." (Read more.)
The situation in Iowa City sounds pretty tense. (A bicyclist charged after biting--biting--a motorist's finger?!?)

The most disappointing element of this article was the fact the writer had to contact the Washington, D.C.-based League of American Bicyclists for a comment. Apparently, the local bike advocates aren't yet equipped to effectively position a media message about bicycling. In the absence of effective advocacy, the best bicyclists in Iowa City seem able to muster at present is a lame, "can't we all just get along?"

As I've commented earlier, bicyclists don't get respect by behaving better than motorized travelers. Accustomed to a privileged position on public thoroughfares, many motorists simply regard bicyclists as ill-mannered children, refusing to accord adequate respect as equals on the road. They refuse to see us as grown-ups, deserving of respect.

Organizing as a political consitutency--not polite behavior--is the only way to earn respect.

Visit: League of American Bicyclists
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Sunday, March 11, 2007

New bike commuter site

Press Release: Founders of MtnBikeRiders.com Launch Two New Sites:

Fullerton, CA, March 10, 2007--(PR.COM)--Founders of a very popular mountain biking website have launched two new sites, BikeCommuters.com and CiclistaFanatico.com.

Moises Ramirez and RL Policar have launched these new sites to cater to bicycle commuters and the Spanish speaking bicyclist.

"At the 2006 Interbike we were pleased to see that bicycle manufacturers stepping up their dedication to bicycle commuters by offering more models and options for the consumer to choose from. BikeCommuters.com will be a site that will provide commuters news, product reviews, and articles," Policar stated. (Read more.)
Welcome to the new kids on the block. It's certainly true that the bicycle industry is seeing more opportunity with the commuter market. However, with the exception of a few companies such at Breezer Bikes, the industry continues to prioritize the market for recreational and sport cycling.

Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Daylight savings = sun = sunscreen

Image of bicyclist riding along shore at sunset
Today's tough adjustment was the lost hour from the advanced Daylight Savings Time. Of course, DST is a hopeful signal of warmer weather and longer days. And for bike commuters, DST also means more sun.

Life spans in general are increasing, and healthy activities like bike commuting can help you maintain your health for even more years. You certainly want your skin to last as long as you do, and you should prudently protect it. That means sunscreen.

If your bicycling is 30 minutes or less in the early morning and late afternoon, you may be fine without sunscreen. However, if you spend significant time outdoors during the high-sun periods in the middle of the day, you will definitely want to apply sunscreen. The higher the SPF the better.

For bike commuters, I have two pieces of advice regarding sunscreen:

1) Shaved legs make application easier. (Men, get over your insecurity.)
2) Don't apply sunscreen to your forehead, as perspiration will wash it into your eyes. That ain't fun. Your helmet should provide adequate cover, or you might consider wearing a bandana.
The good folks at Rivendell Bicycle Works suggest an alternative to sunscreen: loose, long-sleeved shirts:
Long sleeves keeps the sun off, and puckery seersucker doesn’t lay on your skin. A loose shirt flaps to cool you. The high collar protects neck, too, and can be turned up for Gobi-desert riding.
Hooray for the approach of spring.

Image: Web capture.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Pedaling their way to sustainability

Image of parked bicycle in Portland, OregonFrom the Lake Oswego Review (Oregon), 03.08.07:

Pedaling their way to sustainability
There are thousands of ways to be sustainable, which makes sustainability not only the right and smart thing to do but also fun.

Certainly, one of the most fun ways is riding a bike.

"If we would all bike to work, that would be the biggest thing for our planet," said Michelle Poyourow, events coordinator for the (Bicycle Transportation Alliance). "That would be the easiest way to make a difference."

Poyourow can think of all kinds of sustainable, economic and physical reasons why people should go from four wheels to two. "It costs from $8,000 to $10,000 a year to operate a car in the U.S.," she said. "For an average bicycle it costs $500, so economically that's a huge key." (Read more.)
This a refreshing article, especially on a day when the front page of California's newspapers agonize over rapidly rising gas prices now topping $3 a gallon. There are many great reasons to commute by bicycle--financial, environmental, health, and time-saving--and this article hits on all the reasons.

Another great article in the same motivational vein appeared online today in the Houstonist. And I'm grateful for the mention of my modest Bike Commuting Tips website.

Image: BikePortland.org
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Bike commuting? No sweat

From the Boston Herald, 03.07.07:

Bike commuting? No sweat

Although the Ladder District's Ivy Restaurant doesn't brag about it on its menu, chef Tony Bifano might have the most powerful calves in Boston. Bifano, regardless of the weather, makes a three-hour roundtrip commute six days a week by bicycle. He wasn't motivated by the new Al Gore documentary. Fossil fuel consumption and global warming aren't on his radar screen. Bifano's purpose is more primal: He can now eat as much Italian food as he wants. "I can’t get fat," he claims. "I'm on my feet another 12 to 15 hours a day and I don’t get as tired as I used to." (Read more.)
Ah Boston, city of my youth, home to my beloved American League baseball franchise (opening game is just 24 days away!) Even in Beantown, location of the most expensive highway project in U.S. history, bicycle commuters are in the mainstream media. The Boston Herald no less. Maybe the bike movement is making progress.

Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Monday, March 05, 2007

Enlightened opinion from Virginia

From the Roanoke Times, 03.04.07:

Riding around Radford
Every person who chooses to walk or ride to a destination also takes one vehicle off the road. Alone, they don't make much difference. En masse, they ease congestion, reduce air pollution and burn less fossil fuel. They help create a less hectic, cleaner city.

Most important, though, is that bike and pedestrian facilities are community amenities.

Many people do not want to live somewhere they must risk their necks when they pedal on the streets. Whether as a means of relaxation, exercise or transportation, bike lanes and trails are must-have infrastructure for modern cities that hope to compete for young workers. (Read more.)
This is a surprisingly enlightened editorial from a mainstream publication. The writer gets it. Improved bicycling conditions are good things not just for bicyclists, but for the entire community and its economic vitality.

Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Minneapolis prepares for more bikes

From the Downtown Journal (Minneapolis, MN) 03.05.07:

A boost for bikers and walkers
(The) federal government is prepared to spend ($7.3 million) this year on encouraging more Minneapolis-area residents to use nonmotorized transportation. The program has already announced plans to pay for 1,000 new bike racks at schools, recreation centers and transit stops throughout the city, and it’s also funding the development of a pedestrian plan.

Larry Bontreger, 53, wore a maroon and white Golden Gophers jacket as he wrapped a chain around his yellow bike along 4th Street. The city might encourage more ridership by improving the flow of bike lanes in the city, he said. It’s inconvenient when lanes or trails end abruptly without connecting to other routes, he said.

The most pressing need for bicyclists, though, is the education of drivers, many of whom don’t understand the rules regarding bicyclists, Bontreger said. "I honestly believe most drivers view a cyclists as something that’s in their road and slowing them down," he said. (Read more.)
Exactly. This is precisely the issue for those motoring pundits who seek to privilege drivers--in their view bikes simply don't belong. Bicyclists are tolerated, only on the condition that they behave better than any other class of road users to earn respect. Of course, like many bicyclists, I can attest that vehicle code compliance is no, repeat no guarantee of safe passage on city streets.

Sadly, another example of such vehicularly biased nonsense also appeared in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch, as the paper's traffic columnist declared: "Bicyclists who don't follow the rules are a big pet peeve of mine. And unfortunately, far too many bicyclists act like they don't have any laws to follow." She went on to add: "If all bicyclists followed the rules, there would be less tension between riders and motorists." Right. Motorists are blameless, bicyclists are lawless miscreants. (Um, er, about those drivers who kill more than 40K people in the U.S. every year...)

The pervasive idea that motorists have a greater "right" to public thoroughfares--while bicyclists are barely tolerated intruders--is a great challenge to a more equitable transportation system. Effective advocacy that consistently challenges such nonsense is critical.

Visit: League of American Bicyclists
Visit: Bicycling is about to get a whole lot better in the city of Minneapolis, Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Friday, March 02, 2007

Spartanburg closer to becoming 'bicycle friendly'

Image of bicyclist crossing Henry Street after a sunny morning ride on the Hub City Connector trail in Spartanburg Tuesday morning.
From the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, 02.28.07:

Spartanburg is on the cusp of gaining full "Bicycle Friendly Community" status from the League of American Bicyclists.

Last year, the community received an honorable mention in its quest for the designation that's only been awarded to 60 communities, of the more than 140 communities that applied nationwide.

The honorable mention designation allowed Andy Clarke, executive director of the league, to meet with Spartanburg and the five other communities that received honorable mentions to explore what options they could take to give them a higher designation. (Read more.)
Watch out Davis, California. Spartanburg is coming after you.

The League of American Bicyclists' Bicycle Friendly Community program has succeeded in motivating cities around the country to pursue needed improvements in bicycling infrastructure.

Image: Spartanburg Herald-Journal
Visit: League of American Bicyclists
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Portland sets the pace

Image of bicyclist on bridge in Portland, Oregon
My friend Bob in Portland, Oregon, took time away from his relentless hunt for Bigfoot to forward the following item from the Willamette Week, 03.02.07:

Portland transportation officials calculate there were 12,000 daily bike trips in 2006 across the Hawthorne, Steel, Broadway and Burnside bridges alone. And U.S. Census data shows the percentage of trips by bike in Portland is 50 percent higher than in Seattle and twice that of San Francisco. (Read more.)
Impressive. The City of Roses is truly setting the standard for bicycling promotion by major cities.

Image: Web capture.
Visit: Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization
Visit: Bicycle Transportation Alliance
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

More advice from motoring media

Image of a stop sign, bane of bicyclists everywhere
From the Daily News Journal (Murfreesboro, TN) 03.02.07:

Bicyclists must follow the rules to gain respect

For the most part, bicyclists who ride for recreation do follow the law, traveling with the flow of traffic and abiding by rules.

But if all bicyclists are going to get the respect they deserve--since they don't pack quite the heft of a car or truck--it is incumbent on all two-wheeling folks to follow the rules. We can't count the number of times we've seen a bicyclist, usually one not wearing a helmet or any safety gear, blatantly run a red light or stop sign while all other motorists sat there in shock.

Indeed, we'd like to see, just one time, a Murfreesboro Police officer pull over those lawbreaking bicyclists and give them a big fat ticket. Is there such a thing as "citizen's arrest" in Murfreesboro, and can we exercise it? (Read more.)
I've already expressed my exasperation with this sort of tiresome "friendly" advice to bicyclists, suggesting that respect is contingent on group behavior. If respect on the roads were earned by universal compliance by a class of users, then motorists--who, after all, kill more than 40,000 people every year in the U.S.--would be the first group banned from public thoroughfares.

Bicyclists earn respect when they organize as a political constituency, forming advocacy groups that ally with other environmentalists, pedestrians, safety activists, clean air proponents (Lung Association, etc.), community organizations, preservationists, and others into coalitions challenging the pervasive hegemony of the motoring menace. Rights and respect aren't gained by "playing nice." Respect is earned by organized political power.

Image: Web capture.
Visit: League of American Bicyclists
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site