Monday, July 30, 2007

Hawaii pushes for a better bicycle commute

Image of bicycle on Hawaii beachFrom the Honolulu Advertiser, 07.30.07:

To the recreational rider, bicycle improvements might mean scenic bike paths and routes that don't take children into traffic. But those who want to swap their cars for bikes on a regular basis just want safer ways to share the road with other vehicles.

A law that took effect July 1 allows biking initiatives that go beyond bike path improvements to be funded with federal dollars and requires the state Department of Transportation to involve bicycling organizations in planning decisions. (Read more.)
This article features comments from several Hawaiian cyclists and advocates, and suggests the 50th state is making some strides toward transportation equity.

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

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Andy Thornley: Cycling organizer

Image of Andy ThornleyAndy Thornley is the program director for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC). The Minneapolis native has lived in California for 20 years after stints in Boston and New York City. Thornley has lived car-free or car-lean his entire adult life and has been active with the SFBC member for more than 13 years. As the SFBC's program director for the past two and half years, Thornley has worked on many of the organization's big campaigns, including growing and improving the Citywide Bicycle Network, educating cyclists, motorists, politicians, cops, and reporters on how to have a safe and pleasant city for cycling, and encouraging bicycling as an everyday transportation choice. Thornley serves on the board of directors of the Bay Area Bicycle Coalition (BABC), the main regional bicycle advocacy organization, and on the board of directors of the Transportation and Land Use Coalition (TALC), a regional policy and advocacy organization working for smart, progressive transportation and land use outcomes in our part of the world.

As part of Bike Commute Tips' commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the pivotal 1997 confrontation between Critical Mass and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, I recently asked Andy Thornley for his impressions of how San Francisco has changed for bicyclists in the past decade.

Bike Commute Tips: What is the biggest positive change you've observed for bicycling in San Francisco in the past 10 years?

Andy Thornley: Funny you should ask, I've been thinking out loud lately that 10 years ago when I was biking around town I'd often have someone in a car or truck beep at me, waiting behind me at a red light or rolling up the street, but that almost never happens any more. So I suppose the most striking positive change for bicycling in San Francisco is the feeling that I belong on the street a lot more than I did a decade ago. There's still a lot of pushy, dangerous behavior by motorists, and the "system" (from police to politicians to traffic engineers) still has a long way to go in recognizing and facilitating bicycle traffic as legitimate traffic, but it's clearly more normal and accepted to be riding a bicycle in San Francisco than it was 10 years back.

Mostly this is because there are just lots more bicycles on the streets now, and that's because of things that build on each other: the self-evidence of bicycling as a peaceful, practical, simple, cheap, healthy means of transportation, feeding into enthusiasm for a common cause, organized and articulated and activated by the SFBC and partner groups and citizen advocates, which brings more bike lanes and outreach and encouragement, which leads to more bicyclists, which builds and builds and builds. I'm proud of the central and essential role that the SFBC has played in this striking improvement, as a staffer but even more so as a long-time member. In all humility I don't think SF would be nearly as bike-friendly or bike-full as it is without the SFBC's work.

Is there something uniquely San Franciscan about the remarkable growth of bicycling as an everyday transport mode? Could this story be replicated elsewhere in the U.S.? Well, for sure, there's no place else like SF, with the combination of mild climate and urban density and smart, self-defining culture, the traditions of environmentalism, social justice, participatory politics, street theater and un-self-consciousness--we're not people who get hung up on what we're supposed to be doing or thinking, or how we look when we're doing our thing, so the "childishness" and "down-class" stigmas of riding a bike don't discourage us so much. But even if the SF mix is unique, other American cities do have the essential ingredients to grow an everyday bicycling culture, and many are doing fairly well at it, indeed better than SF in certain ways.

But let's be clear: There's no U.S. city that's anywhere near as bike-friendly as Copenhagen, or Groningen, or Muenster, because no U.S. city has fully and honestly confronted the matter or re-ordering its public space for humans--as long as we're only "accommodating" cyclists and pedestrians along the edges of motor traffic, and not placing humanity at the center and "accommodating" motor vehicles, we're never going to reach a satisfactory state of urban civilization here in SF.

Bike Commute Tips: I believe on-street infrastructural enhancements (bike lanes, sharrows, etc.) are important to improved bicycling conditions. What is your view of the importance of street design ("complete streets") for encouraging a better bicycling environment?

Thornley: As much as I'm a "take the lane" kind of guy, it's relatively easy for me to be assertive and act like just another vehicle when I'm riding--I'm a noisy, 220 lb., 47-year-old male on a tall bike who's been doing it continuously for many decades. For all the terrific growth in the everyday bicycling population in SF, that cycling segment is still made up mostly by young men--I'm always thrilled to see mothers and grandmothers and families biking in the city, but they're still fairly exceptional among the bike traffic. If we're ever going to get past about 5 percent of trips happening by bike (on our best days these days), we need to make serious room for bikes on our streets and help less adventurous people become comfortable with the experience. That means separated bikeways, not just bike lane stripes. That means car-free streets, not just traffic-calmed streets, or anyhow traffic calming that really calms, 20 MPH zones with real enforcement, true bike boulevards with traffic diverters, real stuff and not just paint.

Bike lanes are kind of like training wheels for traffic. They're a pretty primitive way to re-prioritize traffic movements and public space use, and have essentially no substance by themselves to provide safe and dignified bike space, but they sketch out the premise of bike space and to the extent that cyclists and motorists play along with that premise, bike lanes train traffic behavior towards the culture we desire. Of course when a motorist parks in a bike lane, or drives in a bike lane, the whole culture-training exercise falls apart and we're left to improvise again.

Now having said that, let me allow the pragmatic side of my mouth to take over and say that bike lanes are better than no bike lanes--however equivocated and frail the bike space is with a bike lane, it's almost always a better cycling experience than the roadway without that bike lane. And the bicycling public is very supportive of bike lanes; certainly our members think bike lanes are important and they want more of them, more continuous bike lane routes across town--our latest member survey showed this again, and the Report Card of Bicycling in SF showed strong support for bike lanes among SF cyclists generally.

So yes, let's keep striping bike lanes and building out a network of bike lanes, as well as educating and enforcing and encouraging. And let's push for and implement separated bikeways and bike boulevards ad car-free roadway at the same time.

One last thought on the "facilities" topic: With the growing use of the shared-lane "sharrow", we're living with the odd child of the Vehicularists (bikes "drive" like motor traffic, no need for special bike lanes or paths) and the Facilitators (bikes get their own lanes and paths and signals and signs) here in San Francisco. Developed as a pavement marking symbol here (with inspirational precedents from elsewhere), the sharrow is intended to be used as an indicator of bicycle routing where a conventional bike lane would not fit (for physical or political reasons).

The official plan now is to lay down a string of sharrows on every street in the official Bicycle Route Network which doesn't already have bike lanes or is expected to have bike lanes striped in the next few years, which is wonderful to the extent that the dotted lines on the map become dotted lines on the ground, and the bike route network gets a little less hypothetical. And for those streets where motor traffic is slow and thin, this degree of bike facility is probably adequate, although it does impose a Vehicularist philosophy on the official bicycle circulation system for that part of the network -- take the lane and ride with traffic.

In other applications, such as the downtown 2.5 miles of Market Street, from the Ferry Building to 8th Street, sharrows are really not enough to make a difference for most cyclists in terms of safe, dignified bicycle space, and they're definitely not enough to bring out new cyclists, to get potential cyclists actually riding and using the route. Sharrows are an interesting tool, useful within their limited scope, but we've got to be very careful not to let them be viewed as the ultimate treatment for any roadway where motor traffic is more than a slight menace.

Bike Commute Tips: One of the big successes for the SFBC this year was "Healthy Saturdays," which bans cars from a mile of roadway in Golden Gate Park on Saturdays, as it has been on Sundays for 40 years. Can you talk about the significance of "Healthy Saturdays"? How does this park victory fit into the SFBC's overall strategic vision for a more bicycling friendly city?

Thornley: Healthy Saturdays and the "Healthy Zone" of GG Park roadway on the eastern end of JFK Drive are central to the SFBC's vision of an outstanding city for bicycling for one big reason: This is where bicyclists are born. This is the number one place where San Francisco kids learn to ride a bike, the place they make their first unassisted, no-training-wheels bicycle flights, a nursery for wee cyclists. There are other places in the city where you can teach your child to ride, but the Healthy Zone is the big learn-to-ride space.

Of course it's also important family bicycling space, and non-threatening bike space for grown-ups--a lot of adults I talk with tell me it's the only place in the city where they ride, when they ride with their children. So it's not just a hatchery for fledgling cyclists, it's where many adults do their riding, and of course we know that some of those cycling adults get to a comfort level where they leave the park and ride on the streets. So it's a bicycling incubator for all ages.

We have had some members and other cyclists express skepticism that the Healthy Saturdays campaign serves the SFBC's mission, or that the campaign is too expensive in terms of the SFBC's resources or political capital. No doubt there is a limit to how much time and energy we can and should spend on any campaign, and given the fierce opposition the Healthy Saturdays idea received from some quarters, we were burning a significant amount of energy on the campaign over the past few years. But if this city is ever going to make serious, meaningful movement on rebalancing its public realm away from automobile dominance and toward humanity and civility, we've got to be able to chase cars off a mile or so of park roadway on at least two days of the week.

Bike Commute Tips: Can I ask you the "carrot-stick" question? How far can we use encouragement (carrots) to make SF more like Amsterdam, and how much will we need to actively discourage motoring (sticks)? Could we reach a point where no amount of encouragement (more bike lanes, more bike racks, more transit access, etc.) will attract additional bicyclists? What is your perspective on the strategic need to diminish the relative appeal of driving to improve the relative appeal of bicycling and other alternative modes?

Thornley: I think the two prongs of that question are connected closely--many of the bicycling encouragement techniques we're pursuing will require "taking something away" from motorists, whether roadway space, parking space, or unhindered access to a given street or set of streets. Imagine how encouraging it will be to bike traffic when we restrict private auto access on Market Street!

Perhaps rather than characterizing the "discouragement" dimension as the stick, something with a direct impact, we might look to the experience of public policy and programs to discourage tobacco smoking--we won't ask you to give up your car, there will simply be fewer and fewer places in SF where you can drive freely and park freely (or cheaply). The public health, public safety, and public works costs of private auto trips must be reflected better in how right of way is allocated and priced, through congestion pricing and other use fees, and parking management and pricing. Private auto trips inside SF must be priced fairly, relative to the costs associated with them, not as a punitive thing but just on simple economics -- the massive subsidies we give motorists in free/cheap parking, free roadway access, and dislocated responsibility for public safety and public health, must be reckoned with and reconciled and reformed.

But politically it's still a hot potato to even mention, let alone act on, rebalancing the public realm away from private motor vehicle dominance. The city has a master plan for bicycling. which was adopted unanimously by the Board of Supervisors and Mayor two years ago but badly underfunded and starved for resources, then things got worse when a couple of cranks sued the city over the bike plan on the basis of its environmental review; the city lost the lawsuit and since last June there's been an injunction forbidding the city from implementing any physical improvements for bicycles until a full EIR is prepared and certified and the bike plan is re-adopted.

Even though this lawsuit and injunction are based on procedural nits, the idea that environmental regulation could hold up a plan to make SF a better city for bicycling is outrageous. And the essence of the environmental obstacle is that re-allocating roadway space to bicycles and pedestrians and transit might slow cars down and cause congestion, which is considered to be an environmental impact. Preposterous, and yet we're wrestling with it right now.

Bike Commute Tips: What are the remaining challenges in San Francisco you would most like to see improved in the next decade? Based on your experience as a bicyclist and advocate, how optimistic are you that these challenges will be resolved?

Thornley: The biggest challenge continues to be the car-centric perspective within the "system" -- even in green and groovy SF, despite clearly-declared policy in the city charter (the Transit First Policy) and a hundred subsidiary policies and resolutions and initiatives, we're still very much stuck in the "move more cars faster" mentality of 50 years ago, humanity and civility be damned.

So how do we get un-stuck? Elect True Green leaders, don't put up with press release politics. Join the SFBC. Speak up at City Hall hearings. Bring your bike inside when you shop. Learn your rights and responsibilities. Expect more, demand more, speak up, speak out. Ride daily, celebrate monthly!

Additional Bike Commuting Tips 10th Anniversary Interviews:

Maggie Robbins: Globalist on a bike
Josh Switzky: Cycling planner
John Holtzclaw: Cycling Environmentalist
Dave Snyder: Visionary Velorutionary
Anna Sojourner: The city on two wheels
Image: vs. Goliath (David Gartner)
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Idaho: Bike commuting adds joy, energy

Image of bicyclist near water fountain in downtown BoiseFrom the Idaho Statesman, 07.26.07:

Bicycle commute can add joy, energy and satisfaction to your day

I decided to start riding my bicycle to work two months ago. The decision came after paying almost $50 to fill my car's modest gas tank when prices soared. It was a choice that I had been toying with after hearing Al Gore speak about global warming. What can one person do? Well, I can take one car off the road. So, add a cruiser bicycle to my repertoire and life has changed. And what a ride it has been and continues to be.

The path I travel now surprises me every day. I didn't know how much seeing butterflies, or watching a heron dive into a pond on the way to work would shift my reality. I know, some of you long-time cycle-ites are rolling your eyes, but I had no idea that trading four wheels in for two every day would be so significant.

And I'm not alone. In the past year, the number of bicycles in Downtown Boise has increased so much that the city is looking for more bicycle parking. Area bicycle shops are seeing urban-style cruisers become a bigger part of their business. At George's Cycles & Fitness, staff members have seen urban bikes go from about one-tenth of their business to close to 20 percent of all the bicycles they sell. And as gas prices stay at $3 a gallon and up, expect more cycle commuters to roll along streets and sidewalks. (Read more.)
Reporter takes up bicycling...and converts. Becomes an enthusiastic proponent for bike commuting. This is a very favorable and encouraging article from Boise.

Image: Web capture. Bicyclist near fountain in downtown Boise.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips

Long Beach: bike trail network advances

Image of beach bike path in Long Beach, CaliforniaFrom Gazettes.com (Long Beach, CA), 07.26.07:

New City Web Of Bike Trails Moves Ahead
Plans for new bicycle trails that would connect paths from the San Gabriel River to the Los Angeles River will soon enter the design phase. The Long Beach City Council approved unanimously on Tuesday a proposal to begin the "East-West Bikeway Connections and Signage Program" project, which would create new trail connections and new signs identifying them. Traffic and Transportation Manager Abdollah Ansari said that bicyclists will find "comprehensive coverage throughout the city" once the project is in place.

"It will provide local and regional circulation," he said. "For a beach city, it’s good to have a continuous bike path system. People will be able to get to other areas by taking these river paths. Right now, these are just scattered connections. This will provide alternative movements for recreational and commuting purposes. (Read more.)
Good news for bike commuters in Long Beach, home of the country's first Bikestation.

Image: Web capture.
Visit:Long Beach Bike Paths
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Maggie Robbins: Globalist on a bike

Image of cyclist Maggie RobbinsMaggie Robbins has been a recreational cyclist for many years, but only started biking around town after moving to San Francisco in 1994. She became a multimodal bike commuter-- combining biking and BART--a year later when her office moved from central San Francisco to Oakland. Robbins joined the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition board of directors in 1997 and remained for six years, eventually serving as treasurer and president, and helping with the organization's first strategic planning process. During Robbin's tenure on the board, the SFBC entered serious electoral politics for the first time, endorsing and actively supporting pro-bike candidates for Mayor and Board of Supervisors. She was also there when the SFBC helped launch a companion organization, Transportation for a Livable City (now called Livable City). Robbins graciously served briefly on the board of the California Bicycle Coalition, after I recruited her during my brief tenure as the organization's executive director.

As part of Bike Commute Tips' commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the pivotal 1997 confrontation between Critical Mass and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, I recently asked Robbins for her impressions of how San Francisco has changed for bicyclists in the past decade.

Bike Commute Tips: What is the biggest positive change you've observed for bicycling in San Francisco in the past 10 years?

Maggie Robbins: The greater number of bicyclists is the most striking change to me. This is due both to more and better bike infrastructure, but also to better promotion and encouragement of bicycling by the SFBC, the City, and more broadly through events like Bike to Work Day. There is an increasingly diverse and eclectic bike culture in the city, which I think has enough different facets that just about anyone can feel like they belong. And I think that some interest in biking now is due to both the continuing problems with MUNI bus and subway service, and more people realizing their personal choices about transportation are important in terms of global warming, the environment generally, and even in terms of US foreign policy such as the Iraq War.

The increase in bicycling infrastructure is the next most prominent change. It’s been really impressive in the past decade. The increase in infrastructure, particularly the bike lanes, was clearly due to advocacy. These changes would not have happened with outclear, consistent advocacy. And by advocacy I don’t mean politely asking the Department of Parking and Traffic to consider adding a few more bike lanes, where there’s a little room left over on the road, please. I mean pushing City leaders to get serious about making room for bikes on the road, and yes even when there is no “extra” room for it.

We do the quiet stuff: reasoned lobbying, writing letters to officials, writing practical proposals and giving concrete analyses of DPT proposals. But we also pack hearings with supporters and hold protest rallies and do publicity stunts and make noise, and we are demanding and “unreasonable” (aren’t most of our demands seen as "unreasonable?") And we hit candidates where it counts: by working to get them elected or defeated based on their bicycling politics. And, we embrace, if occasionally a bit uncomfortably, one of the most creative forces to come to biking in a very long time: Critical Mass.

Bike Commute Tips: Among other things, the on-street infrastructural enhancements you mentioned (bike lanes, sharrows, etc.) are critical for a more bicycling-friendly community. Some bicyclists in the U.S. dispute this, thinking that cyclists should simply learn--through "street skills" education--to take their rightful place in traffic. What is your view of the importance of street design ("complete streets") for encouraging a better bicycling environment?

Robbins: Let’s be clear, bicycles are not cars. In places where the size, speed, and number of cars and trucks literally push bikes off the road, we need designated space on the roadway just for bikes. This protects cyclists from being injured or killed, and allows them to use busier roadways without it being a struggle every day. In areas where there are few cars, driving slowly, bikes and cars sharing the same lane is OK--and traffic calming can help this really work.

The SFBC context is a city, with a dense downtown on one edge, some freeways and busy arterial streets, some light industry areas, some quiet residential streets, some bustling neighborhood shopping streets, and lots of variation, depending on the specific part of town you’re in. We need different solutions for different kinds of streets. In some areas, the only way to make biking safe, efficient, and comfortable for most people it to have separate bike lanes, either striped, or with a barrier separating from heavy traffic. We need these lanes to be there along the whole road, including through the tight spots and especially through the dicey intersections. Many people are reluctant to ride due to fear of traffic, and one way to reduce that fear is to give bikes their own space, including signs, pavement marks, signals, and so on to show them the way. Most parents, for example, will be reluctant to let their children bicycle to school in the city unless they are certain their children, even older children, are not competing with cars for space on the road.

We don’t require pedestrians to share the road with cars, do we? Not usually. We see how great the difference is between our slow soft body and a motor vehicle and know we should separate them. For a very long time, we have created safe areas for walkers called sidewalks. Sidewalks are a good idea. So are bike lanes and paths.

Bike Commute Tips: Beyond bike lanes, what are the key social/cultural/political factors that have improved bicycling in San Francisco?

Robbins: Advocacy for bike lanes is politics. Any bike coalition that thinks they don’t have to do politics is fooling themselves. One thing we don’t often talk about is how to get elected officials to get serious about biking. Aside from information, persuasion and agitation, there is electoral politics: that is, getting pro-bike candidates elected so they can turn city policy and budget to support more bicycling.

Not a single bike lane is striped in this city until the Board of Supervisors votes on it. And the city’s administration won’t put the staff and resources into bike infrastructure if the Mayor doesn’t want them to. Without these decision-makers on board, bikes will continue being marginalized in policy, funding, and infrastructure. Responding to this reality, the SFBC board asked the members if they would agree to change our non-profit status to allow the SFBC to engage in electoral politics. They agreed overwhelmingly. San Francisco is not that big a place, maybe 600,000 residents spread over 49 square miles of land. There are 11 city electoral districts. An organization with an activist, political membership such as ours can make a difference, and our members saw that.

In keeping with the SFBC’s tradition of member control, we put in place a member-centered endorsement process. It begins with a survey of all the candidates. The results are compiled by a volunteer committee (composed of board, staff and members from each electoral district) who also summarize past experience the SFBC has with the candidate regarding bike issues. Every member is sent this information and they vote on whom the SFBC should endorse for their district. The board makes the final decision based on the member vote.

The candidates don’t always agree with what the SFBC demands, but now most serious candidates for local office are able to talk about our issues, however superficially. And we ask candidates to support specific bike-related proposals. Once they are elected, we can then work to hold them to these promises. This didn’t happen before. In a way, being active in elections is the ultimate education program for our local elected officials. They have to learn at least a little about our issues because our 6,000-plus members vote, and we influence many other votes. We have a long way to go in expanding the vision of our politicians and the public on what the future could look like, but elections has moved this a step forward.

I realize not all bike coalitions feel they can do this because they rely on--or wish they could rely on--grants and donations that depend on their charitable status, being a 501(c)(3). But I think the more activist bike coalitions should think seriously about whether or not they want to be a 501(c)(3) charity, or a 501(c)(4) like the SFBC, that is still a nonprofit but is not tax exempt and can engage in much more political activity than a 501(c)(3). Frankly, even when the SFBC was a 501(c)(3) it was very difficult for us to get charitable grants. We were perceived as being a political organization, regardless of our being very careful about staying within the legal limits on lobbying by charities. Bicycling just was not something most local foundations were willing to give grants for, no matter how we pitched it. In the end, we didn’t think the potential loss of funding would be that great. And at the same time, we created a sister “SFBC Education Fund” that can accept grants and donations for bike education work, which is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity.

Bike Commute Tips: Many cities around the world--including Paris, London, Bogata, New York, Portland--have made major strides in creating a more welcoming street environment for pedestrians and bicyclists. Often these improvements have come because of visionary leadership by city government. In San Francisco we have usually made progress in spite of, not because of political leadership. What will it take to finally change the political climate in San Francisco to better favor alternative transportation? What has been missing at City Hall?

Robbins: I think most bike advocates don’t think seriously enough about what it would take to get the bicycling share of trips in SF (or wherever) up to say 20 percent. How do we have to reallocate space between bikes and vehicles, to make 10 or 20 percent of the public comfortable riding to get around? How do we clear the roads so transit will work well for those times a bike won’t do, so a car isn’t the only other option? Lets look at Amsterdam, where if you bicycle around town you almost never have to share the lane with a car. You have separated bike lanes, or striped lanes, with separate traffic lights, signs and pavement marking, and often separate routing off the roadway to get you through tricky areas. Unlike here, where when the going gets tight the bike lane just ends and dumps you into the traffic lane to navigate a tricky intersection on your own. And in Amsterdam the light rail system has its own dedicated space in much of the city, so trains aren’t stuck in traffic.

Also, what changes need to happen off the street to make 20 percent bike rideshare possible? For example, where would all those bikes be parked? How would all those thousands of bicyclist lock their bike at any of our BART stations, at their work, in their shopping district, or at their school? Adding a few hundred more U-racks on the sidewalks each year as we do now won’t do it. We will have to re-divide the space to accommodate more people riding bikes in a way that doesn’t compete with pedestrians. We need to make sure new infrastructure has this future in mind, not wring our hands later saying we don’t have space for more bike parking. For example, at the new Transbay Terminal multi-modal transit hub that has been in planning for several years. Will it have space for thousands of bicycles to arrive and park each day? Right now no one seems to take this 20 percent scenario seriously, so they will design and build a new terminal with bikes a small consideration, relegated to the fringes, a bike lane will lead up to it, maybe with a small bike-station for parking a few dozen bikes. Nothing radically new. And in a few years, when those thousands of new bicyclists ponder riding to the terminal, many of them will decide not to.

I spent the last year in London. While there are significant differences in the infrastructure between our cities, it was a joy to ride there. London has made serious investment to increase bicycling, walking and transit. They have the same problems we have: dense city, limited roadway space, many demands on the city budget. But the Mayor had the will, and he came up with a way to raise the money, and got the people of London to agree. They charge a substantial fee to drive into Central London (the congestion charge) during the week days and Saturday, and they pump that huge amount of money into expanding transit and improving bike and ped infrastructure. That was the deal: in exchange for making driving downtown more costly, you’ll get better transit, biking, and walking around in return. They have put thousands more busses on the road. They upgraded the bus fleet with better-designed busses (including clean diesel engines). There’s been a massive traffic calming program throughout the city, lots of bike paths and lanes added, and sidewalks and pedestrian plazas have been expanded.

We could do this, but our leaders, frankly even the bike advocates, don’t think quite this big. Maybe it’s a lack of confidence, or lack of trust in officials to not redirect the money to other things, or that the voters would rebel. I don’t know.

Bike Commute Tips: What are the remaining challenges in San Francisco you would most like to see improved in the next decade? Based on your experience as a bicyclist and advocate, how optimistic are you that these challenges will be resolved?

Robbins: Americans seem to think that foreign cities who are doing things right in terms of transit or biking had some sort of natural advantage over the US. But it isn’t true. They were on the “every adult drives a car everywhere” track, just as the US is. They were tearing up light rail and reducing bus and train service. The difference is that they saw the writing on the wall about that being the road to oblivion bit sooner than we have--the US hasn’t seen the writing yet. And in response the governments of these cities have taken bolder action than we have. The results we see in these cities are due to hard work, and to leaders and bike and transit advocates who think seriously about the future. We won’t accidentally drift into a better future, we must build it one change at a time. Today it’s a few bike lanes, next it will be colored paving, then maybe bike traffic signals or getting rid of the LOS standard for streets, and some day, if we demand it hard enough, if we entice thousands of more people onto bicycles each day, we’ll get to a truly bike-friendly city.

Am I optimistic? Yes. What alternative is there?

Additional Bike Commuting Tips 10th Anniversary Interviews:

Josh Switzky: Cycling planner
John Holtzclaw: Cycling Environmentalist
Dave Snyder: Visionary Velorutionary
Anna Sojourner: The city on two wheels
Image: Courtesy Maggie Robbins.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Monday, July 23, 2007

Vermont: Peace on the roads?

Image of bicyclist in VermontFrom the Rutland Herald (Vermont), 07.22.07:

Yankee Notebook: On the road, sharing is the law
Remember the film "Easy Rider"? Any of us who've ridden much know the experience of being hated by people in motor vehicles — especially pickup trucks: a loud horn blast from behind; a shouted epithet; the passenger's hand banging on the outside of the door, the arm rising to flip the traditional salute as the muffler roars and the vehicle speeds away. I also knew every rider's puzzlement: Why?

Nobody knows. There's no logic behind it...I guess there's something about a bicyclist or a group of them that excites a bit of road rage or class warfare in some folks--particularly if they're on their way to work while the bikers are having fun. That's too bad, because with green becoming our favorite color, more people will be commuting by bicycle as much as possible or practical, and more towns and cities will be setting aside bike routes and road lanes. (Read more.)
This is a thoughtful essay, appealing for more respect by motorists. And poses the question I've often pondered myself: Why the hostility from drivers? Does hating bicyclists clear the traffic delaying their commute? Does anger reduce their fuel costs?

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

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Josh Switzky: Cycling planner

Image of San Francisco Critical MassJoshua Switzky is a city planner and urban designer working in the City Design section of the Citywide Policy (Long-Range Planning) division of the San Francisco Planning Department. Born and raised in the suburban San Fernando Valley, Switzky graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in business/marketing and moved to San Francisco in 1996 intending to be the marketer and ad guru for environmental groups and nonprofits. He was living car-free, relying on transit. He didn't have a bike. That soon changed. He became active with Critical Mass and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, and it was about this time that we encountered each other and became friends. He has also served on the boards of directors of Livable City and Walk San Francisco. Switzky put his great intelligence and passion for sustainable transportation to work for the Congress for the New Urbanism, and would later earn a scholarship to the graduate city planning program at MIT, exploring the interface of city design and transportation. For the past five years Switzky has been at the city Planning Department.

As part of Bike Commute Tips' commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the pivotal 1997 confrontation between Critical Mass and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, I recently asked Switzky for his impressions of how San Francisco has changed for bicyclists in the past decade.

Bike Commute Tips: What is the biggest positive change you've observed for bicycling in San Francisco in the past 10 years?

Josh Switzky: The number of people cycling around the city for transportation has visibly skyrocketed in the past 10 years, and the amount of infrastructure has increased steadily--though there is still a long, long way to go. Almost none of the bikes lanes that are on the streets now were there when I started cycling in the city 10 years ago. I think I was San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC) member number 1,100 or something like that, and now they have over 6,000 members.

Bicycling is also firmly entrenched in the political and bureaucratic consciousness now, and it certainly was not 10 years ago. There was barely one bicycle planner then, and it seemed cycling was anathema to the political, planning and engineering establishment. I think the tipping point in San Francisco was really the pressure of Critical Mass. It’s unquestionable that the City would not be where it is today without that upwelling that got everyone’s attention. Without CM, the SFBC wouldn’t have had the spotlight and platform. It’s the necessary yin and yang of social change. CM certainly wouldn’t have caused lasting and real change without the SFBC providing the articulated, level-headed, informed policy vision.

In the professional world, I think there is definitely a sea change happening in terms of the profession and the bureaucracy independent of the advocacy and political world. There’s a whole new generation of planners and engineers who understand and are sensitive to multi-modal planning, environmental issues, and are more worldly and well-traveled. The old generation is giving way, through both retirement and osmosis from the surge of younger planners.

I think the increases in cyclists in SF has led the increase in infrastructure and accommodation. We’re reaching the stage where without more infrastructure, the number of cyclists will plateau. SF has a high population of young, creative, non-conformist, highly-educated, progressive, worldly, and health-conscious people. I think this is definitely a benefit, which possibly gives it an edge over other cities, but I think that can only get you so far without really making the necessary infrastructure investments and tough policy decisions.

Bike Commute Tips: You spent time in graduate school in Boston/Cambridge. How would you compare Boston and San Francisco in terms of bicycling?

Switzky: Physically and demographically, Boston and SF are very similar. They’re the same size, have roughly the same population, very similar built environments, and comparable transit systems. However politically and socially, Boston has maintained a grittier, more conservative, blue-collar and parochial, clan-dominated environment. It certainly embraces transit, but for some reason not cycling. Boston is a huge college town, but the voters are the permanent population.

I moved to Boston fresh from the energy and rising success of the SFBC. The most frustrating thing I found was the cycling advocacy community in Boston. The established advocacy group at the time was pretty milquetoast, populated by polite recreational cyclists and vocally dominated by transportation advocates who were the “vehicular cycling” devotees. These folks shunned CM like the plague and similar in-your-face grassroots organizing, and were often (and shockingly) opposed to bike lanes and similar infrastructure. They would go to their graves insisting that bikes are just like cars and fighting for their rights to share road space with cars and trucks and trying to convince people to just learn the rules of the road, get along, and stop being scared, rather than organizing people to lobby for the creation of safe and attractive facilities for potential cyclists who, for obvious reasons, don’t find the status quo attractive.

It was frustrating and self-defeating, so I gave up on it. There were a couple small scrappy bike groups (e.g. Bikes Not Bombs) with some great people, and a fledgling CM which I tried to inject some energy into, but as a short timer in Boston, I couldn’t invest too much into it.

Bike Commute Tips: I believe on-street infrastructural enhancements (bike lanes, sharrows, etc.) are important to improved bicycling conditions. You've already mentioned the views of other bicyclists who dispute this, arguing cyclists should simply learn--through "street skills" education--to take their rightful place in traffic. What is your view of the importance of street design ("complete streets") for encouraging a better bicycling environment? What's made the difference in SF?

Switzky: I think my previous answer shows my bias. Also, as a city planner and urban designer, I firmly believe that physical environments and infrastructure significantly shape people’s perceptions and the choices they make--and research has routinely documented this. You can’t educate and hand-hold every potential cyclist until they’re comfortable sharing the road with two-ton SUVs and 10-ton trucks and buses. It’s not even a reasonable proposition to ask of people.

Though it's a stereotype, I've found that the vast majority of the "vehicular cyclists" are middle-aged men who ride a lot. People should certainly learn to get comfortable on the road and learn some tips and tricks, but you’ll never reach or teach enough people, and this will only ever be appealing to a slim slice of the population that is already pre-disposed to cycle in traffic for ideological or economic reasons. That’s certainly how I started cycling.

But you can’t build a lasting, growing cycling population on that principle. You won’t get 10 percent of the population, including older people and families, to bike daily on that principle. It shouldn’t be necessary to go through boot camp and fear/confidence training before feeling comfortable riding to the grocery store or the park or to work. Like I said, I think a lot of the late 1990s growth in cycling in SF was a demographic thing, but I think that trend has waned and we’re really starting to see the real payoffs of investing in infrastructural change. People aren’t going to assert their rights to the road if they don’t feel comfortable. Getting about the city shouldn’t be a stressful thing, and no matter how seasoned you are, riding in heavy mixed traffic is not particularly relaxing. The less cycling seems like it takes testosterone and a sense of renegade daring-do, and the more it seems genteel and almost matronly, the more your average person will naturally start cycling.

Bike Commute Tips: You are employed as a planner for the city of San Francisco. What role does planning play in creating a more livable city, and what role does politics play? Where should bicycling activists in San Francisco and elsewhere direct their advocacy: At planning agencies? At public works agencies? At politicians? At all of them?

Switzky: I think politicians definitely. As I said earlier, the agencies are increasingly filled with educated and bike-conscious planners and engineers. They just need to be given license to do the right thing. That comes from political pressure and directive. Agencies generally don’t do what there is not political will to do, even if they know how to do it and know that it’s right. At this point in SF, it’s really the politics that is holding things back. Even more so on transit planning than for cycling I think. The other big obstacle is CEQA – the California Environmental Quality Act. It’s a well-meaning legacy from the 1970s environmentalism that has been turned perversely into a twisted legal tool to stall, add cost, and oppose any bike and other environmentally-friendly development. That’s a whole other saga. But it deserves priority attention from the state environmental community.

Bike Commute Tips:What are the remaining challenges in San Francisco you would most like to see improved in the next decade? Based on your experiences as a bicyclist, advocate, and planning professional, how optimistic are you that these challenges will be resolved?

Switzky:Besides completing the Bike Network, I’d like us to move past basic on-street bike lanes and really try a more northern-European bike-centric, rather than auto-centric, model of bike facility design. We have to get past the traffic engineering mindset and take a more environmental design-based approach -- street designs including cycle paths, woonerf/home zones (slow-zone shared streets), and the like. I think we have a long way to go in improving the incorporation of cycling with transit here--BART, GG Transit, Muni Metro. I’m tepidly optimistic because we have a very bureaucratic approach to street design and even bike engineering, and just because things are done all over Europe, our risk-averse system won’t try them until they’re blessed by every federal, state and local agency.

Additional Bike Commuting Tips 10th Anniversary Interviews:

Maggie Robbins: Globalist on a bike
John Holtzclaw: Cycling Environmentalist
Dave Snyder: Visionary Velorutionary
Anna Sojourner: The city on two wheels
Image: Stephanie Booth. San Francisco Critical Mass.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Seattle: Business "leader" kills bike lane

Image of Burke-Gilman Trail near Seattle
From The Stranger (Seattle), 06.18.07:

Changing Lanes: Business Leader Kills Stone Way Bike Lane
Under pressure from the Fremont Chamber of Commerce and the unofficial "Mayor of Fremont," Fremont property owner Suzie Burke, Mayor Greg Nickels eliminated an important link in the Bicycle Master Plan adopted by the city earlier this year.

Burke says she only opposes the bike lane because she wants to keep Stone Way safe for industrial traffic. "Stone Way is a pretty heavy truck corridor," Burke says. "Personally, I'm concerned about squeezing those trucks. It's pretty important to keep the industrial folks moving." Read more.)
Apparently squeezing bicyclists is not a concern of Ms. Burke. This article relates a typical Big Business vs. Popular Interests tale. Wealthy interests derail the desires of the larger community as the politician takes a dive. Typical, ain't it? It shouldn't require a massive mobilization to make modest improvements in a bike network. Sadly, it may in this case. Advocacy works.

Image: Web capture. Image of Burke-Gilman Trail near Seattle.
Visit: Seattle: Cyclists soon to get safer routes
Visit: Cycling rising in Seattle
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

John Holtzclaw: Cycling Environmentalist

A San Francisco-based consultant in transportation, urban development, energy consumption, and air quality, Dr. John Holtzclaw is chair the Sierra Club's Transportation Committee. Holtzclaw's recent research, for the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Neighborhood Technology and the Surface Transportation Policy Project, has been into how residential density, transit service, and pedestrian and bicycle friendliness reduce auto ownership and driving. It was oriented toward designing convenient, compact, transit-oriented, mixed-use cities, thereby reducing consumption, auto use and waste.

As part of Bike Commute Tips commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the pivotal 1997 confrontation between Critical Mass and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, I asked Holtzclaw for his impressions of how San Francisco has changed for bicyclists in the past decade. (Less significantly, 2007 is also the 10th anniversary of my modest bicycle commuting tips website.)

Bike Commute Tips: What is the biggest positive change you've observed for bicycling in San Francisco in the past 10 years?

John Holtzclaw: Besides the obvious improvements of more bike lanes, there are more bikes on the streets, especially on Bike to Work Day. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and its members' advocacy has been crucial in this success. Critical Mass has helped convey the idea that bicycling is an important mode. San Francisco's success can be replicated elsewhere.

Bike Commute Tips: There seems to be growing awareness about the damaging ecological consequences of our automobile-dependent transportation system. However, many environmentalists talk more about fuel efficiency, bio-fuels, and electric cars, and rarely mention sustainable transportation alternatives (bicycling, walking, transit.) At the same time, many bike advocates are little concerned with the environment beyond winning a share of space on the streets. How does the bicycling movement fit into the larger environmental movement? How are these movements inter-related? How can we encourage better cross-pollination between environmentalists and bicycling activists?

Holtzclaw: Environmental groups, even the Sierra Club, have been slow to showcase measures that would reduce VMT (vehicle miles traveled.) That's been a great pain to me, but we are making progress now. Global warming is Sierra Club's top priority, and our sprawl website details how good land use (density, mixed-use, streets and sidewalks) and transit service reduce driving. We now have to add such to our global warming and Cool Cities websites. On the national scale, I am presenting our location efficiency research to a committee of the National Academy of Sciences on July 23. The intent is incorporation in future legislation to increase transportation efficiency and reduce pollution. If bikers and pedestrians knew they were a major part of the global warming solution, they might take more interest in it. California's governor hasn't gotten this message, despite signing AB 32 to reduce our global warming emissions.

Bike Commute Tips: You have been a prominent part of the Sierra Club's efforts to fight sprawl. Is sprawl containment/prevention a key for increased bicycling? How can we position bicycling as a component of a more livable, sustainable community?

Holtzclaw: Reversing sprawl is crucial to increasing bicycling and walking. Sprawl increases trip distances and traffic speeds, making biking less attractive to many people. The San Francisco biking, pedestrian and environmental communities get the big picture and are working together on this. My bicycling advocacy is part of that whole Smart Growth and public transit advocacy picture.

Bike Commute Tips: What are the remaining challenges in San Francisco you would most like to see improved in the next decade? Based on your experience as a bicyclist and advocate, how optimistic are you that these challenges will be resolved?

Holtzclaw: Challenges to SF include: implementing congestion pricing; implementing widespread traffic calming (slowing) and returning one-way streets to two-way; and implementing widespread Bus Rapid Transit.

San Francisco officials are also studying London's Congestion Pricing for adoption here. Our city planning department, mayor and Board of Supervisors have reduced required parking for new residential projects in dense neighborhoods and applied it as a "maximum" parking limit.

Bike Commute Tips: Cars are more than simply transportation in our culture, they also represent status, image, affluence. In the same vein, bicycling is often seen as sign of impoverishment ("They can't afford a car.") Is the supposed equation of affluence and happiness a barrier to increased bicycling?

Holtzclaw: A major barrier to intelligent planning to improve our quality of life (QOL) is the influence of conventional economics in the U.S. It prioritizes gro-gro-gro, not QOL. For instance, the French emphasize QOL and one could not visit Paris but agree they have a much higher standard of living--and biking and walking--than we do. Yet (newly elected French President Nicolas) Sarkozy seems to have convinced them they have to compete in the economic gro-gro-gro race. That sucks.

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

Monday, July 09, 2007

Memphis: Bicycle use indicates people-friendly town

Image of bicyclist in downtown Memphis, TennesseeFrom the Memphis Commercial Appeal, 07.09.07:

In early June, Tennessee passed a law requiring motorists to pass bicycles with at least a 3-foot berth. The law reflects the increased value local governments are placing on bicycle-friendly communities. It is a perk for both motorists and cyclists, as increased bicycle use translates to safer and more desirable cities.

We've joined cities and states worldwide in thinking about bicycles as an asset.

Unlike most toys, the bicycle is a source of transportation for a future beset by skyrocketing petroleum prices and transportation dilemmas. For good reason, bicycles have a staying power beyond the Barbie doll.

Bicycles are indicators that communities have become people-friendly environments supporting a healthy lifestyle. (Read more.)
An interesting op-ed, making the valid point that bicyclists are an "indicator species," the canary in a coal mine of the streets. An abundance of bicyclists indicates a healthy community. Memphis, according to this article, has no bike lanes at present. The writer, executive director of the Revolutions Community Bike Program, is optimistic.

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

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Paris: Bike sharing and safety

Repeat after me: Bicycling is safe. Bicycling is safe.

A look at bicycling fatalities in the U.S. suggests that if you are a bicyclist over the age of 16, aren't intoxicated, ride with traffic on the right side of the road, use lights at night, and generally practice common sense traffic behavior--your risk of being killed while bicycling is in the bee sting or lightning strike range.

This statement is prompted by a comment in a recent column by Richard Reeves, "Free Travel in Paris? Well Almost." Reeves' generally supportive article discusses the innovative bike-sharing initiative Velib' in Paris that debuts this week, and concludes:

Bicycles may be too dangerous to use in many American cities (emphasis mine), but are they any more dangerous to life and limb than vans and trucks bigger than the homes most of us grew up in before we could buy little houses on the freeways?
The perception that bicycling is dangerous is greatly exaggerated--by non-cyclists who use "danger" as a rationalization, by cycling social rebels who like biking's outre image, and perhaps also by bike advocates (facilities people and vehicularists alike).

We may need to reposition our demand for improved bicycling infrastructure, from an emphasis on safety improvement to an emphasis on bike lanes as eco-friendly community enhancement. Which would you rather have rolling through your neighborhood? Smiling bicyclists, or impatient road-raging SUV drivers? Bicycling is a fun, healthy, energy-saving, life-enhancing, and life-extending activity. And bicycling is safe.

Paris has made significant strides in recent years tackling its chronic traffic congestion. With bicycling, the great French capital city has taken a two-pronged approach, creating more space on the street for bicyclists, and increasing the availability of bikes. After successful community bike programs elsewhere in Europe, the July 15 launch of the Paris Velib' will be closely watched by bicycle advocates.

Image: Web capture.
Visit: BicycleUniverse.info, safety, fatalities, and injuries information portal
Visit: Ken Kifer: Is Cycling Dangerous?
Visit: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, pedalcyclist fatality analysis
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Massachusetts: bike commuting's myriad benefits

Image of bike commuter in MassachusettsFrom the Marlborough Enterprise (Masschusetts), 07.05.07:

Rising gas prices, concern for the environment and physical fitness were on the minds of bikers who braved the heat and participated in a bike to work day on June 27 in Marlborough.

For Marlborough resident John Grenier, 40, reducing air pollution and physical fitness were good reasons to participate, but he said he mainly did it out of "guilt." Grenier, who spent last summer working in the Netherlands routinely rode his bike to work as many other Dutch adults do.

"Bicycling is considered a form of everyday transportation there (the Netherlands) and bike paths permeate the landscape, making it very convenient to ride to work," said Grenier. "There really is no excuse for me not to ride my bike to work on pleasant days."

"One activity--bike commuting--can achieve myriad results," said (Susan) Tordella, (director of the MetroWest/495 Transportation Management Association). "When someone bikes to work, she or he combats air pollution, ozone depletion, road congestion, obesity, high blood pressure and stress. The simple act of getting on two wheels and self-propelling to work allows an individual to impact the greater good as well as their personal health." (Read more.)
This generally favorable article on bicycle commuting reads like a press release from a TMA. But at least they used "myriad" correctly.

Image: Bear Cieri/Marlborough Enterprise. John Grenier, Sr., locks up after riding his bike to work at Rohm & Haas in Marlborough.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

More cycling inspiration from abroad

Image of Dutch senior citizens on bicyclesNational Bike Month is now well behind us, which means most media outlets in the U.S. can resume their neglect of bicycles, transportation policy, health care, oil wars--and focus their attention back to covering more relevant news. Fortunately, there is no shortage of cycling inspiration from regions beyond U.S. borders.

The Netherlands has long been a model for American bicycling advocates. The Fietsberaad, a bicycle think tank funded by the Dutch Ministry of Transport, has published an outstanding 36-page brochure, Cycling in the Netherlands (download PDF), which summarizes the policies and facilities of the preeminent bicycling culture in Europe.

From introduction to Cycling in the Netherlands:

There are good reasons for encouraging bicycle use. High bicycle usage contributes to the accessibility of cities and towns, to many citizens’ scope for sustainable development and--not least--to public health. Cities and regions in the Netherlands are often regarded as examples of best practices on cycling and supporting policies. We owe our thanks to facilitating governments, the work of active NGO’s and many companies that earn their living with cycling related business. In this way, there is a whole chain of cycling infrastructure that makes cycling an attractive option for our daily mobility. (Download PDF.)
The report documents the link between bicycle policy and bicycle use: "In the first place, good bicycle facilities are simply a necessity to facilitate the many cyclists. These good bicycle facilities keep bicycle use high and continue to grow." I also admire the Dutch example of employer encouragement policies, where instead of ample free parking provided by the company, employees are offered a complimentary bike: "Employees appear to feel themselves morally stimulated to bicycle more when they have accepted a free bicycle from the boss."

The U.K. provides additional inspiration, as London--site of the "Grand Départ" of this year's Tour de France--has seen boom in bicycling since the introduction of central city congestion charges, according to the city's Mayor Ken Livingstone in a recent New York Times editorial: "The number of bicycle journeys on London’s major roads has risen by 83 percent, to almost half a million a day. Cycling has become something of a boom industry in London, with improvement in health for those involved and substantial benefit for the environment."

The British sustainable transportation advocacy group Sustrans has also released a new report illustrating the health benefits of public investment in bicycling. From Cycling is "best buy" for transport:
Transport investment should be directed to cycling, says new Sustrans report. The value of investment in active travel reviews evidence from around the world, and concludes that schemes to encourage a shift from private motorised transport to walking and cycling are the most cost efficient use of transport funds. (Download "The value of investment in active travel")
The great German capital city of Berlin has realized a surge in bicycling after significant public investment in bicycling facilities. From "Bike City Berlin":
Two years ago, the Berlin Senate decided that bikes should make up 15% of city traffic by the year 2010. Results released from the newest traffic study of the Berlin Development Administration show that the goal could be reached early: the number of bicyclists has more than doubled in the last decade to 400,000 riders daily, accounting for 12% of total traffic. (Read more.)
But the foreign bicycling inspiration doesn't just come from across the pond. Mexico City's mayor is aggressively pushing bicycling as a partial solution to that city's chronic traffic congestion. From the San Diego Union Tribune, 07.02.07:
Mexico City's hopes riding on two wheels
Bicycle use urged to lower congestion

Mayor Marcelo Ebrard delivered his shocking order to top officials from beneath a leafy tree in one of the few remaining parks in Mexico City. On the first Monday of every month, Ebrard announced, he and his handpicked team would travel to work on bicycles.

Bicycles? In Mexico City, where more than 3 million cars jam the streets? Where the pollution is so thick that people think the color of the sky is gray? (Read more.)

Image: Fietsberaad
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site