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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Bike beats car and transit

From the New York Times, 05.29.08:

Some Reasons the Bike Always Wins
A bicyclist, a driver and a subway rider walked into a bar.

No, actually they didn’t. The three actually raced from Fort Greene to Union Square during today’s morning commute to see who got there fastest in Seventh Annual Great NYC Commuter Race, held by Transportation Alternatives (essentially an anti-car lobbying group). Think of it as a more modest version of a planes, trains and automobiles race from New York to Washington.

The race started at 7:40 a.m. at Connecticut Muffin, 423 Myrtle Avenue, at Clinton Avenue, Brooklyn, and finished at the corner of 14th Street and Union Square East.

The results: bicyclist wins at 16.5 minutes; the driver gets in at 22 minutes; and the subway rider transit was last with 29 minutes. That’s an intriguing result. (Read more.)
The writer suggests this annual Bike to Work Day challenge event is a "fix"--note the "anti-car" tag--observing that a commute from more distant neighborhoods would offer greater advantage to driving or more likely transit. There may be some truth in that. However, bike-friendly transit systems can offer multimodal opportunities that greatly extend the bicycling advantage door-to-door.

Several cities in the U.S. have presented similar bike/car/transit challenge events, including Philadelphia; Salinas, California; and Portland, Oregon. And San Francisco had the event in past years, but the bike's domination basically has made it a moot point. The bicyclists generally prevail in these challenges.

What about your community? Have you had a similar challenge event? Think bicycling might be the clear favorite?

Visit: Driving out, bicycling to work is in, New York Daily News
Visit: Pedal power triumphs again in NYC commuter race, Newsday
Visit: Bicyclist Wins Great Commuter Race, NY1 News
Visit: Bicyclist Beats Transit Rider, Driver in Rush, New York Sun
Visit: Cyclist Wins Race Against Car and MTA Again, The Gothamist
Visit: Bike, Transit or Car: Which Is the Fastest Commute?, StreetsBlog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Sacramento logs a million plus

Sacramento bicycle commuters have reason to celebrate today. Cyclists participating in the annual May is Bike Month promotion have smashed past the 1 million mile threshold for the first time ever. Organized by several local agencies--including Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District, Sacramento DOT, Caltrans, and others--May is Bike Month offers incentive prizes, t-shirts, commuting resources, and an informative website. Employer and club teams can compete for incentives.

This is the first year Sacramento's Bike Month Million Mile Challenge has actually reached the 1 million miles marker. Past years:

2007: 926,638
2006: 627,593
2005: 476,164
Much of this bicycling activity is recreational, but bike commuters participating in the challenge have logged more than 400,000 miles to date. The Air Quality Management District suggests this bicycling makes a difference:
The current number of commute and errand miles ridden has saved 412,025 pounds of global-warming CO2 and 5,724 pounds of other air pollution from our atmosphere. The cyclists also saved 21,193 gallons of gasoline (worth about $82,442.67)
Among the teams competing (employers, clubs), members of the Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates rank second, logging 36,000 miles to date. SABA trails only the relentless pedalers of the Davis Bike Club; Caltrans employees have bicycled more than 56,000 miles.

High gas prices are clearly encouraging many Sacramento area commuters to travel by bicycle. The practice bicycling may be helpful over the next month, as the city closes a key interstate link (I-5) through downtown for "Big Fix" construction, causing abundant (excessive) anxiety among motorists.

Image: Web capture.
Visit: Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates
Visit: Sacramento: May means bicycling, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Sacramento celebrates bicycling, Bike Commute Tips Blog.
Visit: Sacramento: Cycle City?, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Washington Post on NYC Cycling

Image of bike lane in New York City
From the Washington Post, 05.24.08:

N.Y. Hopes to Ensure Smooth Pedaling for Bike Commuters
NEW YORK--The view from the lens of photographer Mark Weiss's camera is of a treacherous world of cab drivers weaving into bike lanes, of double-parked delivery vehicles, of car doors opening suddenly, of pedestrians wandering blindly and of narrow passageways between trucks. It is the world of the Manhattan bicycle commuter, which Weiss captures on a camera affixed to a bar on his single-gear bike.

City officials, hoping to make commutes like his less treacherous, have created a seven-block experiment of a bike lane on Ninth Avenue. Here, concrete dividers and a row of parked cars shield a bike lane from the street and its traffic. Low mini-traffic lights show when cyclists have the right of way. Bike commuters, messengers and delivery people peel down perfectly smooth paths.

"It would be nice if that were everywhere," said Weiss, 45.

The city is planning to create another protected lane on Eighth Avenue, part of an effort to encourage cycling in New York, where bike use has increased by 75 percent since 2000, to about 130,000 commuters a day. The city hopes to double current bicycle use by 2015 and to triple it by 2020.

"We've run out of room for driving in the city. We have to make it easier for people to get around by bikes," said Janette Sadik-Khan, the city's transportation commissioner, who herself bikes to work. (Read more.)
Outstanding article on New York City's efforts to increase bicycle use. The latest development includes a pilot program with separated bike lanes on several major avenues. The article also summarizes encouraging developments in many other American cities, including Portland, Chicago, Louisville, Tulsa, Washington DC (set to launch the SmartBike bike sharing program next month) and even former car capital Flint, Michigan.

Image: Mark Weiss/Washington Post.
Visit: Transportation Alternatives
Visit: Times Up!/NYC
Visit: A Smoother Ride for Cycling in the City, Gotham Gazette
Visit: New York: Combat in the bike lane, Bike Commute Tips Blog.
Visit: More bicyclists in New York City, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Car-Free in Hartford

From the Hartford Advocate, 05.28.08:

Car-Free In Hartford
There are alternatives to hitting the highway

On a chilly Monday morning, I rode my bike to work for the first time. To put my first pedal commute into perspective, you need to understand that I'm a walking collection of His Girl Friday-era reporter cliches, minus the "press badge" and snappy hat. I'm a chain-smoking, hard-drinking louse with a penchant for red meat and an aversion to exercise. A simple four-mile pedal to work was a frightening prospect.

Near the Sisson Avenue I-84 on-ramp, I saw my first fellow cyclist. He wore a dress shirt and rode with both hands off the handles, smoking a cigarette. His image of cool collectedness was a slap in my overheated face.

The ride was physically taxing, but bearable, until I got to Capitol Avenue. The street lining the Capitol and legislative building is a long slope, something that had escaped my attention the thousands of times I had driven on it. Also, it was the most heavily trafficked road I encountered. From the looks of it, honking at a clearly exhausted cyclist is a fun, group activity that brings drivers closer together.

The people I spoke with about bikes in the Hartford area assured me that riding would get easier (it did, actually — by my third ride I was able to make it to my apartment without collapsing in a heap). For most bike riders, though, the most challenging parts of replacing their cars with the bikes isn't the physical exhaustion: it's dealing with the people who still drive their cars. (Read more.)
Inspiring article from Hartford, motivated by the writer's need to deal with a temporary loss of vehicular access. He ends up discovering a rich bicycling culture in Connecticut's capitol, a city not renowned for bicycle-friendliness.

The article reports rising attendance at monthly cycling events and the annual Bike To Work day. He shares road war stories with other cyclists at a Central Connecticut Bicycle Alliance pizza dinner. He meets the creators of a local bicycle blog (, who indicate persistent pervasive hostility from motorists. He finds evidence of supportive city policymakers and promising developments for more bike infrastructure.

On a personal note: I also identified with the writer's confessed bad habits (smoking, drinking, red meat, sedentary.) As described on my Bike Commute Tips site, I shared that profile when I started bicycle commuting (except for the meat consumption.) My health improved thanks to my transportation mode. It could only improve.

Image: Hartford Advocate.
Visit: Advocate Grabs Commuting-By-Bike Argument By Handlebars, Hartford Courant
Visit: Connecticut: Not A Bike-Friendly State, Bike Commute Tips Blog.
Visit: Not just for cars anymore, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Cyclists Share a Healthy Passion, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Monday, May 26, 2008

Chattanooga: Pedaling away from octane ouch

Image of Andy Singer bicycle cartoon
From the Chattanooga Free Press, 05.26.08:

Anthony Green’s 13-mile commute from northern Hamilton County to the federal building downtown takes about an hour one way every morning.

No, he hasn’t found some awful stretch of road with horrible traffic. The 47-year-old federal probation officer rides a bicycle to work to save money, improve his health and protect the environment, he said. “I’ve been doing this for about seven and a half years,” Mr. Green said. “I haven’t bought gas on a regular basis in so long, I don’t even realize how much I’m saving.”

Mr. Green is part of a larger movement to abandon cars, or at least to use them less often, as the price of gas rises toward $4 a gallon. Bike riders say they’re parking their cars to reduce some of the pain at the gas pump, but the appeal of improved health doesn’t hurt.

Mr. Green said he got his start before anyone offered such classes. He saw a neighbor commuting to work on a bicycle and became curious. Now, he can’t see himself going back to commuting in a car, he said.

“You get to enjoy all the things you can’t experience in your car,” Mr. Green said. “This time of year you can smell all the honeysuckle."

Then there are the birds. “You don’t realize all you are missing in your car.” (Read more.)
Another great article and video, acknowledging the economic and environmental benefits of bike commuting, but with a great emphasis on the joy of it. Try bike commuting for the fuel savings; persist for the sheer fun of it.

Image: Andy Singer.
Visit: A Bicycle Friendly City: Q&A with Outdoor Chattanooga, Chattarati
Visit: Bike Chattanooga.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Two-wheeling a joy for many commuters

From the Lexington Herald-Leader (KY), 05.26.08:

Two-wheeling a joy for many commuters
Saves gas and the environment

Dan Dickinson lives a little over 3 miles from his job...Since last fall, the 28-year-old electrical engineer has been riding his bicycle to work in good weather and bad. "I really got hooked," Dickinson said last week. "It's a ton of fun...It's great. You get to exercise and feel good."

He is also saving money on gasoline and helping the environment, but those are just bonuses to Dickinson. "You look forward to your commute on a bike," he said. "It's great to be outside. You see so much more. You can say 'Hi' to people you pass. It's just a lot of fun."

Dickinson is not alone in his love of the two-wheeler. "There are a lot of bike commuters in Lexington," said Kenzie Gleason, the city's bicycle and pedestrian coordinator. "I think sometimes they are a little invisible to the driving public...but there's a lot of people out there who bike to work, especially in the downtown area."

The biggest payoff is less traffic congestion, Gleason said. Other programs that encourage walking and using buses also help reduce congestion. "I think the more bike-able, walkable, transit-oriented a community is going to be, the less likely people are going to be to drive," she said.

Fewer motorists and less congestion makes cities "more economically viable," Gleason continued. "If you look around the country at the greatest walkable, bike-able cities, they are also some of the most livable cities...and they attract and retain young professionals and businesses." (Read more.)
Yes! A really great story on bike commuting, for two reasons:
- Number 1: It emphasizes the fun of bike commuting, not just the fuel savings, eco-benefits, health enhancement. These days, we need more fun, clearly. And also more social interaction, engagement, connection, understanding--which commuting on a bicycle facilitates.
- Number 2: Bike-friendly communities are more economically competitive, attracting creative individuals and firms.

This article also includes an interesting video featuring engineer Dan Dickinson, who is an outstanding spokesperson for bicycle commuting, suggesting how addictive bike commuting is, how cars become constrictive, how great the benefits are.

Image: Lexington Herald-Leader. Dan Dickinson on his morning commute to work. He rides rain or shine for the joy of it.
Visit: Bike rack instructional video brings the groove (Louisville), Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: National magazine cites Louisville for bicycling, Bicycling
Visit: Americans learn bikes cut costs and improve fitness, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site
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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Vallejo: Medical professionals endorse bicycling

Al Zampa Memorial Bridge bike path
From the Vallejo Times-Herald (CA), 05.23.08:

Vallejo doctor sets example by taking two wheels to work
(Podiatrist) Gray Williams may be slightly ahead of the curve. As gas prices and environmental concerns rise, more people will likely consider bike-commuting, but the 43-year-old married father of six has already been doing it regularly for five years. He said he's done it exclusively for more than a year, rain or shine.

"It keeps me in shape," Williams said. "It keeps me from having to buy a new car...and it's better for the environment." It also helps relieve stress, he said. The Vallejo resident said he knows of about a half-dozen colleagues who also bike-commute, some from as far away as Benicia and Napa.

"I ride my bike to work two or three times a week," said Napa resident and Kaiser Vallejo surgeon Jay Isaacson, 38. "I like to ride bikes, it keeps me in shape, and now, with the price of gas, it's an easy choice."

Williams said he doesn't know if bike-commuting is a growing phenomenon, but said that if it isn't, it should be...Vallejo is as well-suited for bike-commuting as any city, and becoming more so all the time..."The weather is great, it doesn't rain much or get too hot too often. And there's a bike lane from Admiral Callaghan Lane and Columbus Parkway, along the freeway to Hiddenbrooke Parkway," he said. (Read more.)
In Northern California bicycling circles, Vallejo is a notable Bay Area city. It's the northern side of the recently completed Al Zampa Memorial Bridge, which crosses the Carquinez Strait. For years there was no bicycling or pedestrian access across this waterway, until the bike/ped path opened on the new span. This two-third of a mile gap was one of the last remaining on the San Francisco Bay Trail which circles the entire Bay Area.

Image: Web capture. Al Zampa Memorial Bridge bike path, Vallejo, California.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site
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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bike to Work 2008 garners big press

Communities all over the U.S. celebrated Bike to Work Day last week, and fuel price refugees and bicycling enthusiasts turned out in apparent great numbers. In San Francisco, for instance, city traffic officials counted twice as many bikes (812) as cars (403) were counted Market Street at Van Ness Avenue from 8 to 9 a.m. Bicyclists frequently outnumber vehicles on Market Street, but this year's BTWD turnout was very impressive.

Journalists and other content providers couldn't help but notice the increase in bicycling. Stories have appeared in countless outlets, too numerous to detail. So here's a summary, by my subjective categorization:

Bike Advocates Celebrate and Speak Out
- May 16 is Bike to Work Day, Democracy Now
- San Francisco Celebrates its 14th Annual Bike to Work Day, Voice of America
- National Bike-to-Work Day set Friday, Fairfield Ledger (Fairfield, IA)
- Chico: bike-friendly, bike-dedicated, Enterprise-Record (Chico, CA)
- With gas rising towards $4, bikers hoping for a boom, Boston Globe
- More cyclists commuting to work, WLS-TV (Chicago, IL)
- Campus Commuters Turning to Bicycling, Daily Californian (Berkeley)

High Gas Prices Increase Appeal of Bicycles
- High Gas Prices Aren't Creating More Bikers, (Dallas)
- Forget gas prices, ride a bike, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, CA)
- Pedal past the pumps: A new attitude--biking around town, Chico Enterprise-Record (Chico, CA)
- Fuel prices increase; so do bicycles, Homer News (Homer, AK)
- Commuting by bike to save gas, KTKA-TV (Topeka, KS)
- Bike Sales Up As Pain At The Pump Increases, WHAG-TV (Hagerstown, MD)

Enthusiastic Bicyclists Praise Pedaling
- She's got a ticket to ride--to work, San Jose Mercury News
- More people are biking to work, Canton Repository (Canton, OH)
- Orem family uses bikes to get around, Orem Herald (Provo, UT)
- Two-Wheeled Warriors, Nantucket Independendent (MA)
- A bicycle built for you, Delmarva Daily Times (MD)
- On a bike for two years, through sun, snow and trouble, and no good reason to stop, Pioneer Press (St. Paul, MN)
- How to share the road: A guide for cyclists, drivers, Seattle Times
- Biking to work lures aficionados, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Cities Struggle to Improve Conditions for Bicycling
- Area cyclists ask for better ways to ride rails, buses, Houston Chronicle
- We Need To Do More To Become "Bicycle-Friendly", Hartford Courant (CT)
- Build a better future and have some fun during Bike Month, San Jose Mercury News
- Bike to Work Day gaining strength in Norman, (Oklahoma City, OK)
- Bike to Work Day observed, Toledo Free Press

Advice Offered to Prospective Bicyclists
- Embrace biking to work, Sheboygan Press (Sheboygan, WI)
- Pedal Prudence, Altoona Mirror (Altoona, PA)
- Five Ways To Make Bike Commuting Easy,
- Reasons to ride, Huntington Herald-Dispatch (WV)

Bike Commuting Spreads the Joy
- Bike to Work Day is first for county, Baltimore Sun
- Bikes rule, planet cools, Baltimore Sun

Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Indianapolis: Editorial encourages bike commuting

Image of Indianapolis Cultural Trail rendering
From the Indianapolis Star, 05.17.08:

Hardy commuters show reach of pedal power
Our position: Encouraging bicycling would be a sound investment in the city’s quality of life.

Want to save hundreds of dollars a year, get yourself in better physical condition and bestow the gift of cleaner air on your neighbors?

It's easy. Ride a bike to work and other destinations, and move out of Indianapolis.

We're kidding. It's not easy. And while it's certainly not reason enough to forsake this fine city, bicycling is especially not easy in Indianapolis.

Friday's annual Bike to Work Day was an occasion to remind ourselves that the mecca of motor sports is far back in the pack when it comes to promoting self-propelled transportation.

Tied with four other cities for the nation's second worst rate of bicycle commuting, Indy has about five miles of designated bike lanes among its 3,000 miles of roadways. More are planned by city government, provided federal funds can be obtained; but there's no soft-pedaling the fact that those who choose to defy $4 gasoline prices via healthful means of mobility will have to work at it--and risk danger with their hardship. (Read more.)
This editorial frankly acknowledges Indianapolis' relatively dismal bicycling environment, and hails the city's efforts to foster more bike commuting, which will include several privately-funded trail projects.

Image: Indianapolis Cultural Trail.
Visit: Indiana Bicycle Coalition
Visit City planning more bike lanes, (Indianapolis)
Visit: Give it a go, Indy: Bike to Work Day is Friday, Indianapolis Star
Visit: Commuters hit trails for Bike to Work Day, (Indianapolis)
Visit: Bike to Work Day Gets Takers in Gas Crunch,
Visit: A new spin on commuting, Indianapolis Star
Visit: Hoosiers urged to bike to work, Indianapolis Star
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Pedal power beats $4 a gallon

Jim Borgman cartoon on bicycling
From the Milford Daily News, 05.18.08:

For someone with a daily commute of nearly 20 miles, Kevin Backhouse has an interesting problem. He doesn't have a car - he doesn't even have a license - yet he somehow manages to travel the 17-1/2 miles from his Beacon Hill home to his job as a software engineer at the MathWorks in Natick. He doesn't carpool, wouldn't dare hitchhike and only occasionally rides the train.

So how does he do it?

For Backhouse, and a growing number of commuters, the daily drive is all about pedal power. Backhouse...rides to work virtually every day, even through the winter months. The only days he takes off, he says, are when it rains. (Read more.)
Interesting article from the Boston suburbs, about the growing popularity of bicycle commuting in the region: MassBike's commuting workshops are drawing crowds, more shoppers are using bikes, bike shops are busy, and more employers are encouraging bike commuters. For instance, MathWorks featured in this article offers on-site showers and secure bike storage for employees.

Image: Jim Borgman/Cincinnati Enquirer.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bicycle as tool for planetary salvation

Image of bicyclist and friend in Amsterdam
From, 05.14.08:

Pedaling Toward Cleaner Cities
WASHINGTON--What single silver bullet can simultaneously reduce air pollution and oil dependency, roll back urban congestion, and fight obesity?

It’s not a pill, nor a complicated formula concocted by the World Bank. People around the world are turning to bicycles by the millions, as governments rush to create incentives for the low-tech transport alternative to gas-glugging, smog-making, traffic jam-producing automobiles.

Some 130 million bikes were produced worldwide in 2007--more than double the number of cars rolling off assembly lines (52 million). Bike production took off in the 1970s, and after a brief dip, has been soaring since 2001, according to an ”Eco-Economy Indicators” report issued Monday by the Earth Policy Institute. (Read more.)
It's National Bike Month, featuring Bike to Work promotional events in many communities across the U.S. It's highly likely your local media outlet has already featured stories on bicycling's appeal to gas price refugees (Phoenix, AZ); editorials by bicycling enthusiasts (Marin, CA); personal accounts by bicycling reporters (Billings, MT); politicians making their annual ceremonial bike ride, (Milwaukee, WI); bike shops boasting record sales (Naples, FL); more articles about giddy bicycle retailers (Lancaster, PA); tips for prospective bike commuters (Roanoke, VA)...even your faithful Bike Commute Tips blogger featured in USA Today. The articles are coming faster than a blogger with a demanding job can process. Bikes are hot!

However, this hopeful essay on a modest progressive website might be overlooked. It describes bicycling infrastructure enhancements in cities around the planet, in both developed and developing countries. It also details initiatives to introduce Paris Velib'-style bike sharing programs in many cities. And of course it describes how the U.S. is lagging behind the rest of the world in bicycling activity.

The Earth Policy Institute report cited in this article is particularly noteworthy. Bicycle production has dramatically increased in the past three decades (including a significant share of electric bicycles.)

Truly, this year's National Bike Month is a heady one for bicycle enthusiasts. Might we finally have a favorable tailwind?

Image: Web capture.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site
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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Why do you bicycle to work?

Image of bicycle commuters
From the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Greenversations:

To bike or not to bike--that is the question… It’s National Bike Week! Biking is healthy, it prevents air pollution, and it can even save you money (filled your tank recently?). So why aren’t you biking to work? Need more bike paths? Different policies from your employer? Government sponsorship or policies? Or are you just a couch potato?

Why are you or aren’t you biking to work? If you ARE biking, tell us about your route and experiences!
Wednesday is Bike to Work day in my community; many other communities across the U.S. are also sponsoring bicycling promotion activities as part of National Bike Month. And here is an opportunity to comment on the EPA website about your enthusiasm for bicycling. Maybe if they get an overwhelming response it might cause some shift in our petroleum-marinated government...OK, I'm not that naïve. But still, consider leaving a comment. It can't hurt, right?

Image: Web capture.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site
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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Reno: Getting started with bicycle commuting

Maryland bike commuter
From the Reno Gazette-Journal, 05.09.08:

Bike commuting 101: getting started
Dan Brown, who has owned Bicycle Bananas in northwest Reno for 15 years, has been a bike aficionado since he was 11 years old. He is known among local cycling clubs for handing out good advice.

Q: If you want to start riding a bike to work and haven't ridden for years, where do you start?

A: As you drive to work, think about how far it is and take some alternative routes in your vehicle. Find streets that are quieter or less traveled. Make your first attempt to ride to work on a day off. Take your time and explore. See how far it is, where the potholes are and the bad traffic points. Get a map and look at the routes...

Q: What can you expect to spend?

A: A new bike in a bike shop goes for $250 to $300 and up. At any bike shop, the real value is we do free tune-ups for a year. A tune-up at the end of the year would take you through the second year. At any bike shop, you can get help with tires, bikes and test ride them to find out what's best for you...

Q: How much can people expect to save?

A: For your health, it's incalculable. Buy a $300 bicycle and it might save you $100,000 in medical bills down the road. Or try a little walking.

Q: Do you have to wear spandex?

A: Absolutely not. (Read more.)
With Bike to Work Day approaching in many communities, articles on bike commuting are proliferating in many local publications. This interview is a great quick introduction to prospective bike commuters.

It's part of a series of articles in the Reno Gazette-Journal looking at green transportation options in the face of high summer gas prices. One article, High gas prices translate to increased bike sales, features this great quote: "I’m just as full of excuses like everybody else. I gave up smoking because I hated to buy cigarettes. Now I’m beginning to feel the same way about gasoline. I’m more addicted to gasoline than I was to cigarettes.”

Image: Web capture.
Visit: Bike Curious, Reno News & Review
Visit: Watch out for bike riders today, and everyday,
Visit: Nevada cyclists face tough challenge, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Hard to be crabby on a bicycle

Bikes not bombs stickers
From the La Crosse Tribune (Wisconsin), 05.10.08:

Commuting bikers discover the freedom of two wheels
The American dream is intimately rooted to having a car, Eric Wheeler said this week, his bicycle locked up outside a coffee shop.

The car has made the suburbs possible. Culturally, it’s connected to our ideas of freedom (we can go from coast to coast in a car), individualism (by ourselves) and the open road (with our music blaring). And so maybe bicycling will never be part of daily life here as it is in China or the Netherlands.

Even Wheeler, who said he cycles 2,500 miles a year, drives. But he also cycles. And while his reasons for doing so include health and a concern for the environment, his main reason perhaps is to get a better idea about what could motivate others to ride on two wheels. “The bottom line is I enjoy it,” Wheeler said. “I’m not doing this to be righteous or crusading.”

Karolanne Hoffman, who generally cycles to her job at Dairyland Power once or twice a week, said she feels more a part of the community on her bicycle than in her car. “You can get crabby when you’re in traffic and when you get to work, you still have that bad feeling,” said Hoffman, one of the organizers of Bike to Work Week. “It’s really hard to be crabby on a bicycle.” (Read more.)
Report from Wisconsin on bicycling promotion in small-town America, in this case the successful Coulee Bike to Work Week. I just enjoyed the quote. I'm a bike commuter who isn't ready to concede the automotive fiction of cars as tools of freedom, independence and adventure.

Image: Web capture.
Visit: Zen and the Art of Bike Commuting, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site
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Monday, May 05, 2008

New York: Combat in the bike lane

Image of bike lane in New York City, crowded by vans and buses
From the New York Times, 05.04.08:

Bike Lanes, Intended for Safety, Become Traffic Battlegrounds
On streets clogged by pollution-emitting cars, buses and trucks, New York City’s quest to establish reasonably safe cycling paths by adding to its roughly 300 miles of bicycle lanes has been welcomed by cyclists. But the lanes are often battlegrounds between cyclists and drivers who seem undeterred by the clearly demarcated paths.

Although city regulations forbid cars from blocking bike lanes--a violation that carries a $115 fine--those rules are routinely ignored by drivers who use the lanes as parking spots, loading zones and places to pick up passengers. Such maneuvers have enraged cyclists who say they are unlawful, rude and dangerous.

Some bicyclists have resorted to inventive means to discourage the incursions...At a bike lane on Hudson Street near Christopher Street, one rider placed a cardboard stencil on the pavement, and others covered it with white spray paint. When they lifted the stencil an image of an automobile bisected by a diagonal line was left behind.

“I want to remind drivers that it is not all right to be in bike lanes,” said Barbara Ross, 44, a human resources manager, who lives on the Lower East Side and has been a volunteer for Times Up!, an environmental group that promotes nonpolluting transportation. “A lot of drivers don’t think twice about parking in a bike lane because no one tells them not to.”

While painting messages on public streets is illegal, Ms. Ross and her companions said that they meant their markings as a service. Most bike lanes in New York are separated from cars only by stripes of white paint, they said, and additional reminders are likely to help cyclists and, maybe, yield more respect from drivers. (Read more.)
Comprehensive article from New York, where the city is experimenting with painted buffers, green paint, stencils, and separators in an attempt to keep motorists out of bike lanes. The city plans to continue creating an additional 200 miles of bike lanes to its existing network, and the struggle for space looks likely to intensify.

Especially with selfish and inconsiderate motorists, like the driver in a Land Cruiser SUV parked in a bike lane, who told the New York Times that she rarely paid attention to bike lanes. “I have other things on my mind,” she said. “This is the city. Bike lanes belong in parks.”

Image: New York Times/Robert Stolarik.
Visit:NYC Officials Talk Up Bike Month, Streetsblog
Visit: New York bicycle commuters face uphill climb, Los Angeles Times
Visit: New York Times: Portland acts to protect cyclists, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: More bicyclists in New York City, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Why I Ride: Bicycling in New York, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site
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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Alabama: Lonely bike-commuting parent

Scott Infanger picks up his daughter, Elizabeth, from Kilby School in Florence, and they bicycle home
From the Times-Daily (Florence, AL), 05.02.08:

Father takes to bike to save gas
FLORENCE--Children sat on the sidewalk and waited patiently for their parents to pick them up after school on a recent sunny Friday afternoon. SUVs and minivans circled around the parking lot at Kilby School, and parents darted back and forth to collect their children and buckle them in for the ride home.

With one exception.

Scott Infanger walked over from his nearby office at the University of North Alabama, greeted his 7-year-old daughter and unlocked the family trail-a-bike, a tandem bike with a junior seat. Dad and daughter, in reflective vests, cycled away as her classmates looked on. About 11 minutes later, they arrived home.

With gas prices hitting record highs, what's a family to do? In Infanger's case, leave the minivan at home and take to the road on his bicycle...By commuting to work by bicycle, Infanger combines saving money with exercise.

"If you're filling up your gas tank about $100 a week, you've bought a good bike in a week," he said...(Infanger) now wants to pass the biking habit to his children. "I wanted to teach my kids at an early age that biking is a legitimate form of transportation," he said. (Read more.)
Inspiring article from Alabama, where very few people commute by bicycle--less than 2,000 in the entire state. This story profiles a Spanish professor at a local university, who is one of only 10 people in his community who bike commutes. There are no bike lanes, few bike racks, few other cyclists. I can only admire Scott Infanger's persistence; a true bike commuting hero. This is the kind of article that makes more fortunate bike commuters like myself grateful for the supportive bicycle-friendly communities we enjoy.

Image: Times Daily.Scott Infanger with his daughter in Florence, AL.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site
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Two-wheeled liberation from gas pump bondage

Signe Wilkinson cartoon on bicycle lanes
From the Richmond Times-Dispatch (Virginia) 05.02.08:

Stay a slave to gas prices, or switch gears and ride a bike
Each morning, Sam Perry dons a helmet, hops on his bicycle and pedals 4 miles from his home to his job at a software company near Broad Street and Parham road. "Part of it is my own health initiative," (Perry) said, "and part of it is having one less car on the road."

With motor vehicles polluting, the planet warming and the price of gas approaching $4 a gallon, wouldn't we all benefit from fewer cars on the road? "Unfortunately, it takes a price like we're seeing today to lead people to seek alternative transportation," said Perry's wife, Kimberly Perry, executive director of the Lakeside-based BikeWalk Virginia...

It's clear we need to switch gears and look beyond the automobile and gas pump for our transportation solutions. (Read more.)
Encouraging article from Virginia, featuring supportive comments from state officials at the kick-off event for National Bike Month.

Image: Signe Wilkinson/Philadelphia Daily News.
Visit: Possible $4 a gallon gas helps cycling to work look good, Pantagraph (Bloomington, IL)
Visit: Enlightened opinion from Virginia, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: I want to ride my bicycle, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site

Sacramento: May means bicycling

Kimberlee Carroll commutes home Wednesday from work at Paratransit on Florin Road, Sacramento
From the Sacramento Bee, 05.01.08:

Soaring fuel prices nudge more commuters to pump bike pedals, not gas
Talk all you want about carbon footprints. Save the planet? A noble sentiment, indeed, but saving hard-earned cash was the bigger concern for Raymond McCarty when he ditched his diesel-guzzling truck and a month ago began pedaling his bike to and from work.

The price of diesel fuel is reaching new heights, and any day now, regular grade gasoline also could surpass $4 a gallon. For McCarty and others, that's a persuasive incentive to abandon the modern convenience of driving an automobile in favor of pedaling a bicycle.

"Maybe I'm doing a little to save the planet when I recycle a few aluminum cans. But if you think I'm bicycling to save the planet--no, I'm not that kind of person," said McCarty who pedals nearly nine miles from his Orangevale home to his employer's warehouse in Rancho Cordova. When he saw that he could be saving about $150 a month by cutting down on fuel for his truck, that's when he decided it was time to start biking.

"I'm primarily doing it for my wallet. Secondarily, I'm doing it for my health (his legs are more toned and stronger). Thirdly, I could say I'm doing it for my planet."

On the first day of this year's "May is Bike Month" campaign, bicycle advocates hope to exploit the high cost at the pump – any reason, really – to get more folks pumping on their bicycle pedals.

"When there are large disincentives to drive, like high gas prices, people make decisions based on their pocketbooks," said Walt Seifert, executive director of Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates. "I do hope the higher gas prices change the behavior of people so they will use public transit, use bicycles or choose to walk. If they do that, not only will the environment benefit, but people will be fitter and healthier." (Read more.)
Last year's Bike Commute Month in Sacramento attracted more than 4,500 bicyclists, who reported pedaling nearly 927,000 miles as part of the region's challenge event. Sacramento is an under-estimated bicycling city. It has a great network of shaded bike routes in the central city; bicycle-friendly multimodal transit; bike-friendly intercity passenger rail service; and one of the country's premier bicycling facilities, the American River Bike Path.

Image: Sacramento Bee.
Visit: Editorial: A Timely Bike Month, Sacramento Bee
Visit: Sacramento celebrates bicycling, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Sacramento: Cycle City?, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Biking Journalist: Interview with Blair Robertson, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site
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