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Friday, November 07, 2008

Spreading the word on bicycling

Image of Andy Clarke of the League of American Bicyclists
From Lancaster New Era (PA), 11.07.08:

Pedal power: He talks benefits of bicycles
Andy Clarke made it sound easy. As easy as riding a bicycle.

Clarke, president (sic) of the national League of American Bicyclists, made his case this morning for encouraging bicycle riding in Lancaster County.

Speaking to about 45 county and municipal planners, local police officers and bicycle advocates...Clarke promoted bicycling as a means of improving the overall health of the population, air quality and economic vitality, as well as reducing traffic congestion....Clarke gave examples of what other communities have done to encourage bicycling and receive the League's "Bicycle Friendly" designation.

Workshop planners are hoping the meeting will begin a community dialogue about steps that can be taken here. With relatively minor adjustments, communities across the country have gotten more people riding bicycles. (Clarke) pointed to Corvalis, Ore., where some streets were repainted to add bike lanes. In San Francisco, icons were painted on the roads to indicate where bicyclists should ride. In Carmel, Ind., parallel bike paths were added along some streets.

Portland, Ore., he said, is the shinning example in the United States. City officials there have worked for more than 15 years to expand gradually a bicycling transportation network...Eight percent of Portland's population now uses bicycles as its primary means of transportation. Another 10 percent of residents use bicycles as their secondary means, he said. "They're actually changing behavior," Clarke said. (Read more.)
One of the important functions of advocacy is to proselytize. Spreading the word of the worthy cause. Fresh from the passage of the Bicycle Commuter Act, the League of American Bicyclists continues to press for bicycle-friendly reform. If you aren't a member already, join. We clearly have a favorable tailwind for bicycling. Let's capitalize on this with strong advocacy at the national level.

Image: Web capture. Andy Clarke, League of American Bicyclists.
Visit: Bike Commuter Act part of Fed bailout bill, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Interview with L.A.B. President Amanda Eichstaedt, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Advocacy works for bicyclists, Bike Commute Tips Blog
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site


Anonymous said...

It is not true that "eight percent of Portland's population now uses bicycles as its primary means of transportation". What is true is that eight percent of commuters into downtown Portland primarily use a bicycle (I'm one of them). Bike percentages for commutes to places other than downtown and for non-work trips are much lower. There are a lot of jobs outside downtown and most of those aren't as easy to get to on a bike. But they're working on it.

Anonymous said...


My name is Ben, I am a 5th grade student in Los Angeles.

I am on a team competing in FIRST LEGO League, which promotes science and technology for kids. This year’s theme is Climate Connections, and our team chose to study the connections between rising temperatures and car emissions in Los Angeles. Did you know that these two things both affect each other?

Our team needed to think of a creative solution for our topic. We found that a lot of car emissions come from people who drive a long distance to work every day, such as from Palmdale or Riverside to the downtown area. These areas have commuter trains called MetroLink, and our idea is to add a rail car for bikes only. This would encourage more people to leave the car at home, and get to work with bike and train.

We were surprised to learn that MetroLink has room for only 2 bikes per train car. The other LA train system is a subway called Metro that travels shorter distances. Metro is adding bike lockers at some stations, but this means you have to buy two bikes if you really want to stop driving the car to work.

In LA and other cities, train companies do not want to remove more seats to make room for bikes, because it would reduce their income. Passenger train cars are expensive and take a long time to get. So our idea is to take older rail cars that were used for something else, and make some changes to allow bike racks and ramps to get on and off. After parking your bike in this rail car you just go sit down in a regular passenger car. Adding these simple rail cars to the commuter train would not reduce income, and might even sell more tickets from all the people that could now take their bike to work.

We made several designs of rail cars that could hold between 34 and 80 bikes. We estimate that each bikes-only rail car could reduce 408 to 960 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, if these commuters stopped driving 60 miles each way. This is based on 0.8 pounds of CO2 per mile driven.

We also researched to see if other parts of the world have tried this idea. Some cities in the US are adding more room for bikes by taking out seats, but this is going slow. Some cities in Europe have taken out most or all of the seats, with people standing next to the bikes, but this was on subways and different than our topic of long distance commuters.

If you have read all this, thank you very much, because another one of our assignments was to share our project with people who might be interested. Internet blogs are a good way for our team to try and share our work with a lot of people. Hopefully you like our idea, and please wish us luck in our competition.

If you go the the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Web site and look up Annual Emissions and Fuel Consumption for an “Average” Passenger Car or Small Truck you can see some really easy to understand information. The gaining of knowledge has helped me modify the way I think about this issue and inturn helps me change my behavior.