Monthly Archives: February 2014

How To Ride A Bike In The City

By Micheline Maynard
I’ve been getting to know the streets of Phoenix, figuring out where it’s safe to ride and the streets to avoid. It got me thinking that since I’ve never had a class in how to ride in a city, I ought to look for some help online.

Here’s a video from GristTV that’s informative and entertaining. It’s a great one to watch if you haven’t been on a bike in a while, or you aren’t used to urban cycling. (Bike sharing participants, that could mean you.)

Let us know if you have some urban riding tips to go with these.

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Filed under bicycling, bike sharing, cities

In Chicago, A Look At Divvy’s First Year — And A Contest

Divvy Bikes in Chicago.

Divvy Bikes in Chicago.

By Micheline Maynard

Although New York’s Citi Bikes grabbed most of the bike share spotlight in 2013, Chicago’s Divvy bike share system racked up some pretty significant numbers during its first year.

The city released a flood of data earlier in February, and cyclists in Chicago are pouring over it to see what kind of patterns are emerging. Chicago Streetsblog is doing a great job dissecting the statistics.

One of them is pretty significant. Women hold 31 percent of annual Divvy memberships, but only took 21 percent of trips last year. Nationally, women make up about 43 percent of bike share users. What’s keeping Chicago women from getting on Divvy bikes?

Meanwhile, the numbers show that annual members make up 47 percent of Divvy trips, with non-members taking the majority of trips. Last year, During the 187 days of service in 2013, users made 759,788 trips.

But, Divvy members tend to ride bikes longer when they check them out. Continue reading

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Filed under bicycling, bike sharing, cities

Bike Lanes In Phoenix Are Easier To Spot

Phoenix is updating its bike lanes as part of a federal grant.

Phoenix is updating its bike lanes as part of a federal grant.

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Filed under bicycling, cities, infrastructure

Can Trains Go Farther In Michigan?

Where the tracks are.

Where the tracks are.

By Matthew Varcak

Michigan is seemingly divided into two unequal sections, and that doesn’t just mean the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. When it comes to passenger rail service, the bottom half of the Lower Peninsula is serviced by three major corridors, while the rest of the state has none.

But plans are in the works for passenger rail service to reach one northern tourist destination – Traverse City.

While navigating the southern part of the state is fairly simple with the available trains, buses and taxis, the northern half is virtually inaccessible without a personal vehicle or plane. There are few alternatives besides a once-daily bus which departs from Kalamazoo heading north and includes several stops (namely Traverse City) before ending in Sault Ste. Marie, located on the Canadian border.

The lack of passenger rail to the northern half of Michigan will soon change, as the state looks to expand its light rail service.

 “We could possibly have a passenger rail to Traverse City under way in the next five to six years,” said Nick Schirripa, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Transportation. “It may happen sooner.” Continue reading

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Filed under cities, public transportation, Rail, urban planning

A Stat To Ponder: Millennials And Driving

Central Michigan University is redesigning its campus, as millennials rethink their use of cars.

Central Michigan University is redesigning its campus, as millennials rethink their use of cars.

By Micheline Maynard

US PIRG, the advocacy group that has been studying the decline in driving, sent us a copy of their latest study. It looks at the role that universities are playing in creating more-walkable communities, and reducing their dependence on automobiles.

“Americans aged 16 to 34 years of age reduced their annual driving miles by 23 percent per person between 2001 and 2009, according to research based on the most recent data from the Federal Highway Administration that is included in the study.”

Granted, the numbers are a little old (2009 was five years ago, believe it or not) but that’s a pretty stunning figure. It’s the millennial generation that car companies are expecting to fill in behind the baby boomers in car purchases. And if millennials are driving less, it’s less likely that they’ll be interested in car ownership, or at least at the rate that their parents owned cars.

The report itself is worth a read. It looks at how universities are providing a wider range of transportation choices. These include buses, biking, various types of vehicle-sharing such as Zipcar, and apps that make it easier to navigate the options.

One of the benefits is that universities don’t have to invest in increasingly expensive parking facilities. In fact, a number of universities are finding ways to keep students from bringing cars to campus at all. Continue reading

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Filed under Driving, student stories

The Results Are In! How You Told Us You’re Getting Around In 2014

More than any other mode of transportation, our Curbing Cars readers get around by walking.

More than any other mode of transportation, our Curbing Cars readers get around by walking.

By Micheline Maynard

Back on New Year’s Day (a mere month and three days ago), we asked our Curbing Cars audience to tell us how you planned to get around in 2014. We got a terrific response and now we’re sharing the results with you.

We’re ambulatory. Most of us still use cars, but not as much as we use other types of transportation in the mix of the ways we get places. The number one way Curbing Cars readers get around is on two feet. Almost 80 percent of respondents say they get around most frequently by walking. That was followed by public transportation, used by 69.7 percent; cars, used by 58.1 percent and other modes of transportation, which included running, Zipcars or car sharing programs, and taxis.

Several people told us that they use of a mix of transportation in a single day. “I walk to work every day, bus in bad weather, bike for some errands in spring/summer/fall. use my car mainly for weekend shopping and for getting out of town,” replied one survey participant.

In fact, I’m doing more walking this winter in Phoenix, where I’m a Reynolds Visiting Professor of Business Journalism at the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State. I walk to school every day from my home downtown, and I’ve walked to the farmer’s market, the movies, to drinks and dinner, and to the Phoenix Opera in the month since I’ve been here. Even though I walked frequently in Ann Arbor, I am doing even more daily walking here. (And of course, the weather is much better…)

We’re pleased with our choices. People seem to be pretty satisfied with the mix of the ways they get places. About 60 percent of you said you were happy with your transportation mix. About 24 percent said they’d like to change it, and the rest said they would like to change it, but couldn’t for various reasons. Continue reading

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Filed under bicycling, bike sharing, car sharing, cars, Curbing Cars, Driving, Poll, public transportation, Uncategorized, walking

Bike Share Review: San Antonio Adventures

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The sunny south River Walk and a happy B-cycle rider. (Photo: Maryellen Tighe)

By Maryellen Tighe

My girlfriend and I visited San Antonio for a weekend in October. Both of us are frequent bicyclists. Missing our usual morning rides, we decided to try the San Antonio B-Cycle program.

We were impressed on Friday night by the number of bicyclists we saw near where we were staying. There were bike lanes by all the bars we visited, and full bike racks.

Saturday morning, we picked up our bikes from a B-cycle station near the southern extension of the San Antonio River Walk, on East Cesar E. Chavez Blvd. It was $10 for as many 30 minute rides as you could take in one day.

The heavy bikes have three speeds and rear brakes. Word to the wise: don’t carry them up stairs unless you have to.  The basket was perfect for carrying snacks, cameras and water. I was unaccustomed to riding with weight in front, but it was a quick balancing act to solve. Continue reading

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Filed under Bike Share Review, bike sharing, Travel