I’ll bet you’ve notice more people commuting to work by bicycle over the past few years.
I just moved away from one of America’s best cities for bicycle commutes — Ann Arbor, Mich. — but I now live next to another one of the best, Tempe, Ariz. They’ve both college towns and that seems to be an attribute of many of the nation’s leading bicycling cities.
Take a look at this wonderful Bloomberg graphic on the top places where people get to work on two wheels. Is your town on it? What will it take to land your town on it?
From Tucson to Kansas City, Denver to Detroit, it’s been a busy summer for transportation news.
Here, in our inaugural Curbing Cars podcast, Mark Remillard and I look at some of the stories he’s covered. They include:
Tucson’s new light-rail system, the Sun Link.
The Denver-based study showing that more bikes can actually be good for city safety.
The challenge posed to cities by parking craters.
Take a listen, and share it with your friends.
Would you like to hear more episodes of the Curbing Cars Podcast? Take our survey.
Google Maps has taken to documenting much of the world’s roads, and even some more ambitious routes such as the Grand Canyon, but Cyclodeo is the first to begin documenting the world’s bike paths.
I particularly like the Golden Gate Bridge video, what a spectacular ride it would be. Explore the rest of San Francisco via bicycle here.
Cylodeo allows users to explore bike paths from their computer such the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. One city at a time, Cylodeo has gone about filming and routing bike paths in about seven cities in Europe and the United States.
A virtual map allows users to choose paths from a bird’s eye view, then view the route through first-hand video. Handy statistics are also available including the time it takes to ride a route, average speed and distance. Continue reading
Getting into the spirit of biking might be as easy as turning on your smartphone. An organization called My City Bikes has now launched 14 different smartphone apps all aimed at providing a simple and user-friendly tool for bicyclists.
Courtesy of MyCityBikes.org
Sara Villalobos with My City Bikes said the goal of the project is to make bicycling accessible to everyone in each city they create an app for.
“Biking is a simple pleasure (and) it’s something that almost everyone learns how to do in childhood,” she told me in an interview for KTAR in Phoenix. “But especially as we grow into adults a lot of people get away from it and it’s such a simple activity, but it can have such a profound, great effect on one’s own health and also on the community overall.”
Villalobos said they partnered with local bike shops in each city to create a comprehensive application for users that provides information such as routes, local repair shops and beginner bike tips.
“It’s a place where you can find trails throughout the city and in and around the area,” she said, “as well as road routes that you can get commuter bikes lanes, where you can bike safely from here to there and get to school or get to work on your bike.”
In places such as Phoenix, where hot and arid climates present health risks to riders, Villalobos said a useful tool in the application is a heat monitor to help people keep track of how much water they should be drinking based on the current temperature and how much they’re exercising.
The app is available for free on Android and Apple smartphones.
To find out if My City Bikes has an app in your area, visit MyCityBikes.org
Who says only motorists can show up in style? Valets are no longer only for cars. They are becoming an increasingly popular method of accommodating bicyclists at large events.
Here are just a few of the places where cyclists can show up and check their bikes.
- St. Louis has taken the luxury, convenience and style of car valets and offered the service for bicyclists heading to the state fair over Independence Day weekend. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes the service is like a coat check for cycles: “A fairgoer can hand over his or her bike to a valet, get a claim ticket and the valet will watch the bike until the owner picks it up.” Its all part of a plan to encourage alternative transportation and while it might not seem like an essential commodity, bike valets certainly beat the $30 cost of parking at the event.
- In Oregon, the Center for Appropriate Transportation provides bike valet service for various events. The system uses volunteers to park bikes and set up the parking area. At large events where parking prices can be at a premium, organizations such as the Center for Appropriate Transportation costs only between $140-$450 a day to run its bike valet service at events. Beside the convenience of having a valet, the constantly monitored parking also provides an added level of security for bicyclists who might be concerned about leaving their bike somewhere.
- Portland is also home to the largest daily bike valet service in the United States. It is free and runs five days a week for commuters. Besides adding security and convenience, Go By Park provides bike repairs that can be performed while commuters are away.
Boulder Bike Story from Bikes Belong on Vimeo.
As biking continues to grow in popularity, a new report is adding to the list of reasons why cities should step up their efforts to accommodate cyclists. Researchers at the University of Colorado Denver found that as more bikes hit the streets the number of collisions goes down.
The study focused on Boulder, Colo., because of its high biking population and because the city has been performing bike counts for more than a decade. Wesley Marshall, an assistant professor of civil engineer at CU Denver, told Curbing Cars that once intersections began seeing upwards of 200 bicyclists a day, the number of collisions began to drop.
“It’s interesting because you see the same affect with other modes of transportation too,” said Marshall, a co-author of the study. “If you have more cars going through, it is sort of safer per car.”
It may seem counter intuitive that as an intersection has more moving parts, the number of incidents would go down. While the CU Denver study did not look into the reasons why incidents were reduced, Marshall provided some possible explanations.
“If you’re in a city that has bikers everywhere, as a driver you expect to see them,” he said. Continue reading
As you can see above, getting a bike ready for airline travel can be an arduous task. Admittedly, bike-touring might not be a large cross section of the population and even David French, who is a regular bike-tourist, agreed in a recent Elliott.org article.
But since the late 1970s, when French brought his his bike along on trips to Europe, he says it has become increasingly difficult and costly for people to travel with their bikes.
Fees have increased enormously for someone bringing a bike on a plane. As Christopher Elliott writes, someone looking to bike-tour should expect to spend between $100 and $300 to check their bike as luggage.
Courtesy of Ride for Climate
When her car broke down this past March, Kayla Crawford took the advice of her boyfriend, Matt Carter, and decided to go car-free.
The dead battery on her 1999 Oldsmobile Aurora was the final straw in a long line of car problems.
“Having a car is insanely expensive,”said Crawford, who lives with Carter in Mount Pleasant, Mich., home to Central Michigan University and the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe.
With poor gas mileage and a high insurance rate ($180 per month, driving became more of a hassle than a convenience.
Two months ago, the couple received a pair of bikes from Crawford’s father, and they have not looked back.
“It is really exciting to me that I have no other option but to go out and ride my bike,” Crawford said. “It is so much healthier for me and the environment.” Continue reading
The Bixi Logo
With the bankruptcy filing of the Public Bike System Company, more commonly known as Bixi, bike sharing has been getting some stinky press as of late.
Bixi, which is based in Montreal, filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year after it was unable to make payments to suppliers and several municipalities, including New York, Chicago, and its hometown of Montreal. The implementation of bike share systems in Vancouver and Portland has been delayed because of the Bixi blunder, according to reports.
The future may seem gloomy in light of recent events, but mobility nuts shouldn’t fear: there are still several promising bike share systems that are expected to pop up across the U.S.:
1. Arborbike – Ann Arbor, Mich.
A rendering of what the Arborbikes will look like.
(Courtesy of Clean Energy Coalition)
This system is arguably long overdue. Ann Arbor is known for being an environmentally-friendly town, and its large concentration of college students makes it attractive place for a system. The Ann Arbor News reports that The Clean Energy Coalition, a local non-profit, expects to launch 14 stations in June at various locations throughout downtown and near the campus of the University of Michigan. The University has pledged to help fund the program, in addition to support from the city and the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority. Hardware for the program supplied by Wisconsin-based B-Cycle.
The CEC is hoping that area businesses will purchase memberships for their employees or patrons, and they’ve also expressed interest in allowing property owners or developers to underwrite stations around town. Continue reading
Photo courtesy of The Hubway
Many people ride bicycles for health reasons. Now, in Boston, doctors have begun prescribing bike rides to improve the health of low-income residents.
According to the Boston Globe, the city-run program, called “Prescribe-a-Bike,” allows doctors at Boston Medical Center to prescribe low-income patients with a yearlong membership to Hubway bike sharing program, for only $5.
For the $5, patients can ride bikes as many times as they want for 30 minutes or less at a time. They also will get a free helmet, said an announcement from the city and the medical center.
There are nearly 900 Boston residents are already enrolled in an existing subsidized Hubway membership. City and hospital officials are hoping the new program enrolls another 1,000 residents, the Globe said. Continue reading