Category: advocacy

We’re proud to present the first of two commuter profiles from the ladies of Bike Skirt, a new blog about the trials and tribulations of commuting in Birmingham, Alabama. Our first profile is of Anna Carrigan, who demonstrates that bicycle commuting can be a very stylish way to travel:

anna

How long have you been a bike commuter?

I’ve been commuting off and on to school and various jobs for about 5 years.

Why did you start riding your bike to work and how long is your commute?

I’ve been biking to my current job for two months, but haven’t made the journey very many times. The distance is about 3.5 miles but it takes around 40 minutes owing to a massive hill/mountain, Red Mountain to be exact, in my way and various other hills that require summiting. I have to get off of my bike and walk over Red Mountain, but I hope to conquer it by bike this year! I decided to start commuting because it seemed like it would be interesting to try and a good way to get some exercise.

How does Bike Commuting help you with your lifestyle (economics, health, relationships)?

I believe the greatest thing about Bike Commuting is that I am involved in the journey from home to work in every way. I’m not just zoned out in my car speeding along the expressway to get to work on time, but I’m intentionally leaving my home much earlier that I need to, jumping on my bike, and experiencing the weather, sounds, smells, sights and the burn of my muscles as I travel to my destination. That burn is also very important to me; my health and well-being are being improved every time I ride.

I also bike to school, and the greatest thing about that I that I don’t have to pay or fight for a parking spot.

The environmental aspects are great too: lessening my carbon footprint, less dependent on oil, sticking it to big business and the man…all that mumbo jumbo.

What do you do for a living and in what city do you bike commute?

I work at a city library part-time and am going to school for a Masters in Public Health, focusing on Health Behavior. I commute in Birmingham, Alabama.

What kind(s) of bike do you have?

I have a LeMond Tourmalet and a fixed Peugeot Iseran.

lemond

peugeot

Any funny or interesting commuting story that you may want to share?

Can’t really think of anything…pretty boring commutes for me.

What do people (coworkers, friends) say when you tell them that you are a bike commuter?

My coworkers think I’m nuts for going over the mountain, and are constantly asking if I biked that day (usually it’s a no). My friends think it’s great…but also a little crazy.

route

How about bicycling advocacy? Are you active in any local or regional advocacy groups?

My friend Elisa and I are writing a blog together called BikeSkirt (bikeskirt.blogspot.com) that chronicles our various biking adventures. It’s surprising to see how many people are rooting for us and it’s so encouraging to hear of others who are also trying commute by bike. I hope we are also encouraging others to get out on their bikes more, especially women who might be reluctant because they think they can’t feel beautiful while riding. I think it’s so much more attractive to be all hot and sweaty rather than being a lazy s.o.b. sitting on my fat ass!

Elisa and I are also working with our friend Alan to start a bike co-op in Birmingham (bicicoop.org) that will be a place for affordable bike maintenance, advocacy, and community development.

Pretty much just being on a bike period in Birmingham is like advocacy because it is so rare here!

route2

Anything else that you want to share with us?

Birmingham is a great city even with the negative things about it; it has a lot of interesting places and great people that the wider world doesn’t tend to recognize. Also, because there is so much lacking in terms of infrastructure, residents all have a chance to really make a difference. You should come visit some time!

anna2

We’d like to thank Anna for sharing her profile with us…stayed tuned for part two of our Bike Skirt profiles, when we’ll introduce Elisa Munoz, the other mastermind behind this excellent new blog. In the meantime, show these gals some support by visiting their blog — a lot of good ideas and images to be had over there.

See, it IS possible to ride a bike and look gorgeous doing it — something a few of us probably knew all along, but it is great to see the word is spreading!

For Immediate Release

LAST FRIDAY OF EVERY MONTH IS “CAR-FREE FRIDAY”

First Bike Ride Jan. 30!

Advocates strive to create a more bike-able, cleaner and healthier Los Angeles County

Los Angeles, Calif. — Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) has launched a new campaign called “Car-Free Fridays” to encourage both new and experienced riders to commit to using the bicycle as a means to commute to work and to make their shorter trips by bike at least one Friday of the month.

The campaign is aimed to get more people on bikes and to highlight the global and personal benefits of riding a bicycle. To celebrate the first “Car-Free Friday,” on January 30, LACBC will host a ride, meeting at 8 a.m. at Hollywood/Western Metro Red Line Station and will head downtown, to L.A. City Hall.

Sustainable choices and transportation alternatives are a popular means of reducing our carbon footprint, reducing air pollution, staying healthy and saving money. Choosing to commute by bicycle, even on occasion, can have immediate positive results on our health and on the environment.

“Riding your bike on Car-Free Fridays is a great way to reduce your impact on the environment and get a work out at the same time,” said Council President Eric Garcetti.

“If you already ride or walk your commute, pair up with a co-worker or classmate and show them the joys of car-freedom this Friday, and every last Friday of the month. If your New Year’s resolution included reducing your carbon footprint with a human-powered commute, this is the perfect day to give it a try.” said Jen Klausner, Executive Director, LACBC.

“I started using my bike to go to the grocery store, and I noticed that I came home happier and I even saved a few bucks on gas,” says Susan Beeker, a new rider who now commutes at least three times per week on her bicycle.

“Car-Free Fridays is great idea that will encourage folks to start and continue bicycling”, comments Ron Milam, of BikeSage.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle has become a priority for many Angelenos, but it is not always easy to dedicate extra time and money to get to the gym every week.

“According to the British Heart Association, cycling at least three hours a week cuts your risk of heart disease in half compared to those who do not cycle or perform other exercise,” said Marisa K. Bell, MD Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. “Other studies have shown that exercise such as cycling can reduce levels of depression and stress and improve mood and self-esteem.”

Riding a bicycle for just 10 miles a week can save at least $520 a year, shed calories, work to reduce California’s emissions from cars and light trucks which are the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in California. It helps reduce traffic congestion which costs the regional economy $9.3 billion annually.

Founded in 1998, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) works to build a better, more bike-able Los Angeles County. LACBC is the only nonprofit, membership-supported organization working exclusively for the millions of bicyclists in Los Angeles County. Through advocacy, education and outreach, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition brings together the diverse bicycling community in a united mission to make the entire L.A. region a safe and enjoyable place to ride.

For more information please go to www.la-bike.org or contact aurisha@la-bike.org

Anyone who follows professional football knows that next weekend, Superbowl XLIII makes its appearance in Tampa. Preparations are underway throughout the city for an estimated influx of over 100000 visitors for this huge event.

Since I live right down the road from Raymond James Stadium (where the game’s going to be played) and not too far from downtown Tampa, I thought I’d take a bike trip to capture some photos of the preparations and to see if there was any evidence of bicycle accomodations for the event.

First, pictures: how about the stadium itself —
rayjay

Along Himes Avenue, what used to be open grass parking fields have been converted into a “tent city”…event tents, stages and other structures designed to house the press, numerous VIP parties and something called The NFL Experience. It’s really quite amazing to see just how much has been packed into this area:

himes

more development

Huge fences have been erected with security entrances at points along it…the NFL was thoughtful enough to cover the fencing with “no peek” banners so the non-ticketholding-riffraff can’t look in at all those celebrities in attendance:

fence

Elsewhere in Tampa, a number of displays have gone up. Downtown near the Channelside area, two art installations are available for visitors. The first is an NFL-themed interactive sculpture that was part of Tampa’s recent “Lights on Tampa“. This one is called “Tampa’s public mood ring”, as it responds with different-colored lights as the crowd responds to it. The artists were thoughtful enough to set up an online tool to help change this art piece in real time. Play with that by clicking here.

mood ring

The second art installation is located nearby the “mood ring” on a portion of Tampa’s Riverwalk. It is a series of really cool sculptures made out of welded recycled steel and each piece is meant to represent an NFL team:

sculptures
(sorry, the pictures aren’t great…I’m no Russ Roca!)

Just down the street, construction crews have put the finishing touches on the brand-new Tampa Bay History Center, which is a breathtaking building. They had their grand opening last weekend and hope to be 100% operational by the time all those tourists and celebrities make their way into town.

history center

So…what does any of this have to do with bicycles? Good question. As many of you might have heard or read about, the recent inauguration in Washington D.C. saw thousands of cyclists take advantage of the free bike valet parking, courtesy of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA). These folks did a tremendous job in orchestrating this, and with large parts of the city closed to motorists, bicycles made a LOT of sense to get around on.

What about Tampa and the Superbowl? Well, it’s like this: NO ONE I’ve spoken to and nowhere have I heard about or read ANYTHING about any bicycle accomodations for this huge event. There are going to be massive street closures (some of which are listed by clicking here) and because some of the road closures are major avenues through the city, I fear that gridlock is going to spill out into surrounding areas. I’ve got a couple theories about bicycles and the Superbowl, though:

1. If you can afford a ticket to the game or one of the exclusive VIP parties, you wouldn’t be caught dead tooling around town on a bike!
2. They can’t accomodate bikes at this event because they needed the room to park all the limousines, team vehicles, broadcast trucks and celebrity Hummers.
3. The most plausible: Tampa just doesn’t get it. Bikes? Those are for recreation, not transportation!

Anyhow, things should get interesting around here. I’ve got next weekend off, so I am strongly considering putting my pirate flag on the Xtracycle and wading into gridlock over in the stadium area…passing out “Gas Sucks” stickers and showing folks caught in traffic that there IS a worthwhile alternative to burning gas. I think I’ll check out that NFL Experience, too!

Who knows? I might bump into Diddy or Carmen Electra heading to one of those exclusive parties.

Many of you have probably read about the “LightLane” concept dreamed up by the fertile minds at Altitude, Inc. of Somerville, Massachusetts. The concept has been covered on a wide variety of cycling and design blogs, but there wasn’t a whole lot of information included.

lightlane

As a professional librarian, the quest for more information is near and dear to my heart, so I sent the designers, Evan Gant and Alex Tee, an email. Here’s what Evan had to say about the concept:

Thank you for showing interest in our LightLane concept. We are extremely excited about the response it has been receiving, which has spurred us to continue down the development path. The origin of the idea was purely conceptual, as Alex and I had entered a design competition to promote commuting by bicycle (editor’s note: the design competition was Bicycle Design’s excellent “Commuter Bike for the Masses” contest). Having witnessed several friends be hit by cars while in traffic, we felt the intimidation of sharing the road was one of the bigger barriers to commuting by bicycle.

However, we also noticed that our personal comfort on roads with bicycle lanes was much improved so we set out to understand what the differences were between these two situations. Clearly one of the biggest benefits of bicycle lanes is that there is an established common boundary that both drivers and riders respect and must stay within. However, this requires a great deal of resources and planning to implement, so we decided to focus on the fact that the bicycle lane establishes a safety buffer outside of the bicycle’s footprint.

After experimenting with physical ways of increasing the perceived size of the bicycle, we quickly realized all of these would compromise the rider’s safety by increasing the probability of accidental clipping. It was at this point that we decided to project a visual boundary onto the adjacent pavement using a laser. Although it doesn’t establish a clear and predictable path for a rider to follow, it does encourage a driver to provide the rider with a wider berth by capturing their attention in a different way.

Currently we are building a beta prototype where we will be experimenting with different laser colors and orientations. Once the optimal laser configuration has been established and validated, we will quickly develop a fully functional unit where we will focus our efforts on several aspects of usability including theft prevention, cleanability and corrosion resistance. Concurrently we will be looking for manufacturing and distribution partners.

It’s been truly remarkable to see the excitement that this concept has generated, especially considering it was just a fun quirky idea to begin with. What’s been equally interesting in my opinion is to see how the product has pushed the debate of who owns the roads. This well established debate has been a common point of discussion within my own family, and clearly the LightLane, nor any product, will solve it. Instead we hope that it connects with people in a new and fun way.

Thanks, Evan, for responding — there have been lots of great comments on the various sites that covered this concept, including different laser colors (green lasers for more daytime visibility) and even aiming the lasers into following motorists’ eyes (not such a good idea). Let’s hope this concept reaches a prototype soon, as the idea behind it is full of possibility!