BikeCommuters.com

Tag Archive: bicycle advocacy

A new ‘Golden Age’ of Bicycling?

The following article popped up in our news feed and on our Facebook page over the weekend — a Salon article interviewing bike activist and author Elly Blue on her new book Bikenomics:

It’s hard to deny that bicycles are having a moment. Last year saw New York City, Chicago, Salt Lake City and Columbus all get bike-share systems of their very own — joining Boston, London, Paris, Dublin, Moscow, Hangzhou, Montreal and many, many other cities throughout the world. Increasingly, people are talking about bikes as a replacement for cars (and even trucks), debating the best ways to design bike lanes and bike-friendly intersections, dreaming up futuristic bike paths and, above all else, taking to the streets on two wheels.

But bicycling’s recent rise to the spotlight isn’t just a passing fad, argues writer and bike activist Elly Blue. Instead, she says, growing numbers of people are beginning to recognize the tangible benefits — to themselves and to their cities — of trading in cars for self-powered transportation. And the research is backing up their experiences. Blue’s new book, “Bikenomics,” draws on a growing body of academic work, along with her own involvement with the country’s bicycle movement, to make the economic case for bicycles. As for the people who insist, in the face of such evidence, that bike commuters are a scourge on humanity? Blue maintains they’re just bitter from spending so much time stuck in traffic.

Read the rest of the article by clicking here.

I hope she’s right, that using a bike for transportation will be old news within five years…What do YOU think? Are we finally in a new “Golden Age” of bicycling? Is the pro-bicycling momentum finally self-sustaining to where more and more cities will jump onboard with infrastructure and the like? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Bike lanes vs. street parking…a “bike war” in the making?

When cities choose to sacrifice on-street car parking in retail districts to install bike lanes, a common counter-argument is that removal of such parking spaces will impact businesses in a negative way. This argument has been proven again and again to be false (one such study here).

But what about replacing parking areas in a RESIDENTIAL neighborhood? How does this impact the neighborhood and the people living there? One such fight is brewing in Alexandria, Virginia, where resident F.H. Buckley recently wrote an op-ed piece (WSJ subscription required) for the Wall Street Journal on how such a move was tantamount to “war”. Here is a thoughtful and thorough response to Buckley’s piece in the Washington Times.

How to counter that argument? It’s easy to point naysayers and skeptics toward studies showing how bike lanes don’t impact businesses (and, in fact, may IMPROVE business, as we’ve written about here). But in a residential neighborhood? That’s a good bit more difficult. People tend to be protective of where they live (sometimes irrationally; see the NIMBY phenomenon for examples).

So how do bike advocates counter this skepticism? Do bike lanes represent a “greater good” that trump personal parking concerns? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below.

Commuter Profile: Andrew Li

Editor’s note: Many of you may have seen Andrew Li’s excellent guest articles over the past couple months…well, we loved his work, and he loved doing it for us. So, we figured “why not add him to our staff?” So, welcome Andrew to the Bikecommuters.com team; in our tradition, here is his commuter profile for your reading pleasure.

Name: Andrew Li

Andrew clownbike Figure 2

How long have you been a bike commuter?

Since about 2001, I have been commuting by bike. By no means am I car-independent. I would say that about 30% of my commuting distance during these last 10 years has been by bicycle.

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

I started pretty much out of necessity, in high-school. At that point, I did not have a car. So I carpooled, walked, or biked to school. By my senior year, I realized how fast a bicycle could be, and so I adopted cycling as my primary mode of transportation all throughout college and medical school.

Currently, my standard car-free commute is 20 miles, both directions combined. My longest car-free commute was about 32 miles, again, both directions combined.

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

Bike commuting allows me to:
1. Exercise (saves me a gym membership) and get somewhere I need to get to, all at the same time.
2. Saving me money not having to buy as much gas (check out the “commuter tools” tab on bikecommuters.com to see how much you can save by biking a few miles here and there).
3. Reduce my time sitting in traffic.
4. Slow down so I can more easily see and appreciate my surroundings and be more aware of the community through which I am cycling, both the good AND the bad. “An unexamined life is not worth living.”
a. I can’t tell you how many little shops and nooks I started noticing when I biked a route that I usually drove.
b. And since I was on a bike, I was more willing to stop and explore on foot.
5. Appreciate my car more, and as such, when I must drive, I don’t get as frustrated when stuck in traffic. Fascinating cycle: I bike to avoid driving, and in the end, it makes me a better driver.
6. Value the food I eat and view it not merely for pleasure but more for its properties as a source of energy and means of improving my performance and health. I was quick to learn that a bad diet easily manifested itself in a weak and weary ride.
7. Reduce your carbon footprint.
8. Cool topic of discussion at dinner parties.

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

I am a general surgery resident, and live with my wife in Long Beach, CA. I bike from Long Beach to Torrance for my current commute.

What kind(s) of bike do you have?

My first commuter was an old Taiwanese road bike that my dad bought in the 80s at a garage sale for $20. It was my first love and a real beauty. I rode that bike for about 8 years, until it was stolen. In this photo, I am wearing a mask because Southern California during that year was having a bad firestorm, and so the smoke from the fire was pretty noticeable.

Andrew LA commute Figure 1

I had a beautiful Panasonic at one point, but we had to leave it when we moved away.

In college, a friend bequested an old Cannondale to me. However, the front wheel got stolen. So I rummaged through our engineering department and found a BMX wheel that no one needed, and the clownbike was born (see first picture above). I rode that thing for about 2 years all around campus and beyond. Amazingly good handling (small wheels mean tighter turns). It got a LOT of attention, pointing fingers, and great laughs. Riding it, you just could not help but smile and laugh. I also called it the “happy bike.” As tradition dictated, I bequested it to a friend when I graduated.

Currently I own an old Trek Antelope 830 with some simple personal modifications for my commute. Pretty robust so far.

trek commuter Figure 3

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

Some of the most interesting experiences for me were during my commute to one job I had in South Central Los Angeles (LA). The ride started in North Hollywood, and I saw the transitions from Valley suburbia, to decadent Hollywood Hills mansions, to the stark Business District and Downtown LA streets rushing with expensive cars, to South Central LA with its stretches of industrial compounds, schools with uniformed children laughing and playing behind high metal fences garnished with barbed wire, and the rattling homeless shopping carts.

One of the most powerful memories I had during that commute was biking by two homeless guys fighting over a shopping cart filled with empty soda cans and about 50 others trying to break it up. As I rode by, one of them overturned the cart, and the sound of a hundred empty soda cans crashing on concrete and my bike tires crunching over them was overwhelming.

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

They usually ask if I have ever gotten mugged before, as quite a few of my commutes have and currently go through rougher parts of town. Overall they are extremely supportive. I even converted one guy at my current work, and he is now a regular commuter.

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

I have been getting involved with bikelongbeach.org. We are trying to get RL’s mobile bike repair unit getting started in Long Beach.

Anything else that you want to share with us?

I think I have gotten more tickets cycling than driving.

Bicycle Bash 2012 returns to Tampa!

This should please a few of our Tampa Bay-area readers: the 2012 Bicycle Bash is coming to downtown Tampa after several years in St. Petersburg and a couple years out in the remote corners of Hillsborough County.

Straight from the source:

The Bicycle Bash Festival is returning to downtown Tampa in 2012.

The inaugural Bash drew thousands of bicyclists to the Tampa Bay Forum plaza in 2006 and one of the Southeast’s premier bicycle events is coming back to downtown Tampa in 2012 after three years in downtown St. Pete and two years in Hillsborough County.

Now SWFBUD wants to spread the bicycle love to Tampa.

South West Florida Bicycle United Dealers, a nationally-recognized and award-winning alliance of 9 Tampa Bay bicycle stores, puts on the annual Bicycle Bash Festival to promote bicycling as a great way of life, effective transportation and healthy lifestyle in the Tampa Bay market.

Read the full press release by visiting the Bicycle Bash homepage here.

BASHSUMMITflier

Even more exciting is the Tampa Bicycle Summit being held at the Tampa Bay History Center on November 5th. League of American Bicyclists President Andy Clarke will be the keynote speaker at the Summit…wow!

Heck, even Mayor Bob Buckhorn of the City of Tampa is getting in on the act:

Since I am unable to attend this year, I’m looking for someone in the Tampa area who can do a little coverage for Bikecommuters.com — you know, snap some photos, get a feel for the thing, talk to some attendees. If you’re interested, drop me a line at ghostrider[at]bikecommuters[dot]com.

Late to Work: Biking in my Dreams!

Do you ever have a commute where you get to work and wonder, Is this real life!?”  I DO.  I don’t know how it happened, but I ended up uber late to work today, rolling in at an embarassing 1:10pm!  Not to say that I arrive at the dark box of drudgery and sadness (a.k.a. office with no windows) any earlier than 9:30am on a regular M-F… but today was different.  Caught between a nightmare of angry drivers and a dream of ukulele bike advocacy, I thought “Dr. Toothenstein must have gone overboard with the Novocaine yesterday.”  Either that, or now I’m biking in my dreams too.

Fruit!

Gramps keeps it real, he's my posture coach.

My dream started out like this: I groggily flopped out of bed late with no time to shower OR shop for vegetables in Chinatown!  Grandpa yelled my name from the streets below as he waited for a ride on my handlebars over to the acupuncture lady.  We’re cruising down the narrow streets of C-town, as I wait in the middle lane to make a left turn.  Gramps and I are chillin’ completely innocent and unoffensive (well, except for maybe some strong B.O. since hygiene is not my forte), and the nightmare begins.  A jerk-bomb in a truck passes by in the far right lane and yells “Get the FAWK outta tha ROAD!” The truck passes by at full 5 mph (bad traffic makes yelling at cyclists then speeding away kinda hard!)  Gramps gets pissed and starts yelling in Cantonese and chasing the truck down.  Guess I don’t need to drop him off to acupuncture after all.

I call these scones "Forget-Me-Nows" - eat one and forget all bad juju from Jerk Bomb in Pick-up Truck!

I’m a bit stunned from the nightmare, but decide to just crank it out.  There’s only one way to repair the damages from a street-fire jerk bomb: Forget-Me-Now blueberry cream cheese scones from Diamonhead Market!  With nothing but scone on the brain, I zone out for the rest of my ride.  On the way there, I detour through Kapiolani Park.  It’s a beautiful day to take the scenic route to scones, and I  hear the voice of the executive director at HBL calling out my name!  I stop and pull over.

A royal shower tree

Kapiolani Park - a dreamy royal shower tree.

I’ve apparently entered into the Bike Advocacy dream sequence with this kinda hot n’ famous ukulele guy, Chad from HBL and a lady cop.  So much for scones, I guess it’s time to film a dreamy PSA with Jake Shimabukuro on how cyclists have the right to take the whole lane in Hawaii!

P1020375

After a couple of video takes, some sweet harmonious tunes, and awkward posing in my HBL tee… I start to think: maybe this isn’t a dream, this is REALITY!  And if it is, am I frackin’ sweaty and smelly.

P1020385

Well, whatever is happening here, I just can’t help but throw up a shaka for the camera!  Deputy lady cop so-n-so says “It’s the law!”

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How appropriate that my nightmare and dream revolve around the same theme:  cyclists have the right to take the whole lane if it’s too narrow to share with the car!  Seems Mr. Jerk-bomb is the perfect audience for this Public Service Announcement.  Let’s hope jerk-bomb and other drivers out there will listen up and share the road!  Until this PSA is published on the telly, I gotta go back to Chinatown and find Gramps…  Any of you riders out there have bike commuting nightmares to share?  How do you guys get over those nasty comments from drivers on your commutes?

(For the more literal readers out there, Mir.I.Am was intentionally late to work today to film a Public Service Announcement with Hawaii Bicycling League.  Coincidentally, she did get yelled at by a guy in a pick up truck, but no Grandpas were harmed in the writing of this post.  Blueberry cream cheese scones are baked pure deliciousness itself.  Oh god, they’re so good!)