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Tag Archive: bicycle infrastructure

A handy guide to bicycle infrastructure

Do you sometimes get confused by all the lingo thrown around by bicycle advocates? Don’t know the difference between a “bicycle boulevard” and a “bike trail”? And what IS a sharrow, anyway? Leave it to the Community Education Manager at Bike Easy in New Orleans, Anneke Olsen, to spell it all out for you:

When many of us hear the word “bicyclist” or “cyclist,” we think of a spandex-clad racer on a road bike, or a diehard urban messenger weaving in and out of traffic on downtown streets.

But there is a much larger and more inclusive definition of “bicyclists” – anyone who rides a bike, whether it is a kid riding on a neighborhood street; a service industry worker biking home from the CBD after a long shift; grandparents and grandkids riding together at City Park; or someone hopping on a bike to get back in shape.

Similarly, there are several different types of bicycle infrastructure – sharrows, bike lanes, neighborhood greenways, shared use trails, etc. – and each serves a different purpose to the end of creating a connected network of streets that are safe and comfortable for bicyclists.

sharrow

Take a minute to swing on over and read the full article by visiting the NolaVie page. In no time, you’ll be an expert on bicycle infrastructure!

Munich By Bike

 

Munich is one of the most beautiful, bike-friendly cities in Germany! Famous for its Oktoberfest where beer and girdles overflow, the place doesn’t get nearly enough the credit it deserves for its cycling routes and infrastructure. If you like getting on your bike and exploring, weekend breaks to Munich are a necessary and thoroughly enjoyable pastime. Here are a few ideas which will help you discover a side of Bavaria’s capital besides pale ale and leather shorts.
munich
If you don’t mind biking in urban environments, the downtown area is a great place to start your explorations. Try a “Tour of the Tors”! “Tor” is the German word for “gate” (oh, and for “goal” in soccer”!), and Munich’s old town had a good number of those. They’re all within a kilometer of each other, sometimes less, and if you go through them in succession, you’ll circumscribe the area behind the old fortification walls.

Keep in mind that some of the old gates no longer exist, but Sendlinger Tor, Karlstor, Türkentor, Siegestor, and Isartor still keep you running along the historically correct perimeter. In May 2014, an art project was launched to remind locals and visitors of the “lost gates” — the ones which wars and old age took down. You might come across curious art installations where you can stop by for a minute and read up on the missing pieces in Munich’s gate puzzle.

After a good time downtown, there are few things better than resting your eyes with some nature gazing. As industrial and rich as it is, Munich offers parks with sprawling fields and meandering bike and walking paths. The most famous destination is the English Garden, a green symphony of nature with 78 kilometers (yup, Europe is metric!) of biking routes. You can enjoy the sun or slip into the forested paths. Make your way to the Chinese Tower, one of Munich’s most legendary beer gardens, and have a well-earned break.

Another terrific biking destination is the Olympia Park not too far from the city center. A beautiful bridge with glass railings brings you to the start of your tour, and you can put your stamina to the test with several gentle slopes on your way to the park’s heart: the Olympic Stadium and the BMW Arena and Museum nearby. This route offers mostly sunny tracks and open spaces, with some culture and fun on the side for when you want to rest. A classic Munich bike tour, through and through!

olympia park

Munich is something of a cyclist’s paradise. You can get in some serious cycling while still cramming in the chance to experience culture.

 

Friday Musings: Your thoughts on “sharrows”?

Many of my bike buddies have heard me go on and on about sharrows for a few years now. I’m sure our Facebook followers have heard me mention my concerns about sharrows from time to time, too.

For those of you who may have missed it, here are some of my thoughts on them: while I think they can be a useful tool in the arsenal of bike-friendly infrastructure, I am very concerned that many cyclists and motorists both don’t really understand what they represent. Neither group is particularly good about “sharing” the road (the operative part of “sharrow”) at times. I’ve seen cyclists treat road with sharrows as a full-width “bike lane”, despite cars backing up behind them. I’ve also seen motorists crowd riders against parked cars when sharrows are present. Further, I’m afraid that some cities use sharrows as a quick pacifier; slap some down on the pavement and then tell cyclists, “yeah, we’re building bike infrastructure…what more do you want?”

sharrow

It’s my belief that when a city chooses to add sharrows to a road surface, that MUST come with an advertising campaign or some other method to get the word out to road users — so that everyone knows what those mysterious chevrons represent and to remind folks that yes, we must all actually share the road. We all know that there is far more to bicycle infrastructure than simply putting up some signs, or spreading some paint onto the roadway…a lot of planning, logistics and study must come with it in order for all that effort to be of value to road users.

So, I was a bit surprised to read the following article, which appeared in the Edmonton Journal the other day:

A new study out of British Columbia suggests the use of shared bike-car lanes on major roads doesn’t actually increase safety for cyclists and may pose a greater risk if they add confusion to the streets…

…The shared bike-car lanes, called sharrows, are seen as a simple solution when the city, neighbourhood residents or local businesses don’t want to remove parking or a lane currently used for vehicle traffic. They consist of a painted bike with arrows on the pavement, and signs along the side of the road.

When researchers at the University of British Columbia looked at 690 cyclist collisions serious enough to land a cyclist in the hospital, they found the only bike infrastructure that significantly reduces risk is having a separate route for bikes.

Please read the rest of this enlightening article by visiting the Edmonton Journal page.

I’d love to hear our readers thoughts on sharrows: do you love them? Hate them? Are you indifferent to them? Do you find them effective and well-placed, or see them as an “easy out” for cities who don’t want to spend much on improved bicycle infrastructure? Please leave your comments below.

Build bike infrastructure and watch business roll in!

We’ve written about Long Beach, California before — some fits and starts as the city strove to become more bicycle friendly. It looks like the effort is paying off, as indicated by the following article:

Over the past five years, Long Beach has invested more than $20 million from state and federal grants in its bicycle infrastructure.

The city has installed more than 130 miles of bike roadways, established protected bike lanes on major commuter thoroughfares, created bike boulevards to provide safer routes, and installed 1,300 new bike racks.

City officials say that investment is starting to pay off in the business community.

As of May, Long Beach has had 20 new bike-related businesses open their doors, said Allan Crawford, Long Beach’s bicycle coordinator.

Other businesses have benefited as well, he says, as riders have taken to the streets to rediscover their neighborhoods.

Take a look at the full article by clicking here.

We’ve talked about it time and time again — cities that invest in bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly infrastructure become better places to live for EVERYONE…not just the people on foot or on bikes. And there’s plenty of documentation out there to help encourage cities to do this kind of improvement. So why aren’t more cities getting serious about this?

Friday Musings – Anywhere But Here?

Molly over Old Delhi

Commuting conditions in Old Delhi, India

Happy Aloha Friday bike commuters.  This Friday’s Musing is dedicated to any commuters out there who move from city to city, state to state, or country to country more frequently than the rest of us.  As I am traveling on and off for the summer, and prepping for a future uprooting once again, I find myself faced with the challenge of parting with my dear bikes or sending ’em packing along with me.  Then I got thinking…(I know, I know, careful with that thinking cap) if I were to up and move to a new city or place, is there anyplace in the world where I wouldn’t feel comfortable bike commuting?!  Maybe you really have to feel each city or town out for yourself before you can make that decision, but I already left the #1 listed state in Bike-Friendliness (Washington) to move to the lowly ranked #41 listed state on the list (Hawaii) and we still choose pedal power as our mode of transit everyday in Honolulu!  I know that for Boyfriend and I, bikeability plays a big part in where we choose to sign a rental agreement.  What about you guys?  Is there a place you’ve visited, lived, or will soon be living where you’d refuse to commute by bike? And WHY?!  Too dangerous, too hot, too cold, bad roads, or “well, a donkey just makes more sense here”  – whatever your reason may be, what’s your “Anywhere But Here” for bike commuting?  Comments box, please!