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Tag Archive: bicycle infrastructure

The Senate is at it again…

We got a press release from Peopleforbikes.org the other day:

Last month, we asked you to contact your U.S. Senators to oppose Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn’s plan to strip funding from the Transportation Enhancements program, which is the main source of the federal investment for bike projects of all types. Peopleforbikes.org supporters and our allies generated more than 75,000 emails to Congress in 48 hours. This rapid and powerful grassroots response succeeded: Mr. Coburn withdrew his amendment and crucial funding for bicycling was preserved.

We are sorry to report today that bike infrastructure funding is under serious and immediate attack again – this time in an amendment proposed by Senator Rand Paul (KY) that would redirect all funding for Transportation Enhancements to bridge repairs. Mr. Paul’s amendment is set for a Senate vote Tuesday, Nov. 1.

While we are all for bridge repairs, gutting the Transportation Enhancements program is not the way to get the job done. We must defeat this amendment and we need your help. We need you to contact your state’s two U.S. Senators today and ask them to oppose this amendment. Here are four reasons why:

1. Everyone deserves to be safe. We agree that we must keep our bridges safe, but the lives of pedestrians and bicyclists are important too. Nearly 5,000 Americans die each year biking or walking on our nation’s roadways.

2. Reallocating bike funding won’t make a dent in the cost of bridge repairs. Even if every penny of Transportation Enhancements money is diverted to bridge repairs, Senator Paul’s plan would still take 80 years to fix the backlog of bridge repairs we have today.

3. Transportation Enhancements provide essential transportation benefits, like reducing road congestion, improving safety, getting people active, and creating more jobs per dollar than highway-only projects.

4. States don’t spend all the money they already receive for bridge repairs.

This is the third attempt in a month by a small group of Senators to target Transportation Enhancements, using a different angle each time. It is a waste of the Senate’s time and taxpayers dollars to focus on eliminating this modest, cost-effective, valuable program when we are in dire need of real and viable solutions to fix our failing transportation system.

Please contact your Senators today to ask them to vote against the Paul amendment (SA-821) to eliminate Transportation Enhancements. (You can find your Senators, review basic suggested text for your email, and send your note directly from this link.)

Thank you for your help today, and for passing this call to action along.

Tim Blumenthal
Director, Peopleforbikes.org

If you’re in an email-writing mood, let your elected representatives know how you stand on this. Time is short; the Senate is scheduled to vote on it Tuesday, November 1st.

New Striping in the Bike Lane: friend or foe?

Construction season nears its end, and I’m noticing some new bike / ped lane striping going on in Chicago — along my commuting route! It’s awesome to see fresh new white lines and newly painted bike images in the bike lane.

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I took a photo of the crew painting the new bike markers in my lane during my morning commute; they were happy to pose for a photo op.
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The bright white stripe of demarcation is so much more visible at night and I have noticed that motorists do not encroach as much on my designated road space – at least they seem to notice the bike lane. Of course, that doesn’t keep me from moving beyond my narrow lane; if road conditions in the bike lane are hazardous or if a car is double-parked or there’s a threat of dooring, then I reserve my right to ride outside of the bike lane and to take the lane of motor vehicle traffic for my own safety.

I’ve heard the comments from some bicyclists who see striping as a concession to “the man” putting bikes in their place. I, however, welcome the simple white lane “buffer”. As Jack “Ghostrider” commented to me in our discussions of this post, “Yeah, I sort of like them myself…a bit of psychological buffer (“yay, my own private lane!” — and in Tampa, that was so true).” I do the same mental happy dance when I see this fresh paint – a fresh indication – to at least designate a lane and a place for bicycles on the road. Here in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emmanuel has actually promised that 100-miles of protected bike lanes will be installed over the next four years – a project termed the Neighborhood Bikeways Campaign and “wants to make Chicago the most bike-friendly place in the United States.”

The new bike lane installation is already underway. Miriam and I explored the first stretch of protected bike lanes on Kinzie during her visit to Chicago. Most recently, the city’s resurfacing project on Jackson has led to a second protected bike lane being installed on Jackson Boulevard from Western Avenue to Halsted Street. The city is evaluating road projects already in the works and has been able to more quickly and affordably get these first protected bike lanes in place in a fairly efficient fashion.

Jackson Bike Lane:
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Motorists are already grumbling. But what about cyclists? The “go-fast crowd” may not like the new lanes since they restrict them behind slower bike riders. Likewise, stripes are known to be slippery when wet (all riders should take caution when riding on / crossing the stripes) and road furniture has been attributed to many crashes in big cycling race events (including this the 2010 Giro d’Italia)

I still celebrate the bike infrastructure! 🙂

Earlier this month I attended the community Bikeways (both the 101 and 201) sessions about all that goes into the engineering and planning of such bike lane infrastructure. And there will be much planning in the coming months!
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In the meantime, I’ll continue to get excited over better bike lane demarcations clearly outlining “my entitled space” on the roadway. Every little bit helps. It’s like I’m telling the motorists — “you just stay on your side of that line!” And for the most part, they are and giving me more room. 🙂 On my ride home I couldn’t help but think how seeing these new solid lines to mark off road use kind of reminds me of that scene from the movie Dirty Dancing – “this is your dance space, this is my dance space” until the lines end and we all shuffle around and do our little “dance” together at and through the intersections…

See how the bike lane ends as it approaches the intersection….
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As the city continues to plan out the new Bikeways, let’s hope that such dead zones of infrastructure get addressed. The best way to see the bike infrastructure installed how and where you want is to get involved and attend the future community meetings.

The city’s resolve to make Chicago a more bike and pedestrian friendly place has to start somewhere. I like seeing the smiling workers striping pedestrian crosswalks and bike lanes — a small though noticeable sign to motorists that the streets are not ALL theirs.
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Bike Paths are Unconstitutional?

I hadn’t seen this covered on many other bike blogs, so I thought I’d share the following with you to get your opinions on the issue:

In a recent interview with Streetsblog Capitol Hill, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) puts forth his opinion that federally-mandated bike paths are unconstitutional. Here’s a bit of the back and forth:

STREETSBLOG: I was just in an [Environment and Public Works] Committee hearing and there was some talk about the fact that some small amount of money in the [transportation] reauthorization historically gets used for things like bike trails. Some people think that’s waste; some people think biking is a mode of transportation. What do you think?

HUNTER: I don’t think biking should fall under the federal purview of what the Transportation Committee is there for. If a state wants to do it, or local municipality, they can do whatever they want to. But no, because then you have us mandating bike paths, which you don’t want either.

STREETSBLOG: But you’re OK with mandating highways?

HUNTER: Absolutely, yeah. Because that’s in the constitution. I don’t see riding a bike the same as driving a car or flying an airplane.

STREETSBLOG: How is it different?

HUNTER: I think it’s more of a recreational thing. That’s my opinion.

Read the full interview with Rep. Hunter by clicking here.

I’ve heard the argument that it should be a state-by-state decision to develop bicycle infrastructure and shouldn’t be a federal initiative, and I can understand that line of thought…but to me, Rep. Hunter’s comments just smack of being out of touch with the needs of the American people and dangerously adhering to a very narrow interpretation of the Constitution. Also in the interview, Rep. Duncan takes a “well, people drive to work and I’m not particularly interested in finding transportation alternatives for them” view. Troubling…

Your thoughts? Let’s hear ’em.

Oklahoma City Bike Sign Mixup

I spotted this on Facebook this morning…from one of my homies back in high school:

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OKLAHOMA CITY — A new effort in Oklahoma City to keep cyclists safe around town has hit a snag.

Late last year, the city began putting up signs telling drivers to share the road with bikes.

But now a mix up with those street signs is costing the city thousands of dollars to fix.

“As we got started on the install, we learned that we weren’t in conformance with new federal language on signage,” said Oklahoma City Councilman Sam Bowman.

Councilman Bowman says the mix up involves a missing word from the signs.

“The signs say ‘use full lane.’ The new signs will say ‘may use full lane,'” explains Bowman.

Take a look at the full article and related video by clicking here. Glad to see that instead of giving up, the City is correcting the problem despite the expense.

Two Interesting News Items to Share

First off, an iPhone application that is meeting with great interest in San Francisco (hat tip to my man Steve S. for the heads-up):

…now San Francisco is using the iPhone to build a better city too — through tracking cyclists with its CycleTracks app.

The express purpose of CycleTracks will gather data on cycling trips throughout San Francisco, to help the city better design its bicycle infrastructure.

When activated, the app uses the iPhone’s GPS receiver to record the details of a ride, then uploads the data to a central database — and that method of gathering that kind of data is probably unique in the nation, said Billy Charlton, Deputy Director of Technology Services for the SF County Transportation Authority, in an interview with CoM.

Check out the full article and details of this data-gathering experiment at Cult of Mac.

Secondly, there’s a very well-reasoned essay by Elliott over at Austin on Two Wheels — this one concerning bike lanes vs. vehicular cycling. We’ve touched on pros and cons of bike paths/bike lanes and just “taking the lane” many times here, and I’m sure you’ve read such comparisons elsewhere. Elliott does a good job of presenting how the two CAN coexist as Austin prepares to add bicycle boulevards into their infrastructural mix. Check out the full essay by visiting the site.