Tag Archive: bike lanes

Guerilla Bike Lanes?

I have long fantasized about building some sort of bike-lane-painting contraption to mount on the back of my Xtracycle…merrily spraying new lanes wherever I ride. My fantasy is nothing new, of course — plenty of people have taken up the idea when they become frustrated with their city’s lack of bike infrastructure. In New York City, activists repainted a lane that was removed by the City.

And the hits keep on coming: in Mexico City, frustrated cyclists took brushes in hand and created their own 5 km lane, complete with lane markings and green “bike boxes”. Take a look at the following article and video (in Spanish):

We at applaud these efforts, even if we don’t necessarily condone them…as most of us know, it takes more than a line of paint to make a safe and useful bike lane. There are engineering considerations and a whole lot of other planning to make bicycle infrastructure successful. And, painting your own lanes can be dangerous from a legal perspective, as this article in Grist indicates.

Make it count!

Yesterday morning during my commute down Lincoln Avenue in Chicago I came upon two lovely tubes across my path.
pneumatic tubes

Recently – due to lots of construction along this Lincoln Ave route – I’ve been detouring to the Lakefront Path, but I’m glad I took the route down Lincoln on Monday. I counted!

These tubes are part of a bike counting project launched by the Chicago Department of Transportation. As noted in the minutes from a meeting of the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Council last year:

“Automated bike count equipment allows for 24 hour counts with pneumatic tubes. Selective tubes only pick up bikes. This hard data will be very convincing.”

CDOT needs the stats as it plans to add even more marked shared lanes and bike lanes in the city.

As you can see, the tubes are similar to the the ones used for counting cars, but on a smaller scale that bicycle wheels easily roll over. So… if you see these in your path – do not veer around them. In fact, you’re encouraged to roll on over these tubes and be counted.

A box set off to the side of the road gathers the stats over a period of 24-hours.

Then last night I attended the Active Transportation Alliance‘s annual member meeting where Pedal Power: The Quiet Rise of the Bicycle in American Public Life author Professor Harry Wray spoke about the important role of bicycles in forming community. He mentioned that right now 1% of trips in Chicago are by bike, and offered encouragement of the cultural shift away from they hyper-individualism that’s swept our society these past 30 years toward the more common interest of connecting our neighborhoods. “We connect to each other differently when we’re on a bike,” Wray said. His address lead perfectly into a showing of a video featuring NYC’s Summer Streets, Portland’s Sunday Parkways, San Francisco’s Sunday Streets and Chicago’s Open Streets.

After Wray’s energizing talk, Mayor Richard M. Daley took the podium.
mayor daley

Mayor Daley assured members that he’s still actively working toward the goals of Chicago’s Bike 2015 Plan. He just returned from a trip to Copenhagen where he saw first hand what great bike infrastructure can be. He urges all of us to speak with our state and national legislators and local aldermen to educate our representatives and get their support for the necessary infrastructure to make complete streets and dedicated bike lanes a reality. He also praised Chicago’s visionary planners for keeping our lakefront protected from development, since not even Copenhagen cyclists have much access to their lakefront.

In his closing statement, Mayor Daley assured us that the city will continue to expand Open Streets and he instructed everyone to “keep on biking and keep on advocating.”

We bike commuters have a voice, and our commutes do count.

Let Your Voice Be Heard!

I got the following email from faithful reader Jared Fitzgibbon:

“Now that the bottom has fallen out of the economy, Obama and his team are talking about infrastructure investments as a way to dig ourselves out. The website has a form where people can submit ideas about it. I went on a minute ago and added my own wish for cycling infrastructure. Lanes, signs, public education, routes, all that. I think if we’re going to be rebuilding infrastructure, now is the perfect time to make our voices heard as cyclists.

I’m not affiliated w/ the team in any way but I think if you and all of us readers were to submit our ideas to this site, we could really see some fantastic changes in our cities, towns, and roads all over the country. Regardless of political affiliation, this is a great moment for all of us to tell the new President what we want.”

Here are a couple of places we can let our thoughts be known and our voices heard:

Now THIS is What I Call a Bike Lane!

Good news for those of you living in NYC, a story from Transportation Alternatives:

Copenhagen-Style Bike Lane Coming to 9th Ave
Protected bike lane street design
With better bike lanes on the way, groups need to ask for more and expect the best from the DOT.
Click image to enlarge

On Manhattan’s Ninth Avenue from 23rd Street to 16th Street, the New York City Department of Transportation will soon build the city’s first Copenhagen-style bike lane.

The new “cycle-track” will be placed between a lane of parked cars and the sidewalk, affording cyclists of all ages and abilities a safe and comfortable ride, if only for a few blocks. T.A. looks forward to the expanded application of this type of traffic-protected bike lanes, a necessary step if cycling is to be a safe and attractive option for the majority of New Yorkers who are not comfortable riding in traffic.

The DOT also announced that an 8.1 mile network of new bike lanes will be installed throughout North Brooklyn connecting Greenpoint/Williamsburg with Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Bedford Stuyvesant, Prospect Park and the rest of the Brooklyn bike network. And if that wasn’t enough, the bike lane on Fifth Avenue from 23rd Street to Washington Square Park will be upgraded to a buffered bike lane similar to the one that runs along Lafayette from Spring Street to 14th Street.

As the DOT raises the bar for its bike lane design and implementation, cyclists, community groups and advocates need to raise their expectations. In the coming months, T.A. will be urging the DOT to expand the application of traffic-protected lanes, and to adopt a “complete streets” policy that gives designated space to cyclists on all city streets. To make sure you see new bike lanes and better infrastructure in your neighborhood, contact your community board and the DOT.

This is obviously good news for those who will get to use this bike lane. But it is also good news for cyclists everywhere. This is the first step towards developing similar bike lanes in cities across the U.S. Every trend requires a trend setter, and I for one am optimistic that traffic-protected bike lanes can be a reality for so many more people. If not, I would move to Copenhagen before I move to NYC!

A Bike Lane Runs To It

If you live in or near the city of Tampa, Florida, you will know that the car rules around here. While there are plenty of quiet streets to bicycle upon, there are not very many useful bike lanes in the area. Where bike lanes do exist, they have a tendency to start and stop at random, not linking up with other lanes or providing an unbroken route for cyclists to take advantage of.

But, things are changing — just a couple weeks ago, the city put the finishing touches on a bike lane that actually goes somewhere!

Tampa's newest bike lane

This is the new bike lane, running from just north of Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd all the way down to and INTO the heart of downtown Tampa. The lane runs down the right side of a busy one-way called Tampa Street. This street is the main surface road into downtown, and can be quite busy early in the morning as folks rush to work in the urban core. Before the lane was constructed, I had found a quiet residential street a few blocks east that served my purposes for a fairly direct commuting route. Now, though, I can take this bike lane to within a couple blocks of the library where I work!

Here’s another shot with the downtown skyline visible:
the lane with skyline in the distance

Even though my previous route was peaceful, scenic and quiet, I feel compelled to use this new bike lane, even though there are a LOT of cars out there with me. And that brings up a few questions — do you readers try to use bike lanes where available, even if there is a quieter or better route at your disposal? Should I feel compelled to use this lane (I mean, what if transportation officials are watching? Will they build more?)?

This is a step in the right direction for Tampa — let’s hope there are more lanes in the works! The new lane is smooth and fast. My only gripe is that there is not a corresponding northbound bike lane to take me back out of downtown toward home, and according to Florida DOT officials and the Mayor of Tampa, there is no plan to create one in the near future, even though there is a perfect northbound, one-way, multi-lane road only 3 blocks from this new lane. Well, I guess I shouldn’t complain too much, but I WILL step up my letters and emails to the transportation planners in the area!

A bike is an excellent piece of exercise equipment as well as a perfect means of transportation. Biking is better exercise than a home gym can provide, and you’ll feel better about yourself when you’re conserving energy. No other sport, not even golf equipment, can make you feel so good about the environment!