Friday, May 17, 2013
Bike lanes in Washington, D.C. vary from the simple—narrow lanes marked by thin, white lines squeezed between vehicular travel lanes and parked cars—to the advanced: protected cycle tracks lying between parked cars on one side and the sidewalk on the other.
Thursday, May 09, 2013
In recent years, the bicycle has gone from a mode of transportation, to an object that comes with rights that cities acknowledge and cater to. For those who’ve been entrenched in the bike world over the decades, it’s been quite a journey. Charlie McCorkell is among them. He’s been biking around Manhattan since the 1960s. And in the seventies, he opened what’s become one of New York’s most popular bike shops: Bicycle Habitat, in Soho.
Monday, April 22, 2013
If someone steals your bike, it can feel pretty hopeless, and enraging. That’s because it is. But, angry cyclists are finding a community online that is willing to go to great lengths to help a fellow cyclist. Social media is creating the digital equivalent of the back of the milk carton but for bikes, with a few elaborate success stories.
Tuesday, October 02, 2012
More than two years after its southern segment opened, bicycling advocates are asking District and Maryland transportation officials why there has been no progress extending the 8-mile Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) that is supposed to run between Union Station and Silver Spring, Md.
The southern segment is a completed, off-road bicycle path running straight north from Union Station through Northeast Washington to the Brookland neighborhood, but the remaining three segments are a combination of off-road and “interim routes” that force cyclists to leave the path and crowd onto city streets.
“In a couple of places it actually goes up relatively steep hills. In one place it goes against traffic,” says Shane Farthing, the executive director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. The group is urging the District Department of Transportation to begin work on the northernmost segment inside the district, from Riggs Road to the Montgomery County line.
“We’d like to see DDOT pushing harder on that,” Farthing says.
But starting work on the MBT’s center segment in D.C. is more complicated: there are outstanding land-use issues that have to be resolved by the National Park Service, DC's transit agency (WMATA), and the DDOT concerning federal property around Fort Totten, where the proposed trail makes a sharp left turn in the vicinity of a trash transfer station. That is where bicyclists face the thorniest part of their ride as two-way bicycling traffic has to squeeze into one of the “interim trails,” a one-way street for cars.
“For kids and novice cyclists who might want to try this connection, I do think where you are sent into oncoming traffic it is intimidating,” says Farthing, who gave an interview at the noisy intersection of Fort Totten Drive NE and Gallatin Street NE.
“All of the area around Fort Totten is National Park Service land, and there are certain agreements that WMATA has with rights of use to get the Red Line through. So they have to make sure (that) all those different legal agreements on land use work together to allow for the trail access,” he added.
The partial completion of the MBT is not stopping bicyclists from using it as part of their daily commutes or for recreation. There were 11,503 trips on the MBT last year, a nearly three-fold increase from 2010, according to DDOT figures.
Sam Zimbabwe, DDOT’s associate director for policy, planning, and sustainability, said funding and land use issues have delayed progress.
“Some of what we face is a challenge of resources and dealing with multiple trail projects moving forward at the same time,” he says, adding that the Fort Totten area “is probably one of the most challenging sections of the trail in terms of dealing with competing needs of the right of way.”
Zinbabwe countered criticism that the DDOT isn't prioritizing the project.
“We don’t feel that we are [idle]. I think that we continue to try to move it forward,” he says. Although Farthing says he believes the entire bike trail could be finished in two to three years, Zimbabwe called that goal “optimistic.”
In Montgomery County, where the proposed trail would end at Silver Spring, there are also outstanding conflicts concerning land use.
The group Montgomery Preservation Inc. is unhappy with a plan to run the trail between its building that houses a B&O Railroad museum and Metro’s Red Line tracks. The plan also calls for building a bicycling bridge over Georgia Avenue that would block views of the historic railroad bridge. The MBT is part of the county’s master plan and the Montgomery County Council has approved funding.
“The county council, county executive, and bicycling community are all interested in completing the design and construction and opening up this important part of this heavily used trail,” says Bruce Johnston, the chief of MCDOT’s division of transportation engineering.
Although frustrated by the slow progress, Farthing looks forward to a day when commuters can ride their bicycles all the way from Silver Spring to Union Station without squeezing past moving vehicle traffic.
“The ability to take your bike on and off Metro, the ability to mix it with bike share, we’ve got a lot of different ways that you can integrate biking into daily life, but it is important to have the trail so the people can do it safely and easily,” Farthing says.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
(New York, NY - WNYC) When it comes enforcement of cycling laws, New York City is willing to employ the stick. But first, the city wants businesses -- and their delivery men -- to eat carrots, at least until January.
On a recent afternoon, Department of Transportation inspector Demel Gaillard paid a visit to Haru, a Japanese restaurant on Manhattan's Upper West Side. The manager, Jamyang Singye, greeted him at the door.
"How can I help you guys?" Singye asked. "We’re just here to see if you guys have your posters posted," said Gaillard. "Outlining the commercial bicyclists law?"
Gaillard is one of six DOT inspectors, and his job is to make sure business owners know the commercial cycling rules and are communicating them to their employees. Singye brings him downstairs to the kitchen, where the rules are displayed on one of many text-heavy postings. "I’d be happy to give you a new poster," says Gaillard, offering up the newer, full-color edition.
"Do you also have it Chinese?" asks Singye. In fact the poster comes in seven languages -- a necessity in a polyglot city where bicycle food delivery men often hail from abroad. Haru, which has a Japanese sushi chef, Chinese delivery staff, and a manager from Nepal, is no exception.
"That would be great," says Singye.
What's not great is the public's perception of bike delivery guys. Speaking at a hearing earlier this month, New York City Council member Jimmy Vacca said the city's rogue cyclist problem is "tremendous."
"There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not in Manhattan where I don’t see a commercial cyclist on the sidewalk, going the wrong way on a one-way street," he said. "This is a constant occurrence.”
DOT commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan hears these complaints all the time. Her inspectors can't enforce moving violations -- that's the domain of the police. In July, Sadik-Khan explained what her department can enforce.
"Our emphasis here is making sure that everybody knows you need to wear a helmet," she said, ticking off the requirements. "You need to wear a vest, you need to have bells and lights and have a bike that's in working condition and follow the rules of the road."
Commercial bicyclists also need reflective devices on their bikes or tires, and a numbered business ID card. Business owners must provide this equipment for their employees.
Since July, the DOT has visited over 2,100 businesses to tell managers like Singye what he needs to do to follow the law and, as Inspector Ronald Amaya explained, what will happen if he doesn't.
"In January 2013," Amaya said, "if you’re not in compliance with all the rules and regulations – like your delivery men not having their vests, their helmet, ID cards, and the poster’s not up in your establishment, we will be issuing a fine, anywhere from $100 to $250."
Here's the important distinction with enforcement: if a DOT inspector sees a delivery guy riding without a vest, the inspector will issue a ticket to the business. If a police officer sees a delivery guy breaking a traffic law by, say, riding on the sidewalk, the officer will ticket the bicyclist. Brian McCarthy, a deputy chief for the NYPD, told TN the department has expanded enforcement and so far this year has issued 8,959 commercial bicycle summonses. That's about 25 percent of all bike tickets.
The DOT is holding public forums to hammer this point home. At a recent meeting on the Upper West Side, DOT staffers handed out posters, bells, and even samples of reflective vests to over a hundred managers and delivery workers. Department educator Kim Wiley-Schwartz explained details of the coming crackdown to a standing-room-only crowd of managers and bike delivery workers. She spoke about the need to wear helmets and vests and carry ID. Then she did a little consciousness-raising about the need to follow the rules of the road -- and yield to pedestrians.
"You do not have the right of way. I don’t want a ‘ding ding ding ding’ as people are crossing the crosswalk when they have the light," she said, imitating the sound of a frustrated bicyclist leaning on his bell. "They have the right of way."
After the meeting, a lot of workers said the rules made sense. But Lawrence Toole, who works at a restaurant in the theater district, said he felt a little picked on.
"These are small businesses, and what they’re doing is they’re hiring people that need jobs," he said."It’s bad enough that there are no jobs out there. Now you’re going to penalize the people that are giving the jobs to people."
But a few seconds later, he reached acceptance. "But we got to follow the law all the same."
City Council woman Gale Brewer, who represents the Upper West Side, says there needs to be a culture change -- and it won't come easily.
"It is a very challenging job to convince the delivery people and their managers -- the managers change often, the delivery people change often," she said. There needs to be "constant education that safety comes before a customer who wants their food right now."
Starting in January, businesses that don't follow the rules could pay the price.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
UPDATED with Chicago dooring figures below.
New York is dreaming of a world where taxis and cyclists can be friends.
And so will the taxis of today, according to Taxi and Limousine Commission Chairman David Yassky.
"We believe the stickers and video will really resonate with riders and inspire them to pause for that critical second before they open the door and exit the taxi,” said Yassky. “It’s that moment of pause that could make all the difference in the world to both a bicyclist and the taxi passenger alike.”
The message not to fling cab doors open without first checking for bicyclists will be hammered home in a video message that will play on all 13,000 Taxi TVs (assuming passengers don't turn them off first). "Take out a friend," reads the message on the video. "Take out a date. But don't take out a cyclist."
Getting doored is rightfully high on the list of fears for any urban cyclist. When a car door opens in a cyclist's immediate path it can not only injure him/her, it can fling the biker into the path of oncoming traffic. It can be common and even deadly, though few studies track dooring.
Illinois began what we believe to be the first statewide effort to track dooring last April. We've asked the Illinois DOT for the figures from that effort and will report back as soon as we get them.
UPDATE: Steve Vance of Grid Chicago got in touch with the data. He used his access to the Illinois DOT online Data Mart and found there were 344 reported doorings in Chicago last year, responsible for one in five bike crashes. It should be said that's a big spike over 2010.
A 2010 survey in NYC counted bike-related infractions at 11 locations found that dooring (including near-hits) is a pervasive phenomenon with 77 infractions over the two days of measurement, 19 of them on one street alone.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin enacted an anti-dooring law in 2009 that switched culpability from cyclists to motorists for dooring accidents, and added a $40 fine for striking a cyclist with a car door.
Taxis, with their frequent stops and passengers exiting from both sides, are at high risk for causing dooring incidents.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
[The Mayor said on Friday the system won't launch until next spring. Here's our post on it.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg isn't putting a date on when New York's delayed bike share program will be up and running. The program was to have launched July 31, but that date came and went. The mayor has attributed the delay to unspecified software issues.
"We're trying to figure out when we can put a date that we're sure or reasonably sure that it will work," Bloomberg said Thursday. He also said, without explanation, the city is "getting very close."
Bloomberg was speaking at a press conference trumpeting the new shark exhibit at the New York Aquarium.
New York's bike share, at 10,000 bikes, is by far the largest planned bike share anywhere in North America. The next largest system is in Washington, which is about a fifth that size.
An ambitious bike share program in Chicago has also been delayed, and a vendor who lost the bid has sued, saying that city's transportation commissioner, Gabe Klein, had a conflict because he was a consultant on Alta's bid to New York City. A spokesman for the Chicago mayor has said Klein recused himself from the Chicago negotiations and that the suit is baseless.
Alta is also the vendor for Boston's "Hubway" bike share. That program was also delayed by several months, though officials there declare the system a success and are expanding it.
On Thursday, Bloomberg said the reason for the delay is straightforward. "Look," he said. "Everybody wants to say there's a secret agenda here. The software doesn't work. And putting it out when the software doesn't work, it wouldn't work. Period. And so we're trying to figure out when we can put a date that we're sure or reasonably sure that it will work. And we're trying."
"Everybody - a lot - the fascinating thing is those people who screamed they didn't want bicycles are now screaming 'where are they' so I guess we've come a long way and [are] going in the right direction. Nobody would put it out quicker than me."
Alta Bicycle Share, the company picked by New York City last September to run its program, was supposed to have had at least 1,000 bikes on the street on or before July 31, according to its contract with the city, which Transportation Nation has obtained.
Thereafter, Alta was supposed to have added at least 75 stations per ten business days, building to 7,000 bikes by September 30.
Bloomberg said Thursday there were no penalties for a delay.
"It's all private money. And the people who've put up the money, particularly the two big sponsors, Citibank and MasterCard, are fully aware of what's going on and they have been as supportive as you possibly can be. The city loses because we don't have bicycles, but the city doesn't lose any money or anything, and we all want to get it done as quickly -- but you've got to do it right."
The city's Department of Transportation and Alta have been ciphers on the delay. Even Citi Bike's official twitter account has been dark for a week.
Thursday, August 02, 2012
Listener-submitted photos are the foundation of the exhibit. But we also rounded up discarded bike parts and recycled bikes -- generously donated from both Recycle-A-Bicycle and the New York City Department of Sanitation.
We're putting the finishing touches on the show now, and hope you'll be able to experience it in person. In the meantime, check out some pictures of how -- and where -- we got the bikes, a trip which took us from the muraled walls of a Long Island City nonprofit to a city garage with a majestic view on the Hudson River.
For more on the exhibit, visit the Greene Space website. For more on our abandoned bikes project, check out this page.
Monday, July 23, 2012
Grant Petersen, founder and owner of Rivendell Bicycle Works and author of Just Ride: A Radically Practical Guide to Riding Your Bike, discusses the imminent launch of the New York bikeshare program and offers his take on how and why to ride.
Friday, June 15, 2012
Car alarm going off? Someone park too close to you? Putting notes on car windshields is a time-honored New York City way of conveying annoyance. Now that's expanding to another form of transportation.
Friend to TN (heck, he's TN spawn) Collin Campbell sent us this picture, describing it as "a (loud, argumentative) traffic jam on a bike rack." It was taken right around the corner from WNYC near the intersection of Varick and Charlton Streets -- a place where bike parking is indeed at a premium. But that's no excuse to lock your bike to another one. If you're the owner of a brown Upland Beach Cruiser, please report to the corner.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
A report in Bicycling Magazine ranking the top 50 most bike-friendly cities places Washington fourth. In the magazine's last ranking, in 2010, Washington didn't break the top ten.
See the entire list 2012 here.
Then, as now, the list was dominated with more predictable cities like Portland, Minneapolis, Boulder, Madison, and Eugene. Seattle and San Francisco also made both lists.
But the big story of this year's list is the prominence of big cities --like Chicago and New York, which, like Washington, both climbed in ranking.
Most of the changes that the magazine credits in Washington, DC -- including bike share and more bike lanes -- began under DC's former transportation commissioner, Gabe Klein, who now has that job in Chicago (up to #5 from #10 on the last Bicycling Magazine list.)
The magazine examined cities with populations of at least 95,000 for "a robust cycling infrastructure and a vibrant bike culture."
The magazine reports that bicycle ridership increased in Washington "80 percent from 2007 to 2010." The capital city's bike share program is growing in popularity and recently clocked its two millionth ride.
Friday, April 20, 2012
(Cindy Rodriguez -- New York, WNYC) An avid cyclist and wealthy New Yorker has pledged $40 million to the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation. It's the largest donation ever made to a city park and it will be used to build an indoor recreation center called the Fieldhouse.
The donor, Joshua Rechnitz, is the founder and chairman of the New York City Fieldhouse, a non-profit corporation. "We want this to truly be a community endeavor that will add amenities for park users and provide a much needed all weather sports facility," he said in a press release.
Plans for the indoor recreation center include a 200-meter track for cycling and a 22,000 sq. ft. field for high school, college and professional level sports such as basketball, tennis and gymnastics.
Regina Myer, president of Brooklyn Bridge Park, said that the new facility would be along Furman Street, an area of the park used for maintenance and operations.
"Indoor recreation was always part of our park plan but for many many years we just simply didn't have the money," Myer said. "When we realized that Mr. Rechnitz had this vision we worked with him to come to this announcement."
Myer said there will be an approval process, which will include discussions with the community. If all goes well, plans are to break ground in a year and a half.
TN MOVING STORIES: SF's Newest Subway Line Moves Forward; DC's Population Is Up, But Cars Are Down; LaHood Bearish On Transpo Bill
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Top stories on TN:
NY MTA Board Member: Overnight Shutdowns Too Broad--And More are On the Way (Link)
Will High Gas Prices Hurt Obama’s Reelection Chances? (Link)
Residents Look at Ways to Bring Walkability Back to Old Houston Neighborhood (Link)
It's all systems go for San Francisco's newest subway. (San Francisco Chronicle)
DC's population is up, but car registrations are flat lining. (Or as WTOP puts it, "New DC residents: I couldn't 'car' less.")
Airline co-pilots would have to meet the same experience threshold required of captains—the first boost in four decades—under regulations proposed Monday by the Federal Aviation Administration. (AP via Mercury News)
Ray LaHood is bearish on Congress' chances of passing a transportation bill before the March 31st deadline. “I’m going to use past as prologue. We’ve gone 3½ years beyond the last bill...I don’t see Congress passing a bill before this one runs out, before this extension runs out." (Politico)
Meanwhile, state and local transportation officials are anxiously watching Washington for news about the transpo bill. (Politico)
Auto sales are growing so fast American auto makers can barely keep up -- which could lead to shortages that drive up prices. (NPR)
Lawyers for NYC are heading to court today seeking an appeal of a judge's order that the Taxi and Limousine Commission must submit a long term-plan for wheelchair accessibility. (WNYC)
Following safety concerns, NYC will unveil proposed changes to the Prospect Park loop in Brooklyn that would reduce cars to one lane -- and create two separate lanes for bicyclists and pedestrians. (New York Times)
Future roads will have new technology to ease congestion -- and more congestion because of the new technology. (Marketplace)
TransCanada says it will start building the Oklahoma-to-Texas portion of the Keystone XL pipeline. (NPR)
A bill calling for more transparency at the Port Authority was approved by a New Jersey state senate committee. (Star-Ledger)
New York Times' Room for Debate: how to make cities safer for cyclists and pedestrians? The answers: better street design -- and better enforcement. (Link)
One DC bus rider wrote a song about the errant #42 bus: "One bus, two bus, three bus, four/Can't seem to find those open doors/At this rate how am I gonna get anywhere." (Washington Post)
Thursday, February 16, 2012
She does have it all.
From Adele's website last January: "this is me on my new bike i got today, you can tell by my face i REALLY like it! the bell sounds like a door bell…like ding dong not prbprbpbrpbrpbr."
Now that Adele's won six Grammys, the captioning contest is on. (We found the this captioned version on Metapicture.)
This version is popping up on facebook.
How would you caption the picture? Comment below!
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Top stories on TN:
NY City Council Summons Police on Traffic Crime Investigations (Link)
Transpo Bills Set Off on A Long, Bumpy Road (Link)
NY MTA Chief Apologizes for Rat Comments (Link)
DOT Head Ray LaHood Takes Another Whack At House Transpo Bill: It “Takes Us Back to the Horse and Buggy Era” (Link)
Brooklyn Bike Lane Lawsuit Rolls into 2012 (Link)
New York Senate Votes to Restore a Tax Break for Transit Riders (Link)
USDOT: On Time Airline Arrival Highest in 17 Years (Link)
Regulators Soon To Release Reports On Yellowstone River Pipeline Break And Oil Spill (Link)
New York has asked the federal government for a $2 billion loan to help finance the $5.2 billion Tappan Zee Bridge replacement. (Bloomberg)
And now transportation sits firmly atop the political agenda. (AP via Bloomberg BusinessWeek)
The Port Authority will spend half a billion dollars to renovate the George Washington Bridge. (nj.com)
Nine New York city cyclist deaths that raise questions. (MetroFocus)
A New York law cracking down on distracted driving has generated nearly 119,000 tickets statewide to motorists using their cell phones or texting while driving since July. (New York Daily News)
The green paint used in Los Angeles' bike lanes is not digitally erasable -- causing some film crews to have to relocate to bike lane-free streets. (Los Angeles Times)
Chicago's transit agency wants customers to know that its survey about "hypothetical fare scenarios" doesn't mean that it's hiking fares. (Chicago Tribune)
A group of bus companies is suing New York after the city's Department of Transportation gave Megabus a free spot outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal. (DNA Info)
Australia pours money into its car industry while slapping huge tariffs on used cars...but some are arguing for the New Zealand model, where second-hand cars are much cheaper. (The Global Mail)
DC's Capital Bikeshare has hit 1.5 million trips -- in less than a year and a half of operation. (TBD)
New York is phasing in new benches in its subway system. Goodbye, wood; hello stainless! (New York Daily News)
Thursday, February 02, 2012
A markup hearing is scheduled today for the House Republicans' transportation bill. Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists, Robert Sinclair Jr., manager of media relations at AAA New York, and Sean McNally, vice president of communications and press secretary for the American Trucking Associations, explain how the bill would affect pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, and truckers.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
In the past, bicyclists wanting to cross Central Park had two legal choices: ride a couple of extra miles around the loop, or use the more direct -- but narrow and often dangerous -- transverses used by vehicles.
Shortly before New Year's, the New York City Parks Department and the Central Park Conservancy began a six-month pilot program permitting bicyclists to share a pedestrian path south of the 97th Street transverse. According to a Parks Department spokesperson, the path will be monitored to see if it should continue -- or possibly even be expanded.
When the shared path program was first announced last June, there were supposed to be two. Parks wouldn't comment on why the number of paths in the trial program had been reduced to one. But the lanes were not exactly welcomed by Community Board 8 -- the board representing the east side. And last year, Central Park seemed to become center stage for a bike ticketing crackdown.
But earlier this week, when TN checked out the path, all was quiet. The park was relatively uncrowded at 10:30 in the morning on the west side.
Earlier reports indicted that there might be posted speed limits for cyclists, but the signs currently in place tell bicyclists to "ride slowly." Other rules: yield to pedestrians, ride in single file, and no bicycle groups over four people.
If you're looking for it, the path is just south of the 97th Street transverse and passes just north of the tennis courts on the West Side. (For a map of Central Park, go here.)
Have you used the path yet? Let us know your experience, and comment below!