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Transportation Nation

First Envisioned 21 Years Ago, a D.C. Biking and Walking Path Remains Unfinished

Thursday, December 19, 2013

WAMU

Twenty-one years after plans were first devised -- and seven years after D.C.'s bike master plan called for its completion -- a planned eight mile bicycling and walking trail that may eventually connect Union Station and Silver Spring is still years away from being finished.

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Transportation Nation

Houston Policy Makers Maintain Funding for Bike/Ped, But Give Rest to Roads

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

(Houston -- Wendy Siegle, KUHF News) For the past month, local policy makers have been ruminating on whether it would be a good idea to renege on a promise to give $12.8 million dollars to certain bike and pedestrian-oriented projects. The money is part of a $345 million dollar pot of discretionary funding. Some goes to bike/ped projects, some to road/freight rail projects. The proposal to take that $12 million and put it toward road and freight rail project stemmed from the stark reality that resources for transportation projects in the Houston region are dwindling, and the view by many members of the Transportation Policy Council (TPC) that the funds would be better spent on highway improvements.

But the plan wasn’t received well by bike advocates who came out in large numbers to sign petitions and voice concerns during last month’s TPC meeting. So, after hearing from the public,  the proposal was shelved to allow time for more deliberation on how to split up the funds. That time ran out at this month's meeting where the issue finally came to a vote.

Listen the full story here.

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Ruth SoRelle and her husband Paul rode their bikes to the meeting. They joined dozens of other cycling advocates to hear how the TPC would vote. Before the meeting I asked Ruth SoRelle what she hoped the outcome would be. “We are not asking for extra money," she said, "we are asking for them to maintain the funding we have. We need to develop alternate ways of transportation. So if we develop bikeways and pedestrian walkways then we’ll accomplish that goal.”

In the end, the SoRelles got their wish. The TPC decided to preserve the money for bike/ped initiatives. But despite the seeming victory,

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Transportation Nation

Who Will Win? Houston's Roads or Bike Lanes?

Friday, March 18, 2011

(Houston--Wendy Siegle, KUHF News) Houston-area transportation policy makers have $80 million federal dollars to distribute at their discretion. At the monthly meeting of  Transportation Policy Council (TPC) advisers went around the table giving input on how the funding should be divided between bike and pedestrian projects, and road and freight rail projects. There was no consensus on exactly how to do that. (Should 45 percent go to non-road projects or should that number be closer to 11 percent? The former is by far the less likely of the two.)

But there was a lot of chatter on how divvying up the money would shape Houston’s transportation system in the future. Robin Holzer heads up the Citizens’ Transportation Coalition, a group that wants more money to go to projects that would build bike lanes and widen sidewalks. “I think the question of how to spend this $80 million has kick-started a really important policy discussion that’s going to play forward into our future investments and in particular into our long-range transportation plan," says Holzer. "And that’s a good thing,” she adds.

Clark Martinson is the general manager of Houston's Energy Corridor district. He’s also a technical advisor to the TPC. He notes that the majority of the conversation circled around alternative types of transportation. “I have not heard anybody discuss that we want more roadways in any of these discussions. I’ve heard people asking that we want to create a more livable environment that’s safer to walk, for our children to walk to school, to be able to ride a bicycle to work and not be in fear on the roads," he said. "And so I think that with that kind of dialogue that’s happening, it’s a real transportation shift in our region.”

Last month cycling and livable centers advocates succeeded in getting the TPC to reconsider a proposal that would have cut all bike/pedestrian funding from that $80 million dollar pot. The TPC decided to delay the vote for a month. It will make its final decision on how to slice up the pie during its March 25 meeting. Almost 3,000 bike and pedestrian activists have signed two petitions calling on officials to save funding for non-road projects.

Listen to the story here.

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Transportation Nation

Turning Your Bike Into A Paintbrush, and Other Ways To Create Community

Friday, November 12, 2010

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Can design be used to encourage bike riding? Pepin Gelardi and Teresa Herrmann, both designers, think so. The number one reason people don't ride, they tell GOOD Magazine, is because people feel outnumbered by cars and don't feel safe. So they created Contrail to visually show the bounty of bikes around town, to convey a sense of a cycling community and get people thinking they, too, can ride around their city.

Contrail turns bikes into (non-permanent) paintbrushes. Cyclists strap the device to the frame and the real wheel powers a pump that drips a stream of colorful chalking fluid along behind, trailing a bright line.

Image: Contrail

It's still in the prototype phase, so it's unclear if it would be adopted in any large number enough to achieve the designers' goal of conveying community through a city-wide cross hatch of colored strips and swirls.

Some bike advocates, however, are already big fans. The designers are encouraging them to imagine Contrail as a tool to draw attention to their cause of building cycle-friendly cities.

There is evidence this kind of tool would be adopted by activists. To advocate for a new bike lane, the artist collective Länsiväylä in Helsinki, Finland poured water-based paint on the street and had cyclists ride through it, trailing the colors along what the group hoped would become the new bike lane.

Flickr user Länsiväylä: Pyöräilykaista2010

Contrail designers also point out it would facilitate group rides of all stripes, from neighborhood tours to anything else, because the trails would make it easy to follow the leader/tour guide even if you lose sight. On their website, they say it can also facilitate fundraising, or just fun, as an artsy addition to city riding. They don't mention critical mass rallies, but it's easy to see how the cycling stalwarts behind the monthly ride to "reclaim" the streets would want to mark their territory, especially because there is no announced route ahead of time.

Watch a video of how Contrail works.

Contrail by Ulicu LLC from Teresa Herrmann on Vimeo.

The project is still a prototype in the fundraising phase with more details and a request for financial support at their Kickstarter page.

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