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League Of American Bicyclists

Transportation Nation

Dozens in Congress Press for Nat'l Bike and Pedestrian Safety Goals, Measurement

Thursday, March 28, 2013

(Washington, D.C. -- WAMU) The recent lobbying by bicycling advocates on Capitol Hill seems to have paid off.

A bipartisan group of 68 members of the U.S. House, responding to the advocates’ safety concerns, has signed a letter to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood asking him to order the Department of Transportation to follow through on two aspects of the MAP-21 legislation signed into law last year.

The representatives, including D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, are asking Sec. LaHood to establish a national goal to reduce bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities and to push individual states to set “performance measures” to accomplish the same.

“If we don't set performance goals for states and cities there will be no incentive for them to look at what many don't even recognize,” Norton said in an interview with WAMU 88.5. “More people are walking and more people are taking their bikes. Thus, there will be no incentive to try to make the roads easier to navigate.”

As overall roadway fatalities have dropped significantly the number of pedestrians and bicyclists killed has increased, according to federal data. Total fatalities have dropped from 37,423 in 2008 to 32,367 in 2011. But roughly 5,000 pedestrians and bicyclists are killed annually, from 12 percent of all roadway deaths in 2008 to almost 16 percent in 2011, according to the federal government’s fatality analysis reporting system.

Safety advocates see the establishment of performance measures as an opening for additional federal funding directed to bicycling and walking infrastructure. Currently less than one percent of federal highway safety funds are spent improving bicyclist and pedestrian safety.

“We urge USDOT to set separate performance measures for non-motorized and motorized transportation,” says the letter signed by the 68 House members. “This will create an incentive for states to reduce bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities, while giving them flexibility to choose the best methods to do so.”

Follow Martin Di Caro on Twitter @MartinDiCaro

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Transportation Nation

Bicyclists in D.C. Lobby for Safety

Thursday, March 07, 2013

(image by Katie Harbath via flickr)

(Washington, D.C. -- WAMU) In the basement of a Lutheran church a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol bicycling advocates gathered on a rain-soaked Wednesday afternoon to prepare to meet their congressional representatives. On the third day of the National Bike Summit in Washington, bicyclists from across the country took their message to lawmakers: as more bikes share the roads with cars, more bicyclists are being killed or injured.

“In order for people to feel safe they have to have their own space,” said Karen Overton of New York City, who owns two bike shops. She had a face-to-face meeting with her congresswoman, Rep. Nydia Velázquez, to talk about improving street safety through federal investments in bicycling infrastructure.

“It’s getting easier. Ten years ago it was like we were aliens on the hill. So there has been change in the right direction,” Overton said.

Less than 0.5% of federal highway safety funds are spent improving bicyclist and pedestrian safety, say advocates, at a time when the streets are becoming more dangerous for people not in cars. Pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities have increased from 12% of all roadway deaths in 2008 to almost 16% in 2011, according to the federal government's fatality analysis reporting system (FARS).

In addition to increasing federal spending on bicycling and walking infrastructure (traffic calming structures, separated bike lanes, cycle tracks), advocates are asking their representatives to follow through on efforts to require state transportation departments to set statistical goals to reduce biking and pedestrian incidents, part of a “performance measures” initiative of the MAP-21 legislation signed into law by President Obama on July 6, 2012.

“While there may be a broad safety target set for the number of lives that are lost on the roads, there isn’t a specific one for bicyclists, for pedestrians, and we feel it's a big enough issue that there should be a specific target,” said Andy Clarke, the president of the League of American Bicyclists. He is a signatory on a letter urging U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to convince states to use federal funding to make non-motorized transportation safer.

Letter to LaHood on Performance Measures

LaHood is a favorite among bike and pedestrian advocates, and he dropped by the National Bike Summit earlier this week.

Overall roadway fatalities have dropped significantly, according to federal data. The number of people killed has dropped from 37,423 in 2008 to 32,367 in 2011. But roughly 5,000 pedestrians and bicyclists are killed annually.

“The numbers have been going up slightly for those two means of travel,” Clarke said. “They’ve been going down for people who are in cars and are belted and buckled up. We want to see a similar level of attention paid to crashes that are happening involving bicyclists, involving pedestrians, even motorcyclists.”

Anthony Siracusa of Memphis was among the advocates who trekked to the hill on Wednesday. He successfully pushed for a $15 million grant to build a bicycle and pedestrian bridge across the Mississippi River. He says once lawmakers should visit bicycling and walking projects in their home districts to see for themselves how cities are becoming more livable.

“It’s one thing to talk about it across a board room table,” he said. “It’s another thing for them to actually experience it and see the number of stakeholders who come together around these projects, and the relatively small investment it takes to make a profound difference in the community.”

Follow @MartinDiCaro on Twitter.

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Transportation Nation

LaHood: The Next Secretary Won't Stand on the Table At Bike Confab

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Secretary Ray LaHood at the National Bike Summit in Washington, DC (Photo: US DOT)

It was a wistful good-bye for transportation secretary Ray LaHood at the 2013 National Bike Summit.

The Secretary, who began with a low-profile that he quickly raised in the biking community by, among other things, jumping on a table at the 2010 Bike Summit Meeting to promote bikes, gave a long a loving paean to his administration's efforts to promote bike share, bike lanes, and safe biking.

"I guarantee you this," LaHood said, close to the beginning of his speech. "Whoever my successor is. You'll not have a secretary of transportation stand on the table and speak to you, that will never happen again."

"Since he was appointed in 2009, LaHood has been a true believer in the power of biking and has raised the credibility of bicycles as transportation at the federal level," the League wrote in its blog. “Ray LaHood is the first and only transportation secretary that keeps talking about bikes — even after we’ve left  the room,” said League President Andy Clarke.

"The President recently told me that he ran into someone who said something about Ray LaHood,” the Secretary said in his speech. “The president said, ‘You must be a cyclist’ — and he was.”

LaHood has promoted bike share, bike lanes, and biking to work, and has argued -- often to unsympathetic former Republican colleagues in the House -- that biking should be given respectability as a mode of transportation.

For that, he'll be missed in biking circles. "What a ride these four-and-a-half years with all of you. You’ve made a great difference; you really have," LaHood told the cyclists.

To which the League replied: "Right back at you, Mr. Secretary."

 

 

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Transportation Nation

As Cities Compete to Be More Bike-Friendly, List of Bike Towns Grows

Monday, May 14, 2012

Copenhagen bike riders signal for a turn. (Photo CC by Flickr user Mikael Colville-Andersen)

(This post by Andrew Zaleski originally appeared in Grist.org)

GUEST POST: Once was that American cities competed to look more like Detroit, with gleaming lanes of highway stretching as far as the eye could see. Now, it’s a race to imitate Copenhagen, the Danish capital where 36 percent of residents commute to work via bicycle.So it seems, at least, when looking at today’s announcementby the League of American Bicyclists of the latest — and largest — round of official Bicycle Friendly Communities in the U.S.

Some of the cities on the list will come as no surprise: Portland, San Francisco, and Chicago are here, as is Missoula, Mont., where 7 percent of residents bike to work, versus the 0.6 percent national average. But so are cities like Baltimore, Cincinnati, and Cottonwood, Ariz. Twenty-five more cities applied for bicycle-friendly status, but were denied.
The league hands down its Bicycle Friendly certification with a multi-tier, Olympics-like grading system: Cities can earn bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.The awards, which have been around since 1996, recognize cities that both promote cycling as a means of transportation and actively work to make cycling safer. A panel of national experts brought in by the league and local enthusiasts (bike shop owners, advocacy group leaders) assesses applications along five main criteria: engineering, education, encouragement, evaluation and planning, and enforcement.The best cities, League of American Bicyclists President Andy Clarke says, have action plans in place to ensure that residents have opportunities to ride. They have city-sponsored bike rides, and networks of bike trails, lanes, and sharrows that connect them to where they need to go.Louisville, Ky., is one city that’s done what Clarke advocates. In 2005, then-Mayor Jerry Abramson held the city’s first bike summit and vowed to make Louisville a gold-level Bicycle Friendly City by 2015.
The city then set up bike facilities at traffic-heavy locations downtown, installed eight miles of striped cycling lanes, hosted community rides on Memorial Day and Labor Day, and raised $20,000 for bike education classes in 2006. In 2007, the city earned bronze-level certification one year ahead of schedule, and continues its cycling advocacy today.
 

Clarke says many of the winners are beneficiaries of some sort of cycling crusader or organization pushing hard for reforms, enforcement, and acknowledgment of bikers. “Having a champion like a mayor or city councilperson who set outs measurable targets and goals that you can hold yourself accountable to — that seems to make the biggest difference,” Clarke says.

One sticking point for the league is measuring how well local police enforce laws designed to protect cyclists. A recent study [PDF] conducted by Johns Hopkins University researchers found that cyclists in bronze-level certified Baltimore are routinely passed by vehicles traveling within the three-feet buffer mandated by law.

And while the latest round of awards is music to many bikers’ ears, “I will be the first to admit we have a long, long way to go,” says Clarke. Even Portland, Ore., which gets a platinum certification from the league, “would be a pretty crappy Dutch city when it comes to cycling,” Clarke says.

Andrew Zaleski is a a freelance writer and editor, and digital media editor for Urbanite magazine in Baltimore. 

 

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Transportation Nation

House Transpo Bill Gets Storm of Criticism from Advocates, Dems -- Even AAA

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

 (photo by Kate Hinds)

The reviews are in on the House transportation bill:

"It's like funding a quit-smoking program by lowering the smoking age to generate more revenue from cigarette taxes." (USPIRG statement)

"It would reverse all the progress we have made in the past 20 years...horrible." (League of American Bicyclists)

"This bill is less about creating jobs and more about giving the green light to the oil industry and road-builders."  (Southern Environmental Law Center)

“Additional research is required to demonstrate exactly how bigger and heavier trucks would impact traffic safety. Absent this research, we cannot take the chance – there is simply too much at stake.” (AAA statement)

To be sure, the bill has its supporters.

"Chairman Mica has done tremendous work," the Associated General Contractors of America said.  "The legislation will significantly accelerate transportation improvements." (Associated General Contractors of America)

But the tone of criticism by advocates for smart growth, biking, walking, and transit was considerably sharper than its been in the past-- an indication of how far apart the two sides are on a bill that used to be negotiated far more amicably.

Even AASHTO -- the group that represents state transportation officials, also known as a big proponent of highway spending -- wasn't exactly effusive.

"We are pleased that the House and Senate are moving ahead on a long-term surface transportation authorization. A long-term bill that sustains the surface transportation program at current funding levels is critical to the nation's economy and creating American jobs."  (AASHTO statement).

Democratic politicians didn't pull any punches.  Here's New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler: "I am generally troubled by the treatment of programs critical to our nation's economy, and to the New York region, namely: transit, environmentally friendly alternative transportation programs, rail, (and) freight...As language in the bill currently stands, these dedicated funding soruces are either fundamentally reformed, or eliminated completely."

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has given the bill little chance of passage (a Senate bill is only for two years of funding, among the many differences), but that won't prevent a spring with a lot of heat over this one.  Stay tuned.

 

 

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Cost of Driving Up, Budget Battle Threatens Transpo Reauthorization, and it's Yankees Vs. MTA in the "Great New York Subway Race"

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

At a Municipal Arts Society panel (hosted by TN's Andrea Bernstein), NYC DOT head Janette Sadik-Khan talked about public plazas -- and Gridlock Sam talked about the backlash to current street changes. (Streetsblog)

The budget battle is endangering the Obama administration's transportation reauthorization plans. (Greenwire via New York Times)

The NY Daily News is reporting that an Inspector General probe found widespread misuse of police parking placards by lawmakers and other state officials, says Governor Cuomo will call for major changes in the way the parking passes are distributed.

AAA says the cost of driving rose 3.4% over last year. (USA Today)

San Francisco's Muni has a plan to bring riders more frequent service and faster trips on its busiest lines. But it will take nine years and cost $167 million - including at least $150 million the agency doesn't have. (San Francisco Chronicle)

The New York Yankees and the NY MTA are in a dispute about the "Great New York Subway Race." But it sounds like it was a misunderstanding and fans will hopefully see the epic battle between the B, D and 4 trains on the scoreboard soon.  (Article from NY Daily News; see video of the Subway Race below.)

March Madness fans broke Houston's Metropolitan Transit Authority's light rail ridership record numbers with an estimated 148,000 basketball fans riding trains to and from the NCAA Final Four games during the four-day event. (Houston Chronicle)

Stanford University tops the League of American Bicyclist's list of bike-friendly university. (Kansas City Star)

Richard Branson has launched Virgin Oceanic, a deep-sea submarine project. (BoingBoing)

Actor Kevin Spacey rode a DC's bikeshare program bike. (DCist)

The 2011 NYC Cycling Map (pdf) is now available.

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: New York's MTA is installing...subway communicator thingies on some station platforms. California applies for high-speed rail funds. And the DOT says that airline tarmac delays were down last month.

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Transportation Nation

Sadik-Khan Offers Full-Throated Endorsement of Large-Scale Urban Bike Networks

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan with Congressman Earl Blumenauer (photo by Chris Eichler/League of American Bicyclists)

(Washington, DC -- Jim O'Grady, WNYC) New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan sounded like anything but an official on the defensive in a speech this morning at The League of American Bicyclists’ National Bike Summit here.

“It is wonderful to be here with so many friends,” she began, addressing a ballroom full of cycling advocates at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. “The movement is there,” she said of pro-bike and pedestrian advocates and policy-makers. “The people are there, the projects are there—and none of this really was there just five years ago.”

Sadik-Khan has been sharply attacked of late. Some residents of Park Slope, Brooklyn, sued this week to have a bike lane along Prospect Park removed, a much-discussed profile in The New York Times called her “brusque” and worse; and a New Yorker writer described her as the head of “a small faddist minority intent on foisting its bipedalist views on a disinterested or actively reluctant populace.”

But Sadik-Khan is continuing to make the case that the economic and cultural future belongs to cities that wring transportation efficiencies out of moving more people above-ground by bus, bike and foot.

Further, she said opponents of the kind of streetscape re-engineering that shifted space from cars to bikes and pedestrians were up against a movement with momentum. “We’re starting to see real cycling systems in American cities,” she claimed. “In New York, we have added 250 miles of on-street bike lanes since 2006.”

She then launched into a list of famous streets around the U.S. that now have bike lanes and more space for pedestrians, from Market Street in Portland to Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. She praised Barcelona for throwing “infrastructure parties”—transit projects and urban upgrades completed in preparation for large events like the Olympics. And to the approval of the room, she talked up the pedestrian plaza her department created in Times Square.

“You can see this on Broadway, in my town, which is now the Great Green Way,” she said. “And more is coming. I don’t know if you heard that just last week Mayor Villaraigosa of Los Angeles talked about plans for a 1,700-mile bike network in Los Angeles. I think that’s really extraordinary.”

All of this is proof, she said, of a global competition by cities to innovate with their transportation systems. “City leaders—mayors, certainly— understand this is an economic development strategy,” she said. “If we are going to attract the best and the brightest to our cities, we have to make these cities work.” She said that means urban planners are looking at the competition and asking: “Who can be the greenest, who’s got the next bike share program, who’s got the coolest new bus rapid transit line?”

But she said urban development is not solely competitive.  Together with  transportation officials around the U.S., she launched an online Urban Bikeway Design Guide that cities can use as an engineering template to construct even more bike lanes. “For too long, these basic tools have been out of the tools of local officials,” she said. The group will be lobbying the Federal Highway Administration to recognize the guidelines as national standards, she added, making it easier to install bike lanes around the country.

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Transportation Nation

U.S. Sect'y LaHood Says Cars Should Play Smaller Role In Next Gen of Transportation

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Ray LaHood at the 2011 Natonal Bike Summit (photo by Chris Eichler/League of American Bicyclists)

(Washington, DC - Jim O'Grady, WNYC) U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told a conference of bicycle advocates in Washington, DC, that President Obama’s national transportation plan will continue to de-emphasize private vehicles. LaHood has faced opposition from some governors over spending on high speed rail and support for biking and walking paths. But he said those priorities come from “his boss," the president, and the transportation budget that the president has put before Congress.

Ray LaHood's blog post on the speech is here.

“It’s about the next generation of transportation," he said of Obama's agenda. "It’s about high speed rail. It’s about streetcars. It’s about transit. It’s about livable and sustainable communities where you can live in a community and you don’t have to own a car.”

LaHood didn't jump up on a table, as he did in a fit of enthusiasm at last year's League of American Bicyclists' National Bike Summit, but he scaled some rhetorical heights in showering praise around the room.

He began by calling New York Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik Kahn "a quite extraordinary lady" for re-engineering part of the city's streetscape to allow more room for buses, bikes and pedestrians. "She has really put New York on the map when it comes to making New York a liveable, sustainable community," he said. "And you can live in New York and not own a motor vehicle. So Janette, thank you for your leadership."

His remarks come as Sadik-Khan has faced noisy protests from some quarters for making life less convenient for some motorists.

LaHood also defended President Obama's high speed rail initiative, even though Florida Governor Rick Scott last week became the latest governor to turn down federal transportation funds for a high speed rail project--in his case, $2.4 billion.

"There's a lot more governors that have accepted money," LaHood said to reporters in a hallway of the Grand Hyatt Hotel after speaking to a ballroom full of bicycling enthusiasts. "Only three governors have turned back money. I've got people lined up out my door ready to take the more than $2 billion that's coming back from Florida."

He said the Obama administration has already spent $11 billion on high speed rail and is proposing in the current budget to spend $50 billion more. "There's a lot of enthusiasm for high speed rail in America," he concluded.

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Transportation Nation

Bike to Work, Then Bike at Work

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

(Billings, MT - Jackie Yamanaka, Yellowstone Public Radio) -- This is Bike to Work Week across America.  There are refreshments, discounts at businesses, and benefits for bike commuters around the country.  While commuters getting those perks and marking this moment hopefully enjoy the change in routine, there's also a population in the working world doing their job on a bike.  One of them is office Shane Winden of the Billings Police Department (left).  Riding on the job can't stop him from changing bikes and riding home from work.  Hear why.

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Transportation Nation

Portland, Austin ... Houston? How a Texas Suburb Works To Be Bike-Friendly

Monday, May 17, 2010

(The Woodlands, Texas -- Wendy Siegle, KUHF News Lab) -- Houston has long been an oil man's town and a booming city that loves its cars and parking lots.  That's changing.  Just to the north, in The Woodlands, a tony suburb, people like 64-year old David Hitchcock are adding up the benefits of biking to work.  “Bicycles are really the most efficient way to travel. On my trip to work this morning, which is about seven miles, I used about 360 calories. I did the math when I got to work and found out that’s about 775-thousand miles per gallon for the equivalent energy in a gallon of gasoline."  With Hitchcock's help, The Woodlands may earn recognition in the Bicycle Friendly Community Program, a nationwide distinction previously placed on places like Portland, Davis, California and yes, Austin.

Take a listen inside the movement, as a community takes on traffic, bike paths and a new way of getting around Texas.

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