A recent survey of Washington’s Capital Bikeshare members found that the average annual subscriber drove 198 fewer miles per year. That added up to about 4.4 million fewer miles of driving annually in the DC region. Members also saved an average of $800 a year per person.
Bike-share encourages people to buy their own bikes, a Capital Bikeshare survey found. Image: Washington Post
At about the same time the survey was released, the Washington Post ran a story about the successes and limitations of CaBi, and David Alpert at Greater Greater Washington posted some observations in response. He points out that the benefits of bike-share are not limited to the trips people make using the system –it also leads people to ride their own bikes more frequently:
I personally started biking a lot more often around DC once Capital Bikeshare launched, since it provided an easy way to take a spontaneous or one-way trip and not have to feel forced to then bike home. In later years, while I’ve kept my membership (it’s still cheap and useful on occasion), I hardly use it. Instead, I use my own bike.
I’m not the only one. Chris Eatough, Arlington’s bicycle program manager, says that according to a survey of Capital Bikeshare users last year, “82% of respondents reported increased use [of their personal bikes] since joining Capital Bikeshare, and 70% said that Capital Bikeshare was an important reason.”
Bikeshare serves as an introduction to bicycling for many people. That’s why it’s a shame that Simon Pak, who manages The Bike Rack at 14th and Q, had more critical words for bikeshare riders. “Since Capital Bikeshare started, any incident [I've witnessed] in bike-to-bike collisions have been with Capital Bikeshare riders. They’re the most inexperienced riders emulating more experienced riders,” he told Ravindrath.
Though Pak also says 1 in 10 of his customers are looking to move from Capital Bikeshare’s heavy bikes to a lighter and faster personal bike. It sounds like bikeshare is a great source of potential business for bike shops.
Elsewhere on the Network today: T4America writes that the I-5 bridge that collapsed into the Skagit River yesterday was, surprisingly, not rated “structurally deficient” by Washington DOT. Strong Towns says regulatory barriers are preventing developers from pursuing the kind of walkable projects that are the most beneficial to them, as well as the general public. And the Black Urbanist considers how best to combine design and social justice in placemaking.
Shortly after the evening commute last night (around 7 p.m. local time) an entire section of the Interstate 5 bridge — both north and southbound lanes — over the Skagit River an hour north of Seattle, Washington collapsed and fell into the river, sending two cars tumbling down into the river, injuring three yet miraculously killing no one. One of those who plunged into the river along with his wife called it a “miracle” that no one was killed or more severely injured.
From the Seattle Times:
Rescuers pulled three people with minor injuries from the water after the collapse, which authorities say began when a semitruck with an oversized load struck a steel beam at around 7 p.m.
That caused a massive piece of the northern side of the bridge to wobble, and then fall into the water, taking with it a gold pickup, its travel trailer and an orange SUV.
Rescuers did not believe there was anybody else in the water but were planning a morning search to be sure.
Perhaps the most amazing part of this story is that on a bridge that carries more than 70,000 cars daily and at a time of day when traffic could be expected to be moderate at the least, only two vehicles fell into the yawning gap and into the water. Along with everyone else, we at T4 America are relieved that no one died in this tragic bridge collapse.
Just like several years ago in Minnesota, attention quickly turned to the bridge itself. So what do we know about it today?
Memphis is making waves today with the announcement that the city will install 15 miles of protected bike lanes.
Over the last few years, Memphis has been rushing to add bike lanes. Now the city plans to take it to the next level. Image: Memphis Flyer
Led by Mayor A.C. Wharton, a few years ago Memphis embarked on an ambitious campaign to add 55 miles of bike infrastructure. Then the city inspired envy when last year it was one of six selected by the Green Lane Project to receive technical assistance toward building protected bikeways.
Now the Green Lane Project blog is reporting that Memphis is raising the bar again:
The bicycle-friendly mayor, who is credited with reversing Memphis’ reputation from worst city for bicycling to most improved, reaffirmed his reputation today, stating “We’re working hard to make sure we’re not just building quantity, but that we’re building quality bike lanes. We want all our citizens, young and old, to be able to make the choice to bicycle and feel safe and comfortable when doing so. Green lanes are how we’re going to take the next step to make Memphis the most bike-friendly city in Tennessee.”
To put Memphis’ plan for 15 miles of future green lanes into perspective, Memphis currently has zero green lanes, and between 1874 and 2011, only 62 such protected bike facilities were built nationwide. Memphis is playing an influential role in the exponential growth of protected bike lines nationwide; by the end of 2013, more than 200 green lanes will be on the ground. The Green Lane Project is supporting this growth.
Elsewhere on the Network today: Bike Portland reports that the Oregon Department of Transportation is taking additional measures to move away from a “highway-centric” approach. Milwaukee Rising explains that the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is not only planning an unnecessary double-decker highway, but is planning to put it at eye level to neighboring homeowners. And Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space reports that a Washington-area firm is doing the kind of development that might be described as retrofitting the suburbs.
The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has announced another shift in their approach to transportation planning and it couldn’t come at a better time. As recent national research and major news headlines continue to reflect a move away from automobile use among major swaths of the American public, and as highway funding levels nosedive, smart transportation agencies are beginning to adapt.
To respond to these changes, ODOT has announced “Intermodal Oregon” a new initiative that will help the agency “move away from a siloed and highway-centric approach to business.” Here’s how ODOT describes the transition they’re going through (emphases mine):
Like all public agencies, ODOT is facing challenges and changing expectations from the public. Funding is increasingly constrained, and because our footprint as an agency is not financially sustainable, we need to be more efficient. At the same time, economic and demographic trends are shifting the public’s transportation needs and behaviors, driving a need for more transportation options.
These forces all point toward the need for ODOT to evolve as an agency, moving away from a siloed and highway-centric approach to business. While ODOT began life as the Oregon Highway Department a century ago, today we are much more. While highways will long remain the core of our portfolio, today we have extensive involvement in rail, freight, public transportation, active transportation, and interfaces with aviation and maritime resources. Governor Kitzhaber has challenged ODOT and the state’s transportation leadership to reenergize this multimodal transformation.
See the white pinpoints where central cities are? That's where the federal mortgage interest deduction is helping people the least. Meanwhile, residents of sprawling suburbs are raking in the subsidies. Image: Pew Center on the States
Despite the ruinous housing crisis just a few years ago, the federal government still keeps the suburban sprawl machine humming.
About 85 percent of federal subsidies for housing flow to single family homes, according to a recent report from Smart Growth America, though only about 65 percent of Americans are homeowners and the majority of renters live in multi-family housing. The ultimate sprawl subsidy just might be the mortgage interest deduction. Not only is this baby completely regressive — the vast majority of subsidies flow to households with incomes greater than $200,000 — as you can see in the above map, this money tends to flow to areas where everyone is dependent on a car.
Network blog West North writes:
See those donut holes? Inner-city areas with low rates of homeownership, low incomes (and thus fewer residents who itemize deductions), and relatively lower property values are receiving far less of America’s fattest housing subsidy — the mortgage-interest personal income tax deduction (see previous discussion) — than their better-off suburbs. The sprawl subsidies continue apace.
The bigger picture is that this is a subsidy that overwhelmingly benefits wealthy people who have expensive houses, and big mortgages to match — and thus benefits “coastal elites” more.
Elsewhere on the Network today: Human Transit reports that Google Maps is planning some big improvements to its transit directions feature. Mobilizing the Region reports that New Jersey is the newest state to consider reducing speed limits to 20 miles per hour in residential areas. And Better Institutions comments on an unorthodox new plan for a federal infrastructure bank.
One year into its work to catalyze the creation of world-class bicycling facilities in the U.S., our Green Lane Project announced the opening of a major new protected bike lane in Austin, Texas on Friday.
The City of Austin Bicycle Program worked to create the protected bike lane at Barton Springs Road as part of their commitment to the Green Lane Project. Barton Springs Road previously lacked bicycle facilities, making it an unfriendly route for those on bikes. The arterial road now boasts a westbound protected bike lane, or green lane, and an eastbound widened buffered bicycle lane. The improvements make the road a complete street to serve motor vehicle, pedestrian, and bicycle traffic, and provide safer, more convenient access to local businesses.
According to Hill Abell, owner of Bicycle Sport Shop in Austin, the new green lane is a long-needed improvement to the bicycling network in Austin. “This area was already heavily traveled by cyclists, as it’s in the center of the city and connects Zilker Park to downtown; but it was a tight and congested roadway for everyone traveling it,” he said. “Now, its smooth sailing and seeing greatly increased use by cyclists, and the driving public is not slowed by the increased number of riders using the corridor.”
By Amy Wilburn – Back in 2008, Delaware ranked 31st in the League of American Bicyclist’s Bicycle-Friendly States program. It was disappointing and embarrassing, and was one of many factors that helped motivate us to work harder. Our ranking shot up 22 points in 2009 to 9th place, in good part due to the Complete Streets policy (creation, as it was not yet implemented) and the first bike summit (a joint effort by representatives from WILMAPCO, Dover/Kent MPO, DelDOT, Delaware Bicycle Council, Bike Delaware, Parks and Recreation, WCBC, Sussex Cyclists and others). In 2010, we dropped slightly to 10th and then even farther to 18th in 2011. We moved back up to 10th in 2012. This year (2013) we are 5th, in good part due to the progress we’ve made but also based on the hope that good intentions will translate into a more bike friendly state. And that is important to keep in mind. Ensuring that good intentions translate to a bike friendly environment is definitely possible, but it will not be easy. It will take the efforts of many organizations and individuals on many fronts to achieve.
Over the years, numerous agencies worked to build a foundation. Further progress was made once we had a bike friendly governor who initiated Complete Streets and the First State Trails and Pathways Plan. In addition to funding, legislation and infrastructure, we have made inroads in education, enforcement and encouragement. But we have a long way to go. Funding is necessary but that alone won’t do it. First, we have to ensure that whatever funding we receive is put to best use. Certainly, we should consider recreational opportunities since they impact quality of life and health. We also need to encourage more people to use their bikes for transportation, which will help our citizens, communities and environment in so many ways. That is perhaps the most difficult challenge, since it is impacted by so many factors, including attitudes, knowledge, infrastructure and land use.
On the face of things, it’s hard to understand why would anyone oppose bicycling. It’s cheap, it’s healthy, it’s good for the environment.
Ronald Reagan on a bicycle, what could be more American? Image: Twin City Sidewalks
Somehow, though, cycling has become politicized, and it’s the party of personal responsibility, austerity, and small government that tends to carry the anti-bicycling banner.
That’s odd, writes Bill Lindeke at Network blog Twin City Sidewalks, because bicycling aligns so well with core conservative principles. Lindeke, in his latest blog post, lists seven reasons to love cycling from a conservative standpoint. We’ll share just a few:
Bicycle infrastructure is a great way for the government to save money. Conservatives are always talking about “wasteful government spending,” but for some reason don’t view freeway and road infrastructure as part of the problem. A single stoplight costs more than $3,000 per year to maintain and operate. (And huge projects like the unnecessary $600M+ bridge to rural Wisconsin being built right now in Michele Bachmann’s district should make fiscal conservatives cringe.) Bike lanes and trails are extremely cheap and last a long time, one of the best values for government spending you’ll find.
Another conservative mantra is the notion of personal responsibility…
Well, bicycling around the city is literally pulling yourself up with your bootstraps. (It’s actually pushing yourself forward with your feet, but its pretty much the same.) Find another form of transportation (other than walking) that contains more personal responsibility. When I’m riding a bike, nobody or nothing is going to get me to the top of that hill except for my own limbs. The bicycle takes the conservative metaphor of individualism and independence and literalizes it, makes it real.
Of course, Lindeke says, the real reasons we so often see politicians from the right side of the aisle taking stands against cycling has less to do with ideology, and more to do with appealing to particular political constituencies.
Elsewhere on the Network today: Mobilizing the Region reports that transit riders Connecticut and Long Island appear to be at elevated risk of getting hurt while walking. Flat Iron Bike notes the opposition to micro-apartments in Seattle. And Delaware Bikes explains how the state catapulted from lowly number 31 to ninth place in the Bike League’s bike-friendly state rankings.
Investigators are still poring over Friday’s train derailment and collision in Connecticut. Early reports point to damaged track as the cause of the crash that injured 70 people.
Photo: Christian Science Monitor
Meanwhile, Amtrak has said that the route connecting New York and Boston will be closed for several days while the investigation continues, and Metro-North says commuter rail service on the eastern end of the New Haven line will also be out of commission for much of this week. Alternate tracks are undergoing repairs, and that means the tens of thousands of people that rely on this rail line are in a tough position.
Bloggers around the Streetsblog Network today said this incident exposes how fragile the Northeast Corridor, a system that serves hundreds of thousands of commuter trips every day and 12 million intercity Amtrak trips each year, really is. Cap’n Transit says “we can’t depend on the Northeast Corridor.”
The lack of alternative service is just pathetic. “If all the trains use the same tracks, it doesn’t really seem like there are many alternatives for getting into the city,” New Haven resident Robert Li told the Stamford Advocate. “Especially if you don’t have a car.” There were bus bridges to get people home last night, but there are no buses, let alone trains, all weekend. This evening Eric Gershon of Yale News tweeted, “830 pm Peter Pan bus NYC to New Haven packed due to Fri MetroN #train #derailment. Long lines, short tempers at Port Authority.”
Meanwhile, Benjamin Kabak at Second Avenue Sagas says it’s telling that a single incident like this could completely immobilize a significant part of the system:
The MTA and Connecticut’s Department of Transportation have put in place a plan for the 30,000 customers impacted by the 31-mile outage near the east end of the New Haven Line. On Monday morning, a shuttle train will run between New Haven and Bridgeport with express buses providing service to Stamford where trains to the city will be running. Local buses will operate to and from Bridgeport, Fairfield Metro, Fairfield and Westport, but no buses will serve Southport or Greens Farms. All in all, 120 buses from CT Transit, MTA Bus and other local companies will provide service. It won’t be enough.
Considering how many people are dependent upon this route for work, for life, for anything, this response is an indictment of the way we as a society view transit even in the most transit-accessible parts of the country.
Elsewhere on the Network today: Biking Toronto reports that plans are underway in the city for a 69-story tower with no car parking. The Political Environment wonders why the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is pushing a $123 million widening of a rural road while insisting that the state’s finances necessitate a $10 million reduction in transit funding. And Cycle Main Street shares a short video explaining how America became “car country.”
He did a cool little experiement. He was here for two weeks and only got around by asking people on the street for directions, instead of using tech-gadgets. He wrote about it here, on the Better World by Design blog.
He told me about it at Bang & Jensen café in Copenhagen one evening and I thought it to be cool.
One of his observations is that Copenhageners – besides being helpful – never really gave him complete and specific directions. They sent him in the right direction and then suggested he ask someone else for further details once he got closer. I found that interesting.
I’ve spent a awful lot of time thinking about it since then. Making mental notes of my own experiences. Asking friends about their wayfinding habits. In addition, I’ve been using a valuable resource at my disposal – all the guests who stay with me in my flat, my Airbnb room.
The baseline of my observations it that Copenhageners aren’t very good with street addresses. They’ll rarely be able to tell you what house number a certain establishment is at on a certain street. Street names, too, are not something that roll right off the tongue when describing how to get somewhere.