Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Why is that cyclist in the MIDDLE of the ROAD?

We wanted to share this post from Bikeyface, she takes on a common problem that we face on San Antonio streets all the time. There is a list of reasons why we ride in the road, and she lists them elloquently here.

Again, you can find the original post here, at Bikeyface.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Decline of Driving

Hot new FRED data on vehicle miles traveled lets us construct the above chart of vehicle miles traveled per capita on a monthly basis.

You can see that driving has a huge amount of seasonality to it, but that there are also clear long-term trends. In the 1980s and 1990s, people were driving more and more. Over the past ten years, they've been driving less and less. I'd imagine that's largely explained by population aging—retired people probably don't drive as much—with the revitalization of traditional downtowns playing a complementary role.

Originally posted to Slate.

Friday, October 26, 2012

7 Reasons Bikes Are for Everyone—Not Just “Cyclists”

by Christine Grant

Traveling the world’s great bicycle cities, I fell in love with cycling. The ease, safety, convenience… (dreamy sigh) But as my six-month love affair came to an end, I began to realize the reason for my infatuation: cities like those in Denmark and Holland simply make themselves lovable. They don’t just build cycle tracks; they inject fun, whimsy, compassion, and even romance into cycling.
Certainly, many Americans love their bikes, but more of us would if we learned these lessons on cycling’s soft side from the world’s active-transport capitals.

1. Human powered is romantic. I bike home from work with my boyfriend almost every day, and it’s one of the best parts of my day. We talk about what we see along the way or what smells are coming from the Hostess Cake Factory. When it’s sunny, we sometimes stop for a beer along the way. When it’s a crisp winter night, we stop and watch the ships pass under the Fremont Bridge.
When it’s raining, we talk about what kind of soup we want to make for dinner. Biking together through the elements bonds us in a way that would never happen if we were strapped into a car. Throughout my travels, I saw all kinds of romance on the cycle tracks—teenagers kissing at stoplights in Paris, older couples holding hands while pedaling in Amsterdam, and a post-wedding getaway bicycle in Copenhagen.
The average U.S. worker now spends about 48 minutes commuting each day. Despite the billions of hours we collectively spend commuting, we don’t often talk about the way our transportation choices make us feel—physically or mentally.
Maybe we should.

2. You don’t have to be a “cyclist” to ride a bike. Recreational sub-cultures have owned cycling in North America for a long time. That’s starting to change, and it’s an important cultural shift. “None of these people consider themselves cyclists,” Andreas Hammershøj from the Danish Cycling Embassy explained to me last June as we stood on a sidewalk watching swarms of Copenhageners pedal across the Dronning Louises bridge, as 10,000 to 30,000 do daily.
“These are just people getting to work, school, or the grocery store, ” Hammershøj said. It turns out there are Cascadians who, like Copenhageners, would like to get from A to B on their bikes but don’t ever want to ride a "century." (They might not even care to know what a century ride is.) That’s fine. You don’t have to identify with the recreational side of cycling to use a bike for transportation. Just ask Blake Trask, the Statewide Policy Director of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington. “I’m not much of a cyclist. I just ride my bike to work most days.”

3. Remember kickstands? Henry Cutler, the Dutch-American owner of WorkCycles in Amsterdam, is convinced that urban cycling will explode once Americans get off high-performance bikes and on to bikes that are upright, comfortable, and utilitarian.
Why don’t bikes have kickstands anymore?
“Americans ride bikes that are like race cars; Dutch bikes are like Honda Civics and mini-vans,” Cutler joked last July as I admired his fleet of practical bikes. They come outfitted with child seats, baskets, bells, chain guards, and front and rear lights powered by your pedaling. Oh, and kickstands: Why don’t bikes have kickstands anymore?
Tom Fuculoro, author of the Seattle Bike Blog, got it right when he wrote recently that buying a bike ought to be more like buying a car. “Most people aren’t fascinated by the technical aspects of car engines; they’re sold by the sunroof or cup-holders.” David Schmidt, owner of The Dutch Bike Shop in Seattle reports that the useful-bike trend is gaining steam. “Ninety percent of our clients haven’t ridden a bike since they were kids. They’re rediscovering cycling because it’s fun and simpler than driving. These aren’t the crusader commuters. They’re just people who want to start biking to the grocery store.”

4. Does your city have a bike culture? North Americans all understand what “car culture” means, but it’s a term that increasingly comes with a negative connotation. Cars are now being called an “older generation technology.” Despite the billion-dollar marketing budgets of car companies, many millennials would rather not own a car.
Unlike car cultures, bicycle cultures are in demand. Many of the world’s most vibrant and thriving cities are going to great lengths to support their citizen cyclists because having a “bicycle culture” has suddenly become an asset and an important part of “attracting the types of workers that an innovation economy wants to attract.”
“Demographics is destiny," said Brian Surratt, business development director at the City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development, while speaking about the importance of developing a bike culture. “People no longer relocate for industry. Industry relocates for talent. Seattle wants to be recognized as a bike-friendly city because it simply helps attract good talent. The most successful cities—economically, culturally, and socially—must compete for intellectual capital and talent.”

5. More cyclists encourage more compassionate roads. Numerous studies document the relationship between an increase in the volume of cyclists and an increase in cyclist safety. The relationship between these two factors is sometimes remarkably linear. Odense, Denmark, embarked on an ambitious, multi-year cycling promotion campaign and saw cycling levels increase by 20 percent, while traffic accidents involving cyclists decreased by 20 percent.
Why? People behind the wheel become more accustomed to seeing people on two wheels on the roads. Also, it’s often the same people: drivers and cyclists are the same folks at different times of the day, or at least drivers are more likely to have cyclists in the family.
Driving “with your heart” becomes a much easier sell when citizens—like in Groningen, Holland—have friends and family members who commute by bike or on foot. Lucky for us, cycling rates have increased dramatically in many American cities: bike commuting doubled in Seattle and tripled in Portland as a share of all commutes from 2000 to 2010, according to the League of American Bicyclists, while New York City's Department of Transportation reports that commuter cycling there doubled between 2007 and 2011. This growth helps make roads a lot safer for everyone—even roads that lack cycling infrastructure.
Why can’t activity just be engineered into our daily lives so that we can stay healthy without the added chore of working out?
6. We don’t have time to compensate. Most people reading this article are sitting in front of a computer. More and more of us are “knowledge workers” who sit in front of computers for much of our careers. If you also choose to use passive forms of transportation such as driving or taking the bus, doctors recommend that you compensate for your sedentary lifestyle by “working out.”
Unfortunately, I didn’t find much time in my schedule to compensate—and I wasn’t alone. The Center for Disease Control reports that 80 percent of Americans fail to meet federal guidelines for physical activity despite the $19 billion we shell out for gym memberships each year. Why can’t activity just be engineered into our daily lives so that we can stay healthy without the added chore of working out? Cycling has been the solution for me. I typically burn about 500 calories a day pedaling myself to the places I need to go, and going to the gym is never on the to-do list anymore. Having one less chore means I have more free time to spend with the people I love.

7. Focus on women. Women are the “indicator species” of a city’s cycling ecosystem. Studies have shown that women are more risk-averse than men, so a profusion of women pedaling in a city shows that cycling feels safe there.
Women are also far more likely to participate in and benefit from cycling encouragement and training programs than men. A study done in London showed that 73 percent of London residents who participated in on-road cycling training programs were women. The same study interviewed female cyclists and found that “cycling helps bolster a self-confident, independent identity” for many women. An Australian study shows that cycling outreach and support events have a greater positive impact on behavior change among women than among men. Why else is it important to get more women riding? American women make more major household decisions than men and can hence influence the entire family to get out of the car and on to bikes. Some people also assert that more women cycling can contribute to a more visually pleasing urban environment.
None of these ideas are revolutionary. I’ve witnessed each across the world. What’s important is that sometimes it’s not just about infrastructure. Getting folks to fall in love with cycling will take more than signage and street paint (although those are important, too!).
What bicycling could really use is a good marketing department.

Article found on Yes Magazine's website, Originally posted in Sightline.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Top 5 things drivers and bicyclists need to know about each other

Even if the laws are a little different here in Texas, this is a great article from The Post Standard:
 There are many misconceptions about bicycles and cars sharing the road.
Julie Rosa of Lafayette, a triathlon veteran, stresses the importance of knowing the rules of road for both cyclists and drivers. A problem she often encounters even on wide country roads is cars passing her too closely when she’s cycling.

“If I just reached out an inch or two I could touch their mirror,” said Rosa. “You have to be a defensive and offensive rider.”

Another important safety measure Rosa emphasizes is wearing a helmet. She said she often sees younger kids wearing helmets without buckling them.

Rosa’s friend was hit by a car recently while trying to make a left turn on her bicycle. She had made the signal for a left turn but, for whatever reason, the driver decided to pass her on the left. The car hit her arm with enough force to send her flying over its hood and into a nearby ditch.

Lucky for her, she was wearing a helmet. The helmet was destroyed but she escaped with just a few fractures; wearing it had saved her life.

With more people commuting by bicycle, knowing how to properly share the road is more important than ever. In the wake of 17-year-old Austin Elmore’s death this month after he was hit while riding his bike to school in Manlius, we asked some local experts what bicyclists and drivers should know about sharing the road:

For bicyclists

1. Be predictable:

- Steve Morris, co-owner of Mello Velo Bicycle Shop/Café, emphasizes the importance of cyclists riding predictably and constantly being aware of their surroundings.

- “You should ride like you’re a car,” said Morris. “Follow the rules of the road; if you don’t, that’s how you’re going to get hurt.”

2. Obey all traffic rules/laws:

- Even though cyclists are not required to have a license or registration to be on the road, they must obey all traffic rules.

- Morris said most cyclists don’t stop at red lights, stop signs or intersections because they assume people are going to let them pass or see them.

- Mello Velo leads a bike ride around the city every Thursday, but the shop does not do critical mass because it clogs the roads. Critical mass is when a large group of cyclists meet up, spontaneous or not, and ride together in the street. Morris said that kind of cycling just adds to the negative vibe that many motorists tend to have towards bicyclists on the road.
- Many cyclists insist on riding against the traffic flow instead of with it on the right side, said Krol. Ride on the right side.

3. Be aware:

- Bicycle mechanic James Hunter, 36, said he knows from personal experience that cyclists should be aware of doors opening while passing a parked car.

- Hunter said it’s important that both bicyclists and cars have mutual respect for each other.

- Brian Damm, the director of operations at Syracuse Bicycle, said road safety for cyclists is similar to that of motorcycles because eye contact between the cyclist and drivers is critical.

- Two cyclists can ride next to each other when there are no cars, but should ride single when cars are present.

- “The worst thing you can do is wear your iPod,” said Rosa, 37, a physical therapy assistant at Upstate University Hospital at Community General.
4. Wear a helmet:

- Debbie Kogut, coordinator for the Onondaga County Traffic Safety Program, said having a helmet is important for times when “sharing the road gets a little too close.” This includes times when bicyclists are forced of the road by cars don’t leave enough room as they pass cyclists.

5. Be visible:

- “As a bicyclist you have to imagine you’re invisible,” said Michael Lyon, president of the Onondaga Cycling Club. “Make yourself visible with lights or bright clothes.

- Bicycles should be equipped with a headlight, reflectors and a back light at night.

For motorists

1. Remember that bikes are supposed to be on the road:

- “Motorists don’t always realize that it’s NY state vehicle traffic law,” said Krol.

- Cyclists are allowed to be 36 inches to the left of the white line on a street.

- Cyclists are supposed to ride as far right as possible but they can take an entire lane or ride in the middle if the road isn’t wide enough.

- Cyclists are not allowed to ride on the sidewalk.

2. Be considerate and aware:

- Always scan the road for pedestrians and cyclists.

3. Drive cautiously:

- Reduce speed when encountering cyclists. Don’t tailgate, especially in bad weather. Recognize hazards that cyclists may face and give them space. (New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee)

4. Pass with care:

- When passing, leave four feet between you and a cyclist. Wait for safe road and traffic conditions before you pass. Check over your shoulder before moving back. (New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee)

- Lyon said drivers often don’t realize how fast bicyclists are going, and when they cut off or pass bicyclists too close it’s dangerous.

5. Wait.

- If you can’t pass a cyclist safely and legally, wait, said Kogut. Passing within a single lane does not provide enough space to not endanger the cyclist.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Dedicated Bike Lanes Can Cut Cycling Injuries in Half

From The Atlantic Cities:
A major city street with parked cars and no bike lanes is just about the most dangerous place you could ride a bike. All the big threats are there: open car doors, bad parallel parkers, passing cabs and public transit. This is not a particularly novel scientific revelation, although research has found it to be true. Things get more interesting when we compare this bad-biking baseline to infrastructure actually intended to accommodate cyclists.
New research out of Canada has methodically done just this, parsing 14 route types – from that bike-ambivalent major street to sidewalks, local roads with designated bike lanes, paved multi-use paths and protected "cycle tracks" – for their likelihood of yielding serious bike injuries. As it turns out, infrastructure really matters. Your chance of injury drops by about 50 percent, relative to that major city street, when riding on a similar road with a bike lane and no parked cars. The same improvement occurs on bike paths and local streets with designated bike routes. And protected bike lanes – with actual barriers separating cyclists from traffic – really make a difference. The risk of injury drops for riders there by 90 percent.
These findings come from a new study of cyclist injuries and behavior in Toronto and Vancouver just published in the American Journal of Public Health. The research will provide weighty evidence for advocates of dedicated bike infrastructure precisely because transportation engineers have long believed the exact opposite to be true. For years, they’ve counter-intuitively argued that you’re actually better off learning to ride alongside cars than having your own bike lane.
Read the rest of the article here.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

This Week In San Antonio - October 22nd - 28th

This week on our Calendar we have a sweet list of things going on, from pleasure rides to premires.

Zombie Bicycle Club / Monday
This ride has been going strong now for over a year. Meet at Blue Star every Monday at 7.

The Levi Effect: The Story of Levi Leipheimer / Tuesday
You may have seen the recent headlines. Now, get the true story. 

NCM Fathom Events, Bike Monkey and Citizen Pictures invite you to movie theaters nationwide for a special one night event on Tuesday October 23, 2012 at 7:30 PM (local time) as we debut the untold story of professional cyclist Levi Leipheimer in The Levi Effect.

McCreeless Mall in San Antonio
Cielo Vista 18 in San Antonio
Starplex 12 in San Marcos

Tuesday Ride from Bike World at Stone Oak / Tuesday
Slow Pace/No drop ride; 1.25 hours (Approx 10-15 miles). All skill levels & styles welcome. Low traffic ride through Hollywood Park. Meet at the shop at 5:30 pm/Depart at 6pm.

National and Local Transportation Experts Speaking in San Antonio / Wednesday
On October 24, BikeTexas, Rails to Trails Conservancy, Texas State University, VIA Metropolitan Transit, San Antonio Office of Sustainability, and the San Antonio-Bexar County MPO are co-hosting Tracy Hadden Loh from Washington, DC to speak about "Federal Bicycle Transportation Funding: What It Means for Texas."

Who: Tracy Hadden Loh, Rails to Trails Conservancy Research Manager and Director of the National Transportation Enhancement Clearinghouse

Where: VIA community room, 1021 San Pedro, San Antonio

When: 6:30 PM, October 24

DTSA Hardcourt Bike Polo / Thursday
Bike Polo at Fairchild Park at 8pm

Downtown Highlife Bicycle Club / Friday
"You can all go to hell…I’m going to the Alamo on the last Friday of every month at 9pm on my bike."

Saturday Morning Ride / Saturday
When: Every Saturday morning
Time: 8:00 AM
Where: Broadway Bike World
Distance: 40-45 miles

Bike World Sunday Evening Mountain Bike Ride / Sunday
Mountain Bike Ride. All skill levels welcome.
Ride to Salado from 1604 to Phil Hardberger Park and back. Meet at the Stone Oak Bike World at 5:00 pm/Depart at 5:30 pm.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Our First Bake Sale!

We're having our first Bake Sale on Sunday at Frankenbike! We'll be set up at Texas Trash Clothing Exchange on October 21st from 10 until 4. Come out and get some treats and support San Antonio's only non-profit dedicated to urban cycling advocacy and education.

Find out more about what we do and what you will be supporting on our website. You can find our mission, our programs, and other resources for San Antonio cyclists. Contact us if you have questions.