Sunday, July 27, 2008

Clintonville Neighborhood Plan Features Enhanced Bicycle-Friendliness

Part of the city's plans for enhancing and improving our fine city is the creation of various neighborhood plans, and as I live in Clintonville, I am most interested in the plan for our fine neighborhood.

I'd no idea that such a thing even existed till I happened to pick up the latest copy of This Week - Clintonville from my doorstep. It's sad... I rarely have had time to read this paper, but after seeing the insert in it this past week I'll certainly be making it a regular thing. The insert, entitled "The Best of Clintonville," was mostly a feature of a few of the local businesses that are making an impact in our area. But the center section was a description of the Clintonville Neighborhood Plan, and I was most interested to read the plans for bicycle infrastructure in our area.

The presentation in the insert had sections such as "Neighborhoods will have a vibrant mix of activities" and "Open space and critical environmental areas will be preserved." The one that interested me was "People will be able to get around by walking, car, transit, and bicycle." Here's the detail:
  • Parks, schools, and open space should be connected to neighborhoods with pedestrian and bicycle paths.
  • A Share the Road Campaign should be implemented on High St., Weber, North Broadway, and Lincoln.
  • Bike lanes should be included on Morse, Indianola, and North Broadway west of Milton.
  • A Bike Boulevard should be implemented on Milton and Tibet.
  • Bike lockers or bike racks should be considered at transit stops or park-n-rides.
  • Improve bike and pedestrian accessibility on North Broadway Bridge.
  • Investigate the possibility of developing a north-south bike route as an alternative to High Street and Indianola.
Other notes include:
From "Development and public improvements should be designed to be walkable and encourage personal interaction": Install bike racks as part of commercial, office, and multifamily developments.
All these things sound good to me! I'm a bit concerned at a couple of the ideas, though.

First, the concept of Share the Road on High Street seems a bit like not addressing the problem. My guess is that they don't want to put bike lanes on High Street because the business owners are afraid of losing street parking. I suppose that's understandable, despite the fact that many places nationwide that have removed street parking and added bike lanes (and bike parking, particularly) have shown MORE business coming to those areas as they become more inviting to people. Plus, cyclists (not being as able to do all their shopping at once due to the problem of transporting things home by bike) tend to shop MORE - thus opening them up to more impulse buys via more trips to businesses.

The reason this concerns me, though, is that I question our city police and their ability to truly understand a Share the Road concept (as I assume this means sharrows or something similar on High Street). Past performance has shown that most police in this city see Share the Road as favoring cars and fitting in bikes where they can, without slowing things down. That's the wrong attitude, naturally.

Second, there is no real bikeway (lane, path, etc.) going east-west, and particularly nothing going over the Olentangy River. Any real plan that includes improving bike access absolutely MUST include bike lanes at the least going east-west and especially on the bridges. That means bike lanes on all of North Broadway and Henderson Road (according to this map, Dodridge/Ackerman is out of the scope of the Clintonville plan, in case you were wondering).

Finally, if they plan on putting bike lanes on Indianola and sharrows (again, my assumption) on High Street, what's the need for another north-south bike thoroughfare? This sounds to me as if business owners on High and Indianola don't want the bike lanes... and that spells trouble for me.

Still, if all of these recommendations were put into place, Clintonville would be one of the most bike-friendly parts of the city. And I certainly support that.

This link will take you to the plan overview and comment forms. PLEASE fill them out and follow the instructions on the page to make your opinion known. We have till August 8th to make our case for better bike infrastructure, so get the word out!

People, not speed.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Pedal With Pete: Ride for Pete's Sake, 2008


It's time once again for the 2008 Ride for Pete's Sake, the annual bike ride to raise money for Cerebral Palsy research conducted by Pedal with Pete.

My wife and I have been involved with this charity and ride for a number of years, going back to when we were first married. My brother in law has severe cerebral palsy, and that was the primary reason for getting involved and volunteering to help out. The cycling thing came later, honestly - I think Jenn and I were among the very few in the organization who didn't come to it through cycling originally.

It's a wonderful ride - there are distances of 7 miles up to a century ride. There's rider support, free food, door prizes, raffles, and who knows what all. We've had the CD101 Ice Cream truck there, some ladies giving free massages to riders, entertainment for the kids, and much more. And your money will be going to help fund cerebral palsy research. You can find out more at the above web address.

Also, you can pick up registration forms at the website, or many places around town, including any Columbus area BikeSource (and get a 10% discount on selected items on the day you register!).

Regrettably, Jenn and I won't be able to meet you there this year, as my family scheduled an event for that weekend, but we'll most certainly be there in spirit.

People, not speed.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

More Parking for Fewer Downtown Attractions?

Meredith Joy at Yay Bikes brings us this graphic from Kyle Ezell's website, GetUrban.com.


So, what are we looking at, here? Well, cartographic fans among you will recognize this as downtown Columbus. The red spots indicate surface parking lots. In studying this, I don't think it includes parking structures, only surface lots (using the location of the Laveque Tower parking garage as a guide).

And people complain that there's not enough parking downtown! Think of all the historic buildings that Columbus used to have that have come down to provide temporary parking for cars. It's just more indication that better urban planning is something that Columbus needs to adopt.

I'd be interested to see, though, how much the parking situation has changed with more people taking public transportation, biking, and walking ever since the fuel price hikes!

People, not speed.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dispatch Reporter Blundo Waxes About Olentangy Trail's Pitfalls

A prominent columnist for the Dispatch, Joe Blundo used his latest column to take on the Olentangy Trail and its pitfalls, most notably around the OSU area (which has been the most decrepit part of the trail for years).

Apparently, Blundo's been taking the trail to work all summer, and his experiences on it point out the issues at OSU and between Clinton-Como Park and Whetstone Park.

Of course, the latter section is in the bike plan as the recipient of a bike boulevard overhaul, so that problem is not as much a problem. The OSU section is much more a problem, since they've been talking about fixing it for years with no action (other than to tear it up more).

People, not speed.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mayor Not Supportive, But Won't Veto Child Bike Helmet Law

The Dispatch is reporting that Mayor Michael Coleman is not supportive of the new child bike helmet law, but he's not going to do anything to stop it. Instead of signing it, though, he'll just let the veto period run out, after which point it automatically becomes law.

The mayor apparently doesn't wish to make police responsible for kids' behavior instead of parents, nor does he want kids first interaction with the police to be a $25.00 fine. Understandable, but I don't necessarily agree with him. Still, I'm not necessarily in touch with the relationship between police and kids outside of my neighborhood so he may have a point. I do think, though, that some parents need to be more mindful of what their kids are doing.

The new law doesn't go into effect for a year, and only affects people under the age of 18.

People, not speed.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Consider Biking Newsletter

In an attempt to make up for the lack of news I've had about bicycling in Columbus recently with my job search taking precedence, I am posting Consider Biking's July newsletter for you (that I got in email - you can sign up for it too at the CB site).

This includes news about the plans for a bike boulevard on Milton Ave. in Clintonville, and the flap about the new youth helmet law (and the misreporting that went along with it by local media).
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Consider Biking Newsletter
July 2008
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Wow! 2008 has been a time of explosive growth for Consider Biking (formally known as COBAC) We'd like to thank you for signing up for our newsletter list at one of our events in May, or by virtue of registering on the Consider Biking website, or through past involvement with COBAC.

We hope you'll find the news of our challenges and accomplishments to be relevant and inspiring.

Have you Noticed?
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There are more bicycles on the road than ever! We are continually excited to hear stories of folks that consider biking instead of driving their cars. While we haven't been able to quantify the increases in cycling, a quick look up and down our arterial roads shows cyclists riding to & from work with their backpacks and baskets. Our neighborhoods seem to be bustling with more families and seniors riding for leisure and to accomplish simple errands. The multi-use trails are busier than ever. The one constant, is that all these cyclists look happy!

When we're on the road, we find out that many of these cyclists have just started this behavior in the last few months. So, lets keep suggesting that people "consider biking" and find the joy of a simple bike ride!

Did you know that 85% of all (automotive) trips are 5 miles or less? And 42% of trips are 2 miles or less? Lets keep encouraging our friends and family, and demonstrate that these distances are easily achievable by bike.

Our website forums, are a wealth of information for anyone interested in bicycling. Please join the discussions.

A Tale of Two Laws - Children's Helmets & Bicycle Traffic Code
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Columbus City Council passed legislation last week to require all children under the age of 18 to wear a helmet. This law will take affect in about a year. Consider Biking strongly encourages all cyclists to wear helmets; so, we are excited that this law will protect some of our youth from unnecessary injury. We were at the table as this children's helmet legislation was proposed, and eager to support the concept. It should have been an easy process.

However, the draft legislation suddenly appeared with additional changes to the Traffic Code as it relates to operating a bicycle. The most alarming portion of the proposed legislation was a clause which would have allowed all bicyclists to ride on sidewalks. While we encourage our children to learn on sidewalks, research indicates that for everyone else, riding on sidewalks is five times more dangerous for both cyclists and pedestrians. Add to that problem, the local press reported that cyclists would be "required" to ride on sidewalks, and all heck broke loose! We hope you noticed that we did a lot of damage control in the press last month.

Consider Biking volunteers testified to the problems with the proposed traffic code changes, and provided a strong recommendation to City Council. We asked that the proposed changes to the Traffic Code portion of the "Helmet Law" be removed, and asked that the city undertake a more thorough process to make the needed updates to the Traffic Code. The air was tense with back-room negotiations on the night of the vote; but finally, the Traffic Code changes were removed, and the children's helmet law passed. Phew! Here's a news report for more details.

However, there's more work to do. The current Traffic Code regarding the operation of bicycles has inconsistencies and isn't aligned with the recently updated Ohio Better Bike Law (2006). The good news is that our recently adopted Bicentennial Bikeways PLAN has all the recommendations to make our Traffic Code regarding bicycles one of the most progressive in the country. So, stay tuned over the next four months as the City convenes all stakeholder groups (like Consider Biking) to fully vet the needed changes, and seeks the testimony of those that bicycle our roads every day!

The City is looking to Consider Biking as an expert voice for our cycling constituency! If you're interested in helping advocate for the best bicycle operation laws, please contact Jeff Stephens (jeff@considerbiking.org) so we can include you in the process.

Bike Boulevard in Clintonville - Public Meeting This Week
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The City of Columbus is wasting no time in implementing recommendations in the recently adopted Bicentennial Bikeways PLAN. One of the 10 "demonstration projects" that will be implemented in phase #1 of the PLAN is the conversion and enhancement of Milton Ave. into a "Bike Boulevard." This will encompass the half mile of neighborhood streets that connect the Olentangy Trail in the North Broadway area.

Consider Biking invites you to attend the first open house, and unveiling of the plan:

What:
City engineers and consultants from EMH&T will outline plans to improve bicycle safety by turning Milton Avenue into a Bikeway Boulevard, which gives cyclists priority over cars and trucks and is signed to alert motorists of the presence and rights of bicyclists.

When:
5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Thursday, July 24, 2008

Where:
Clinton Heights Lutheran Church
15 Clinton Heights Avenue

We encourage your feedback and opinions regarding the plan. The Bicentennial Bikeways Plan is online here. Bicycle Boulevard standards are in section 8-13.

A New Tour - Bike the C-Bus
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Consider Biking is proud to partner with the Long Street Businessman's Association and encourage you to enjoy a relaxed tour in the heart of Columbus on Saturday, August 23rd.

Bike the C-Bus will cover approximately 30 miles and feature stops that highlight exciting changes that are occurring in our urban neighborhoods. Each stop will be sponsored by businesses and community groups and provides snacks, drinks and entertainment for the riders.

Experience segments of the King Lincoln District, Downtown, Short North Arts District, Italian Village, University District, Harrison West, Victorian Village, Arena District, Franklinton, Brewery District and German Village. The ride is configured to allow cyclists to complete segments if they do not feel comfortable riding the entire route.

The ($25) registration fee includes an official 2008 "Long Street Tour" t-shirt and wristband along with drinks and food at designated rest stops. "Bike the C-Bus" is considered a ride and not a race and will offer a variety of course options to accommodate everyone from recreational riders to hard-core fitness enthusiasts.

And, your paid registration in Bike the C-Bus, qualifies you for a $15 discount toward a Consider Biking Membership.

Bike the C-Bus will launch a new, and different, type cycling event for recreational cyclists in Columbus. We look forward to your participation. Bike the C-Bus website

Become a Member Today!
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Consider Biking is a member-supported organization. We can only accomplish our goals through the support of our cycling constituents. There are over 130 peer organizations across the country, demonstrating a need for cycling advocacy groups. Many of these organizations have THOUSANDS of members, and benefit by the financial support, and the "body of cyclists" that stand behind them when they advocate for enhancements to cycling accommodation.

We'd like to ask you to join Consider Biking. We need your support to represent our common interests in Central Ohio.

What's in it for you??
  • You benefit by knowing we'll have the resources to fight for our needs.
  • You'll benefit by knowing that we're working hard so you can "just ride."
  • You'll benefit by knowing we partner with strong coalitions to advance the healthy movement of people, not just cars.
  • You'll benefit by knowing we coordinate unique events that serve some of the dynamic segments of our cycling audience.
  • And, you'll benefit through our on-line presence, where ALL cyclists are welcomed, respected, and have a safe place to share their perspective.
Your membership donation to Consider Biking is tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. We thank you for your support.



Quick Links...
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Our Website
Membership

Contact Information
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Executive Director, Jeff Stephens - jeff@considerbiking.org 614-579-1127

President Board of Directors, Meredith Joy - meredith.a.joy@gmail.com
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People, not speed.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Phil Liggett's Woes on Versus

Don't get me wrong... I'm a fan of Phil Liggett on Versus and their coverage of Le Tour de France. But... he seems a bit out of place announcing their future programming of Cage Fighting, Tapout, and The Contender: Muay Thai.

I think he'll be just as happy to be rid of that particular aspect of the Versus job. And I'll be just as happy to not have to be inundated with ads for those events.

People, not speed.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Toledo Man Shot, Killed While Cycling to Work

It's amazing to think about, but there are actually people out there who take their affront at our riding bikes to work that seriously.

It sounds to me from this article that Babcock got into a disagreement with someone and didn't just keep riding. Folks... just keep riding. Play it safe.

Edit: Rick's got the link to the Toledo Blade article... check it out for more information.

People, not speed.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Job Search and Bicycling

It's been way too long since I posted here. It's not because I haven't been interested in cycling, advocacy, complete streets, or simply getting the word out... it's because I've been looking for a new job.

OSU proved not to be the place for me, and now I'm looking for something else. No, this isn't a request for help or plea for you to look for jobs for me, but it's just an explanation of where I've been, especially with all the crazy news going on with cycling in Columbus recently. But I haven't even been on my bike more than a couple times in the month of July, unfortunately... interviewing in the summer sort of means you need to arrive at your interview looking something less than a sweaty mess, and since it generally also means wearing a suit... you get the idea. Hopefully the search will be over soon and I'll be able to get back to work.

But this brings up an interesting point that I haven't really thought about before, as I was sort of expecting for too long (hence my staying there so long) to retire from OSU eventually and not having to change my commuting habits. Every time I've heard from a company that wants to interview me, I've been checking the length of the trip to the job site to see if it's bikeable. And getting away from the simple up-and-down High Street commute is proving to be more challenging as I look at jobs in Dublin, Westerville, Worthington, and downtown.

So bear with me while I complete this search and get back to work. And I'll keep you posted with what I'm doing to stay on the bike - it's another chance for us to all learn together what we can do to keep on cycling!

People, not speed.