Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What's the Best Riding Clothing?

One of the questions I get a lot from people who are just beginning on their bike commuting adventure is "what should I wear to ride on my commute?"

The question comes from numerous sources: experienced recreational cyclists who are just deciding to start commuting and want to know how I manage with all my spandex AND my work clothes; new cyclists who don't want to wear all those silly skin-tight outfits but don't want to sweat in their work clothes; and even folks who are looking for work clothes in which they can ride and not look too bad.

In the past, I've given you my philosophy about utility/commuter cycling (which you can refresh yourself with here). And I've told you all about my Pearl Izumi Jacket and its visibility, comfort, water-shedding ability, and durability. I've waxed nostalgic about what I've worn for my winter riding. And I've told you about some of the new items out for cyclists from Cordarounds and Arc'teryx, among others.

But now, I want to hear from you - no matter what your riding philosophy. Are you a jersey-wearing roadie who extends his workouts into his commute? Are you a messenger, and wear clothes that are durable and built for urban biking? Are you a college student, and just wear whatever to get to and from class? Are you a professional like myself, and have a special set of clothes that serve you best to get to and from the office or elsewhere?

Chime in! Share your favorite riding wear, and give us some short particulars. We can all learn from each other here!

People, not speed.

WOSU: Suburbs Look to Create Urban Settings (2009-11-23)

Frequently, suburbs are seen as the enemy of Complete Streets methodology. They're sprawled out, full of strip malls, cul-de-sacs, big box stores, and single-family dwellings. But two of our most prominent suburbs are fighting against that trend, and for completely different reasons. Check out this great WOSU story on what's happening in Dublin and Upper Arlington.

WOSU: Suburbs Look to Create Urban Settings (2009-11-23)

People, not speed.

Friday, November 20, 2009

ALERT: Save Our Bike Lanes!

I don't think I'm overstating anything when I say that the following email alert fromConsider Biking is important and may help to set a precedent that guides Columbus bicycle policy for a long time.

Whether you agree with the concept of bike lanes is pretty irrelevant here - we need to show support for ALL bicycle-friendly measures and this is the first big challenge we're encountering.

Consider Biking Action Alert!
November 20, 2009
The proposal to stripe bike lanes on W. Broad Street through the Hilltop Community is at a critical juncture. We need your help now!

Through a public input process over the last year, and in accordance with the City's Bicentennial Bikeways Plan, the Hilltop Community RESIDENTS have OVERWHELMINGLY expressed a desire to have bike lanes striped on Broad St.

However, as expected, some business owners along Broad St. have reservations about the subsequent loss of parking on one side of the road. (Despite the fact that additional parking will be marked on the south side and many more off-street parking alternatives identified.)

This bike lane project could set a precedent for the future of bike accommodations in Columbus. Residents across Columbus want bike lanes, and the Bike Plan reccomends them in many areas. If specific bicycle accommodations aren't included in this critical corridor...our past five years of work to develop and begin implementation of the Plan...will be compromised.

1) It is critical that bicyclists show up - in person - at the Hilltop Area Commission meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Dec 1st at 7:00 p.m. at the Hilltop Branch of the Columbus Library - 511 S. Hague. This will be THE MOST IMPORTANT action pro-bike-lane activists can make. This will, in fact, be the most significant call for action for bicycling we'll make in 2009!

2) Please provide written comment to the project planning team here www.hilltopmobility.com as soon as possible. The deadline is Monday, Nov 23 - however, your comments will likley be collected for a brief period afterwards. We encourage you to support the option that recommends bike lanes on BOTH sides of Broad St. Obviously, this is a critical east-west corridor to provide safe accomodations for bicyclists. More importantly, the recommended "road diet" and addition of bike lanes will add to the livability and resurrection of this neighborhood.

More details, with some of the neighborhood input statistics, are available here.

We've opened the post on our website to comments. You might also find a dialogue about this proposal at Columbus Underground.

Please contact jeff@considerbiking.org if you plan to attend the Hilltop Area Commission meeting, and would like to be included in a distribution list of talking points for the Commission meeting.

Consider Biking is the local 501c(3) non-profit, bicycle advocacy organization that works to get more people bicycling. We promote and encourgae all forms of bicycling - sport, fitness, health, touring, andventuring, utilitarian, commuting, kids to school - if it's bicycling,we support it!

And most importantly, we're your representative voice that works hard to advocate for more trails, road improvements, better laws, more support from businesses, etc. We're working hard,so you can just ride.

Also, we'll continue to communicate breaking news and updates on our Facebook and Twitter accounts. Please use this opportunity to follow Consider Biking on these two social media sites so we can activate our troops quickly to ensure the voice of the cycling community is heard at public meetings, legislative chambers, and in the appropriate judicial systems when needed.

Donate to Consider Biking via Workplace Giving Camapaigns
Do you work for the The Ohio State University, State of Ohio, the City of Columbus, or any workplace that participates in the Combined Charitable Campaign?

Consider Biking has been a 501c(3) non-profit corporation for a number of years. But this past year, we've joined a workplace giving federation and are eligible to recieve your workplace giving donations!

Look for us in your giving guides as "Consider Biking." We live under the Community Shares of Mid Ohio federation.

Thanks for your support.
Contact Information
Web site - www.considerbiking.org
Facebook - Facebook Page
Twitter - Considerbikeoh
Executive Director, Jeff Stephens - jeff@considerbiking.org 614-579-1127


People, not speed.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cyclist Killed by Motorist on US 23

Frank R. Smith of Piketon was killed when a motorist driving a van hit him on US 23 yesterday afternoon.

More information on this story at the Columbus Dispatch.

We'll keep you updated as we hear more information on this one.

People, not speed.

Friday, November 13, 2009

MORPC Offering Open House on Westerville Road Study

From This Week News:

Open house set on SR-3 corridor study
Wednesday, November 11, 2009 1:31 PM

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission will hold an open house on the "Westerville Road (SR-3) Corridor Study" on Tuesday, Nov. 17.

The open house will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Blendon Township Senior Center, 6330 Hempstead Road.

A short presentation on the study is planned for 6 p.m.

"This study reviews current travel conditions in the Westerville Road corridor from north of Morse Road to south of Interstate 270 and will identify improvements that are needed by the year 2030," according to the announcement from MORPC. "Improvements that may be recommended include additional travel lanes, intersection improvements, access management, improved bicycle and pedestrian access and others."

The study was funded by the city of Columbus, Franklin County and the Ohio Department of Transportation.

At last week's Northland Community Council meeting, president Dave Paul urged people to attend the Nov. 17 open house. He pointed out that state Route 3, or Westerville Road, crosses through multiple jurisdictions and includes many different intersections.

For more information on the study, visit www.morpc.org.

People, not speed.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

More Thoughts on the Bike Box

Reader danc posted some great links in the previous post's comment box and I think that it's well-worth sharing them with everyone. And it gives me a chance to explore the bike box and the many problems I have with the idea.

First, here are danc's comments:

The bike box “works” (so to speak) in the traffic light red phase, during the yellow or green phase, it fails just like any other bike lane. 
Here a is simple animation: Why “bike-boxes” fail http://cycledallas.blogspot.com/2009/08/why-bike-boxes-fail.html

The example uses a large truck, but a utility, delivery truck or SUV with large blind spots or impatient driver will work against any naïve bike box or bike lane user.

John S Allen writings:

Bike box rationales

Comparing crosswalk and bike box

Advanced Stop Line or “Bike Box"
Extended article with research links.


Remember "bike boxes" are experimental!

I had previously seen that video from CycleDallas (and if you haven't watched it, please do. It's short but poignant) and wish I'd remembered it for the last post! It's an excellent look at how these things can be dangerous. I think that what is missing is some explanation of the video beyond what danc included about semis and larger vehicles having a huge blind spot that might block their view of the bike lane.

Sure, a bicyclist should know that if the light turns green while he's in the bike lane, trying to maneuver into the bike box, he should allow the vehicles ahead of him in the general traffic lane to go... but in the case of the semi depicted in the video, he may not see the light change because the semi is blocking the cyclist's view of the lights. And the other, non-fatal problem with this plan is that the cyclist may then get stranded in the bike lane while trying to get over and go straight through, which is the proper thing to do.

The proper way to negotiate ANY bike lane is as follows: cars turning right on a street where there is a bike lane should pull INTO the bike lane to do so - scanning and yielding to cyclists already in the lane. That avoids the right hook. Cyclists who are going straight through should move into the general traffic lane to do so, allowing cars to turn right if they wish to do so. These measures would avoid the situation depicted in the video, and if followed no bike box is necessary.

My personal feeling is that all this lane changing back and forth, especially near an intersection where both cyclists AND motorists have more to look for and may miss key details (like the presence of a cyclist in the bike lane, especially given the "blind spot" that cars possess) is a bad idea. In this case, bike lanes give you a choice - lots of potentially hazardous lane changes near an intersection or the increased chance of a right-hook.

John Allen's website does point out that cyclists and bike lanes have their own set of signals in many European nations, letting them know when it's safe to move forward in a bike lane and when it's not - avoiding the right hook. Many transportation engineers in this country, who are putting bike lanes into the mix willy-nilly, don't take this into consideration when they're planning, I think. And while many vehicles are starting to include things like blind-spot detectors, extra mirrors, etc. to avoid the aforementioned problem, the problem of technological rollout is making these measures ineffectual (until all the older cars without these options are off the road).

The best answer, as usual, is cyclist and motorist education and proper vehicular cycling.

People, not speed.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Columbus Installs Bike Box With Mixed Results

The City of Columbus is trying some new stuff with our bike infrastructure, most notable of which is the test of a bike box at the corner of North Broadway and Milton - the street route for the Olentangy Multi-Use Trail between Clinton-Como park and Whetstone Park.

Consider Biking's website talks about what a bike box is and how it should be used, noting that the bike box is sort of a controversial idea.

The intended use of the bike box is to eliminate the risk of the "right-hook" accident, in which a cyclist who is attempting to ride straight through an intersection in a bike lane is cut off or hit by a right-turning car, because the car was not paying attention to traffic in the bike lane. When traffic is stopped by the red light here, cars are supposed to stop behind the thick white line at the bottom of the green bike box, and bikes are to be allowed to ride up the right (in the green bike lane) and stop in front of the cars in the bike box.

It's an interesting solution to a common problem. Bike lanes are considered by many as dangerous because they invite the right-hook problem. Technically, a car is supposed to pull INTO a bike lane to make a right turn, looking to the right to make sure the lane is clear before doing so. But, obviously, most motorists (and especially motorists in Columbus, where bike lanes are not widely available) don't know this. So the bike box at this intersection, which has considerably more bike traffic than most places in town due to its nature as the bike-trail-connector, seems justified.

However... as this video taken recently by one of Columbus's League of American Bicyclists Cycling Instructors shows, many people (bicyclists and motorists alike) have no clue how to use it.

It's very obvious from this video that the simple fact of using engineering to create improvements is not enough. Cars park in the bike box, riders ride up the right when the light is green and cars are trying to turn, and cyclists still swerve off to the right to cross North Broadway in the crosswalk.

The "Six E's" of the League of American Bicyclists are as follows:

Equality – Legal: traffic law and legislation, including movements, access, equipment, uniformity

Engineering – Transportation: road and bicycle facilities development, design, and construction, and mobility and funding sources

Enforcement – Police and Courts: Equitable treatment of cyclists through citations and trials

Education – Schools and Smart Cycling™: Traffic skills education for the public, engineers, enforcers, and legislators

Encouragement – Public and private agencies: advertising campaigns, promotions, etc.

Evaluation – Public agencies: Measurement of the effects of the other Es using relevant research methods and testing.

The bike box measure is a use of "Engineering", and arguably "Encouragement." But it totally ignores the measures of "Education" - no one really knows how to use it - and "Enforcement" - no one appears to be monitoring this new measure to make sure it's used properly. And, arguably, it goes AGAINST the idea of "Equality" - it's putting the cyclists ahead of cars instead of making them equal by having the bikes line up as part of traffic.

It's an interesting idea, to be sure. And technically, it's capable of reducing the problem of right hooks. But it's not being implemented properly to do that very thing. Neither motorists nor bicyclists seem to have a handle on how to use it. It's clear that following all six E's is crucial for anything to be improved for cyclists.

Bike Box video courtesy of Patricia Kovacs.
All pictures property of Consider Biking.

People, not speed.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Time to Shift Gears?

I've got something on my mind that I want to share with all of you since you've been reading my stuff for a while (hopefully). I'm thinking about slightly shifting the focus of this blog to a more general "carless commuting" theme.

I'm still a fan of the bicycle, don't get me wrong. And I don't intend to stop writing about bikes. The main focus of this blog will still be the bicycle. I believe that the bicycle is the most perfect form of transportation ever developed. It's fast, lightweight (even my bike), inexpensive, and it promotes health. Nothing can beat that. I wouldn't have gotten a League of American Bicyclists Instructor certification if I didn't like the bicycle.

And the focus of the blog will still be Columbus. I live here, I'm raising my family here, and I love it here. And I want to see this city thrive and grow, not only financially but in regards to the happiness and health of its citizens.

But I have other interests in the world of transportation as well, and I think all of them have a part in the arsenal of the commuter who decides to shun the tyranny of the automobile. Part of this has to do with the recent post I did on the EcoBike and Segway of Ohio. I saw there that bikes are not the only great alternative to the car - there are a lot of other options.

And obviously, Ohio is in the news recently for its efforts to improve rail transport and get a passenger line back into this state. And the streetcar issue, though minimized right now, is still a neat idea that I think deserves merit.

A lot of this has also come from my recent position as the Alternative Transportation Examiner for Examiner.com. I want to spread out a bit and cover more stuff on both sites - with the Examiner.com model being more news-focused and professional, and this blog being more of my personal feelings about these matters.

So perhaps next week, perhaps the week after, this blog's name will be changing slightly. I've got some ideas, but until I come up with something concrete I won't be changing it.

I'd be honored if you'd drop a comment on this post and let me know how you like the idea and if you have any suggestions for things you'd like to see me cover.

People, not speed.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Los Angeles Doctor Convicted on All Counts of Assault on Cyclists

In a case that cyclists all over the country have been watching with great interest, Dr. Christopher Thompson was convicted on all counts in his car-assault on two cyclists last year.

Thompson, as you may remember, deliberately backed his car into two cyclists after screaming at them to ride in single file and passing them dangerously closely. The two cyclists both went to the hospital and one is permanently scarred.

This case may just be the landmark we as cyclists need to turn things in our favor.

And it also illustrates a very important point: ALWAYS report dangerous motorist activity to the police, with a license plate number if possible. Dr. Thompson's excuses about his behavior were greatly undone by a previous report on similar behavior, showing him to habitually endanger cyclists' lives and health.

I look forward to discussion on how this case might be used to help cyclists who find themselves in similar circumstances in the future.

People, not speed.

Yay Bikes Newsletter - November, 2009

From the great folks at Yay Bikes!

Columbus's League Cycling Instructors are offering a 6-hour (2-8pm) commuter course for riders who are already comfortable on the roads but need support to master them. All for the price of a tank of gas - $35 per person! Register online to learn how you can ride more confidently and commute to work with ease.

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Our new website will be rolled out within the next couple of weeks (!!!!), so we'll be sending another email shortly to let you know when you can log in and how to get started.Webmaster Mike Reed will then present the site and demonstrate how it can work for you on Sunday, Nov 22 from 2-5pm @ the Yay Bikes! offices. Mark your calendars now, and stay tuned for more details!

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b2wwIt's that time of year when some cyclists retire their rides until next season -- that is, time to hunker down and plan for spring. Our first meeting for Bike to Work Week 2010 is now on the books for Nov 15, 1-3pm @ Summit on 16th (82 E. 16th Street). Please join us to make this year bigger and better than ever before. We need your help to create massive mode shift in Columbus!

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ON OUR WAY TO 501c3!
mailing letter

It's official -- we've mailed our letter to become recognized as a 501c3 nonprofit in the State of Ohio! We can't thank enough the people who contributed to our filing fee; we are incredibly humbled by your generosity.

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Every Tuesday evening, Yay Bikes! now offers 3-hour fun rides through Columbus with Ray George (big ups to Ray for coordinating this)! To join our band of merry cyclists, meet at 7pm at the corner of Park & Buttles (Goodale Park); stay connected to this ride through Facebook.

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Pecha Kucha is a fun, fast-paced presentation format in which every speaker gets 20 PPT slides and 20 seconds per slide. Our very own Austin Kocher will present "Place: The Final Frontier" at this week's Pecha Kucha event at Wild Goose Creative, starting at 7pm.

A teaser for his talk: Have you ever been to Junctionview Studios, Free Geek, or Third Hand Bike Co-op? You don't have to fly to another galaxy to find far-out places. People around the world -- and right here in Columbus -- are discovering ways to create radically new places, transform traditional places for fresh purposes, and create new potential for collaboration. Be there or be square!

People, not speed.