Monday, June 29, 2009

Dispatch: New Rules Afoot To Require Bike Racks Be Built?

Dave Hendricks of the Dispatch reported this morning that the city of Columbus is considering adopting new rules for parking that would require the inclusion of bike parking racks.

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Let's look at one of the primary complaints that people have about cyclists:

They just park their darned bikes anywhere!

And the cyclists will respond, usually quite correctly, that there's no where to park their bikes! The city's been doing an admirable job of putting in new u-racks where requested (including a rack out in front of the building where I work, as judged by the two green blobs of paint on the sidewalk), but requiring them by builders is the most common sense way to do this, especially with all the building that goes on in Columbus.

Naturally, developers are not happy about this. Especially amusing is the comment of Franz Geiger, managing director of NP Limited Partnership, the primary developer of the original acreage at the Polaris Eyesore Mall. Predictably, his comments have to do with putting racks in where "it's not safe to bike." Obviously, he's an expert on where it's safe to bike since he's done so much to make it safe where he builds.

But putting in racks will make it more attractive for people to bike to Polaris and other locations. And the article rightly points out that it'll be great for downtown and more urban areas, but I maintain it'll be great for EVERYONE. More biking means safer streets, better health, yadda yadda yadda. I could go on for hours. ANYTHING that the city can do to get people out of cars and into the fresh air is a good thing. And the fewer the cars, the fresher the air!

Now, let's look at the actual code that's being proposed (as @lifeontwowheels provided for us from the Columbus Downtown Development site). The proposed code:

Bicycles.

A. Bicycle parking design standards. The Department of Public Service shall review and approve required bicycle parking as part of overall site plans. Specification requirements will be maintained by the Department of Public Service.

B. Bicycle parking shall be provided as required in Tables 3312.51C(1-4). A minimum of two bicycle spaces shall be provided for the uses noted “Yes” in Tables 3312C(1-4). Additional bicycle parking is required for uses with over 20 vehicle parking spaces at a rate of 1 bicycle parking space per 20 vehicle parking spaces up to a maximum of 20 bicycle parking spaces. For purposes of this provision, vehicle parking spaces are determined based on the total code required for a use, not the amount available or provided.

And then the table goes on to point out where the above rules would be required - which is basically every situation with the exception of warehousing and manufacturing sites.

Beautiful. This is exactly what the city needs.

But I'd like to make one addition to this list: the city should not require the form that the racks take. Rather, it should have a review board that judges whether the racks fulfill certain requirements and then allows the developers to basically have some FUN with the racks!

Columbus claims to the be Indie Art Capital... well, let's see that art put into bike racks! Can you imagine a new Cup O' Joe with a rack shaped like a cup of coffee? Or a Mexican restaurant with a big jalapeno pepper-shaped rack? Or base-shaped racks outside Huntington Park? The possibilities for both convenience and encouragement of cycling and a little extra marketing for some of these businesses go through the roof!

Former Talking Heads front man David Byrne has some great examples of this on his site. Check them out and dream, folks!

If you'd like to comment on this to the city, please print out this form (PDF) and send your comments to the city.

UPDATE: Consider Biking is collecting comments for forwarding to the city. If you wish your comments to be counted among everyone else's there, please email them to Consider Biking!

People, not speed.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Link-o-Rama 6/26/2009

Carbon Trace - Details on Columbia, Missouri's new Cyclist harassment law. I like it!

C.I.C.L.E. - The Bicycle Lifestyle Guide. Not bad!

Columbusite - Livingston/Parsons intersection - is a left turn lane needed? The Columbusite says NO!


People, not speed.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ridiculous "Protest" Called For By Colorado Motorists

In one of the most ludicrous "statements" I've ever heard, someone in the State of Colorado is looking to make July 25th a "Block Dangerous Cyclists" Day in the League of American Bicyclists Platinum Level Bike Friendly City of Boulder, Colorado. Apparently this individual, whoever it may be, is upset at the new State safe-passing-distance law. The following flyer is appearing all over the city of Boulder (reprinted below, exactly as posted):

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

JULY 25TH BLOCK DANGEROUS
CYCLIST DAY BOULDER CO

ON AUGUST 5th new regulations limiting driver rights
regarding dangerous bicyclists will be the STATE LAW.

CYCLIST FLOUT COMMON SENSE, ENDANGER THOSE IN CARS ON
MOUNTAIN ROADS IN THE NAME OF SELFISHNESS; CARS WILL BE
FORCED TO CROSS DOUBLE YELLOW LINES ON DANGEROUS LIMITED
VISIBILITY ROADS DUE TO THE EXPANDED RIGHTS OF CYCLISTS.

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE HAS A LONG HISTORY IN THE UNITED STATES.
THE GOVERNOR AND OTHER LAWMAKERS WILL ONLY RESPOND TO
COMMON SENSE WHEN PUBLICITY REACHES THE GENERAL MEDIA.

ON JULY 25TH IN CELEBRATION OF DRIVERS RIGHTS MANY CARS
WILL USE THE LEFT HAND CANYON ROAD, DRIVE SLOWLY AND MANY
MAY BREAK DOWN UNEXPECTEDLY, BLOCKING AREAS TO THE CYCLISTS
ON THE RETURN LEG OF THE "SUNRISE CENTURY". PLEASE USE
JUDGEMENT DURING THIS CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE.

MANY WHO ALSO LIVE IN THE FOOTHILLS OR WHO HAVE BEEN
ENDANGERED BY CYCLIST BEHAVIOR WILL JOIN IN WITH THEIR
"DRIVERS RIGHTS" TO PULL OVER AND INSPECT THEIR VEHICLES
FOR ENGINE TROUBLE, SOUNDS, OR OTHER SAFETY ISSUES. MANY
CARS AND SAFE DRIVERS ALL WORKING TOGETHER CAN SEND A
MESSAGE TO THE STATEHOUSE TO RESTRICT CYCLING ON OUR ROADS
WHICH ARE OUR ONLY ALTERNATIVES DURING FAMILY EMERGENCIES,
COMMUTING AND REQUIRED DUTIES.

BLOCK THE ROAD DAY IS JULY 25TH CENTERING AT LEFT HAND
CANYON and nelson road. DRIVE SLOWLY FOR SAFETY AND PULL
OVER WITH FLASHERS as
SAFETY REQUIRES.

The absolute nonsense of this stance is almost too moronic to pass up. Let's start at the top. How exactly are cyclists riding "in the name of selfishness?" Roads are commons. They're available for everyone to use. And it only makes sense for those who are the least susceptible to injury, the motorists, to be required to make allowances for those who are most susceptible to injury, the cyclists and pedestrians, as they operate their vehicles. Pretty simple.

Second, "cars will be forced to cross double yellow lines on dangerous limited visibility roads." Who exactly is forcing them to do this? No one but themselves. No one says that they have to pass RIGHT AT those spots. Wait till it's clear, then pass. Again, pretty simple. Driving slower is safer, anyway.

Third, faking breakdowns and purposefully riding slowly to block anyone from getting by is deliberately dangerous, especially if done on these so-called "dangerous limited visibility roads."

Fourth, who says that anyone has the right to tell people what kinds of vehicles they can and can't operate? Bikes are as legitimate a form of transportation as cars, end of story. Many of us use our bikes "for family emergencies, commuting, and required duties." Do we not deserve safe operation as well?

Finally, let's look at the concept of "drivers' rights" as this flyer seems to be indicating: basically, this person doesn't think that cars should have to slow down for cyclists or pass them at a safe distance. In other words, this person believes that drivers should have the right to endanger cyclists' safety. The answer to that is obvious.

And I hope that the Boulder Police, Colorado State Police, or whoever it is that monitors traffic on the route for this ride are out with the tickets and handcuffs for those individuals who are foolhardy and callous enough to endanger the rights to safe operation that all vehicles possess. Because not only are such morons going to upset the cyclists, they're going to upset their fellow motorists as well.

People, not speed.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Link-o-Rama 6/19/2009

X-ing Columbus - News on the next phase of making Morse Road more walkable and bikeable. Not having a bike lane that ends by dropping riders into the middle of an interstate off-ramp would be a good start.

CBus Transit - A new blog all about transit in Central Ohio. It'll be interesting to get a view of transit that's not the "why would we need that?" ilk. From @ColsUnderground

Bike Blog NYC - Motorists threaten a scheduled bicycle ride in the Platinum-level Bike Friendly City of Boulder, CO. Even in the bike havens we're not safe.

Cycleliciousness [Copenhagen Bicycle Culture] - A look at one of the underappreciated great cycling nations of the world: Japan. Lots of fun stuff in the Japanese way.

Copenhagenize.com - Part of the reason bicyclists can't get it all together: the inane witchhunt over helmet use. Actor Matthew Modine tries to use his celebrity to help out the cause of bike advocacy and instead is castigated for not wearing a helmet. And who's really behind the witchhunt...

The Bike Nazi - Columbus isn't the only city where the police don't enforce the traffic laws...


People, not speed.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday Link-o-Rama 6/12/2009

@bikefitness - China, once one of the most bicycling-est countries in the world, has seen a sharp drop off in the number of cyclists as the automobile becomes more prevalent, resulting in the pollution issues that we saw during the Beijing Olympics last year. Here's a commentary on what might happen to bicycling in the world's largest nation.

Road Rights - Bicycling Magazine's Bob Mionske addresses those who say cycling is a privilege, not a right. As far as the courts have ruled in the past... it's a RIGHT.

Bike Hugger - Bike tube vending machines. Super Cool... and Super German. How I'd love to see those here!

Cyclelicious - June 2nd, 2009: Pearls Before Swine. Too damn funny.

BikePortland.org - Congressman Earl Blumenauer shares his goals for cycling, including bicycling past the White House. Sweeeett...

TheWashCycle - GOP suggest cutting safe routes to school. Sigh... they still don't get it.


People, not speed.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday Link-O-Rama 6/5/2009

Cyclelicious - I love the idea of a bicycle sidecar... and no, I'm not talking about the cocktail.

Carbon Trace - Short commentary on the use of U-shaped bike racks. Apparently there are places where they're in such short supply that parking your bike on them correctly is seen as selfish! Go figure.

Citizen Rider - Cycling is a Civil Right. An interesting look at the topic.

@bikefitness - Adults learning to cycle for the first time. This had never even occurred to me... I mean, who doesn't learn to ride a bike as a kid? Well, apparently not everyone!

People, not speed.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Price of a Cyclist's Life? 60 Days in Jail

The Dispatch reported today that Sarah Bender, the motorist whose inattention on the road led to the death of Dr. William Crowley during the Tour of the Scioto River Valley bike ride last year, was sentenced to 60 days in jail.

Two months, $1000, and a suspended license for two years.

That's what a man's life is worth in Pike County, apparently. His widow is pretty ticked off. Read the article and feel the outrage.

You can follow the entire story of the trial via the corresponding post on Yay Bikes, including comments by bike lawyer Steve Magas.

People, not speed.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Product Review: Cordarounds Bike To Work Pants

I've had a couple pairs of Cordarounds Bike to Work Pants since my birthday and been wearing them to work pretty regularly. I highlighted these back in September, but it occurred to me today that I hadn't adquately reviewed them yet, so your wait is over!

First, let's start with the look of the pants. When I was at the Phil Keoghan event here in Columbus I was wearing a pair of the pants. I was talking to fellow bike blogger Joe Biker of Cincinnati, and we got to talking about biking to work a bit. I showed him the pants and some of their features, and he was impressed with them - especially by the fact that they didn't LOOK like they had all the features. They look like a normal pair of khakis, no questions asked. They come in khaki, olive, and brown, though I've only got a couple pairs of the khaki ones.

The features of the pants are also pretty amazing. I'm going to break the features down into two categories: the bike-friendly features and the heat-friendly features.

The bike-friendly features include reflective tape sewn into the inside hem of the pants and along the inside of the back pockets. And for approximately 10 inches up the inside of the pant legs is a teflon-based fabric that repels grease and road grime for easy cleaning and also avoids your pants getting caught in your chain, front derailleur, etc..

The idea here is that you roll the legs up so that the reflective tape is showing and the teflon fabric is covering the khaki fabric to avoid its getting dirty. And you know what? IT WORKS! The reflective qualities are pretty amazing - people see you coming for a long way. And because the flaps are on your legs and moving as you pedal, cars slow down to see just what the heck you are.

The back pockets are lined with the teflon fabric and reflective tape, and add another level of reflectivity if you pull them inside out and let them hang out like a pair of mudflaps. Pictures are available at the Cordarounds website.

The heat-friendly features are just as great. The fabric of the pants is a very strong but lightweight fabric, and breathes wonderfully while you ride. Cordarounds describes it as a brushed pebble cotton, if that means anything to you. The inside waistband and the front pockets are seersucker and also breathe very nicely. These pants are made for you to ride in and be comfortable. And when you get where you're going, they dry out quickly as well.

I have only one issue with the pants. The front pockets are not very deep. If you're a person who carries lots of stuff in your pockets you may be a bit uncomfortable. I used to carry a small notebook with me and it doesn't fit into these pockets well. They're not shallow to the point that things fall out while you're riding, it's just a little bit to get used to.

But as a functional, good looking piece of clothing that is perfect for cyclists as well as the typical business casual environment for work, you can't do much better than these pants for your commuting needs! I highly recommend them to everyone who rides to work regularly!

People, not speed.