Friday, June 22, 2012

bike-sharing in DC and London; the problem with "side paths"

From  "Bicyclists: The new limousine liberals"  by Will Doig.

            "Libertarians bash D.C.'s successful bikeshare for serving wealthy 
             whites, and miss the point of public transport."

      Read the article at

From The Economist:  "More people are riding bikes, but cycling is stuck in a niche"

            Boris Johnson, London's mayor and a keen cyclist, has 
            laid on jazzed-up "cycle superhighways" that criss-cross 
            popular commutes. His most visible imprint on the city so 
            far is a cycle-hire scheme. By 2026 Mr Johnson wants cycling 
            to have quintupled from 2001 levels. But [...] two-wheeled 
            transport is now mostly the preserve of wealthy men. Two-thirds 
            of those using Mr Johnson's cycle-hire scheme claim household 
            incomes of more than £50,000 a year, though only a quarter of 
            London residents make that much. And 77% of them are men. 
            In Amsterdam, by contrast, most cyclists are women. The main 
            roadblock is safety: overall, 62% of people think it 
            is too dangerous to cycle, and around 75% of women do. 

Read the article at

   I did a search on the topic "what makes for a bike-friendly
    community?" and found this article about Davis, CA dating
    from 1998. In terms of being bike-friendly, Davis is about
    as good as it gets in the US.  It has Platinum status, along
    with two other "bike mecca" places: Boulder and Portland.

    Here's a relevant excerpt from that 14 year-old article (near
    the last paragraph) - relevant because it is proposed that

        "Most such well-intentioned, but ill-fated designs were 
       phased out long ago. However, some facility design 
       decisions made decades ago were not so easy to remedy. 

       "The most pervasive example in Davis is the two-way bike 
       path immediately adjacent to a roadway. Particularly problematic 
       are single two-way paths located on only one side of the adjacent 
       road. The problems associated with these designs have been described 
       in any number of publications, and they are well illustrated at several 
       locations in Davis. In spite of this documentation, some residents, 
       city officials, and developers remain quite vocal in advocating such 
       facilities when new construction is being planned and designed. The 
       city and campus have attempted a variety of mitigation strategies 
       to reduce the hazards or inefficiencies associated with these side paths, 
       but many observers believe that continuing to build such facilities is 
       wasteful at best.                                                          

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

the radical "shared space" paradigm for safer roads

"Riskier Streets Reduce Accidents"      by James Tulloch

Making roads more dangerous improves safety. The paradox behind 'Shared Space' 
traffic engineering prevents collisions by mixing, not separating, motorists, cyclists 
and pedestrians.

Entire article:

From The Economist:  Urban design - "Road warriors"

Shared spaces work in Britain, but not for the advertised reasons.

Obit of the Dutch traffic engineer who advocated Shared Space.

Town Topics: letter to the editor re: hospital site (Avalon Bay)

"The proposed development would physically impede connectivity 
between our neighborhoods (Witherspoon/Jackson and Harris/Jefferson) 
— a goal of relatedness that the Witherspoon Corridor Study Group 
spent much time promoting. The Task Force for rezoning the hospital [...]
was adamant that any development should, as a matter of public policy, 
permit public plazas and pedestrian access routes "crossing the site". 
It called the hospital's departure a "unique opportunity" for area renewal 
and re-connection."

Read the entire letter:

Comment: there are various obscure little paths and shortcuts around
town, many of them undocumented. One example is the shortcut
behind the parking garage, connecting Patton to Olden on campus.
With the new Andlinger Center complex, might need to find a Plan B.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

electric bikes

From the "Innovations" blog at Smithsonian magazine a few months 
ago, "Will America Ever Love Electric Bikes?".

      "Last year, about 25 million e-bikes were sold in China; in the U.S. the 
       number was under 100,000.  U.S. sales [...] would still be a sliver of projected
       global sales in 2018, just under 50 million. And it would not only be dwarfed by 
       the market in China–which will still account for almost 90 percent of worldwide 
       sales–but also will fall well below e-bike purchases in India, Europe and Japan.
       "So why have e-bikes been in such tepid demand here?

In progress right now is The Trans-American Electric Bike Tour, "a 4,000 mile journey from 
New York to San Francisco taking place from the beginning of April to mid-June"
sponsored mainly by EVELO (2-part video interview). As of today, the 2 riders Boris and
Anna have reached Salt Lake City. They started from Prospect Park, Brooklyn on April 7, 
took the ferry to Atlantic Highlands, NJ, and may have been in the vicinity of Princeton
en route to Philadelphia. 

A program now underway in San Francisco suggests that car-sharing services
(e.g. Zipcar) may eventually offer electric bike-sharing as an option.