Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter Cycling From the Cherry Blossoms

In Washington, DC today, the bike share docks were in a state of constant motion as people rented and returned bikes in some frenzied game of happy musical chairs/bikes.   All were either going to look at the puffy pink blossoms lining the Tidal Basin, or returning in a state of bliss.  It was a glorious day to ride a bike in the nation's capital, and almost everyone seemed to get along, as if no presidential campaign were underway.

A dazzlingly simple and yet brilliant idea has emerged like a Phoenix from the ashes of Seattle Bike Share's brush with death.  Use transit cards with bike share.  After all, cycling is transit.  It would require you to link a credit card to your transit pass, of course.  In Washington, DC, you could link a credit card to your SmartTrip card.  Instead of using a key fob for bike share, you would be able to use the transit pass.  If #cyclingistransit - and it is - this idea is one that should be considered.  Yup the infrastructure would have to be updated, but it would probably increase ridership by a crazy amount approaching Googol z.
There are stories that make me smile just because of what they mean for cycling.  In Jersey City, it seems bike share users and those who ride their personal bikes are not locked in controversy.  The private owners want bike share users who hog the public bike parking to be fined.  Hah!  And kinda the reverse, if the hoggers happen to be private bike owners.  Solution: There need to be more bike parking so everyone can ride.  Simple.  Normalize Cycling.  This seems like a battle between two super heroes, or an argument between two doctors who have discovered different and efficacious cures for cancer.  They all need more space to keep doing what they are doing.
Once again a city's merchants - now it is Vancouver - are expressing fear that bike lanes will cut into their businesses.  Perhaps if they only sold stacked washers and dryers or cement pylons, and only had front-of-the-store access, but otherwise they should expect their profits to go up.   And they would help this guy, cruising along and trying to decide if he'd rather be doored or crushed by a box truck full of baked goods.
Isn't Cheyenne, Wyoming where Dick Cheney comes from?  (Yes, I ended a question with a preposition.   Please get over it.)  So Cheyenne now has free bike share?  Hmmmmm.  And it is not a gag article.

And for those who cycling news from seemingly unlikely places, Memphis' bike/pedestrian coordinator (yes, they have one), Kyle Wagenschutz, is moving on to a job with the advocacy group People for Bikes.

So, if I see you in the bike lane, and you are headed anywhere, and you are of any political persuasion, let's be smug.

Elisa P.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Norway Spending Billions on Cycling Highways

Did you know that a petrol dollar state that enjoys the highest standard of living in the western world is spending billions on bicycle highways?  Fjords, Ski Queen Cheese, beautiful lakes and glaciers, and now this.  If I were not so patriotic, I would move.  Varsagod!

It's hard to cast a quiet, tall woman with an especially good haircut as a fighter for change, but Janette-Sadik-Khan did just that during her tenure as the transit boss in New York.  She remains an active fighter worth following if you believe in smart cities.

Some days, when I am working on an especially intellectual project, I like to day dream and imagine I work for a bike start up, where the entire building is built for cyclists.  (In middle school I designed a house where the bedrooms were accessible by a catwalk above the heated indoor pool.  This was before I understood how moisture and structures don't always have a lasting romance.)  Well, that place, the bike place, it really exists. 

Do we really need haute couture for cycling?  I am not against it, and I am glad that it is being designed.  I prefer classic couture with my bicycle - elegant pumps, narrow dress pants.  But a capacious party jacket, or bloomers that appear unflattering to anyone under six feet tall, not so much.  Still, this design movement may just reflect demand.   Or not.

So if I see you in the bike lane, whether you are in Derek Lam and Jimmy Choos, or recycled 501s and Chuck Taylors, let's be smug.
Elisa P.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Want to hire the best and brightest? Locate near cycling infrastructure. Seriously.

So you want to have the best lawyers, the best programmers, the best accountants, the best data analysts.  Then locate near bike share, bike lanes or paths.  This simple formula can attract top talent.  Worry less about the meditation rooms, smoothy bar, and stability ball desks.  The risk of an employee falling asleep, catching food-borne illness, or rupturing his or her coccys is is far less.  And they will be healthier and cost less over time.

Milan is now exploring means of tackling its crippling air pollution.  Among the options is one talked about in other cities: paying people to ride their bikes to work.  Brilliant.  A little overdue, but clever none-the-less.

Which brings us to an interesting advocacy piece in the Washington Post this week.  Complaints from a man who doesn't think that Americans should pay for bike share, or let bike share be categorized as mass transit, if they don't live near bike share.  He does not want the federal government to provide the meager subsidy to bike share anticipated by some pending legislation sponsored by some cycling congressmen from both parties.  Yawn.
Well, I don't live near certain rural interstates, but I pay for those with my tax dollars.   I don't eat anything with high fructose corn syrup, but my tax dollars subsidize its production and the public healthcare costs associated with its consumption.  Given the pollution and sustainability problems suffered by major cities, where most of the population now lives, where a lot of the jobs are created, where families live, this seems like a silly argument.  In the city, people use bike share to get around, just like they use highway tax dollars in other places.  Cyclists probably cost the government less over time because they tend not to be sedentary and overweight.
This piece was fuzzy math at its worst.  I wonder if the writer considered how many new drugs have been patented in the last decade for Type-2 diabetes.  Perhaps the obesity epidemic and sedentary behavior have created a market.  Free enterprise, right?  Who pays for those drugs overwhelmingly?  Medicare and Medicaid.  Covered by tax dollars.  Who pays for that?  Me, you, and a lot of other people with good habits.  Perhaps a little preventive medicine in the form of bike share is a worthy investment - or insurance- against later costs.   #bikeshare #washingtonpost

There are words that don't seem like they belong together.  Like "Hawaii" and "snow.""Tobacco" and "toddler."  Or "Tobasco" and "ice cream."  Certainly not "Texarkana" and "bike share."  But as it turns out, Texarkana is looking at bike share.  If that isn't progress, please tell me what is.

So, if I see you in the bike lane, lets be smug because we will know that we are less likely to inflict significant healthcare costs on our fellow citizens over time.
Elisa P.