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NPR had a great story today about the growth, and challenges of biking, and bike share programs.
Listen here, or here:
Here is a taste:
Millions of commuters across the country have a new way to get around. In the last few years, bike-sharing systems have popped up from Boston to Minnesota to Washington, D.C. They’re supposed to make commuting easier, greener and cheaper. But the people who arguably need these bikes the most are often the least likely to access them.
These bike-sharing systems have a lot of different names: Divvy, Hubway, Nice Ride. But they all work roughly the same way: you pick up a bike at one docking station, ride it and then lock it up at another station. And these systems have something else in common: the users so far tend to be young, male and wealthier than the rest of the population.
“The rates of low-income ridership in all bike-share programs around the world is pitifully low. So we can only do better,” Carolyn Samponaro of the Transportation Alternatives in New York, said. The Citi Bike system launched in New York earlier this year.
Samponaro and I met up at a docking station near a big public housing project in Brooklyn. It’s right across the street from a busy bike lane, and about two blocks from the foot of the Manhattan Bridge — in other words, a prime spot for bike commuting. But the docking station just sits there, full of bikes, waiting for riders. Samponaro said this unfortunately fits with the data so far.
“The rates of low-income ridership in all bike-share programs around the world is pitifully low. So we can only do better.”
“The demographic information I’ve seen to date is that it’s more men than women. And only 0.5 percent are low-income New Yorkers,” said Samponaro, who considers that a pretty poor rating.
Read the rest here.
What most excites me about this is that these programs are driving a change in thinking about how we build transportation systems. Bike share systems are perfect for people who need to save money, or get in shape. They are human scale designs. Almost everyone can ride a bike.
Sadly bike share systems seem to currently be focused on the affluent, they are in the business of making money, and currently rich people ride bikes more. This is can also be a good thing in the long run. It used to be that if you were rich you owned a car, if we shift this thinking to be “if you are rich you ride a bike” many more people will aspire to ride, and unlike the dream of car ownership, many more people will actually be able to achieve the dream of owning or riding a bicycle.
You can’t democratize a luxury like a car. Just look at the mess it has caused. Its destroying our planet, embroiling us in decades of wars, ruining our health, killing our populace, enabling horrible city design, and in general has been a failure. The same can not be said for the bicycle. If everyone in the world used a bicycle as their main mode of transportation it would prompt us to be healthy, to design our cities better, to use public transportation like trains for long distance travel, to be much more gentle on the environment, and we would have a radically different foreign policy. In short bicycles are not a luxury, they are a the foundation of a solid transportation system.
More bikes! More bike share systems! More access to these systems for the poor!
Tags: Bike Share, bright future, hubway, NPR
Posted in advocacy, Audio, news | No Comments »
David B. Was nice enough to send me the complaint in the Weigl vs Ross Express case in
Superior Court, along with this context for folks who are not lawyers. You can download the complaint here. (pdf) For more info on the case see here and here and here.
At this time (Nov 7), there’s no answer from the defendants; the only things in the case file are the “cover sheet” used by the court to get the case going, and the complaint, which sets out what the plaintiff claims and will have to prove. All of the causes of action involve “negligence,” which the plaintiff will have to show by proving that the defendants had a duty to Chris Weigl (to drive safely and not cause accidents) and that they breached that duty (by causing an accident) and caused injury to Weigl. They’ll also try to show that the trucking company was not careful enough in hiring the driver. Perhaps he has a bad record or something like that. The defendants will try to show that there was nothing the driver did wrong, even though the accident occurred. They will also, no doubt, try to show that Weigl rode carelessly and was responsible for the crash. The police report of their investigation will be important evidence and hasn’t been released yet, as far as I know. If the jury finds that both the driver and Weigl were negligent, they will have to determine how much each was at fault and that ratio will figure in the determination of any award.
Tags: Christopher Weigl, Comm. Ave, lawsuit, ross express
Posted in news | No Comments »
I ride through this area on a regular basis, and I can attest that this sort of improvement is much needed. Highways don’t belong in neighborhoods.
From Livable Streets:
Thanks to your support over the past three years, we could see much needed improvements to the McGrath corridor from Somerville Ave to Washington Street around the McCarthy Overpass by next summer.
Now, as part of the State’s repair project, MassDOT is planning to make additional surface improvements for people to make it safer and easier to walk, bike, take the bus, and drive, when originally the only plan was to repair the structure.
LivableStreets urged the State to reconsider howthey are investing money in this project. Taking our feedback, the State hired consultants to analyze the possibilities. Last week, data and conceptual drawings were presented to LivableStreets and other stakeholders. The drawings showed new and improved intersections, buffered bicycle lanes, designated areas for buses, improved traffic signals, and the closing of ramps and tunnels.
The new ideas presented are because you wrote letters, volunteered, signed postcards, and attended meetings and spoke up. Now we are closer to seeing these much needed improvements.
Thank you Massachusetts Department of Transportation and City of Somerville!
|Today (top); A vision (bottom)|
We are also now one step closer to realizing the ultimate vision of taking down the outdated overpass to make our communities more connected and livable, and pave the way for more businesses and jobs.
The work is not complete though… We must continue to weigh in on the plans and there will be public meetings this spring.
Tags: livable streets, McGrath
Posted in advocacy, infrastructure, news | 1 Comment »
Ten months after Christopher Weigl, a 23-year-old graduate student, was killed on his bicycle in Allston, the man’s family has sued the truck driver and trucking company involved in the crash, arguing that the company has a responsibility to train drivers to watch for cyclists in dense urban areas.
The lawsuit reflects frustration within Weigl’s family and the Boston cycling community at the lack of criminal charges in the case and channels the growing sentiment among bike advocates that the trucking industry should be proactive in preventing bicycle crashes.
In a complaint filed in Suffolk Superior Court, Weigl’s family contends that the crash in December was the result of negligence on the part of the driver, John A. Brothers of Uxbridge, and the company that employs him, New Hampshire-based Ross Express.(Via)
Some very interesting things could come from this lawsuit. Having large trucks in an urban center requires that the large truck operators be highly trained. I hope the family gets some justice.
Tags: Christopher Weigl, death, lawsuit
Posted in news | 6 Comments »
In Manhattan they did anyway, with the help of more pedestrians and higher transit rates, as well as the new bike share program.
After several blocks in the heart of Times Square were pedestrianized and protected bike lanes were added to five avenues in the middle of Manhattan, motor vehicle traffic is actually moving more smoothly than before, according to the latest release of NYC DOT’s annual Sustainable Streets Index [PDF].
The report, which gathers data from the MTA, the Taxi and Limousine Commission, and DOT’s own counts, also shows that the volume of traffic entering Manhattan has basically stayed flat since 2009. At the same time, transit ridership has started to rebound from the recession and service cuts.
Even with population and employment levels increasing after the recession, car traffic into the Manhattan CBD declined 1.7 percent in 2011. Since 2003, traffic volumes are down 6.5 percent, while transit trips to the area have increased 11.3 percent.
The annual report incorporates numbers on bike-share usage. Between the Memorial Day launch and August 26, Citi Bike riders made more than 2.5 million trips covering more than 5.5 million miles. There have been eight crashes involving Citi Bikes, none causing injuries classified as serious. Of stations sampled during the final two weeks of July, the busiest included those near hubs like Grand Central Terminal and Union Square.
Read the rest of this fascinating article here. It seems obvious that if you take a bunch of people out of cars and instead they take public transit/ride a bike/ or walk that traffic would move better, but its always nice to see some real world data to prove it.
What I think is the real take home from this study is that peoples lives are improving. They are being more healthy (even public transit is healthier than driving). They are saving money, they are reducing their impact on the planet, and even the people who are still trapped in their cars are happier because traffic is moving smoothly. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if they were happier as well. Its a win win win win.
People defend cars, and get very upset when you try to make it harder to use them, but they really have so very few benefits and so very many drawbacks. I think what we are seeing is that this fact is finally sinking in.
Thanks Ben for the heads up on this.
Tags: Bike Lanes, improvement, new york city, traffic
Posted in infrastructure, news | No Comments »
They caught that asshole. Don’t steal bike bro…seriously. Good to see the increased security is working.
Police arrested a Cambridge man Friday on two counts of larceny for allegedly stealing two bicycles from the Davis Square MBTA stop in Somerville in August.
Police believe Banker stole a Jamis Ventura bicycle from the bike racks next to the Holland Street entrance at the Davis Square T stop on Sunday Aug. 18. Police also think he was behind another bicycle theft at the same T stop on Aug. 30.
Tags: bike theft, Davis Square, justice
Posted in news | 2 Comments »
We got attacked by spammers today. These little shit balls thought it would be fun to sign up for about 500 new spam sites. So…site registration is turned off for a while. If you are dying to start your own site in the next day or so contact me.
Tags: silly spammers, spam attack
Posted in bostonbiker, news | No Comments »
And it’s a mix of ambitious infrastructure plans, and tried and true bike improvements. I have yet to read through the whole thing (more in depth review when I have), but it looks like all the good stuff one would want in a bike plan. The real question is, will the candidate that we elect tomorrow stick to it?
You can also pop over to the globe for their take on it. All in all looks like a winner.
From the press release:
The City of Boston is committed to helping more residents and visitors get on bikes and to making it safer to ride. The Boston Bike Network provides a vision for developing bike lanes and paths throughout the City.
Encouraging more bicycle trips is an important component of the City’s Climate Action Plan, which sets a 2020 target of increasing the share of commute trips by bike to 10 percent. The 2013 Cyclist Safety Report sets a goal of decreasing bicycle crashes by 50 percent in the same timeframe. The Boston Bike Network plan is intended to support the growing number of bicyclists and help the city reach its sustainability and safety goals.
The Boston Bike Network Plan:
- Was developed with the input of city departments, state agencies, and hundreds of citizens who spoke up at open houses, made suggestions through an online mapping tool, or served on a Citizens Working Group.
- Lays out a plan for creating safer streets for bicycling that will attract and support new riders while improving the safety and comfort of all bicyclists.
- Identifies a comprehensive network of bicycle routes through the city, calling for 75 miles of new facilities in the next five years and reaching a network of 353 miles within 30 years.
- Will be used by city departments, state agencies, and developers so that as they modify city streets they are helping.
Available items of interest include:
To see more resources, including maps of each neighborhood and more city-wide maps, visit the City of Boston website.
Tags: 2013, boston bike plan
Posted in advocacy, infrastructure, news | 3 Comments »