Real Life Bicycle Stories

Putting a face on the people who use a city’s infrastructure can help others understand why certain changes are happening (or are proposed).

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has created the Connecting the City campaign to promote proposed connections to existing bicycle infrastructure in San Francisco.

The above video shows one family integrating all forms of transportation into their daily lives and expresses the concerns many parents have and how infrastructure could improve current conditions.

Reminds me a little of this, too.

Via Velo Vogue

The Changing Face of the NYC Commute

11 miles is just shy of 18 kms and a fairly long commute. Yet, because of constant development and political support for cycling infrastructure 90% of this journey includes streets featuring some form of cycling infrastructure.

Notice that only a small percentage of the ride is along streets with sharrows and, notice too, that NYC DOT isn’t trying to squeeze one size fits all cycling infrastructure onto a wide variety of streets.

Thinking back on my former commute, 25 kms each way and exactly 0% of my route including any form of cycling infrastructure, it’s no wonder I was often alone on two wheels. Cycling along major arterials with boulevards wide enough to play soccer on I wondered why there wasn’t a bike path there. I would cross over multi-lane bridges that themselves spanned across 400 series highways and wondered why both cyclists and pedestrians were ignored there as well.

Real cycling infrastructure influences real change. How hard is that to understand?

Via StreetFilms.org

Evergreen Brick Works Helps Usher In Cycling Infrastructure on Bayview

Don Valley Brick Works - Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Evergreen Brick Works recently held their grand opening, and while events and a market have been held at the site all summer, access by bicycle has been somewhat limited.

Bayview, a street where the speed limit increases to 70 km/h (meaning 90 km/h to far too many drivers) in front of the Brick Works also has crumbling shoulders. Certainly an uninviting situation for anyone on two wheels.

However, the revitalization of the once abandoned site is bringing in cycling and pedestrian infrastructure. In an e-mail from Dave Dunn of Cycling Infrastructure and Programs for the City of Toronto he explained that a new bi-directional and physically separated multi-use path will now connect the Rosedale Valley Drive multi-use trail to the Brick Works site. As well, a connection to Pottery Road will allow cyclists and pedestrians to access the site from the Lower Don Trail.

For added safety, Jersey barriers will be installed along Bayview separating cycling and pedestrian traffic, and the wooden bridge that runs under the Bayview access to the Don Valley Parkway is being repaired.

Here’s a Google Map created by Christina Bouchard detailing the changes currently being installed along Bayview (click for more details):

Photo via Flickr

John McEnroe, Rage Against the Machine and Hans Rey: Wheels4Life

About Wheels4Life:

Wheels4Life is a non-profit charity (501c(3)), that provides free bicycles for people in need of transportation in Third World countries. We partner with local individuals, organizations and other groups to help us identify persons who sincerely need a bike to be able to go to school or to work. Often these people live in very primitive and remote areas with no access or means to public transportation. The closest school, doctor or work-place might be 10 or 20 miles away. Having a bike can make all the difference in somebody’s life and can give them a chance to break out of the vicious poverty cycle. The gift of mobility, in form of a bicycles, can do miracles.

More information about Wheels4Life at http://www.wheels4life.org/

London Invests £111 Million in Cycling Infrastructure

Barclays Cycle Superhighway

At the current exchange rate, that’s $175 million CDN spent on cycling infrastructure in one year. Improving road conditions, creating a bicycle sharing program, increasing bicycle parking facilities and building “Barclays Cycle Superhighways” represent how you implement cycling infrastructure by tackling all aspects at once.

This video explains it all:

Now, you may be thinking, “But everything in England is on a much smaller scale, this could never work over the greater distances in Toronto.” And if you are thinking this, I’m sorry, but you’re wrong.

Consider the first route mentioned, running from outer London to inner London, 8.5 miles or just shy of 14 kms. In Toronto, you could start at Union Station and reach Bluffer’s Park in Scarborough by traveling just one more kilometre. Head in the opposite direction and 14 kms takes you to the 427.

While the current rail corridor development in Toronto is a step in the right direction, these cycling routes fall quite short of actually delivering cyclists into the areas of the city with the highest concentration of employment.

Video via EcoVelo

Bikeway Network Event Public Notice


Bike Path By Night
Originally uploaded by sniderscion

Make your voice heard and show your support for more cycling infrastructure in Toronto:

Bikeway Network Event Public Notice

Date: Monday February 1, 2010
Time: 6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Location: Metro Hall, 55 John St. Room 308-309

The objective of this meeting is to get community input on proposed new downtown bikeways that the Transportation Services Cycling Infrastructure and Programs group is working on for 2010.

Topics will discuss concepts and criteria for new projects, including:

• 2010 bicycle lanes
• Rush hour sharrow bicycle markings on streetcar routes
• New bicycle lane intersection treatments at signalized intersections
• Locations for bicycle boxes at intersections
• Updates on the West-End bikeways project

Participants are invited to attend for a brief presentation and question period with City Staff from 6:30 – 7:00 p.m. From 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. the floor will be open for the public to view maps, talk to staff about projects, and submit comments and suggestions.

Visit our website at www.toronto.ca/cycling

Do you bike to shop? Let business owners know!

Bags

Via Third Wave Cycling Blog:

Bike Helmets on Customers Exposes Unnoticed Business For Retailers

January 11, 2010 by Jack Becker

We received an email earlier last week from the local ratepayers’ group:

There has been a request from VANOC and the Olympic committee asking Citygate and False Creek residents to keep their festive lights up and on throughout the Olympics so the world can see us.

Presumably this request can even include the festive Christmas lights that some boat owners festoon their masts along the waterfront.

What would be an equivalent, visibility tactic for the cycling community to announce the significance of cyclists?

It could be as simple as keeping your helmet on your head when you are shopping.  This action would go a long way towards changing the perception of local business retailers that their customer base and retail sales comes from car drivers.  It may start stopping retailers’ complaints any time that a new bike lane at their store entrance takes away more street car parking.  It may start retailer action to call for more storefront bike parking racks.  It may change perception that cyclists in a store does not contribute to the bottom line of retailer sales and profitability.  A “helmet-on-campaign-while shopping” would remind retailers that cyclists do comprise more of their customer base than retailers might realize.

Cyclists do shop, contribute to local businesses and the economy. Like everyone else, they still consume products and services.  In fact, cyclists, without the burden of paying for car maintenance, may have more money available for shopping.

In downtown Toronto, there has been an ongoing debate on implementation of a bike lane on the busy Bloor Street west of Spadina  Rd., an area  known  as the “Annex”.  For many decades and still now, the Annex is a gentrified neighbourhood with busy cafes, restaurants, independent shops, community centre and services that draw patrons and convivial street life.

A recent study of 61 local merchants, 531 patrons, and parking space use, revealed only 10% of patrons drive to the Bloor-Annex area. Pedestrians and cyclists were spending more money than the drivers.  This is not surprising since the area is served by 3 different subway station exits, feeder bus lines and an established bike lane grid in this Bloor St neighbourhood.

Meanwhile in Vancouver, the Canada Line opened in late August 2009.  Now changes in customer levels have been noted to be modest for businesses along the Canada Line on Cambie St.   Businesses closer to stations have seen an increase in foot traffic.  The full effect of a switch from car-based shopping to people-based shopping takes time.  It takes more than a full year business cycle for commuters to establish changes in their transportation choice, travel and shopping patterns.

Since no one is constantly monitoring where bikes are locked up outside  shops, then the bike helmet is the beacon to signal retailers that another customer that just arrived –in a different way.

Since cycling is on the rise in Toronto, it’s time to make yourself visible to shop owners who apparently don’t believe that cyclists and pedestrians are good for business. Carry your bike helmet, keep your pant leg reflector on and make sure to mention how much you appreciate the bike parking or bike lane you found nearby.

Photo via Flickr user Life in a Lens

Cyclists Are Smarter

High Park1

Personally, I feel that choosing to start my day with an hour and ten minute bike ride makes me smarter than everyone in their cars who are eating processed foods and stressing over the fact they have to try and pass me (a difficult task for countless people so I’ve learned).
As it turns out, I’m somewhat right… if only a little arrogant…
From The Globe and Mail:

The link between exercise and more brainpower

Neuroscientists say parents who want to boost their children’s mental performance should encourage kids to hit the road before they hit the books

It is first period at City Park Collegiate Institute in Saskatoon, and the Grade 10 students in Allison Cameron’s class are priming their brains for an English assignment.

They strap heart monitors on their wrists and climb on a treadmill or exercise bike for a 20-minute workout. When they’re done, they move to their desks and start writing. The students are taking part in a program that aims to help them improve their focus, concentration and, ultimately, their academic performance through regular exercise in class.

The results have been startling: On standardized tests, the children in Movement Matters have dramatically outscored students in classes in which the program wasn’t offered.

Today, Movement Matters is in its third year and most classes at the school take part. Companies have donated equipment, as has cyclist Greg LeMond, who offered Ms. Cameron six top-of-the-line spinning bikes. A number of schools across the country are interested in setting up something similar.

Fifteen-year-old Benji, whose guardian doesn’t want his last name published, goes twice a day to the room with the exercise equipment. He alternates between the bike and treadmill, and usually gets his heart rate up to 140 beats a minute.

“When I first started, I was real tired,” he says. “When I got used to it, it woke me up more. I kind of got better at doing math and reading.”

LINK

Photo via BikingToronto’s Flickr Pool