Friday, February 26, 2010

North American Pearls

If Boston's confounding roads have never been easy to explore by car, imagine the obstacles visiting bicyclists face. In 2006 Bicycling magazine put the city on its list of America's worst cities for cycling—for the third time. Enter Mayor Thomas Menino. Recognizing the benefits of a bike-friendly culture—for the environment, to ease traffic congestion, for public health—the mayor appointed a former Olympic cyclist as the city's bike coordinator, launched an annual cycling event, and became a biker himself. The city installed 15 miles of bike lanes and distributed 40,000 cycling maps. While Boston has a long way to go, Bicycling named it a "future best city" in 2008. Cities from Louisville to Los Angeles are ramping up their bike accessibility, and visitors are a big part of the game plan. The result may be a boost in car-free tourism across North America, like that which has existed in European cities such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen for years. These are the leaders among North America's bike-friendly cities: Portland, New York, Chicago, San Diego, San Francisco, Montreal, Washington D.C., Tucson. Read more here.

Fixing the Great Mistake

"Fixing the Great Mistake" is a new Streetfilms series that examines what went wrong in the early part of the 20th Century, when our cities began catering to the automobile, and how those decisions continue to affect our lives today. In this episode, Transportation Alternatives director Paul Steely White shows how planning for cars drastically altered Park Avenue. Watch and see what Park Avenue used to look like, how we ceded it to the automobile, and what we need to do to reclaim the street as a space where people take precedence over traffic.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

America counts; who joins?

One of the greatest challenges facing the bicycle and pedestrian field is the lack of documentation on usage and demand. Without accurate and consistent demand and usage figures, it is difficult to measure the positive benefits of investments in these modes, especially when compared to the other transportation modes such as the private automobile. An answer to this need for data is the National Bicycle & Pedestrian Documentation Project, co-sponsored by Alta Planning and Design and the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Pedestrian and Bicycle Council. This nationwide effort provides consistent model of data collection and ongoing data for use by planners, governments, and bicycle and pedestrian professionals. The basic assumptions of the methodology are that, in order to estimate existing and future bicycle and pedestrian demand and activity, agencies nationwide need to start conducting counts and surveys in a consistent manner similar to those being used by ITE and other groups for motor vehicle models. Learn how to count here.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bike Sharing in Mumbai, India

A student picks up a bicycle waiting at Mulund station, rides it to Kelkar College and parks it at a cycle stand there, where it is ready for use by the next student. Mumbai has launched a bike-sharing system, following in the footsteps of Paris, London, Dublin and New York. From Mulund, where the ‘Cycle Chalao’ movement is now restricted, organiser I-Initiate hopes to spread out across the city. The start has been encouraging, with 100-odd Kelkar students joining on January 25. This has helped “convert” 100 habitual users of the rickshaw, a polluting mode of transport, said Raj Janagam of I-Initiate. “By the end of the year, we plan to measure the carbon emission we have prevented simply by switching to the bicycle,” he said. Membership is of two kinds: a monthly subscription (like Montreal’s Bixi model) or a refundable deposit system. “We have studied many successful and failed international models and realised that for the system to sustain, it needs to be easy to implement. Our programme has a very low operational cost and involves minimal book-keeping. Since this is a trial launch, we also chose the location carefully. Read on here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

German President confronts car people

The German Federal President Mr Horst Koehler held an incredible speech in front of ADAC, which is THE lobby organisation for cars and car culture in Germany. Now his office published the translation in English. Some quotes: 'Many people just get into their cars in the morning almost without thinking, and then they find themselves stuck in another traffic jam. Experts have calculated that traffic jams cost the German economy several billion euro every year. And to my mind the answer is not simply to build more roads. Stuck in traffic jams, people waste time, get irritated. Some people put themselves through it every day, even if a five-minute walk would take them to the underground, which would get them to work quicker and more comfortably.'
'Henry Ford once said, "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses". In other words, mobility has to be thought ahead. You, leading representatives of the car industry, be ahead of your customers! The phrase "that's what the customers wanted" is not set in stone for all eternity. As leaders you have a responsibility to lead. And part of that is to recognize shifts in the tide - on the markets and in society - and to react promptly and get new products ready for the market.'

Training about Electric Bcycles

Since its official start in June 2009, the Presto project has made considerable progress. Presto consists of 3 main pillars: cycling infrastructure, cycling promotion and electric bicycles. Today, the consortium has completed a policy guide for each of these pillars. These guides are aimed at supporting the PRESTO cities in their cycling policy activities and at serving as European reference guides for all those who are interested in the subjects concerned. The guides will be published on the PRESTO website very soon. The European Twowheel Retailers’ Association (ETRA) is in the consortium responsible for the pillar electric bicycles. Consequently, the European trade association has written the Policy Guide on Electric Bicycles. In anticipation of its publication on the PRESTO and ETRA website, the guide can be downloaded until 17 February 2009 from this link. The Guide serves as basic material for the training programme, which is an integral part of PRESTO. The objective of the electric bicycle training is to raise awareness on electric bicycles, to stimulate and facilitate market penetration and to promote the use of electric bicycles. Key issues are potential user groups, the market, opportunities and the vehicle itself. The training is aimed at anybody who may have an interest in electric bicycles.

Monday, February 1, 2010

An Electric Boost

It began in China, where an estimated 120 million electric bicycles now hum along the roads, up from a few thousand in the 1990s. They are replacing traditional bikes and motorcycles at a rapid clip and, in many cases, allowing people to put off the switch to cars. In turn, the booming Chinese electric-bike industry is spurring worldwide interest and impressive sales in India, Europe and the United States. China is exporting many bikes, and Western manufacturers are also copying the Chinese trend to produce models of their own. From virtually nothing a decade ago, electric bikes have become an $11 billion global industry. In the Netherlands, a third of the money spent on bicycles last year went to electric-powered models. Industry experts predict similar growth elsewhere in Europe, especially in Germany, France and Italy, as rising interest in cycling coincides with an aging population. India had virtually no sales until two years ago, but its nascent market is fast expanding and could eclipse Europe’s in the next year. While the American market has been modest — about 200,000 bikes sold last year, by some estimates — interest is rising. Read on in the New York Times here.