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Posts Tagged ‘slow bicycle movement’

I’ve heard Mayor Coleman speak dozens of times and there’s one sentence that has stuck with me for years.  Yes, years b/c I heard it years ago during one of his ‘Bikin’ Mike,’ ‘Bike to Work Week’ public appearances.  He said, ‘if we (as a city) remain status-quo, we’ll continue to get left behind.’  Obviously, this is in reference to bicycling within Columbus.

In 2009, Columbus received its first ‘Bronze Award’ for ‘Bike-Friendly Community.’  It’s an award given through the national bicycling organization – League of American Bicyclists.  You have to apply for it, give very detailed information regarding all the bicycle facilities that have been implemented and projects that are currently in progress.  In 2009, Columbus was awarded the Bronze.  It’s 2013, four years later and guess what…  we’re still a Bronze.  Bicycling Magazine named the Top 50 bike-friendly cities in the country and we have remained in the lower 1/3 on that list – 34.

The top cities as you can gather:  Minneapolis, Portland, San Francisco, D.C., Seattle, and Tucson to name a few.  These cities are designing their streets with ‘8-80′ in mind.  This means their planners and engineers are designing and inviting EVERYONE to ride and feel safe while they’re riding.  They are installing protected bike lanes, bike boxes at intersections, dedicated bike signals, and painting their bike lanes green so that these lanes are clearly visible to all users on the road.  They are clearly making biking a priority and they are showing with these types of infrastructure projects that there’s more to the 21st century transportation mix than just cars.  These cities are at top of the list b/c they have the political will, they aren’t afraid to upset people b/c are noticing that many more ppl WANT alternatives to move around their city.  And when you give them well-designed infrastructure to ride, they are going to ride.

We ARE being left behind b/c our political will is….lack luster when it comes to REAL bicycle infrastructure and the most recent / perfect example is South High St.

Yesterday, I was biking home, using South High and noticed something new.  Sharrows placed north and south on S. High St. from Livingston Ave. to Thurman Ave.  I was upset.  If you all know S. High St. it is yet another inner-city freeway – CLEARLY in need of being slowed.  I layed in bed last night tossing and turning b/c I know that S. High is yet another street we’ve lost an opportunity to redesign in the CORRECT way and I’m about to break it down for you all.

This morning, I went to S. High and I did some work.  I took some chalk and photos and I’m going to show you that this street HAD every capability to have bike lanes in both direction and if the city really wanted to ‘WOW’ us, they could have created the city’s first protected bike lanes.

Let’s proceed.

I took measurements in three different intersections of S. High to see if this street’s width altered at all.  It didn’t.

S.High St. width- in all three intersection measurements that I did – spanning from Livingston Ave to just before Thurman Ave = 66ft wide (from curb to curb)

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This is initial shot (image above) I took of where the parked cars are and one of the sharrows in the right travel lane

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This is the intersection of S. High St and Frankfort St.  As you can see from my chalk markings – the parking lane is 8ft wide (average parking width) however, from the blue chalk line to the boundary of the white-dotted lines that separate the travel lanes, the right travel lane is 15 ft wide.  Completely UNACCEPTABLE that a lane is 15ft wide!  When you have a lane 15ft wide, you are INVITING cars to speed!  The left travel lane is 10ft wide.  The same measurements going in the opposite direction.

A bike lane is usually 5 ft wide.  Clearly, what SHOULD have been done was to reduce that 15ft travel lane to 10ft in both directions.  This frees up 10ft (5ft in each direction) to be used to create bike lanes.  Now, here’s where political will and being bold comes in, the city could have bumped the cars out from the curb 5ft creating a protected bike lane and slowing the traffic.  The protected bike lane would essentially be protected from moving traffic due to the parked cars.  And, this type of facility creates an even bigger buffer for the pedestrians.  ‘Dooring?’ well, that issue / concern would be drastically reduced b/c the bike rider is traveling on the side -the passenger door and over 80% of drivers these days are ‘Single-Occupancy Vehicles, SOV’ – meaning driver only.

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Just a shot of moving traffic.  But this also shows the extreme width of this street.  S. High St. has pockets of mixed-use buildings however,  development is not increasing on this street and hasn’t b/c of the design of this street.  It is clearly a street to move cars north and south at a minimum of 40mph.  Let me also state that if bike lanes were installed and / or the protected bike lanes installed – there would have been no removal of parking nor the removal of any travel lanes.

Then there’ s this and I’m sorry its so small.

bbp downtown bikeways

This image is our city’s ‘Bicentennial Bikeways Plan’ which was approved in 2008.  The bottom of this page shows what the colors mean. ‘Existing and Proposed Bicycle Network Downtown Columbus’ and if you can see the dotted blue key means ‘bike lane.’  Scroll up to the image of the city streets and if you can read, S. High St. it shows ‘proposed bike lane.’  So, what has changed from 2008 to now??  The street width sure hasn’t.  Now, S. High St. wasn’t an ‘automatic’ for getting bike lanes but clearly the individuals in charge thought in 2008 that S. High St was wide enough to get bike lanes and once again we’ve resulted in lack luster infrastructure i.e. sharrows.  Our ‘Bicentennial Bikeways Plan’ is slowly turning into the ‘Bicentennial Sharrows Plan.’  Sharrows do not slow down traffic and they do not invite the mother who wants to hop on her bike with a trailor in tow with her kid to bike on a street this fast and this wide.

Why does Columbus continually remain in the lower 1/3 list of ‘bike-friendly cities,’ this is the a perfect example.  We had an opportunity and took the easy way out.  We’re keeping drivers happy with not changing the design of our street and we’re not doing anything to invite new bike riders to explore our city.

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What new rider (man or woman) is going to feel ‘safer’ now that sharrows are placed on this street?  It doesn’t change the fact that the right lane is STILL 15ft wide.

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The speed limit on this street is 35mph however, due to the nature of this poorly designed street, the cars easily go 45mph.

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Both of the images above are of the only real area where folks walk from the downtown buildings.  This area is also the only cluster of businesses and half of these business turn over.  I can guarantee that one of the main reasons there’s high turnover with these businesses is b/c of the street design.  When you’re going 40mph, you’re clearly driving to your destination and nothing more.  This area has every opportunity to develop.  You have three neighborhoods that are walking distance yet you hardly see walkers on S. High St. and it’s b/c of this street design.

Question:  Do you prefer to stroll down High St. in the Shorth North or Gay St.?  Or would you want to walk down S. High St?  Aside from this cluster of ever-changing bars/restaurants, there’s NOTHING to draw you, nothing to invite you to walk down S. High St.  It’s not comfortable.  And this will remain until the street scape is changed with all users in mind.

This post is about accountability.  The tireless bike advocates can continue to teach safety and educate people on bikes but the fact remains that perceived safety and traffic speed are two of the biggest barriers that keep more people from riding.  Our streets need to be changed and redesigned with an ‘8-80′ mentality.  Sharrows are ‘status-quo.’

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In mid April, HB 145 was introduced for a 2nd time to become a statewide law for motorists to give at least a minimum of 3ft safe passing clearance when approaching a person on a bike.  Currently, Toledo, Cincinnati, and Cleveland have passed ‘safe passing’ bills so having this passed will create uniformity.  Ohio will also be added to the list of 21 other states that have ‘safe passing’ laws.

I organized a ride from Paradise Garage to the Statehouse prior to hearing testimony.  About 10-12 folks showed up and we had a diverse representation of advocates for this bill.  I left the hearing not feeling all that confident.  While, it was easily discernible that some legislators were in agreeance of the bill, others were asking questions that had absolutely nothing to do with the safe passing of a person on a bike.  I felt that they were making a mountain out of molehill about how to actually enforce this.  We’d be naive to think that there’d be 100% enforcement of this law.  It’s about principal and the fact that more and more people are choosing alternate ways to move about the city.  Clearly, in a car when you’re passing another car, you pass with enough clearance – it’s the same thing with the bike.  When you try to convince ppl who live and die by the car, its an uphill battle b/c they turn into rocket science when  its simple driver / biker etiquette.

I’ll keep you posted about the outcome of the bill.  Let’s hope we’re added to the list of states that understand that biking is just another piece to the transportation mix.

Be safe and keep riding

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3 ft

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I look forward to when these rides slowly begin to disappear.  That means that our streets will be safer and slower for all types of users.  This past Wed. was the annual Ride of Silence.  Essentially, its a silent funeral procession ride for riders whom have both been hit and fatally hit by drivers.  We ride in silence for ten miles acknowledging fellow riders (which many of us know or have personal experiences of our own) as well as advocate for our streets to be safer.

Tuesday, May 21st at 1:30pm ( Statehouse Room 122 (Taft Room), folks can show up at the Statehouse and provide personal testimony to speak in support of HB145 which is the statewide ‘Safe Passing Bill.’  This will – should it pass blanket the state of Ohio and give all riders legal protection should one encounter a driver that passes too close (less than 3ft) and impedes your safety.  The ‘Safe Passing Bill’ had its first attempt in 2009 and unfortunately didn’t pass.  We need this bill to pass.  Currently, there are 22 other states that have passed a ‘Safe Passing Bill,’ Ohio needs to be added to that list.

If you’re free Tuesday afternoon for a couple hrs, folks will be gathering in the parking lot of Paradise Garage at 12:30p and then we, as a group will ride down to the Statehouse and show our support being present.  Should you be interested in providing personal testimony, let me know.

Be safe and keep riding!

ROS 3 ROS 4 ROS ROS2 ROS5 ROS6 ROS7 ROS8 ROS9 ROS10 ROS11 ROS12 ROS13 ROS14 ROS15 ROS16 ROS17 ROS18 ROS19

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There’ve been previous updates on this but I just wanted to refresh y’all.  I saw these bicycle signs pop up in German Village yesterday and I was thrilled.

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More of these will continue to be installed along with the bike symbols on the ground to guide you on where to stop your bike at intersections.  Once you place your bike ontop of the symbol on the ground, it acts as a detector to change the light.  The city of Columbus’ Public Service Dept. plans to install both the signs and bicycle signals on the ground when you place a 311 request.  This is why it is so important to utilize this easy service-request system (http://311.columbus.gov/).  Our streets cannot get better unless we ALL are proactive in making them better.  I recently placed three requests through 311 and one of them is already in progress.

Next subject.

People constantly ask me ‘where is the best and safest place to ride my bike?’  The honest answer is, is that there is no real answer but there are better practices than others.  I tell people that if there are multiple travel lanes going in each direction, I always take the far right lane b/c there’s still another full lane(s) of travel.  Now, what about a street like High St.  There’s one travel lane, sometimes a dedicated left turn lane, and a far right lane that has buses, right turns, and now – parked cars.  Engineers reinforce that this lane can be ‘shared’ and let’s face it, most drivers DO want us on the most far right lane as possible, so they can continue about their destination, not having to slow down.  The fact is, is that that far right lane is 12ft wide (I counted) and clearly NOT enough for both a bike rider and an open car door to safely exist together.  Take a look at the pics below:

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Many car windows these days have tint to them leaving it as either a guessing game or a ‘Hail Mary’ for us bike riders riding in this lane.  As you can clearly see, there’s a variety of width of these cars.  I don’t care what people say, this is clearly not enough room.  I’ve been door’d and I’m still intimidated at times.

We learn in drivers education to be ‘predictable’ when driving.  Having drivers be able to anticipate your next move is both courteous and safe.  You dont want a driver to abruptly turn right and not signal or a car to change lanes with out adequate space and time.  The same goes with us on bikes.  We want drivers, buses, and walkers to be able to anticipate our moves.  Weaving in and out of lanes isn’t predictable.  I would rather anger the driver behind me b/c I’m slow and predictable than create this bike rodeo of weaving in and out of lanes and parked cars.  I know it’s engrained in us (slower traffic stays right) but when it comes to safety, drivers are just going to have to deal.  I hope these images help along with my quasi-clear explanation.  Again, its really difficult to answer b/c there are so many different levels of confidence when riding however, I hope these images give you a better idea of why its always not in the best interest to appease the cars behind you and for you to maintain the lane until the far right lane frees up for you to move into.

Be safe and keep riding.

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This is going to be my one and only blog written about helmets.  This topic, in my personal opinion is a waste of my time but I feel the need to balance current statements that have been made regarding a recent photo that was taken and published in the Dispatch:

owbs pic

As many of you know, the three of us just recently executed our first and very successful statewide ‘Ohio Women’s Bicycling Summit.’  This was the photo published  in the Dispatch and you can imagine the comments and judgments that took place once this photo was released.

Only in America does it seem like there’s this war regarding helmets so let’s stop and figure out why.  Why do we wear helmets?  We wear helmets for ‘protection,’ right?  Who are we protecting ourselves from:  drivers and our cities that have been built to solely accommodate the automobile.  If you wear a helmet – you’re a safe bike rider.  If you don’t – you’re reckless.   I’m as safe of a bike rider as they come.   I wear a helmet about 98% of the time I’m on my bike so when I make that CHOICE to not wear a helmet, why do you take it upon yourself to judge me and reduce my safe bike riding; because I don’t conform to your standards?  Just because I don’t wear a helmet, that doesn’t make me more reckless of a bike rider or less credible of a bicycling advocate.

The staunch opponents out there need not be so quick to judge and think about a few things:

  1. Helmets help save lives, however, they do NOT prevent crashes from happening.
  2. We need to stop wasting time on the ‘blame game’ of who is and who isn’t wearing helmets and move forward to trying to change our infrastructure and slow down our streets.   The only way to change behavior is to change the infrastructure.   When you slow down a street with traffic calming elements, road diets, bicycle infrastructure, and pedestrian infrastructure – it not only increases livability within the street, it increases more walkers and bikers which in result increases safety and decreases crashes.
  3. Steve Barbour, Michelle Kazlausky,  Dr. Deborah Ehrlich and William Crowley are just four folks that come to mind whom all except Dr. Ehrlich were fatally hit AND were wearing helmets.  Dr. Ehrlich barely survived.  She was right hooked by a semi.  Again, infrastructure.

The focus must be moved to redesigning and changing our infrastructure which slows down cars and safely allows all users to move about.  Are you going to stigmatize me and anyone else who hops certain lights b/c they don’t detect us?  Do you know that if an intersection goes through two cycles w/out detecting a bike rider, we are legally allowed to hop the light or are you going to immediately make the judgment like most ppl do that I am a reckless rider and not take into consideration that our infrastructure has been built solely for the auto?   If you’re unwilling to see that ‘we’ a car-centric country has created these dangerous cities in which people die and that it is the way our cities have been built and not whether someone is wearing a helmet or not then I’m happy to be your scapegoat.

I’d like to also insert that in 2008, 4,387 pedestrians were killed in traffic and nobody is suggesting for them to wear helmets.  Where is the outrage in pedestrians being killed by motor vehicles?  It’s an increasing epidemic and yet there has been no public outrage.   Bicycling needs to be seen as both safe and fun and that everyone can do without special clothing or gear or feeling the need to ‘armor’ up (perfect example here – a national bicycling webpage:  http://www.peopleforbikes.org/blog/entry/send_a_pro-bike_letter_to_your_local_newspaper).   Over the age of 18, we as adults have the ‘choice’ to either wear a helmet or not.  I don’t need to feel looked down upon or targeted should I choose on rare occasions to not wear my helmet.

Before you continue to waste both my time and yours judging me on the basis of my not wearing a helmet during a photo shoot, use that energy and write a letter to your local representatives advocating for safer bicycling infrastructure and enforcement of lowering our traffic speeds within our cities.

From 1997-2006, there have been 424, 840 motor traffic fatalities (NHTSA), maybe drivers should start wearing driving helmets:

driver helmet

This is in fact an actual helmet for driving.  When a bicyclist is fatally hit or seriously injured, the first question asked shouldn’t be, ‘was she/he wearing a helmet?’  It should be about the environment of where the accident took place.  Did you know that the majority of accidents happen in urban main arterials of cities? (NHTSA)  This leads me to once again acknowledge infrastructure.  Our inner- city streets are nothing short of inner-city freeways; five lanes across, no less than 12ft lane width, infinite sight distance, and let’s not forget the timed traffic lights working as an accomplice to speeding and safety concerns.

Our society has become fat and lazy when it comes to putting cars in their place.  Tailgating on freeways going 75mph is the new ‘black.’  Complete stops have become ‘rolling stops.’  ‘Stop bars’ aren’t paid attention to and if a crosswalk is more than six feet deep, that apparently gives a car permission to stop INSIDE the crosswalk and we continue to let this happen.

We need to move beyond whether a person on a bike was armored up with a helmet or not.  Once you understand that it’s not about the helmet – that it’s about our unsafe infrastructure then maybe you’ll put forth your efforts to creating a more ‘people-friendly’ city.  Hopefully soon, our cities’ infrastructure will be balanced enough to where you may walk out of your house, hop on your bike and in mid-riding say to yourself, ‘I forgot my helmet.’  We need to encourage, not discourage.  Our cities need the voices of people who ride bikes to unify and fight as allies, not judgmental enemies.  Again, this post is written based upon my personal opinion, on my personal blog and nothing more.

Be safe and keep riding.

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About eight months ago, I had my two friends Mimi Webb and Jeannie Martin join me for a beer so that I could present them with an idea.  I went to California the end of last summer for two separate Bicycle Conferences.  At both conferences, there were specific ‘women forums’ to continue to forward efforts of increasing women ridership here in the U.S.  Leaving California, I was both inspired and new what I had to do in Ohio.  Fast forward to the evening with Mimi and Jeannie.  I told them I planned to organize the first statewide ‘Ohio Women’s Bicycling Summit’ and would they be interested in joining me in this effort.  Immediately, they said ‘hell yes!”  So, for eight months, Jeannie, Mimi, and myself met and planned out this Summit.

Interest and excitement generated, immediately.  Our main sponsors, ROLL and Trek were absolutely incredible.  Then, Detroit’s ‘Autobike’ got in touch with us.  ARC Imaging donated printing costs for us.  And last but not least, food trucks!  OH! Burgers! and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams sponsored and killed it during lunch time :)  Green Bean Delivery covered all of the yummy fruits during the Summit.  Thank you to all the talented and incredible speakers:  Lisa Hinson, Tammy Krings, Marjorie Shavers, Lindsay Sherman, Lindsey Bower, Emily Burnett, Ohio’s First Lady Karen Kasich, Julie Walcoff, and Rep. Teresa Fedor.

72 women from around the state of Ohio and two women from Indiana.  The overwhelming positive responses from both the attendees and the presenters was absolutely amazing.  The Summit ran without any huge hiccups.  Women were learning, asking questions, laughing, meeting new women, and just enjoying themselves.

I’m grateful for such an amazing first Summit.  This will turn into an annual event.  My main focus is making our city inviting and safe to more modes of transportation.  Men, women, and children deserve ‘choice’ to be able to move about our cities and feel safe doing so.  Us advocates can provide the education; can organize bike rides to build confidence; but there are other components in making people feel that ‘choice,’ in moving around is priority:  political will and infrastructure.  Our wide, arterial streets need to be road dieted and designed with protected bike lanes.  The perception of safety is what I feel a lot of our engineers are missing.  I’ll say it until the light bulb goes off, ‘sharrows do not invite families to ride and feel safe on arterial streets that are four + lanes across and each lane 12+ wide.  Road diets, the narrowing of lanes, and an integrated bicycle network of green lanes, protected lanes, bike boxes, etc. will announce that our leaders are serious about inviting people of all ages to move around the city.  Our leaders making decisions need to be okay with hearing complaints instead of trying to please everyone.  When you create change, you’re gonna hear complaints but the only way to change behavior is to change the infrastructure.  You’re NOT changing the infrastructure when you lay down sharrows.

We have a long way to go and we’re doing better but…  we could be doing even MORE.  We can be building and piloting innovative and bold infrastructure that IS WORKING in other cities.  If we continue to remain status- quo as a city, we’ll continue to get left behind.

Some photos from the first ‘Ohio Women’s Bicycling Summit.’

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Be safe and keep riding!

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I’ve been sexually harassed, I’ve had a water bottle thrown at me, I’ve been driven off the road, I’ve been hit, I’ve been door’d, I’ve been cut off and this past weekend, I can add that my life was threatened-verbally.  I was riding east on Gay St. with a friend.  Gay St. is a two-way street; one travel lane in each direction and I maintained my lane.  A pick-up truck behind me was revving his engine; speeding up and slowing down to get my attention and probably to get me to move to the right but I had no intention b/c I had every right to maintain the lane.  At the red light, he sped up beside me, proceeded to spit on me and said I should ‘share the fucking road.’  I said, ‘how do I do that, I am legally allowed to take this ONLY lane?!’  He continued to be antagonistic, wanting me to ‘hit’ him.  I said, ‘I’m not going to hit you.’  He said, ‘I’ll end your life, you white bitch.’

A few more words were exchanged, the light turned green and since he was finally ahead of me, he was able to again maintain his driving cadence of 25 mph as oppose to my 15 mph.

I got home and couldn’t shake this particular instance.  I’ve had ppl intimidate me with their cars and I’ve never had anyone verbally threaten that they’d end my life.’  I rang a friend of mine who really helped me put this situation into perspective.  I could have handled the situation differently and I was beating myself up for it.  But, my friend told me that that person was my teacher – teaching me how I can improve myself the next time b/c there WILL,  inevitably be a next time.  Thank you, JLa.

I’ve written a ‘Will’ in case I die and its b/c I ride a bike.  How many drivers have written a ‘Will’ b/c they drive a car?  I bet I could gamble and say ‘not a whole lot.’  I constantly think and obsess over WHY, we are in such hurries that when we are slowed down, it infuriates us.  Why, as drivers, when we are slowed down, we have such anger and violence within us that we want to kill, intimidate, drive off the road, spit and harass.  How did we become so disconnected with each other and we don’t see the ‘human being’ component.

I am a daughter, a twin sister, an aunt, a cousin, a best friend, a human being.  When did we as human beings become so transparent that our destinations became more important than the safety of human life?  You’re wanting to END MY LIFE b/c I slowed you down for less than two minutes?  Let’s take a moment and really digest that sentence b/c that’s what I deal with on a regular basis.

Why is it drivers have more patience for school buses or public transportation buses when they make frequent stops yet they are ready to cut off and /or harass a person on a bicycle?  What is the difference?  The operator in any of these mode of transport is still a human being so why the fortitude with one and not the other?

Our streets began with people owning the streets – not cars.  Now, driving has become such a part of our DNA that this sense of entitlement and ownership has taken over our streets and our neighborhoods to where people will kill over it.

I’m willing to die in order to change this mentality.  I have been brought up to be a leader, not a follower.  Streets are suppose to be mini theaters- acting out life experiences and this can’t happen when cars control streets.  Families should want to take their kids on walks after dinner.  Families should want to sit on their front porch or stoop and talk to neighbors about how ridiculous ‘Honey Boo-Boo’ really is.  Nobody wants to do this when their front yards are three lanes wide and cars speeding at 40 mph.

I look forward to the day when we realize that some congestion isn’t always a bad thing and that life WILL NOT END if you have to slow down.  I look forward to the day when more people see change as a good thing and not fear it and react recklessly.

 

 

 

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