CDC Expert Panel on active transportation

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is presently convening an Active Transportation Expert Panel for a 2-day meeting. I helped serve on the planning committee for the workshop and offered one of the presentations titled, “Measuring Active Travel: Perspectives from the Transport Field,” with some key slides below.

Naming "bicycling" apartment and condo developments

We are now seeing cycling nomenclature weave its way into the actual naming of residential developments:

Further testament to the popularity of cycling: Would you choose cycling or S&%

This might be considered by some to be less germane to core notions of bicycle planning. It is interesting and related to active communities and active transport, nonetheless

People love their bikes. In a recent survey of 5000 Bicycling magazine readers, 50% of men and 58% of women said that—if pressed to choose between sex or bikes—they’d pick the bikes. Draw your own implications about the future of our cities, society in general or even the nature of relationships.

Bikeshare trips brilliantly and graphically analyzed from Washington DC

A PhD student at the University of Maryland, Rahul Nair, did an operations based dissertation on vehicle sharing. He is now fortunately sharing his skills to the bicycle planning world. Check out the 1.4 million trips he graphically analyzed from the capital bicycle share system in Washington, D.C. spread across 140 stations. Edward Tufte would be proud. But moreso, it is great to see this bikesharing data now being analyzed. This is the first step to having better informed conversations about the degree to which these systems are worth it and to whom.

Data on active travel (bicycle, pedestrian). Much discussed but still confusing

To the average person, counting pedestrians or cyclists is pretty straightforward. But like our old onion metaphor, each layer brings another and the more complex it becomes. I will be writing about the surveillance of active travel (AT) over the coming weeks. Here is a graphic I created to get the conversation started.

Arms race for most bicycle-friendly city; we have more than 10 aspirers

As part of the arms race to become the most bicycle friendly city in the US, we are apparently up to at least 10 cities vying for top honors. I am sure there are still a few missing. But, as the article suggests, “this is a great development for the U.S. bike scene. Nothing motivates Americans (and our elected officials) quite like the race to appear in a magazine as the “best” at something. This is true. But, the Big Easy? …really? Wow, congrats on getting to bronze level.

There are at least two rankings in the US, one by the League of American Bicyclists and the other by Bicycling Magazine. Is it possible to be a bit more transparent with the criteria for each? In my limited search, nothing popped out.

It’s not easy being green, especially for a bike lane

One of my favorite Van Morrison cover songs is Bein’ Green (originally by Kermit), expressing that green “blends in with so many ordinary things” and how he wishes to be some other color. Apparently this is not the case for bike lanes (which is a good thing)–especially in LA. They stand out too much!

While it is a shame, I guess I can understand why the movie people think that the streets with bike lanes do not represent anytown USA. ….YET?

Ten lessons for cycle friendly cities—but the role for city planners is minimal

Ten lessons from the great cycling cities came out last month. It is a nice distillation of 10 things a city needs to do. Interestingly, matters squarely within the domain of city planning appeared only once: “infrastructure” was the first issue listed, but it is the only factor that really addressed fundamental issues that make cycling viable in these “great cities.”  One cannot disagree that the other 9 factors play a role (and they are rolled out well), but there are three points distinctly missing or errant from the list:
  • land use: higher densities (compared to the US) in all of these places make cycling viable. Without attention to drawing origins and destinations closer together, none of those cities would have the rates of cycling they have.
  • notwithstanding the point above (only one thing for planners to do), there was a bit too much emphasis on the need for separate infrastructure. Paths are nice. Preferred traffic signals are great. But, there is also a need to respect and plan for the basic fact that most corridors and intersections will be shared with motorists. We need to do more with less in the short term. 
  • education and exposure for the young. 

…or maybe I have it mostly wrong: cycling in cities is less about city planning efforts and more about “selling it” from a PR standpoint. 

Bicycle helmet and safety research

The whole issue of cycling, safety, and helmet use is pretty vast–too vast to go into all the various dimensions here and now. But, a pretty thorough report on bicycle helmet research  recently came across my desk. It covers a lot of ground, albeit with a Queensland Australia focus, and is pretty detailed in the later chapters. It was commissioned by the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads to review the national and international
literature regarding the health outcomes of cycling and bicycle helmets and examine crash and hospital data. It is the closest one-stop shopping for helmet research that is of high quality I have come across.

Coming soon to a TV near you: a PBS special on healthy communities with academics from Boulder prattling about bike paths

Coming soon to a TV near you: a PBS special on healthy communities with academics from Boulder prattling about bike paths
Popular press pieces that promote a certain ideology or urban planning mission often come across as “duh.” Kool-aid consumers are already aware of the central arguments. Most academics get queasy with the oversimplifications. Opponents of the arguments find it to too easy to roll their eyes.
But, most of these popular press things still play a role. They at least get people talking.
A high-quality, high-gloss, and high-content PBS special is being rolled in most TV markets this month on Designing Healthy Communities. In the Denver area, it is airing this Sunday, February 12, on KDVR Channel 12 at 8:00pm. Check your station here.
I appear in Episode 1 times a few times prattling about bike paths and Boulder’s situation. Is there anything new here? It is fun to see Dr. Richard Jackson speaking so authoritatively, confidently, and conclusively about so many diverse matters. It is fun to see how the producers wove so many different threads together. And, it is fun to see my sun tea brewing in my own backyard.