Bicycle Urbanism Symposium

Inline image 1Here is another unique opportunity to advance bicycle planning on a national/international stage. I am on the International Program Committee for this event and it looks to be good. Late June in Seattle is not quite as good as September,  but its not bad…

The International Bicycle Urbanism Symposium will take place at the College of Built Environments, University of Washington, Seattle from June 19-22, 2013.

You are invited to submit abstracts for papers dealings with:

  • Ways that cities can best encourage and accommodate bicycle use 20-30 years in the future
  • Leading research that addresses bicycle use and effects of innovation in infrastructure and programs
  • Best practices and how these can inform long-term planning for bicycle use.

Intended participants include planning and design professionals, researchers, bicycle advocates, and public officials. Selected papers will be edited for one or more referred books.

A fuller description of the Symposium and its program can be found at Questions can be addressed at

Warning: Next “generation” of bicycle advice forthcoming

We have been hearing for the last few years of the bicycle renaissance worldwide. The visibility is undoubtedly helping bicycling. The cries have been upbeat, reassuring, and feel-good: bicycling is good and cities are changing themselves to better accommodate such.

We are starting to better weigh the opportunity costs of different strategies and where there is room for improvement. In a positive step forward, we now have representatives in leading cities questioning some of their initiatives. We are reeling back some of the enthusiasm with a critical eye. This is healthy. Here are some examples:

I offered some thoughts for Boulder, Colorado a few months ago.

We apparently have some hiccups in Copenhagen’s bicycle-sharing system (note: each trip is a whopping $4.50?)

Seattle is apparently getting lots of press for cycling (owing to its Mayor?), but little traction.



WSTLUR to be held in Delft

Recently released: WSTLUR

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

It is our pleasure to announce that the 2014 World Symposium on Transport and Land Use Research (WSTLUR) will be held in Delft, the Netherlands, from Tuesday, June 24, 2014, through Friday, June 27, 2014. Please mark your calendars. Deadlines for full paper submissions will be announced in early 2013. This will be a call for full paper submission with a double-blind peer review process. Selected articles from the symposium will appear in the Journal of Transport and Land Use in 2015. More information regarding the symposium will be posted in the future on the WSTLUR website.

We would like to take this opportunity first to congratulate Professor Kees Maat from Delft University of Technology and Professor Karst Geurs from the University of Twente for their excellent proposal that won the bid. We would also like to thank all the institutions that indicated interest in organizing WSTLUR 2014.

Looking forward to seeing you in Delft.

Kelly Clifton and Ahmed El-Geneidy


Health benefits of switching to transport and bikes

Some of the most robust research, internationally, of the health benefits derived from switching car use to other modes is coming out of the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL) in Barcelona. They have looked at the impacts of Barcelona’s bike-sharing system in the past. Their latest work is more generally about the benefits of public transport and bike. Yes, they are working with future scenarios. Yes, there are lots of assumptions embedded. But the framework and the identification of key outcomes and specific measures is good to see.

Cover imageReplacing car trips by increasing bike and public transport in the
greater Barcelona metropolitan area: A health impact assessment study
Environment International
Volume 49, 15 November 2012, Pages 100–109
Rojas et al.


Estimate the health risks and benefits of mode shifts from car to cycling and public transport in the metropolitan area of Barcelona,Spain.
We conducted a health impact assessment (HIA), creating 8 different scenarios on the replacement of short and long car trips, by public transport or/and bike. The primary outcome measure was all-cause
mortality and change in life expectancy related to two different assessments: A) the exposure of travellers to physical activity, air pollution to particulate matter < 2.5 μm (PM2.5), and road traffic fatality; and B) the exposure of general population to PM2.5, modelling by Barcelona Air-Dispersion Model. The secondary outcome was a change in emissions of carbon dioxide.
The annual health impact of a shift of 40% of the car trips, starting and ending in Barcelona City, to cycling (n = 141,690) would be for the travellers who shift modes 1.15 additional deaths from air pollution, 0.17 additional deaths from road traffic fatality and 67.46 deaths avoided from physical activity resulting in a total of 66.12 deaths avoided. Fewer deaths would be avoided annually if half of the replaced trips were shifted to public transport (43.76 deaths). The annual health impact in the Barcelona City general population (n = 1,630,494) of the 40% reduction in car trips would be 10.03 deaths avoided due to the reduction of 0.64% in exposure to PM2.5. The deaths (including travellers and general population) avoided in Barcelona City therefore would be 76.15 annually. Further health benefits would
be obtained with a shift of 40% of the car trips from the Greater Barcelona Metropolitan which either start or end in Barcelona City to public transport (40.15 deaths avoided) or public transport and
cycling (98.50 deaths avoided).The carbon dioxide reduction for shifting from car to other modes of transport (bike and public transport) in Barcelona metropolitan area was estimated to be 203,251
t/CO2 emissions per year.

Interventions to reduce car use and increase cycling and the use of public transport in metropolitan areas, like Barcelona, can produce health benefits for travellers and for the general population of the
city. Also these interventions help to reduce green house gas emissions.

  • We assess the health impacts of replacing car trips by bicycle or public transport.
  • Replacement of the car trips reduces mortality in travellers who shift the mode.
  • Replacement of the car trips also reduces mortality in residents of urban areas.
  • Replacement of car trips can reduce the emissions of CO2.

Counting and tallying bikes, by day, month, year, etc

Who would have ever thought that a 7 foot structure that did  nothing more than count the number of vehicles passing by could create such a buzz?

We know that select cities in Europe have these counting devices. But that is Europe. I have often wondered what US city would be the first to the start line. It looks like Seattle wins the cake. 

The counter is is made by Eco Counter, and the model is the Eco Totem. Here is some information from the manufacturer. The good news is that we tested the Eco Counter and it was pretty reliable.


The helmetless debate ensues, this time in the NYTimes

Where should we come down on this matter? Here is what I want to know:

(1) Where helmetless behavior reigns strong, what is the average speed of the cyclist?

(2) Where helmetless behavior reigns strong, what is the average speed of the auto?

Nothing ever talks about these matters. I imagine both are substantially slower than in most US settings. Here’s a proposition: bring down the speeds of both and helmetless behavior might not be such a big deal.

Cyclists might not be as cheap as we think

Here’s an interesting spin on a different dimension of cyclists (and walkers): the degree to which their per visit expenditures (to supermarkets, bars, restaurants) are more or less than their auto counterparts. My close colleague, Kelly Clifton, recently presented the report to (of course) the Portland bicycling scene.

Holding steady, according to the ACS

Until someone can convince me that we have more consistently administered and robust measures of cycling walking–at least for comparative purposes and for the entire US–we continue to rely on the ACS.

Based on the summary from Wendell Cox, from ’10 til ’11, bicycling and walking each increased 0.03. Bicycling is now at 0.56%; walking is at 2.82%.

John Pucher on purely academic research vs. politics, implementation and practical approaches to getting things done

Courtesy of John Pucher (and used with permission), the following is a guest post where he is commenting on the central focus of a proposed conference on cycling.


Some of the very best urban transportation research (and 95% of the refereed publication) is done in Australia, North America, and the UK.  Yet when you actually look at the walking, cycling, and public transport systems in the cities there, they lag far behind what you experience in Scandinavia, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria and much of western Europe.  Why is it that our superb academic research has been so ineffective (or at least very slow) in improving public policies??  I can assure you that the Dutch, Danes, Germans and Swiss did NOT wait for the results of academic studies to undertake the decisions that made their urban transport systems so much more sustainable than those in the USA, Australia, and Canada, in particular, but also much more than in the UK.

Refereed academic research gets promoted and much more rewarded in North America, Australia and the UK, but when I see the practical results on the ground, I feel like a LOT more emphasis needs to be placed on political implementation of the right policies.  Instead of spending yet more decades refining what we already know, I think it would yield more practical benefits to shift the focus more toward implementation.

Do we all really think it is total mystery what gets folks walking and cycling and taking transit?  Do we really need even more ultra-sophisticated simultaneous equations models (which almost no one can understand anyway) to prove what any person on the street can tell us?

In short, I would support Gil’s Penalosa’s contention that, however valuable academic research is, it is NOT the key to actual improvements on the ground, at least so far as I can tell.  It’s political actions and not equations that get folks on bikes, on their feet, and onto transit.

I apologize if this offends some of my academic colleagues, but after thousands of ever-more sophisticated academic articles on walking, cycling, and transit, we surely know enough about what needs to be done.  The more difficult question is HOW we get these measures implemented.

I do not want to put us academics out of business, so I certainly advocate continued research, but with more emphasis on political implementation.  One can argue that Velo City and Pro-Walk, Pro-Bike suffice for examining practical approaches toward implementation, but I think we academics need to think more about implementation issues as well and not act as if it’s up to someone else to put our recommendations into practice.”

John Pucher
Rutgers University

Professor, Environmental Design and Transport, University of Colorado