Currently viewing the tag: "Bicycle"

This past weekend South America’s largest city, São Paulo (est. pop. 19,616,060) inaugurated their first bike lane.  The city striped the first 5km of bike lanes and celebrated the event with their version of Bike Miami Days with an estimated 9,000 bicyclists, skateboarders, pedestrians, and rollerbladers participating in this event.  Going forward, the city of São Paulo will close several streets every Sunday from 7am- 12pm, hoping to attract at least 10,000 participants. The limited street closures will connect three parks within the city, including Parque Ibirapuera, São Paulo’s largest park. If successful, the route will be extended to the University of São Paulo which is already used on the weekends by bicyclists and triathletes as their preferred training ground.

São Paulo lacks green spaces and the few parks that do exist, such as Parque Ibirapuera, are usually filled to capacity on the weekends. Riding a bicycle on the streets of São Paulo is a virtual death wish; I know because I have done it. If a car does not clip you, chances are pretty good that you will get bikejacked.

The Sunday Ciclovia addresses both of these barriers to bicycling in São Paulo. With the increased police presence and partially closed streets, the chances of being hit by a car diminish substantially. Public vigilance is perhaps the best deterrent against crime, with 10,000 extra eyes on the streets, even the most brazen of criminals will think twice about mugging a bicyclist for their wheels.

Hopefully the new bike lanes are just the beginning for São Paulo. The opportunities for outdoor recreation are limited for the city’s inhabbitants, particularly for the poor and the lower middle class. This megacity could certainly use more bike lanes, especially protected bicycle lanes, as traffic and driving etiquette in this city are unlike anything that I have ever experienced.

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This morning I witnessed a driver cut off two bicyclists, stop short, and in true team spirit of the sport, the passenger of the vehicle opened the car door, while the car was in motion, in an attempt to door the bicyclists. Upon witnessing this, a sense of righteous indignation filled me; I had no choice but to pursue the vehicle.  About a mile later, completely exhausted, I miraculously caught up to the car at a red light. Please be on the look out for:

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Rusty (clunker for cash candidate), late 80’s-early 90’s, dark-bluish American car, possibly an Oldsmobile.

This is the type of unfortunate, unprovoked aggressive behavior that bicyclists have to confront on a regular basis.  Fortunately, we do have rights, as Commander Socorro from the Miami Police Department informed me today in an email exchange:

…if they (the victims) would have wanted to get involved, we could have sought the offenders out and arrested them for a felony”.

For their own reasons, which I can respect, the bicyclists who were directly involved in the incident did not want to escalate it to authorities. Regardless, this should be a lesson to both bicyclists and motorists that aggressive vehicular behavior should and will not be tolerated.

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While another bicyclist is on life support today after being hit by a car on Davie Blvd., cyclists in Boca Raton took matters into their own hands. Apparently the driver of a Lexus passed them too closely, so they attacked him and damaged his car when they caught up to him at the light. Read and watch a great one-sided story over at the Sun-Sentinel, where they apparently only interviewed the motorist and the cops who arrested one of the cyclists. What is clear from the article is that the motorist honked at them as he approached and then passed them too closely (presumably in violation of Florida’s three foot passing law) and probably even hit one of the bicyclists. Now, even though I have had many incidents with motorists where I felt like punching them in the face, I don’t approve of the bicyclists’ actions here. Neither do I approve of the police taking the side of the motorist against a group of eyewitness cyclists and ignoring the witness reports that a cyclist was hit. At the very minimum, Barish, the “victim” motorist, should be charged with violating the three foot passing law. However, I have spoken with police before about a motorist who passed me too closely; and they refuse to do anything unless they saw it.

I think an issue that this brings up is how useless the three foot passing law is. As long as police refuse to enforce it and motorists don’t know anything about it, what good does it do? I believe we need both motorist education and a change in police policy and practice regarding this and other bicycling related laws. If you have any ideas, share them in the comments.

Anyone a fan of X-Men? Apparently we have some cyclists who believe this is a war and want to strike back. Perhaps they can form the Brotherhood of Cyclists? Others, like myself, want peace between motorists and bicyclists.  Shall we form a group of Wheelmen?

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Tropical Paradise or Transportation Paradise?

Morro de Sao Paulo is a small village on the island of Tinhare in Bahia, Brazil which is located about 40 miles south of Salvador, Brazil’s third largest city. It is only accessible by a 2 hour boat ride or on a 25 minute puddle-jumper.  It has a small population of about 3000 local residents which rely predominantly on tourism in order to fuel the local economy.  Up until about 15 years ago, Morro de Sao Paulo was a fishing village.

The real beauty of Morro de Sao Paulo is not just the beaches, but the fact that no cars are allowed to enter the village center. To get around, your only real transportation option is your feet. In fact, during my 4 days in Morro de Sao Paulo, I saw only 4 bicycles, a couple of donkeys, and a tractor that collects garbage early in the morning. I saw my first car when I was on the way to the airport while riding on the back of a tractor-bus.

Getting around on two feet was not difficult, but rather pleasurable.  The development of the village has grown naturally on a human-scale; meaning most distances within the village are no longer than a half-hour walk. The inaccessibility of Morro de Sao Paulo is certainly a major contributing factor to its organic growth.

Particularly inspiring is the manner in which supplies are transported within the village. Whether a refrigerator, cement bags, computers, alcohol bottles or food, all goods are transported within the community by wheelbarrow. It is astonishing to see the small supermarket in the village was fully stocked with first-rate amenities. Approximately 200 men wheelbarrow all the supplies from the arriving boats to the village.  The car free village generates jobs by employing wheelbarrow operators that do not pollute.

There are some valuable lessons to learn from Morro de Sao Paulo. This tight knit community has shown that with a little hard work and planning, a car free community is possible and desirable, as can be evidenced by the thousands of tourists that visit this remote village every year. The community’s low reliance on motor-vehicles, combined with a transportation infrastructure which is predominantly reliant on human power will allow it to adapt more easily to an oil starved future.  As our cities become more densely populated, perhaps we will need to turn to working examples such as Morro de Sao Paulo.  This small village illustrates that with an emphasis on human power we can reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Pack Horse

Garbage Truck

Unloading Beer Bottles and Propane Tanks

Taxi

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bicycle-mask

Biden seems to think that the way to avoid getting swine flu is to avoid the subway, airport, or any form of public transportation; and NYC mayor Bloomberg and others are striving to counter his arguments. With all this back-and-forth, you may be left wondering about the safety of public transit. While there are still no confirmed cases in Florida, the Sun-Sentinel reports that one Broward County sample is currently being tested by the CDC to see if it is swine flu.

We would be the last ones to tell you to avoid public transportation. Use good judgment and keep your hands clean. But we will recommend what you should do if you’re scared to take transit or if you’re feeling a little sick yourself: ride your bicycle. The exercise will help you keep healthy anyway, and you’re in the open air with no worries about sitting beside someone coughing and sneezing.

Whatever you do, don’t switch to driving—even if you’re stuck wondering how you’re going to detour around the Venetian Causeway. We’re working on that.

Photo by Flickr user Bill Liao.

Update 5/1: You probably heard that the one case was confirmed, as reported at the Sun-Sentinel. Broward County Transit posted a pretty generic news release about Swine Flu (or H1N1 as it’s now being called in order to save the innocent pigs). Check it out on their website. The point still remains, just be careful and sanitary and you’ll be fine.

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In Stuttgart, Germany when bicycle use far exceeded the capacity of the transit system, officials sought a creative alternative without limiting commuting options.

Via: Maria in Europe & The Overhead Wire

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This news is a few days old, but we wanted to post it in case anyone didn’t see the article in the Miami Herald. A bus driver hit a bicyclist and didn’t even bother to stop, ignoring the cries of his passengers.

The bicyclist escaped with some scrapes as an early Christmas present. Fortunately for him and the rest of us, the driver has been suspended, so we have one less bus driver out there trying to maim bicyclists. He’s still getting paid, though. MDT wouldn’t want to let him miss that hefty salary paid by your sales tax.

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Have you ever gotten grease all over a good pair of pants while riding your bicycle? Well, those disasters can now be at an end with Trek’s replacement of the bicycle chain with a carbon-fiber belt. They have two models, the 8 speed Soho and the single speed District. Read the AP article here. According to the article, the District is supposed to begin selling in December; but my local Trek dealer expects a ship date of March if you order now.

Personally, I’ve been considering a single speed bicycle. That and my many pairs of greasy pants have me drooling over the District. While I normally ride in biking clothes, changing is pointless for short trips around the neighborhood.

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Yet another bicyclist was killed today, apparently on an I-595 exit ramp at SR-7. The Sun-Sentinel and the Miami Herald both have brief reports on the subject. Our sympathies to the friends and family.

My first thought after seeing the Miami Herald headline was, What on earth was this guy doing on I-595? Bicyclists aren’t allowed on the freeway and all that. But then I remembered how the area around this interchange is configured.

Continue reading »

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We have altogether too many sad reports of bicyclists being hit in this area. Even worse, the latest incident resulted in the death of the bicyclist. Thursday morning, a car driving east on SR 84 collided with a bicyclist heading south on SW 4th Avenue in Fort Lauderdale. Our sympathies are with the family and friends of the bicyclist.

The Miami Herald reports that the driver of the car had a green light. If that was the case, then the bicyclist either ran a red light (if he was riding on the road) or crossed in front of oncoming traffic. Either one is a bad idea and should never be attempted while riding one’s bicycle. Judging by the photo, the bicycle seems to be on the east side of the intersection. Unless the bicycle was dragged across the intersection, then the bicyclist was either riding the wrong way on the sidewalk or the road.

To prevent sad tragedies like this in the future, we would encourage you to always ride your bicycle in the same direction as traffic, avoid riding on the sidewalk, and follow all the traffic laws. BIKESAFE has more information on why you should not be riding the wrong way or on the sidewalk, and I’m sure Google can turn up hundreds more sites that point out the dangers of riding on the sidewalk and/or riding against traffic. Please ride safely!

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Have you heard about this act that is about to get voted on in the Senate this Thursday or Friday? It seems like a good thing for those of us using alternative transportation. There’s a tax credit for plug-in “electric drive” vehicles, among other energy related rebates. My favorite is the bicycle commuter tax benefit that gives benefits for those who commute by bicycle.

For more information and to contact your Senator with a simple form, head over to the League of American Bicyclists’ Advocacy Center. You can also read the seven page PDF summary of the bill at the Senate’s website. If you want to see a small step to encourage more to commute by bicycle, then I suggest you contact your Senator now. I just did.

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The Not-In-My-BackYard syndrome rages on in Broward County. If there is one facility that seems calm, sedate, and most likely to be desired in one’s backyard, it would be a shared use path for bicycles and pedestrians. No engine noise, no fumes, no rushing traffic. Just some neighbors going for a leisurely stroll or a quiet bike ride. It sounds pretty relaxing, right? Apparently residents in Plantation Acres don’t think so.

The Sun-Sentinel reported last week that some residents near a proposed multi-use path that is part of Broward County’s Greenways fear it will cause a rise in crime. One resident even offered a long list of things that were recently stolen from cars in his neighborhood. The article points out some data supporting that bicycle paths do not cause rises in crime, but fails to point out common sense.

First, if there’s crime now, that doesn’t mean a shared-use path will increase the level of crime. If crime went up after a path was put in, it would be a post hoc fallacy to assume that because of the path the crime went up. But the residents’ reasoning doesn’t even go that far! The residents are talking about a future project and doing nothing more than expressing their paranoia. They are seeing a rise in crime in their neighborhood now. Naturally, this is creating a little nervousness for them. They happen to see a project that might bring outsiders into their neighborhood, so their nervousness increases. Normally there might be something to it, but not so if you stop to think about it.

How are crimes committed? How do criminals get away with the loot? Generally, not by bicycle or on foot. If they want to steal electronics and weapons from cars or houses, they will need a vehicle to stash the goods. It ensures a quicker getaway without attracting attention. So where could anyone even get the idea in their head that a path for bicycles and pedestrians will make it easier for criminals to enter their neighborhood?

I honestly cannot figure out why the Sun-Sentinel even bothered to publish an article based on the opinion of a few paranoid people! To make it even more ironic, they point out that Plantation Acres is an equestrian community. Broward County’s Greenways page makes it clear that the paths are for equestrian use as well as bicycle use. These people will have a chance to ride their horses across the county on this and connecting trails, yet they still rise up against it.

It looks like FDOT will be installing fences to quell the fears of these residents. If the residents have any sense, they will take the time to install their own fences now to avoid the crime issues that are happening now. Their crime problems are happening now, and they have no reason to take out their frustration on one of FDOT’s better projects.

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Alton Road on Miami Beach does not work. Traffic is clogged, pedestrians cannot cross, and bicyclists cannot ride safely. On Thursday, June 26, 2008 at 6:00 pm in the Miami Beach City Hall Commission Chambers, The Florida Department of Transportation will hold a public meeting, which will be our last chance to make Alton Road work for the future. In terms of road construction projects, especially in an urban historic setting, opportunities to do something different are few and far between.  We will gather that day, to be handed an opportunity from the State of Florida to make Alton Road work by doing something different.

Instead, it looks like we will be getting more of the same.

The plan that was recommended by the land use committee and from the City Commission as a whole is the same Alton Road we have today. The same. Same seven lanes of traffic. Same marginally wide enough sidewalks, and same bumper-to-bumper on-street parking.

Let us start with the 100’ right of way. 100 feet! 75 of which are carved out for the seven lanes of traffic. Note: seven lanes is essentially equivalent to the south bound segment of I-95.

Alton Road, Miami Beach

Image Via Zickie’s Flickr

Onto the sidewalks

13 feet. That’s it. It might sound like a lot, when compared to the highly touted but very ineffective ADA requirements of 3 feet (remember this three feet is brought to you by the same people who think $6.25 should be minimum wage) but 13 feet is hardly adequate for the most pedestrainized area in the state.

This is Miami Beach. People have been coming here since the Smith-Avery family began ferrying them over here to experience our amazing climate. Our outdoor dining scene rivals some of the century’s oldest ones established in Paris and Rome, and we are barely 75 years old! I often shake my head at the folks who sit on 41st street outside Arnie and Richie’s crammed between a light pole and a trash can, while I barely have two feet to walk past by. Miami Beach is a tourist destination.  Tourism is a mainstay of our economy that will ride us out during oscillations in the real estate market. We must do everything we can to bring people here and get them around in an economical and environmentally friendly manner.

Let’s not forget another Miami Beach mainstay: our vibrant Orthodox community, a group that promotes walking as a virtue. This absence of adequate pedestrian facilities forces hundreds to walk the streets two days a week. We need wide sidewalks. Wider than most and Alton Road with the bus shelters, parking stations, pedestrian lighting, street lighting, and trash cans can barely accommodate a café table, let alone folks strolling and patronizing the shops and living and crossing. Yet the plan that was recommended out of our City Commission is more of the same.

Someone smarter than I defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. The State of Florida is coming to us, wanting to fix our road, give us wider sidewalks, more options for non-motorized transport, rational public transit ways, more landscaping and this solution, this opportunity for real change, and therefore real results is being lost to petty politics and 325 parking spaces.

More on the parking issue in segment 2.  Stay Tuned.

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As some of you might know, Mike and I serve advisory roles in Miami’s newly created Bicycle Action Committee (BAC).  The BAC is working on drafting a city of Miami Bicycle Master plan and is looking for any input our citizens wish to provide.  You can download this city map, draw on it, and send back your ideas to us (movemiami@gmail.com) for committee review.  You can also leave us comments or email us lists of potential bicycle routes, needed improvements, or any other suggestions.  Here is your chance to shape a masterplan which will guide all bicycle related planning for years to come.  I’m currently working on my version, which I will publish when complete and will finally get around to creating the Bicycle Rental plan I suggested to Alesh a while ago…

There is a Bicycle/Pedestrian Action Committee meeting today (April 23, 2008) from 5:30 to 7:30pm. The meeting will take place at County Hall on the 18th floor in conference room #2.

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