Sunday, June 29, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Thirty days ago Mr. Smith asked:
What are the big initiatives—or the most-effective strategies and tactics—we can use to make the world a nicer place for cycling and for walking, and consequently a nicer place to live?
He also generously and thoughtfully answered this question in this post on the Google Maps: Bike There! website/blog. It looks like a good list, but I have to read it more thoroughly before discussing it any further.
Last night the Transportation/Pedestrian Safety Committee of the Silver Spring Citizens Advisory Board heard from Gail Nouri. She is the Bikeway Coordinator within the County's Department of Public Works and Transportation (DPWT). Unfortunately, based on the presentation at this meeting and the Montgomery County Bikeway Program website, the county does not appear to be especially organized or strategic in its efforts.
Left holding the McBAG (haha) is the Montgomery County Bicycle Action Group (MCBAG), a volunteer citizens' group created by the DPWT in 1996. The Group meets monthly to discuss and make recommendations on various issues. Although MCBAG's website displays the Group's goals and a list of recommended priority projects in the county, both are significantly out of date. The Group, its listserv, and its more-or-less monthly meetings are open to the public. The Bikeway Coordinator appears to be the leader of this group, but I'd recommend just going to the meetings. They are held in the Executive Office Building (101 Monroe Street, Rockville, MD) in the large conference room on the 10th floor, 6:30 - 8:30 PM.
MCBAG meetings remaining in 2008: July 17, September 18, October 16, and November 20.
Although its mandate requires it to address issues across the region, WABA is usually the best source for up-to-date information. Everybody should be a member, that means you. Yeah, you. It's cheap, tax-deductible, and they good good work.
The state-wide advocacy group, One Less Car, has a broad focus, encompassing pedestrian and transit advocacy, and pretty much any means of transportation other than privately owned, single-occupant automobiles. Although these are all very important, it doesn't leave them a lot of time to focus on specific issues important to individual counties or municipalities. Never the less, they're doing good work in Annapolis, and we should all be members of this group too. (I'm not at the moment, however, so I can't be to preachy.)
Finally, there's the Metropolitan Washington Council Of Governments (MWCOG, or COG). I'm a big proponent of regionalism, as far as -isms go, and I think this is a tremendously important group that generally does relevant and quality work. Of course, they don't have much (any?) power to implement anything. Oh well. It will be much easier to think regionally after Greenland melts and most of the area is underwater.
Monday, June 23, 2008
Please reconsider moving all commercial bus pick-ups and drop-offs to a single central location. While a central bus depot may be the most efficient and convenient aggregate solution, we should consider a range of options before making such a decision. Allowing these buses to pick-up and drop-off at various locations has many potential benefits:
- Increased convenience for residents,
- Increased neighborhood foot traffic,
- Increased safety (due to increased foot traffic), and
- Increased customers for local businesses.
Furthermore, a central bus depot could create problems. Is it possible that having these buses operating at various locations spreads out their impacts in such a way that allows the local environments to absorb or mitigate some of these impacts? Conversely, if we bring all of these buses together at one location, will their close proximity multiply their impacts? Who knows about these things?
Here is an intuitive example (rather than a scientific one): If I owned a small business in the city, say a cafe or deli, I might like to be near the pick-up/drop-off location for a small bus company. The increased traffic would provide a steady supply of customers. However, I might NOT want to be near the pick-up/drop-off location for ALL the bus companies--I would be nervous about air quality, noise, and the possibility of too much traffic.
Also, I don't know that the best solution is to tell these buses where they have to go. Instead, we could tell them what they're not allowed to do, hold them accountable, and let them solve the problem. The guerrilla bus companies provide valuable services, and the lack of regulation has allowed small locally owned bus companies to thrive. I'm not anti-regulation, but small and local businesses are good things.
Certainly the City should regulate companies that use public space for commercial gain, and certainly the City has a duty to ensure that these buses are not blocking municipal transit or creating unhealthy conditions or nuisances for residents or visitors. Doesn't curbside pick-up/drop-off require a permit and have a fee structure? If not, why not? If so, why isn't the system working? If these buses are creating significant problems, they're probably breaking the law already. How many have been ticketed? The folks who started these bus lines appear to be savvy entrepreneurs, if they were being cited appropriately for violations, you can bet they'd find a solution ASAP.
Obviously, I know very little about this issue, but I like buses, and I like people. I don't like the idea of shoving the buses into a corner that then becomes "the dirty smelly bus depot," nor to I like the idea of allowing buses to sit idling for hours right outside someones bedroom window or sidewalk cafe. We should be able to solve this problem.
Read more about this issue on your favorite DC blogs:
Friday, June 13, 2008
- How sustainable, in every sense, is the bicycle industry?
- To what degree should we focus on the internal sustainability of the industry?
- To what degree should we focus on the structural sustainability of the global supply chain?
- What is the role of the bicycle in developing nations and the so called "emerging economies"?
According to what I've read, Permaculture appears to be one of a number of criteria for the design of sustainable human society, with a particular focus on ecological and agricultural sustainability. Here's a post about permaculture from The Old Spokes Home, in Burlington, VT, with some thoughtful replies and links to several other interesting sites:
Are Bikes Permaculture? I have to admit some ignorance here. Even worse, my ignorance was born of smug indifference. There are many new words thrown around that are conjunctions of two real words. It can be frustrating to the point where you block them all out as background noise. Permaculture is a mash-up word you hear on a regular basis. I heard it repeated often by people I respect, and the concepts included in the conversation were the type I identify with. I decided it was time to take a second look...
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Here is a very interesting piece by FBB on bicycle manufacturing in China:
Sunday, June 8, 2008 Fifteen Days in the Belly of the Beast Over at the Kogswell Owners Group (KOG), there was a recent discussion about the “Yo Eddy” fork, manufactured by the late, great Fat City Cycles. It was generally agreed that...
Here's a piece that was produced a few years ago for the show Day to Day, on NPR, about one of my favorite companies, WALD:
I was very pleased to see WALD update it's product offerings and website/marketing recently. They are the kind of business that gives meaning to the concept of tradition. Everyone should have at least one bike with a WALD basket on it. Come to think of it, they're practical not very heavy (the smaller ones), so if you don't have one on every bike you own, there should be a good reason such as: "I like to ride really really fast," or "I always carry a backpack, even though I'm getting carpel-tunnel."
Here's a quick guide to my favorite wald baskets, which happen to be the older kind, made of wide spaced wire, rather than the newer "screen" material:
Smaller (L x W)
Larger (L x W)
#137 Every bike should have one
#139 A sensible size most purposes
#198GB "Multifit" Good for many contemporary bike
#157 Delivery Basket Ubiquitous in New York City
Photos: Forbes Bagatelle-Black, cycloculture.blogspot.com; WALD, Inc., http://www.waldsports.com/
Monday, June 9, 2008
Hey, this is a good thing to check out: http://www.ecovelo.info/2008/05/30/john-pucher-cycling-for-everyone/
Friday, June 6, 2008
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Monday, June 2, 2008
Here are a few links worth noting from Copenhagen Cycle Chic, which, if you don't already know about it, is a fabulously fun time:
- The Cycle Chic Guide to Bike Commuting - #1 - Choosing a Bike is right on the money as far as I'm concerned. The issue, of course, is the intricate dance of form and function. And what's most important is not to let someone else's function define your form. Tally ho!
- Somewhat less spectacular, but still good is Amy Kealoha's and/or Sara Huston's 12 Bikes for Girls, posted on a style-finder site called Cool Hunting. The piece provides an overview of a wide range of bikes for women (and girls), triangulating from the lowly DIY garage-sale find to the bespoke and beautifully handcrafted Sweetpea, to the hilariously over-the-top Chanel "couture" bicycle and the oddly expensive series available from Moss. There are a couple in the group that deserve a closer look, and I'll see if I can arrange that. Cool Huntings also appears to have an ongoing bicycle-lifestyle agenda (a good thing), including some bits on baskets and bags (also good things), as well as other examined-consumer-lifestyle themes (generally good things as well). It's a little hard to sort the content from the advertisements, but hey, what can you do? Well, ditch the advertisements for starters...