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Cyclists will have streets to call their own
“Bike boulevards” – Portland aims to develop more of the safe residential roads

Jeff Mapes, Portland Oregonian
One of the best parts of Sarah Bott’s day is when she reaches the end of the bike lane on North Williams Street, glides past a traffic barrier and plunges into one of Portland’s “bike boulevards.”

The trees are large and stately; the auto traffic is light. It sounds corny, she admits, but she can smell the flowers and hear the birds.

“That’s when my bike commute turns from a grind into a joyful part of my day,” says Bott, who works for the city Water Bureau.

Bike boulevards are becoming so popular that some appear to carry more bikes than cars along certain stretches and have become a central part of neighborhoods’ ambience.

City officials and bike advocates are redoubling their efforts to develop more bike boulevards to attract a new wave of riders who are interested in bicycling but want to stay off busy streets.

The future of bike boulevards, in both the city and the suburbs, will be one of the topics Saturday at the Portland Bike Summit at Portland State University.

A key goal of the event, sponsored by the city and PSU, is to discuss how to make bicycling one of the city’s major forms of transportation. Supporters say increasing ridership will help cut auto congestion, reduce pollution and provide residents with an inexpensive alternative to driving.

Portland has about 30 miles of bike boulevards, where the city uses a variety of traffic-calming techniques to provide safe and attractive cycling routes along mostly residential streets.

…Bicyclists do find the bike lanes valuable to quickly reach many locations, including downtown, he adds, but the boulevards can provide routes to parks, farmers markets and schools. Many cyclists also use them for part of their commute.

…Some of the bike boulevards have become so popular that the character of the street has changed. Along the Lincoln-Harrison bike boulevard, neighbors talk about a street dominated by the sounds of swirling bike wheels, tinkling bells and brief snatches of conversations from passing riders.

“I like it because it’s a community feel,” says Jon Berry, who lives on Southeast Lincoln Street and often bicycles to his work at a brewery in Northwest Portland. “My wife and I often sit out in front and have a cocktail and watch the bikes go by. I guess I like looking at bikes more than cars.”

Mia Birk, the city’s former bike coordinator, also lives on Lincoln. “The presence of all the bicycles has a real traffic calming effect,” she says. “Cars cede the right of way, the privileges they have on other streets. They go really slow.”
(16 June 2006)

Why Scots are getting on their bikes

Alastair Dalton, The Scotsman
CYCLING is enjoying a renaissance in Scotland, its growing popularity driven by soaring fuel prices, increasing congestion and health concerns.

Figures reveal the number of cyclists using one of Edinburgh’s main cycle paths has risen by more than half in just one year.

And the UK-wide survey released yesterday also found that nearly half those questioned used their bikes more than they did five years ago, and one-third cycled more than ten years ago.

…[John Lauder, the national director for Scotland for Sustrans,] said Edinburgh’s success was down to years of spending by the city council on measures such as developing off-road routes using disused railway lines, and advanced stop lines for cyclists at junctions.

However, he said Glasgow had many cycle routes that could be developed, which could make it Scotland’s cycling capital.

Scottish Executive figures show little change in cycling over the past few years, but Mr Lauder said these did not cover traffic-free paths, which many cyclists preferred to roads.

The survey, by insurance firm Churchill, questioned nearly 1,900 people. It found that just over one-third of respondents used their bike to keep fit, while 22 per cent said they cycled for pleasure.

Some 17 per cent said they preferred using their bicycle to a car or public transport as it was more convenient, and 6 per cent claimed they cycled because it was better for the environment.
(16 June 2006)

Are our cities making us fat?
Fitness experts call for new urban design to fight America’s obesity problem

Associated Press via MSNBC
DENVER – It’ll take more than public service campaigns to solve the nation’s obesity problem, according to fitness experts who say neighborhoods must be designed so people can get around without their cars.

Virtually everything American society has done for the past 100 years has made it easier for us to be fatter, said James Sallis, a San Diego State University psychology professor, and others who gathered recently at the American College of Sports Medicine’s annual meeting.

“We’ve built an unhealthy world in a lot of different ways,” said Sallis, who was once dubbed an “obesity warrior” by Time magazine.

Sallis contends change will come only when the public demands walkable development, more federal money for parks and bike paths and even a tax on industries that promote sedentary lifestyles (he pointed to video game makers, movie theater chains and even electric Segway scooters).
(16 June 2006)

Minister: China Must Back-Pedal on Anti-Bike Policy

Reuters, Planet Ark
A Chinese minister has slammed city planners for pandering to private car owners and ignoring the needs of cyclists, saying China should remain the “kingdom of bicycles”, state media reported on Thursday.

The comments by Construction Ministry Vice Minister Qiu Baoxing follow the release of a World Bank report calling on China to develop its public transport system rather than just build more highways for cars.

“The large army of bicycles on the streets of Chinese cities amazed the West when China first opened to the outside world in early 1980s,” Xinhua news agency said.

But the number of bikes — once totalling some 500 million — had plummeted as rapidly as private car ownership had expanded, Xinhua said.
(16 June 2006)
China restores bike lanes lost to car boom
Chinese Bike Lanes Making a Comeback by Sara Rich at WorldChanging

Bicycle Round-Up

Sarah Rich, WorldChanging
There aren’t too many tools that are as ideal today as when they were invented, in just the same form as they were originally conceived. But the bicycle is one. Simple, cheap and accessible, absolutely no existing transportation solution could be better for reducing greenhouse gases, untangling snarled urban streets, and improving human health than getting more people on two wheels. But challenges are many and varied.

While accelerated use of motorized vehicles in developing world cities is quelling traditional dependence on bicycles and other non-motorized vehicles (NMVs), industrialized cities are pushing people to forego auto transport for pedal power. All over the world, bicycles are getting much-deserved reconsideration as a no-brainer solution to fundamental problems in transit, community, and the environment.
(25 May 2006)

Riding a bicycle can save the world

Dana Green, New West
The signs of global warming are here, and they aren’t pretty. With the U.S. spewing 6 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air last year – one-quarter of the world total – a global meltdown, Day After Tomorrow-style, doesn’t seem farfetched anymore.

But getting on a bicycle saving the planet? Call me a skeptic, but I wasn’t buying it. Jim Sayer, Director of Adventure Cycling, a national bike advocacy group headquartered here in Missoula, was giving a lecture during Bike Walk Bus Week claiming bike travel could save humanity from its own excesses. So I hopped on my cruiser, with its cute little basket, and biked over.

I left convinced that, if I would only drop my car keys in the toilet and flush, a revolution would sweep the globe. One person at a time. With happy, smiling people across the planet riding bicycles everywhere.

Vive la revolution!

Okay, first we start with the problem –a virtual carbonfest in the Earth’s atmosphere. Right here in Montana, there aren’t too many people who haven’t noticed the glaciers in Glacier National Park are looking a lot smaller. Puny, actually. Outside Montana, Mt. Hood, a snowy icon with its perpetually snowcapped peak, is rapidly losing its snowy dome.

That’s where Jim Sayer has the answer. Enter enlightenment – the bicycle.
(26 April 2006)
Also posted at Energy Bulletin

Transport experts have seen the future, and it’s got pedals

Ben Webster, The Times (UK)
THE right to travel when and where we please will be eroded over the next 50 years as the shortage of cheap oil and environmental concerns force us to lead more local lives, according to a government report.

Every journey will have to be justified and face-to-face contact with colleagues, friends and relatives will increasingly become a luxury, with most meetings taking place via three-dimensional “telepresencing”.

Foresight, the Government’s science think-tank, consulted 300 transport experts when drawing up its vision of how travel will have changed by 2055. Its report concludes that the growing demand for greater personal mobility is unsustainable and based on false assumptions.

Congestion should be tackled by making more intelligent use of existing capacity rather than by building roads and other transport links.

It states: “We cannot presume that we will have cheap oil for the next 50 years, [or that] we can respond to increasing demand by building more capacity, [or that] we will continue to have the right to move as and when we please.”

It proposes that people should be forced to pay the true cost of their journeys, including compensating for the environmental damage they cause. Charging for trips by the mile or selling “slots” for journeys “would make people aware of the real costs of travel”.
(26 Jan 2006)
Also posted at Energy Bulletin