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Bicycles - Oct 9

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Safe streets
Not pedaling can kill you

Alan Durning, Gristmill
My youngest son had a bike wreck this summer: a driver cut him off on a steep downhill. Peter managed to avoid the car by tumbling over the curb, but the fall inflicted some nasty road rash. It also inspired me to dig into the question of bicycle safety more rigorously than before: Is it safe for Peter to be biking so much?

Here's what I learned: Biking is safer than it used to be. It's safer than you might think. It does incur the risk of collision, but its other health benefits massively outweigh these risks. And it can be made much safer. What's more, making streets truly safe for cyclists may be the best way to reverse Bicycle Neglect: it may be among communities' best options for countering obesity, climate disruption, rising economic inequality, and oil addiction.

The alternative -- inaction -- perpetuates these ills. It also ensures the continued victimization of cyclists and pedestrians.
(9 October 2007)
In the meantime, bicyclists can cut their chances of accidents dramatically by:

  • Choosing the safest routes
  • Wearing bright clothes (for visibility)
  • Carrying lights at night (especially rear lights)
  • Assuming that drivers do not see you.


Evolution of a Bicycle Friendly Community - the Davis Model

David Takemoto-Weerts, League of American Bicyclists
What makes Davis bicycle friendly? An introduction to "The Bicycle Capital of the U.S."
Davis, California, is sometimes referred to as "The Bicycle Capital of the U.S." because of the city's high rate of bicycle use (with estimates of 20 - 25% of all trips being made by bicycle) and its long history of providing its thousands of pedalers with a "cyclist-friendly" environment. Wide streets, an extensive bikeway network, gentle terrain, mild climate, supportive official policies, and an attitude of mutual respect between cyclists and motorists have resulted in a community with perhaps the most bikes per capita of any city in the U.S. and a real "bicycling culture."

Davis may seem like a utopian model and a social oddity in a country otherwise dominated by the motor vehicle. It is important to realize, however, that many other communities around the nation have emulated Davis in large and small ways, and gradually transformed themselves into places that enjoy the improved quality of life that marks bicycle friendly communities.

Davis' pioneering efforts in accommodating bicyclists and providing special bicycle facilities were unprecedented in this country. Many communities have long looked to Davis as a model for their own attempts to promote cycling locally. Now, over thirty years since the nation's first bike lanes were striped on the streets of Davis, it is time to look at the Davis model --how it evolved, what have been the successes and shortcomings along the way, and which facilities, policies and programs have endured and can continue to serve as examples for other communities.

It is important to examine what was "special" about the city thirty years ago that led to its success in promoting cycling. It is also necessary to look at the formidable challenges facing Davis cyclists, planners, and politicians today.
(October 2002)
Recommended by AlanfromBigEasy at TOD Drumbeat (Oct 9) who writes:
Seven linked web pages about bicycling in Davis California.

I was aware of and very much like a "bike first" traffic signal that gives bicycles a 2.3 to 3 second head start on the green light.

Big cities try to ease way for bicyclists

Charisse Jones, USA TODAY
Officials look to Europe for ideas, want lanes separate from traffic, bike-share programs, more racks
Cities are accelerating their efforts to encourage commuting on two wheels, putting bike racks where cars once parked, adding bike lanes and considering European-style bike-share programs to get residents out of their cars.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino last month named a former national cycling champion to be the city's director of bike planning. The city is identifying the best roads for bicycling in a mapping project that cyclists eventually may be able to access online. It also plans to add 250 bike racks by next fall and this month will hold a summit of cycling experts to determine a long-term bike strategy.

"There's never been so much attention from cities collectively for cycling as a mode of transportation," says Loren Mooney, executive editor of Bicycling magazine. "Cities are recognizing that it is a realistic and inexpensive solution to a lot of different problems — to the traffic issues, to pollution issues, to personal health issues because instead of sitting in cars for an hour you have people out burning calories."

Other cities taking steps:...
(9 October 2007)
Mentioned by David Roberts at Gristmill

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