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» Conservatives’ new enemy: Bikes

As political ideas fracture along cultural lines, pundits and politicians are finding cyclists to be a convenient new “them” in the eternal us-them struggle. Even if conservatives don’t all agree that riders are metrosexuals, they “see bikers as obnoxious, rude hipsters,” says Sam Schwartz, former New York City traffic commissioner.

Conservative politicians know that simply opposing causes like environmentalism appeals to the base. At the extreme end, this leads to some positions that almost defy belief—“I love that smell of the emissions,” said the former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, while riding a motorcycle—but bikes represent more of an everyday rebuke, a quiet reminder that your car isn’t the only way to get around.

In this respect, Rob Ford isn’t just a mess. He is a visionary—perhaps the first candidate to win an election in part by fanning public annoyance at those reckless, entitled, tax-and-spend bicycle riders. As new bike lanes make their slow incursions into downtown traffic patterns, it’s reasonable we can expect more such victories. It might seem frustrating for bike supporters, but there is one consolation: In politics, you get attacked because you matter.

bostonglobe, 15.12.13.

» Driving Is Going Out of Style

A new study from U.S. PIRG gives us perhaps the most detailed yet look at the “peak car” phenomenon whereby America’s passenger-miles driven keeps falling. As Ashley Halsey writes (washpo. 04.12.13), perhaps the most important contention of the report is “data that show the cities with the biggest drop in driving suffered no greater unemployment peaks than those cities where driving declined the least.”

PIRG’s takeaway is that it’s time to stop lavishly funding new highway construction and instead focus money on a mix of maintaining existing infrastructure and improving mass transit services. I agree with that, but the budget allocations are in some ways the smallest pieces of the puzzle. The real gains are to be made in rolling back the implicit subsidies to parking and barriers to multi-family apartments, leveling the regulatory playing field between private cars and private transit (slate, 21.06.12), and looking at operational issues that prevent cost-effective transit operations in the United States (slate, 12.11.13.).

slate, 05.12.13.

(Source: emergentfutures)

» Can North America Become a Civilized Cycling Society?

Rush hour with cyclists and pedestrians making up the bulk of the movement in central Copenhagen, Denmark.

For North America to accept and integrate bicycle use into our transportation systems it is important to understand what is standing in the way.

To this day, we are faced with a biased mainstream media portrayal of cycling. We are faced with politicians pandering to people in their cars who are far too hesitant to take the aggressive steps needed to build a complete network of safe bicycle infrastructure. We are faced with a bicycle industry that continues to push the agenda (and products) that cycling is merely a sport or a hobby.

National media outlets continue to portray “cyclists” as a homogeneous group of lawbreakers who must attain an unrealistic, ideal behavior before being granted designated room on our streets. On June 27, 2013, Canada’s National Post ran a widely circulated story that liberally tossed around the hideous word “scofflaw” yet provided no statistical evidence to back their claims that “too many” riders are disobeying the law. While these news stories continue to use anecdotal evidence to support their claims researchers are seeking the truth. A recent study conducted by Portland State University found that 94 percent of riders obeyed red lights – a fact that media outlets conveniently overlooked.

Too many politicians and city leaders have yet to understand that creating safe bike infrastructure requires building a complete network as well as altering laws to favor travel by bike, foot, and transit. There is a glimmer of hope in cities like New York, NY, and Chicago, IL, but elsewhere change is too slow, too small, and often completely non-existent. Forcing riders to compromise their safety in order to share space on our streets with drivers will never lead to civilized cycling.

For potential and existing riders, the bike industry has yet to deliver quality bikes and accessories that cater to people using their bicycles for transportation. In Europe, a majority of bicycles on the street come fully equipped for daily use. There, major brands like Giant and Raleigh provide bicycles off the shelf with lights, fenders, chainguards, kickstands, and racks. Yet in North America there seems to be little movement within the industry to even recognize this segment of the market.

Despite these dominant societal forces working against us, there are changes (many within the past three years) that give us hope.

Strong political leadership in Chicago and New York has quickly brought significant and wide-sweeping change. Chicago added 27 miles (43.5 kilometers) of protected bike lanes in just two years and has ambitious plans to reach 100 miles (160 kilometers) by 2020. New York launched North America’s largest bike share and within the first month sold more than 100,000 daily, weekly, and annual memberships. In these cities, leading lifestyle transportation bike companies like Linus, Biria, and PUBLIC are providing the right products for these new urban landscapes. Will the North American industry learn from these small brands or will they miss the boat on what may be the largest opportunity we have ever seen?

Mia Kohout, editor-in-chief, Momentum Magazine. 09.09.13.

It has been established, for example, that suburban streets all over America ought to be as wide as two-lane county highways, regardless of whether this promotes driving at excessive speeds where children play, or destroys the spatial relationship between the houses on the street.

Back in the 1950s, when these formulas were devised, the width of residential streets was tied closely to the idea of a probable nuclear war with the Russians. And in the aftermath of a war, it was believed, wide streets would make it easier to clean up the mess with heavy equipment.

Zoning codes devised by engineering firms have been “packaged” and sold to municipalities for decades, eliminating the need for local officials to think about local design issues. This is one reason why a subdivision in Moline, Illinois, has the same dreary look as a subdivision in Burlington, Vermont. All the design matters are supposedly settled, and there has been little intelligent debate about them for years.

America has now squandered its national wealth erecting a human habitat that, in all likelihood, will not be usable very much longer.

— JHK, The Geography of Nowhere (via stroadtoboulevard)
the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) had a lot to do with the design of suburbs… in addition to getting a majority of americans to buy houses there.
Southworth and Ben-Joseph, “Street Standards and the Shaping of Suburbia”. JAPA. Winter 1995. pg.75.
» Blighted Cities Prefer Razing to Rebuilding

An abandoned block of Chase Street in Baltimore will be redeveloped by Johns Hopkins University.

nytimes, 12.11.13.

» APA: Salary Survey Summary

no matter whatever these graphs say,

my views are still pretty fixed—i can’t even imagine having a real job, making money.

read all those articles about millennials being optimistic but whatever… I’m not [optimistic]. the economy sucks—the friends who have jobs all seem to be in tech (or science), and they’re the ones who inadvertently contribute to gentrifying neighborhoods and raising rents.

i really don’t care all that much about making money… like these numbers in those graphs above.. i can’t even imagine what they mean. they’re so out there.

i just want enough to go travel, bike tour, rent a nice apartment with hardwood floors and south-facing windows, and buy an electric bike for my mom.

not even pay back student loans. fuck that shit. the student loan bubble better burst and the american education system reformed before i make enough money to start paying back student loans.

» Death of a cyclist

A collision between a bike commuter and motorist raises questions about whether we’re too lenient toward those who drink and drive.

"The norm in the Chicago area is driving recklessly and speeding," says Ron Burke, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance. "Too many people are traveling in a reckless, dangerous way, whether it’s driving a car or riding a bike. Of course, when you’re a person on foot or a bike, you’re nowhere near as dangerous as a person in a 3,000- pound car."

San Hamel has pleaded not guilty to the seven felony counts—including reckless homicide and aggravated DUI—for which he faces a sentence of up to 54 years. No trial date has been set, and he remains free on a $100,000 bond. He is prohibited from drinking alcohol or driving as a condition of bond.

In Illinois, fewer than a third of DUI arrests ended in conviction in 2011, the most recent year reported. Most cases end up under court supervision, an option unique to Illinois. If an offender successfully completes the court supervision period, the case is dismissed and the charges dropped.

"People don’t realize how broken the system is," says Cathy Stanley, court watch director for the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists. "It really needs scrutiny and needs to be tightened up."

In Stanley’s mind, the biggest loophole is the routine thwarting of supposedly mandatory license suspensions for those who are charged with DUI or who refuse to take a Breathalyzer.

It seems one key to getting off easy is being arrested in the suburbs. “A lot of times, the village attorneys are just out to make money for the village.”

Bobby Cann introduced his girlfriend, Catherine Bullard (top), to his aunt (bottom), uncle, and mother shortly before he died.

The intersection where the collision occurred.

On October 25, around 100 people gathered at the crash site for a ceremony designating the Clybourn-Larrabee intersection Honorary Bobby Cann Way. Dozens of Cann’s former coworkers from Groupon and REI were there. Cann’s family flew in from the east coast.

Before unveiling the honorary street sign, Alderman Walter Burnett Jr. announced that Clybourn would be the first IDOT route with protected bike lanes. An IDOT spokeswoman confirmed the plan, but did not provide a timeline for the installation.

"Bobby told me that biking was very safe," Cann’s mother, Maria, said to a TV news crew. She was surprised but glad that they had come. "But no infrastructure change can make it safe to share the road with intoxicated drivers."

read more: chicagoreader, 30.10.13.

(Source: 122782)

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