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Friday, August 22 2014 @ 07:39 PM UTC
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Jeff Speck: America Has So Many Problems. Walkability Solves Most of Them.

Biking Elsewhereby Tanya Snyder, Streets Blog

Link to video.

In the ineffable way of all TED talkers, urban planner Jeff Speck, author of “The Walkable City,” has made a concise, urgent, and oddly charming argument for walkability. In just under 17 minutes, Speck has articulated the economic, epidemiological, and environmental arguments to end automobile dependency and start using our feet again. It’s worth a watch (and a re-tweet). A few highlights:

  • The worst idea America has ever had is suburban sprawl, and it’s being emulated — like many American values, both good and bad — around the world.
  • We’ve doubled the number of roads in America since the 1970s — and the proportion of our household income we spend on transportation.
  • Portland went against the grain of suburban sprawl and highway expansion and has been a magnet for college-educated young people who want to live in a city that prizes biking and walking. Portland’s VMT peaked in 1996, with each person driving 11 minutes less per day now.
  • One out of three Americans is obese, a second third is overweight. “We have the first generation of children in America that are predicted to live shorter lives than their parents,” Speck said. “I believe that this American health care crisis that we’ve all heard about is an urban design crisis and that the design of our cities lies at the cure.” Studies show that obesity correlates more strongly to inactivity than to diet.

  • Urban VMT is a good predictor of asthma problems in your city.
  • We take car crashes for granted as a necessary evil. But walkable cities have far lower crash fatality rates. It’s not whether you’re in the city or not, it’s whether your city was designed around cars or people.
  • “The environmental movement in America has historically been an anti-city movement,” Speck said. “‘Move into the country, commune with nature, build suburbs.’” Carbon maps of CO2 emissions per square mile makes cities look like polluting cesspools, but if you look at a map of emissions per household, the heat map flips.
  • Sustainable home accessories and gadgets, which Speck admits he has a weakness for, aren’t nearly as important as living near transit in a walkable neighborhood. “Changing all your lightbulbs to energy savers saves as much energy in a year as moving to a walkable neighborhood does in a week.”
  • The lifestyle choice — walkability — that no one wants to tell Americans to make is actually one that will make them happier. Walkability correlates to higher quality of life.


http://dc.streetsblog.org/2013/10/15/jeff-speck-america-has-so-many-problems-walkability-solves-most-of-them/
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Readers' radical solutions to protect cyclists

Biking ElsewhereVia BBC News

...
Make drivers cycle
"What about requiring that in order to get a driving licence, every driver has to cycle for three miles along a dual carriageway. This seems to me the best way to make drivers realise that cyclists have a right to use the road and not to be squeezed into the gutter. Most cyclists are drivers too or have been at one time but most drivers have no experience of what it's like to cycle in traffic and don't seem to believe that cyclists have any right to be on the road." Pedal Pusher, London

"A real radical solution? Any person sitting a driving test should have to sit a practical test on a bike. In traffic, in an urban area and also on a country road (the problems are very different), at night, in bad weather. It might not convert them to cycling, but at least they'll appreciate the other point of view a bit better." Graeme Allan, Keith, Scotland
...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25043437
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Support Bethel Street Bike Park

Biking in BaltimoreThe Bethel Street Bike Park is scheduled for construction in March 2014. Consisting of a pump track and two 'gravity/jump lines,' the park is designed to promote physical activity in Baltimore City youth by providing a safe, public, local place to ride. The bike park will be located adjacent to and fully integrated with the recently built Bethel St. Playscape and Garden, and will be complimented by an inviting community gathering space and a recently planted fruit tree orchard. The park will accommodate diverse levels of mountain biking experience, and is intended as a Baltimore City destination for members of the off-road community across the region. Programming for the Bethel St. Bike Park will initially consist of open riding sessions on Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings, and more frequently during the summer, with mountain bikes available for all kids. Additionally, The 6th Branch will organize periodic exhibitions at the park in order to sustain a high level of energy for the project.

How can you help?

T6B is hoping to use a combination of existing funds and new small grant funding for the major construction aspect of the Bethel Street Bike Park. New campaigns, such as this one, will help us acquire the actual bikes and safety equipment, as well as support maintenance costs.

https://givecorps.com/en/baltimore/projects/977-the-6th-branch-bethel-street-bike-park
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5 Reasons Bicyclists Are The Worst People Alive

Biking ElsewhereThe following was probably written in jest but all humor is based on some truth. It would not hurt the advocates to have some rebuttals for these kind of arguments.

http://www.collegehumor.com/post/6943325/5-reasons-bicyclists-are-the-worst-people-alive
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Complete Streets for Baltimore County

Biking in the Metro AreaVia David Marks on Facebook:

Last night, the Baltimore County Council passed a Complete Streets resolution that aims to include bicyclists and pedestrians as we build out our transportation system. Councilman Tom Quirk sponsored and I was a cosponsor.
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Special Traffic Enforcement Officers – Citywide Jurisdiction

Biking in BaltimoreThere is no doubt in my mind that we need more Traffic Enforcement Officers to improve safety but wait, what? We need more officers just to direct traffic?

Well while Artscape was setting up I noticed tons of people running red lights to create gridlock from hell and hardly an officer to be seen. Well that's not exactly true, there were officers situated at every closed crossroad on Mt. Royal, sitting and just maintaining a presence just in case something might happen but the gridlock happening a block away was ignored. So we need more officers to correct that... I guess.

But do officers directing traffic improve throughput? Mythbusters says no.
http://youtu.be/OvoFjirrgYA?t=4m24s

So while I agree we need to address gridlock with enforcement but still there is a huge need for traffic safety enforcement beyond just not obeying a traffic signal or directions from an officer. Baltimore City is over represented with car crashes involving bike/peds, this is a huge quality of life issue that is being ignored.
http://mhso.mva.maryland.gov/TrafficSafetyData/_benchmarkreports/PedestOnFootBR-12Aug1-13.pdf
http://mhso.mva.maryland.gov/TrafficSafetyData/_benchmarkreports/BikeOthPedalBR-12Aug1-13.pdf

But do the police have time to address traffic safety or other general public safety measures? They say no.
http://www.baltimorebrew.com/2013/11/26/inside-city-hall-why-police-dont-walk-the-beat-and-other-riddles/

Well if you get hit by a car you can always call 911 and get a positive result. Wrong, I was hit by a car while walking across a driveway and the officer responded that "unless I see it, I can't issue a ticket." and evidence is growing that not only are the police not out there watching for bike/ped issues, they are rather clueless on what the laws are for bicyclists and pedestrians. "And remember to watch for cars, you don't want to be dead right." [Sheesh, not even close to good safety advice.]

So which brings me to City Of Baltimore Council Bill 13-0262 which states in part:
"A Special Traffic Enforcement Officer has no power to issue citations for moving violations other than for a failure to obey lawful traffic direction and control devices."

They are expanding who can appoint and where they can enforce, all good things but I seriously wish they also expanded what they can enforce. The idea that only the police can enforce all criminal laws plus all traffic laws is just crazy.

We need to change the mindset in city hall from roads that are defined by just how many cars can go by per hour, to roads being public space and as public space have zero tolerance for bullies that threaten and hit those they don't like in "their" space.

Text of the bill: http://bikemd.org/files/public/documents/BaltimoreBillSTEO.pdf
To follow the progress and more info: http://legistar.baltimorecitycouncil.com/detailreport/?key=5962
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New Report Finds Climate Change Caused By 7 Billion Key Individuals

Biking ElsewhereBy The Onion

WASHINGTON—In a landmark report experts say fundamentally reshapes our understanding of the global warming crisis, new data published this week by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has found that the phenomenon is caused primarily by the actions of 7 billion key individuals.

These several billion individuals, who IPCC officials confirmed are currently operating in 195 countries worldwide, are together responsible for what experts called the “lion’s share” of the devastating consequences of global warming affecting the entire planet.

“Our research has proved conclusively that, year after year, the acceleration of the rate of global warming and the damage caused by this man-made acceleration can be clearly linked to 7 billion main culprits,” explained lead author Dr. John Bartlett, noting that many of these individuals have links to climate change going back nearly a century. “Worse, the significant majority of damage was done within the past two decades, when the consequences of climate change were widely known and yet these specific individuals did nothing to curb or amend their practices.”

“Now that we’ve done the hard work of identifying the key players responsible for this crisis, we can move forward with holding them accountable,” Bartlett added. “And it is my opinion that we need to regulate these individuals swiftly and decisively before they do any more damage.”

According to policy analysts, urgent regulation is needed in order to monitor and govern the behavior of these targeted individuals, who experts say collectively commit as much as 100 percent of violations to the environment each year.

Researchers have isolated numerous instances of environmentally harmful activity committed by these 7 billion perpetrators in the past few decades alone, identifying practices such as using electric lights, shipping packages, traveling by car, traveling by air, buying clothes, washing clothes, using heat, using air conditioning, buying food, buying water, eating meat, commuting to work, shopping, exercising at the gym, disposing of waste, operating computers, operating televisions, operating other household electronic appliances, and showering—alarming activities that experts say show no signs of remitting.

In addition, IPCC officials confirmed that billions of pounds per year in waste products can be traced to these 7 billion individuals alone.

“We’re actually looking at a situation where a select group of individuals—7,125,985,886 of them, to be exact—are singlehandedly responsible for global warming and are refusing to do anything about it,” author and activist Dan Cregmann told reporters, noting that these culprits have a horrible track record of following recommended environmental guidelines and disclosing their total energy consumption. “Many of these offenders have of course pledged goals for fighting climate change and going green in their daily operations, but statistics show these proclamations have been largely ineffective and halfhearted at best.”

At press time, IPCC officials confirmed that, since their report was released this morning, 153,007 more individuals had been added to the list of top contributors to global warming.

http://www.theonion.com/articles/new-report-finds-climate-change-caused-by-7-billio,34658/?ref=auto
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Some drivers are unbelievable in there ignorance [video]

Biking Elsewhere
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VEHICULAR MANSLAUGHTER – COMPARISON OF “GROSS NEGLIGENCE” WITH “CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE”

Bike Laws[B' Spokes: If I am reading this right "the community’s general sense of right and wrong" is that it is perfectly fine to pass a cyclist via the oncoming lane with limited visibility (motorist can't see past the crest of a hill.). I think we need to get on MVA's case to provide better instruction if that is indeed the case.]
VEHICULAR MANSLAUGHTER – COMPARISON OF “GROSS NEGLIGENCE” THAT IS AN ELEMENT OF VIOLATION OF OFFENSE DEFINED IN CRIMINAL LAW ARTICLE §2-209 WITH “CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE”

December 21, 2011
The Honorable Joseph I. Cassilly
State’s Attorney for Harford County


...
The New York court also differentiated between “negligence,” as used in civil cases, and “criminal negligence”:

Criminal liability cannot be predicated on every act of carelessness resulting in death ..... The carelessness required for criminal negligence is appreciably more serious than that for ordinary civil negligence[;]the carelessness “must be such that its seriousness would be apparent to anyone who share[s] the community’s general sense of right and wrong”.... Criminal negligence thus requires “some serious blameworthiness in the conduct that caused [the death]”... or some culpable “risk creation” ....



http://www.oag.state.md.us/Opinions/2011/96oag128.pdf
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Shifting Gears: Commuting Aboard The L.A. Bike Trains

Biking Elsewhere[B' Spokes: It would be nice if we could start something like this here,]
****************************************************************************
by ALEX SCHMIDT, NPR

...
Enter L.A. Bike Trains — an organization that arranges commutes by bike in groups. Each Bike Train route has an experienced conductor who serves as a guide. Insua especially likes that these volunteer conductors offer new riders door-to-door service from their homes to the train.

"He came and picked me up from my house," Insua says. "[He] went out of his way to get me to bike for two or three weeks. Then I was conditioned. Then I was brainwashed."
...

http://www.npr.org/2013/12/01/248063342/shifting-gears-commuting-aboard-the-l-a-bike-trains

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