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Thursday, May 25 2017 @ 10:39 AM UTC
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First look at Portland’s inaugural cycle track

Biking in BaltimoreSince there is some interest here about this, here's a look at what Portland is doing:
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WABA letter and Graham bill for bike safety

Biking Elsewhere

[Gee, it looks like we are not the only ones with this problem.]

Since Alice Swanson's death, WABA has been trying to meet with MPD for a discussion of bicycle safety. Their meeting was rescheduled once, and then a second time, WashCycle reports. In response, they've sent a letter to the Mayor and Council asking for more action. From the letter:
Alice Swanson, a 22-year old cyclist from Washington DC, was killed while riding her bike over two months ago. ... MPD has offered no new information about the tragedy. This lack of responsiveness only reinforces our concerns that the needs of those that walk and bike in Washington, DC are seen by MPD as not a concern worth addressing. ...

The effectiveness of [DDOT's and WABA's] efforts in reducing crashes will be dramatically reduced if MPD does not see the safety of the most vulnerable roadway users as a priority. If officers are not fully trained on the laws as they relate to cyclists and pedestrians, and if critical motor vehicle laws on the books are not enforced, we run the risk of more tragedies occurring. ...

We request that MPD...

  • [Restore] a traffic division of the police department ... DC has the highest combined rate of biking, walking and transit use in the country and more dedicated resources need to be devoted to public safety.
  • Improve the training of police officers in the laws related to cyclists and pedestrians ...
  • Target high risk locations [for enforcement] in a way that maximizes educational efforts and recognizes that behavioral change, not punishment, is the ultimate goal. These enforcement efforts should be seen as preventative, not punitive.
  • Expand and improve data collection of bicycle and pedestrian crashes and report annually on high risk locations ...

It is the policy of the government of the District of Columbia to promote alternative means of transportation, be it cycling, walking or transit. As more and more people choose these modes whether for health, environmental or economic reasons, the Metropolitan Police Department’s role in maintaining safe streets to walk and bike is ever more critical.

WABA is asking people to contact Councilmembers and the Mayor on this issue. WABA is also asking Phil Mendelson, Chairman of the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary, to hold a hearing on this issue.

Jim Graham, for his part, is taking some action. This morning, Graham introduced a bill with four main provisions:

  1. Equip all DC vehicles with "blind spot mirrors, reflective blind spot warning signs, and side-underrun guards to prevent bicyclists, other vehicles, or pedestrians from sliding under rear wheels";
  2. Train the drivers of these vehicles in safe operation for pedestrians and bicyclists;
  3. Require a three-foot passing distance when any vehicle passes a bicyclist (a standard common elsewhere, including, as discussed in this video, Wisconsin);
  4. Establish a $100 fine for driving in a bicycle lane or a bicycle-bus lane, such as the one on 7th Street northbound around Gallery Place (which is very commonly and illegally used by private cars). Currently, it is illegal but there is no fine.

This bill will give police two new ways to enforce laws against unsafe driving that directly endangers bicyclists. MPD will have to do its part, as WABA is asking, to then enforce these and other existing laws to make everyone feel safe on the road.

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Ticketed bike riders speak out

Biking Elsewhere[While we still do not know why the police think that John Yates was at fault for riding on the right side of the road but here are some cyclists in trouble for not riding on the right.]

The volunteer bike-riders who pull a trailer load of donated food to the Damiano Center each week are willing to deal with bad weather, Duluth hills and dangerous brushes with cars.

But they draw the line at traffic tickets.

“We take it as an issue of discrimination,” said Alex Strachota, 22, who graduated from the College of St. Scholastica last year with a degree in biology.

To the Duluth police, it’s an issue of public safety.

Police officers have ticketed Strachota, Greg Schultz and Sadie Sigford twice for impeding traffic.

Every Friday and Saturday for the past two years, Strachota, Schultz and Sigford have ridden bikes up from their home at the Dorothy Day House in the Endion neighborhood to the Whole Foods Co-op on Fourth Street, picked up about 100 pounds of food that otherwise would be thrown away, and taken it to the Damiano soup kitchen to donate.

Even if the thermometer reads 20 below zero, they’ve never had problems on the route, the three say. That is until July 31, when they were riding back from the Damiano Center and were given a traffic ticket.

Two weeks later they again were stopped and ticketed. They say they plan to fight the tickets, alleging their civil rights were violated.

But the police say the bicyclists were riding in the regular lane of traffic and that their slow speed was a safety hazard.

“They were impeding traffic,” [on a bike route] police spokesman Brad Wick said. “In both instances there was an opportunity to move to the right, and they did not.”

The volunteers don’t deny riding in the traffic lane, but they say they have the legal right to do so.

The problem stems in part from the route they take to deliver the food, Fourth Street, which, though it’s designated as a bike route and directly connects the Co-op to the Damiano, is a difficult ride because it’s a single-lane traffic and filled with parked cars along the streets.

Compounding the problem for the three riders is that their rig to tow the food takes up almost two bike-widths. To keep that rider safe from being rammed from behind, the other two follow behind two abreast.

Though they say they ride 10 to 15 mph, cars still back up behind them.

“It would be illegal for any car to pass us,” Sigford acknowledges.

So why not take another mode of transportation [on a bike route]?

For starters, the three have no cars and use bikes as their way to get around, including to school and work. And they say they’re following bike statutes, which includes riding 3 feet away from parked cars. On Fourth Street, that means riding into the traffic lane.

“It may seem like hyperbole and we’re being over the top comparing what’s happened to us to the civil rights movement,” Strachota said. “But we feel very much marginalized when we ride on our bikes.”

Adds Schultz: “It’s not a stretch to consider ourselves as second-class citizens in regards to transportation.”

Ironically, when they got their tickets on July 31, a friend visiting from out of town, Erin Cartwright, was riding illegally — too close to a parked car — when she got “doored” — someone opened their car door and she was sent flying.

She wasn’t injured, but a block after the accident she was pulled over by a Duluth police officer, who later called for two additional squads as backup. Not to check on Cartwright, but to give Schultz and Sigford tickets.

According to the report filed by Officer S.R. Peterson, he gave the tickets because he believed the bicyclists weren’t following state statutes and they needed to follow the right side of the road and weave into empty parking spaces when possible to let cars pass.

[Ya like weaving in and out of park cars is not safety hazard? Sheesh!]
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Some Buildings Not Living Up to Green Label

Health & EnvironmentThe Federal Building in downtown Youngstown, Ohio, features an extensive use of natural light to illuminate offices and a white roof to reflect heat.

It has LEED certification, the country’s most recognized seal of approval for green buildings.

But the building is hardly a model of energy efficiency. According to an environmental assessment last year, it did not score high enough to qualify for the Energy Star label granted by the Environmental Protection Agency, which ranks buildings after looking at a year’s worth of utility bills.

The building’s cooling system, a major gas guzzler, was one culprit. Another was its design: to get its LEED label, it racked up points for things like native landscaping rather than structural energy-saving features, according to a study by the General Services Administration, which owns the building.

Builders covet LEED certification — it stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design — as a way to gain tax credits, attract tenants, charge premium rents and project an image of environmental responsibility. But the gap between design and construction, which LEED certifies, and how some buildings actually perform led the program last week to announce that it would begin collecting information about energy use from all the buildings it certifies.
“The plaque should be installed with removable screws,” said Henry Gifford, an energy consultant in New York City. “Once the plaque is glued on, there’s no incentive to do better.”
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Bicycle Boulevard Planning & Design

Biking in Baltimore

I strongly urge transportation planners and engineers in our region, especially Balt City and County, to take a look at this innovative new set of tools and consider local implementation. Conventional painted bike lanes and other "weak" measures including sharrows and off-road bike paths, that do little to create complete streets, IMO, are all inadequate tools for enabling a fundamental shift towards widespread "transportational" bicycle use in the region. The dense, interconnected grid of streets in Baltimore could easily accommodate a network of bike boulevards.

- SS on EnvisionBaltimore.

What are Bicycle Boulevards?

Bicycle boulevards take the shared roadway bike facility to a new level, creating an attractive, convenient, and comfortable cycling environment that is welcoming to cyclists of all ages and skill levels.

In essence, bicycle boulevards are low-volume and low-speed streets that have been optimized for bicycle travel through treatments such as traffic calming and traffic reduction, signage and pavement markings, and intersection crossing treatments. These treatments allow through movements for cyclists while discouraging similar through trips by nonlocal motorized traffic. Motor vehicle access to properties along the route is maintained.

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Combined Charity Campaign Cycle/Walk Fundraiser

Biking in Baltimore
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Brita Climate Ride

Biking ElsewhereHow far would you pedal for a new energy future? Register now for Brita Climate Ride, a fully supported, 5-day charity bike ride from New York City to Washington DC, September 26 – 30, 2009. It’s the ride of a lifetime through some of the East Coast's most beautiful countryside. Join two hundred cyclists for great food, world class biking, and the chance to meet and network with leaders in climate change, renewable energy and environmental causes. Don't miss this historic ride to Washington!

Brita Climate Ride supports essential climate and bicycling advocacy projects at three beneficiary organizations: Focus the Nation, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, and Clean Air – Cool Planet. Your fundraising helps the beneficiaries continue to provide the critical services and education needed to address climate and energy issues.

Be Part of a Grass-roots Effort- Join a fascinating group of renewable energy experts, climate activists, recent college grads, and everyday folks.

Make a Statement- Carry your message 300 miles to the steps of the Capitol, where you have a chance to personally meet your representatives in Congress to encourage action.

It’s a Climate Conference on Wheels- Hear informative talks each evening from expert speakers, and join the discussion on climate science, green technology, and solutions to the climate crisis.

The Time is Now- We're at a climatic tipping point, and with the important COP15 Conference coming up in December, this year’s Brita Climate Ride is more important than ever.

It’s Fun- Unite with fellow Climate Riders for an unforgettable, fully-supported adventure. Our experienced team takes care of all the logistics, so you can network, make friends, and enjoy cycling through some of the most beautiful scenery in America.
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Mo. Rethinks Bicycles and Traffic Light Sensors

Bike LawsA new Missouri law took effect August 28 allowing motorcyclists and bicyclists to run red lights after coming to a complete stop and waiting a reasonable amount of time. This law addresses the situation known to every motorcyclist and bicyclist -- many traffic light sensors don't detect the presence of motorcycles and bicycles. Missouri will be one of eight states that have similar laws.
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Baltimore police responcable for 49 lives lost and 7,686 people injured in 2008

Biking in BaltimoreFor those of you who missed this line in the previous article Biking to school:
"We must also continue to ask the Baltimore Police Department to live up to their part of the bargain as outlined in the Baltimore Bicycle Master Plan."

I am really not sure why the police continue to be unresponsive or why they think traffic safety is not an issue, in Baltimore 24% of our traffic fatalities are pedestrians or cyclists; Maryland 20.6%; national average 14%. DC's pedestrian fatality rate is15.2/M ours is 17.3/M, National average 14.4/M. (2008 data) Approximately one third of Baltimore's traffic victims are kids (13% of the population.) And we all know how well motorist yield to pedestrians around here, obey speed limits and generally drive safe.

It's not like we don't have some agencies on board but without the ability to enforce/give warnings for moving violations, I'm not sure how effective of a Street Smart campaign we are going to have.
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Biking to school

Biking in BaltimoreWe all know that getting around without a car in Baltimore can be a frustrating experience. It’s especially difficult for many students, who rely on an often-late bus system to get to school. This problem is exacerbated by the occasional actions of a few students, who have tainted the image of students riding public transit, and strained relations with the MTA.

Clearly this is a problem that needs to be addressed, and many people and organizations are working toward solutions.

This summer is the perfect time to encourage kids to try a new form of transportation, which they can use in the fall to get to and from school: Biking.

Biking to school would eliminate the frustrating experience of waiting for bus transfers, increase visibility of bikers in the city during commute times, and have the added benefit of providing healthy exercise for students in our community.

Along with advocating cycling to school, we must promote safe biking practices. Students should be required to wear helmets, and learn proper cycling techniques. Most importantly, we must pass statewide legislation promoting equal use of roadways and an enforced three-foot passing rule. We must also continue to ask the Baltimore Police Department to live up to their part of the bargain as outlined in the Baltimore Bicycle Master Plan.

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Maryland should adopt the Idaho stop law.

  •  Strongly agree
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The state should support what kind of bicycle facilities?

  •  Off-road bike trails
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