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Sunday, May 28 2017 @ 12:17 PM UTC
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Spotlight Vol. 8, No. 4: From Tokyo to Brooklyn: Good Streets and What Defines Them

Biking ElsewhereWide, tree-lined sidewalks. A row of parked cars to buffer pedestrians from traffic. A physically separated bike lane. These are just a few of the qualities I and other urban design types tend look for when defining a 'good' street, meaning one pleasant and safe for walking and biking.

Imagine my surprise then, when I returned this past winter to Tokyo, land of my upbringing and pedestrian and transit mecca, and realized that the streets I walked every day as a kid looked nothing like the "complete streets" I had come to idealize.
Yet, despite all these supposedly less-than-desirable conditions, people in Tokyo walk. A lot. My family was caught in pedestrian gridlock on the day after New Year's, in the shopping district of Harajuku. There were so many people trying to walk through a (admittedly narrow) space that we literally could not move for ten minutes.

In New York, I complain that the four blocks between my apartment and the subway have no street trees. But in Tokyo, I have no problem walking fifteen minutes basically IN the street to the train station, with nary a street tree in sight the entire way.

In New York, I rarely ride my bicycle because even on quieter side streets (forget about avenues), I'm in constant fear of being hit from behind by a speeding SUV or doored by one of the cars parked along the curb. In Tokyo, children ride their bikes to school, housewives to the grocery store, commuters to the train station, and nobody bothers with helmets.

So why the differences in environments? The first, and perhaps most obvious, reason for this is the well-known traffic engineering concept of "shared space." This idea states that having pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers share the space of the roadway with little separation results in improved safety for all because it forces various road users to constantly be aware of each other. Motorists drive slower and round corners cautiously because they expect pedestrians or bicyclists to pop up out of blind spots. Pedestrians and bicyclists have priority, but are aware that cars may be coming at any time, and move out of their way.
We talk about built environment a lot, but rarely about driver behavior, and when we do, we talk about manipulating that behavior through the built environment. But there are other factors that influence how drivers behave.
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Suggest a Feature for Google Maps!

Biking ElsewhereThe Google Maps Help section has a ‘Send Feedback‘ link that allows you to vote for new features you want to see on Google Maps. One of them is called ‘Add bike trail information and biking directions’. Please feel free to head on over the click the ‘Suggest’ button next to this feature.

To navigate there from Google Maps, click the Help link in the top-right, then ‘Send Feedback’ on the right.

The ideal would be to vote for (’Suggest’) just the ‘biking directions’ feature — that would probably help make it stand out a bit better — but feel free to vote for other features you really really really want, too. :)
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Promoting an Active Maryland

Bike LawsCardin Annapolis Reports

Delegate Jon S. Cardin  District 11, Baltimore County

Week 10 Annapolis Report (3/20/09)
It's March Madness both on the Court and in the Maryland General Assembly. There are just a few days left to get the bills passed out of the respective houses on third reader before the crossover deadline of March 30th. Which bills will survive with a chance to make it out of committee and to the Big Dance of the House and Senate and eventually be signed by the Governor? Time will tell.

Although the Environmental Matters committee remains skeptical, I am gratified by the attention that my bicycle safety bill, which would require a safe 3-foot bubble around a cyclist when being passed by a car, has received. It is encouraging to see such an overwhelmingly positive community response on the issue.

Michael Dresser's column in Monday's Baltimore Sun cogently addressed the opposition to the legislation. He wrote, "Whatever the rights and wrongs of… [bicyclists] …on the roads, the mismatch in weight and vulnerability between motor vehicles and bicycles is extreme. And the law protects the vulnerable, even when the vulnerable get on our nerves."  Read the whole column by following this link.

Encouraging healthy lifestyles is an important step in revitalizing our healthcare system and combating the obesity epidemic. I introduced two bills this week which would promote a healthy Maryland. On Wednesday, I introduced a bill which would establish the second Wednesday in May as a commemorative day for health improvement and disease prevention. This bill would provide awareness for the many health-related problems facing our state. ...
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Police detention for riding a bike at night and forgetting to turn on your lights

Biking Elsewhereimage
A federal jury Thursday found in favor of two Portland officers, determining they used reasonable force in their arrest and detention of a St. Johns woman who was riding her bike at night without a light on Aug. 6, 2003.

That's right, it is reasonable to pull someone from their home and detain them for not turning on their bike lights rather then just issuing a ticket. After all doesn't this 67 year old women look like a threat to society?
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Idaho Stop law hearing

Biking ElsewhereFor those of you who don\'t know about the Idaho stop law it allows bicycle operators to enter a stop-sign controlled intersection without stopping when safe, and once they’ve yielded to all other traffic. Transportation planners and law enforcement officials from Idaho say that this law has been on the books there since the 1980s without incident.

Read more to find out about Portland\'s struggle for the same law.
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Bill encourages safe bicycling

Biking ElsewhereGrant would make it easier for cities to start bike programs

By Kate Golden | JUNEAU EMPIRE

If only the Legislature could do something about the weather.

Two lawmakers have introduced a bill this session aimed at encouraging more people to ride bicycles.

House Bill 132, from Reps. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, and Max Gruenberg, D-Anchorage, creates a grant program that would help cities and nonprofits start bike repair, loaner or safety programs and pay for bicycle-related road improvements. The bill will be heard in the House Transportation committee at 1 p.m. Thursday.

Despite the winter, Alaska ranks sixth in the nation in the proportion of people biking to work, according to Bob Laurie, Alaska Department of Transportation\'s bicycle advocate. (The state ranks first in the percentage who walk to work.) Yet the American League of Bicyclists ranked the state 43rd in overall bike-friendliness, and Sitka is the state\'s only officially bike-friendly community.

Laurie listed some of the biggest challenges facing Alaska communities in making themselves cycle-commute-friendly: Shoulders on the road, secure parking, places to shower, and education and enforcement of riders and motorists. All of those things take money, which the proposed grant program could help fund.
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Who Stops at Stop Signs?

Biking ElsewhereThis is video of an intersection, (I think located in or near Iowa City, Iowa), that was watched for only 5 minutes. I counted a total of eleven motor vehicles that did not stop when and where they were supposed to. Some didn't stop at all, they just rolled through the intersection.

The official count is 2 passed by stopping where and when they were suppsoed to and 9that did not, but I counted an additional 2 in the video. It is ironic that bicyclists are chastised for not stopping and yet here we have over 10 motorists not stopping.
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Urb Ag Gala Friday, April 17th

Health & Environmentimage

On Friday, April 17th, 2009 the Baltimore Urban Agricultural Task Force will be hosting its first annual Urb Ag Gala at St. John's Church at 2640 St. Paul Street from 7:00 to 10:00pm. The celebration will include delicious local food, artwork and entertainment in the setting of an old church transformed into a wildly lavish green atmosphere. Guests will have the opportunity to mark their gardens on a giant map of Baltimore. They can also sign up to casually speak about their growing project in an open mic style storytelling and song circle that will include local musicians. A $5 donation is being requested. Urb Ag Gala will be a waste-neutral event. Featured musicians include: Atom Fisher, Cityslides, Beans, American Folklore, Mother Nature's Son, MacGregor Burns & the VCR, Lands & Peoples, Pere Yorko, The Owls Go.

The event will enable those intrigued by the "growing" movement to become more involved; connect and offer resources to those already involved; get growers and eaters and those in between fired-up for the 2009 season; and make a statement about the inspiring and practical effects that growing food locally can have on individuals, families, communities, and the state of our planet at large.


The Baltimore Urban Agricultural Task Force is a growing coalition of farmers, students, professionals, artists, parents, and concerned citizens. The passion of its members is a common one: locally produced food. The Task Force is finding ways to strengthen communities in Baltimore through agricultural projects and environmental education. The long term goal of the Task Force is to acquire a 6-acre plot that can be farmed in Baltimore City and to create 500 new and sustainable jobs in the process.

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City Hall to go dark for Earth Hour

Health & Environmentimageimage
The City of Baltimore is pleased to announce that City Hall will be going dark for Earth Hour.

Also participating are the following surrounding buildings:

Charles L. Benton, Jr. Building
Abel Wolman Municipal Building
The War Memorial Building
The MECU Building

Please join the City and turn off your lights for one hour March 28th, starting at 8:30 PM.
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Charles Village Bike Parking Celebration - Friday

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Maryland should adopt the Idaho stop law.

  •  Strongly agree
  •  Mostly agree
  •  Undecided
  •  Mostly disagree
  •  Strongly disagree
This poll has 0 more questions.
Other polls | 1,213 votes | 0 comments

The state should support what kind of bicycle facilities?

  •  Off-road bike trails
  •  On-road bike accommodations only on State roads
  •  On-road bike accommodations only on County roads
  •  All of the above
This poll has 0 more questions.
Other polls | 1,216 votes | 3 comments

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