The Online Voice of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I Bike: Hannah and Sophia Carpenter

Sisters Hannah (14, freshman in High School) and Sophie (12, 6th grade) Carpenter are independent travelers encouraged by their parents to bike wherever they need to go. They aren’t reliant on an adult to drive them around town.

When Sophie sold her handmade jewelry at the Farmer's Market last summer, she pedaled her supplies to the market on her own, and even combined bike and bus to participate in the Wednesday Fairhaven Market. Their mother couldn’t be prouder, remarking that the girls’ bikes gave them freedom and a much more fun-filled summer than they would have had sans bikes.

“Since I work full time I’m not home to drive them to the library, a friend’s house or to the market. Having them ride is the perfect solution. We sat down and figured out a safe route to get downtown and they’ve been biking it regularly. They are confident cyclists and really enjoy the independence the bike gives them,” stated proud Mom.

Both sisters started biking on their own in 3rd grade and now they bike everywhere – downtown, to the library, friends’ houses, to school, to volunteer or to babysit.

Hannah likes that she doesn’t need to rely on an adult for a ride, but at the same time dislikes that she’s expected to bike everywhere. Sophie said she likes going fast and riding by herself, however tackling big hills like Barkley Boulevard rank low on her list of likes. (For those of you that know the area, Barkley is a BIG hill -- way to go Sophie! I haven’t even attempted that one!)

Sophie’s earliest memory of biking involves playing Sophia LaWow and the Green Ball of Terror. “My mom and sister bounced a green ball back and forth and I rode across between them. My mom would talk like a circus announcer like I was doing a big trick,” explained Sophie. Hannah remembers “going down the sidewalk by the elementary school and having to wait forever for my Mom and little sister to catch up. They were so slow!!!”

Both girls are quick to offer advice to other kids who want to bike more. Hannah encourages kids to “convince your parents the world is not a scary place and it’s OK to bike.”  Sophie advised to “ know where you are going and wear warm clothing”.

I love meeting kids like Hannah and Sophie, I know that their experience biking as kids is going to positively impact their adult lives. Even if they do grow up and make most of their trips by car, at least they have the experience of biking, which will make them better drivers. Plus, they will be more likely to allow their own kids to bike around town. The cycle will continue with each generation.

Tell us your story!  I Bike is a project of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington to put a personal face on bicycling when we talk to elected officials and the public.  Contact Louise McGrody if you'd like to share your I Bike story.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Vancouver 2012: The bicycling world comes knocking

It’s not often that the world beats a path (practically) to your doorstep, and it’s even more unusual when it arrives by bicycle.

But that’s what will happen in June 2012 when Velo-city, the world’s largest conference of cycling planners and advocates, comes to Vancouver, B.C. 

Velo-city, organized by the well-established European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF), brings together urban planners, cycling advocates, government representatives, and politicians from around the world to share ideas and discuss strategies for getting more people on bicycles.

Velo-city began 30 years ago as a conference for European cycling advocates. The event went global for the first time this year. By all accounts the 2010 conference, held in Copenhagen, was a smashing success, bringing together about 1,100 people from 60 countries.

The 2012 conference will be a golden opportunity for Northwest cycling advocates to mingle with, and learn from, their counterparts from other parts of the world. It’ll also be an opportunity for local planners to learn about best practices elsewhere, and for local politicians to learn that cycling can play a valuable role in solving urban transportation problems.

For more on the 2012 Vancouver Velo-city conference, see this article in Momentum magazine’s online edition.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Success! Auction Raises $84K for Bicycle Advocacy.

Saturday--auction day--was an unsettled day of weather in the Puget Sound.  An overcast and showery morning gave way to some midday sunshine, followed by a rainy evening.

But the atmosphere inside Fisher Pavilion did not reflect the outdoors.  A veteran group of volunteers prepared the venue for a festive Bicycle Alliance auction in record time.  Rows of long tables were laid out with enticing displays of silent auction items, the dessert dash, and wine and beer grab. Dave Shaw and Scott  Ely performed their wizardry as they set up a network of computers that would support registration, capture winning bids and print out receipts at the end of the evening.  Volunteers assisted Foodz Catering with setting the dining tables.  The transformation was complete!

Many guests arrived early and by 6pm the auction was well underway.  People bid on silent auction items, purchased 50/50 raffle tickets, and scored some great selections from the wine and beer grab. 

They previewed the selection of tempting delectable desserts that would be available in the dessert dash.

Bidders hovered over their must-have items as silent auction tables came to a close.

Dinner was served by members of the Cyclists of Greater Seattle (COGS), who generously volunteered their time as our wait staff.

Bicycle Alliance Executive Director welcomed guests to the auction, thanked the event's sponsors and many volunteers, and presented Seattle Mayor Michael McGinn with a Share the Road jersey.

Emcee Dave Ross of KIRO radio took the stage, then thrilled the crowd with his rendition of Michael Jackson's Thriller dance.

Then it was time for the main event--the live auction.  Returning auctioneer Eric Mamroth launched into action.

Live auction bidding began and bid cards were raised high,

and raised higher,

and higher!

At the end of the evening, $84,000 was raised for the Bicycle Alliance of Washington.  These funds will help us pursue our 2011 legislative priorities, expand our Safe Routes and Share the Road efforts, and continue our outreach in communities around the state.

A huge and heartfelt thank you goes out to the 60+ volunteers who helped make this event a success.  Volunteers helped with everything from serving on the Auction committee, doing data entry, picking up donations and organizing items, to performing key roles the day of the event. We also want to thank the folks at Bicycle Paper for their assistance with procurement.

And a special thank you to this year's event sponsors:

Third Place Books - Vulcan - Boeing - John Duggan, Cycling Attorney

Friday, October 22, 2010

These Boots Were Made for Biking

And that’s just what they’ll do!

As I pedaled my vintage blue cruiser (it’s a Kia, did you know they used to make bikes?) to work this morning I couldn’t help but put myself inside the heads of the car drivers who shared the road with me on our commute to work.

“Wow, she’s wearing a skirt and biking, maybe I could do that"

“I remember when I had a bike on my basket.”

“Those are cool boots; I never would have thought to wear high heeled boots while biking.”

“Isn’t it kind of early for a Halloween costume?”

Okay, I made the last one up just now, but sometimes I do feel like I’m wearing a costume when I’m decked out in my neon yellow jacket, bike gloves, rain pants and helmet. I certainly don’t look fashionable (those that know me well are laughing right now, since I never look fashionable.)

Now, I’m not knocking neon yellow jackets, I wear mine often, especially since we have so many grey and rainy days in Bellingham. I also have an obnoxiously bright pink vest courtesy of Feet First that is super reflective for night riding.

I bike in my work clothes, skirts, dress pants or jeans. And yes, I admit, sometimes I don’t wear my yellow vest. Like this morning, I just couldn’t bring myself to put it on over my olive green jacket. Even I know that would clash, and it would take away from the whole ‘your bike is a fashion accessory’ look that I was going for.

I want to show people that you don’t have to wear spandex shorts and a jersey just to get to work or the grocery store. You don’t even need special biking shoes (although I do think my boots are pretty special). I understand that this attire won’t work for everyone, if your commute is many miles, or uphill, you might need to change your clothes when you get to work. But for those that can do it, have fun! Wear high heeled shoes and a skirt on your next bike ride, just think of all the people you’ll inspire, or at least make smile. Because biking is fun, but biking in heels is a blast!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New York City turns toward moving people instead of cars

Close Broadway to cars through Times Square in New York City? "Never happen", said political observers. "It will kill us", said the business owners. After a couple of years, it's been a grand success.

PlaNYC, announced in 2007, included the pedestrianization of Times Square plus Bus Rapid Transit to the Bronx, 200 additional miles of separated bike lanes, and transportation planners shifting focus to moving people instead of cars. Bus speeds have gone up by 20 percent. Ridership is up 30 percent. You can sit at a sidewalk cafe in Times Square and have a conversation without shouting over the traffic noise. There has been a 63 percent reduction in traffic injuries in Times Square. The business owners loved seeing more foot traffic. Mayor Bloomberg says that life expectancy in the city has increased by 1 year and 7 month over the last 8 years, due at least in part to fewer traffic deaths.

The video below shows the NYC mayor, city commissioners, and transportation planners commenting on how this has worked for citizens and businesses. From the intro:

"New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Department of Transportation are on a mission to make the Big Apple the "greatest, greenest big city in the world" by ramping up bicycle infrastructure across the city, introducing bus rapid transit to the Bronx, and pedestrianizing Times Square, among other bold transportation initiatives."

The same can happen here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Northwest Bicycle Commuting: Washington gets the booby prize--but why?

Want to increase the rate of bike commuting everywhere? It's all about the infrastructure

The League of American Bicyclists may have anointed Washington as America’s most bicycle-friendly state; but when it comes to bike commuting in the Northwest, we rank dead last.

That news came in an October 7 post on Sightline Daily, an e-newspaper from the Sightline Institute, a Seattle-based non-profit think tank devoted to Northwest sustainability.

Sightline’s Eric de Place analyzed census data about commuting in the four-state region (Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana). The fact that Oregon leads the pack, with 2.3 percent of all commuters getting to work on two wheels, probably won’t surprise anyone. But what’s sobering is that Washington was whooped by Montana (with a 1.7 percent bike-commuting rate) and Idaho (with a 1.2 percent rate) as well. Washington's bike-commuting rate is 0.9 percent.

Northwest bike-commuting statistics look pretty anemic everywhere when you compare them with world leaders such as the Netherlands, where 27 percent of all trips--not just commute trips--are by bike. But Washington’s comparatively poor showing even among local states should be food for thought among local bike advocates and transportation planners.

As might be expected, three of the top six regional bike-commuting cities were college towns. Eugene came out on top with a 10.8 percent bike-commuting rate, and was the only city to reach double digits.  Missoula, in weather-unfriendly Montana, came in second, at 7.2 percent; while Bellingham was number four at 5.2 percent.  Others in the top six were Portland (number three, at 5.8 percent), Boise (number five, at 4.2 percent) and Seattle (number six, at 3.0 percent, or a little more than half of Portland’s rate).

Other Washington cities were well down on the charts. Spokane was Number 9 with a 1.9 percent bike-commuting rate; Tacoma was Number 18 (0.7 percent), Vancouver was Number 19 (0.6 percent), Everett was Number 20 (0.5 percent), and Bellevue was Number 21 (0.4 percent). Kent had the honor of being last among all listed cities, coming in at Number 28 with zero percent of its citizens getting to work by bike. (If you work in Kent, I’d love to have you prove the United States Census Bureau wrong on that one.)

The good news is that Washington was ranked Number 1 in the Northwest for the percentage of workers who take public transit to work (a relatively low 5.9 percent, but still better than the other states).  Seattle was the most transit-oriented of the region’s cities; 19.5 percent of workers there get to their jobs by transit.  Also, Bellingham and Seattle ranked Number 1 and 2, respectively, in the percentage of those who walk to work. (De Place’s post called Seattle “the Northwest’s clear leader in commute-trip alternatives.”) Finally, Washingtonians do carpool at a higher rate (11.3 percent) than other Northwest states.

But why does Washington do relatively badly when it comes to cycle commuting? I put the question to de Place by email.  He didn’t have a definitive answer but did offer some ideas.

First, he said that Seattle—at least compared with most other North American cities--wasn’t a bad cycling town. “Biking in big, dense congested cities is hard,” he said, “at least given American transportation culture and bike infrastructure…There’s no question that Seattle can do better, but it’s not like there are all that many [American] big cities that do wildly better. Portland has done awesome things, no question about it, but it’s also the leading edge.”

But de Place added that “the alarm bells go off when I see the dismal stats for Tacoma, Bellevue, Spokane, etc.”  He said there may be many reasons for the low bike-commuting rates in these cities, but added that “the sheer size of the Puget Sound Metro area is a factor that prevents or discourages biking for some significant share of the trips.”  

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Washington State Transportation Plan 2030 - It Matters To Bicyclists!

The Washington Transportation Plan 2030 (WTP) is a high-level policy plan that provides guidance and strategies for all transportation modes (bikes are included) and regions in the state. It serves as a policy update to the 2007-2026 and is to be completed by the end of this year. The plan is required by law and is available for public comment until October 15, 2010 (more about this later). While it is about policy and not projects and infrastructure, it serves to guide long-term investment and policy making for many modes and jurisdictions.

So why does this plan matter to bicyclists? The short answer is in the quote above. The long answer is that the WTP contains seven overarching themes such as the need for an integrated transportation network, the relationship between land use and transportation, and one size does not fit all. In other words, policies and investments in bicycle infrastructure would contribute successfully to all seven of these themes. This includes safe routes to school, complete streets, and distracted driving, which in fact are mentioned or alluded to in the plan. They come under the overarching theme of transportation policy supporting and reinforcing other state policy objectives. Safe Routes to School is also an issue that is impacted by the relationship between land use and transportation.

The Washington State Transportation Commission held 6 “Listening Sessions” around the state. Citizens turned out in support of biking and walking at every session held. According to a Kitsap Sun article, the support was so strong at the Bremerton session that the biking and walking strategy rose to the top.

So what’s a bicyclist to do? Comment on the plan! Along with any specific comments you have in mind, we suggest the following:

  • Tell them that policies and investments in bicycle infrastructure would contribute successfully to all of these themes.
  • Tell them how much we appreciate the state’s nationally recognized Safe Routes to School Program and that it needs to have more funding, not only as demonstrated by the unmet demand, but by its ability to help meet the goals of the WTP.
  • Tell them we need a Complete Streets policy that provides incentives for jurisdictions to adopt and implement complete streets. It helps reduce traffic congestion, vehicles miles traveled, greenhouse gas emissions, makes our roads safer, and provides improved mobility for the 37% of Washington residents that do not drive.
  • Tell them we want a distracted driving campaign that focuses on the recent cell phone/texting law in order to help meet the Target Zero Campaign goals.
  • Tell them we want a dedicated funding source so that facilities are more likely built and planned.
As the WTP states, “Accomplishing some goals – such as zero traffic deaths by 2030 or major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions – will depend more on individual action than those of the government.” As bicyclists, we are those individuals and can make those and other goals attainable. Get out there and make it happen!
Please submit comments are due by October 15, 2010.
To read the plan, go to: and you can submit comments by email at: or by mail to:
P.O. Box 47308, Olympia, WA 98504-7308

And as always, ride your bike!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Kid-Loving Puyallup-Region Volunteers Needed!

Kids and bikes go together like ice cream and hot summer days. Do you remember the joy and freedom of riding your bike? Unfettered, two wheels flying beneath you, it felt like you could go anywhere. --Wait, that's how we feel now. Anyway, bicycling is a great way to get kids started early on using alternative transportation.

However, most kids don't know the first thing about riding safely or even get bad advice from their parents. As a result, many kids are hit doing easily-preventable things: Riding out of a driveway without looking; riding the wrong way on a street (often at parents' behest); riding through stop signs without even pausing, let alone stopping.

To help educate the youngest bikers and prevent unfortunate accidents, the Bicycle Alliance is holding a bike rodeo at Liberty Ridge Elementary School on October 20. Bike rodeos are only successful with lots of adult help (otherwise they're called "chaos," and kids don't need any practice at that). We could really use your help to make this happen.

What: We need 5 to 7 volunteers to help:
  • Check bike fit
  • Check helmet fit
  • Run stations and hold stop signs
When: October 20, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm (set-up from 10:00 to 11:00; kids ride from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm) Where: Liberty Ridge Elementary School, 12202 209th Ave Ct. E, Bonney Lake, 98391

If you want to help, please email Katie at katief [at], or call 206-224-9252 ext. 305 and leave a message. Thanks in advance for helping all those budding bicyclists stay safe on the roads.

Education: A Bicycling Cornerstone

Riding up 12th Avenue in Seattle one day, I came up behind a bicyclist who dodged in and out of the parking lane around parked cars. His path looked like a slalom course, zigging in towards the curb when no cars occupied the parking lane, and zagging back into the bike lane when parked cars forced him occupied the parking lane. From my perspective, the bicyclist appeared and disappeared from my path as if by magic. He was, frankly, completely unpredictable and therefore frightening.

The worst part is that this bicyclist thought he was doing the safe thing by staying as far from moving vehicles as possible, not even realizing that he risked being clocked by a turning car, an opening car door, or a faster-moving bicyclist who never saw him coming out of the parking lane.

Riding down Market Street toward downtown Kirkland, a bicyclist just ahead and to the right of me unexpectedly turned left without signaling, passing directly across my path of travel. He had assiduously eschewed a left-turn lane, favoring instead the going-straight lane that I had chosen for my straight-through path of travel. After I picked myself up off the ground, the bicyclist explained that his unexpected left turn, executed from the middle-right side of a straight lane, “avoided the bottleneck” created at the intersection where many cars choose to turn left.

The worst part is that the bicyclist thought he was doing the safe thing by staying as far from turning cars as possible, not even realizing that he was breaking the law and endangering himself and others by behaving unpredictably.

These are just two examples of choices I’ve seen cyclists make in the name of “safety” that actually endanger the bicyclist and, potentially, other road users. The two bicyclists in my vignettes didn’t realize that they needed further bicycling education, although their behavior indicated otherwise. As a previous post argued, individualized education is integral to increasing bicycling.

Even more, though, education is integral to increasing safe, predictable, legal behavior among current and future bicyclists. If we hope to achieve a truly courteous share-the-road culture in which many trips are made by bicycle, we must begin with bicyclist education. That's why the Bicycle Alliance distributes Share the Road pamphlets (pictured) and why we have two new grants that focus specifically on education for children and adult bicyclists. We are working to create educated bicyclists who know how to use their bikes legally, safely, and predictably.

If that sounds like an exciting future to you, contact us to find out how you can help make it happen.

Edited 10/8/2010 to add: Let me give you some statistics to back up my anecdotal evidence. According to the League of American bicyclists,
  • 50% of all bike crashes are falls caused by the bicyclist all by herself -- she hit a rock, her front wheel got stuck in a hole, her brake cable snapped, her shoelace got wrapped around the crank arm, etc. Therefore, the individual bicyclist can prevent the vast majority of these falls by taking simple precautions like doing the ABC Quick Check before a ride and practicing good bike handling skills.
  • 33% of crashes are caused by another bicyclist, a pedestrian, or an animal -- something other than the bicyclist alone, but not a motor vehicle. Many of these crashes, too, can be prevented with good bike handling skills and by following laws and being predictable for pedestrians and other riders.
  • The remaining 17% of crashes are motorist-bicyclist crashes, and of those, half are caused by the motorist and the other half are caused by the bicyclist. That means you can reasonably eliminate almost half of all the causes of car-bicyclist collisions, too. Here's a breakdown of fault and cause of crash in car-bicyclist collisions.

    Who is at Fault Action Causing Crash % of Crashes
    Bicyclist Wrong-way riding facing traffic 14%
    Bicyclist Left turn from right side of the road 11%
    Bicyclist Failure to yield from driveway* 9%
    Bicyclist Running a stop sign or signal 8%
    Bicyclist Swerving in front of a car 5%
    Motorist Left turn in front of bicyclist 13%
    Motorist Right turn in front of bicyclist 11%
    Motorist Running stop sign or signal 8%
    Motorist Opening a car door into path of bicyclist 7%
    Motorist Failure to yield from driveway 6%
    Motorist Didn't see the bicyclist 3%
    * This is mostly small children.
    These statistics taken from the League of American Bicyclists Smart Cycling Traffic Skills 101 Student Manual, page 22.

    For more information on bike safety statistics, check out the compendium of links here or here.
As you can see, by being an educated bicyclist who has good bike handling skills and rides predictably and legally, you can eliminate almost 80% of the causes of crashes. This is why bicycle education is so important. It's not just telling people to wear helmets, but providing them with the skills and knowledge to use bikes for transportation confidently, successfully, and safely.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Can a simple conversation significantly increase the number of bicyclists on city streets?

We’ve all read about how bike lanes can increase the mode share of cyclists, but is building infrastructure the only way? If you build it, will they come? Will a non-cyclist start biking to work if a bike lane is installed near their home or work site? One would assume the answer is yes, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many bike lanes sprouting up around the nation. As someone who teaches beginner commuter classes, I have heard many times that new cyclists feel more comfortable on roads with bike lanes. I’m all for bike lanes, however, I’m going to look at another method of increasing the bicycle mode share, Individualized Marketing.

A typical marketing campaign may include posters, advertisements in papers
or radio, and may reach a small percentage of people. If I want to increase the number of cyclists in my community I could develop an ad campaign that shows local cyclists and hope that people see it and are inspired to bike themselves. If I’m lucky, they will also see my website and remember to check it out and read about beginning commuter classes. Individualized Marketing takes this approach a few steps, or leaps, further, by bringing the offer of bicycle education and assistance to their doorstep.

In July 2008 Whatcom Smart Trips contracted with SocialData to provide Individualized Marketing (IndiMarkTM) to1/3 of Bellingham households (10,037 homes or 22,500 people). People were contacted by mail and by phone and asked if they would like information about making more of their trips by walking, bicycling and public transportation. Contact was made with 89% of the households in the targeted area. Of those who contact was made, 45% responded that they were interested in learning more about how they could use sustainable transportation modes.

This is the group that received the individualized attention. An order form was mailed to their home from which they could choose a plethora of brochures and booklets that highlight bike, pedestrian and bus safety, as well as tips and techniques. People who were slow to complete their forms received encouraging follow-up phone calls, with the result that 90% of the group ordered and received materials. In addition to the educational materials on the order form, respondents could schedule a ‘bike buddy’ visit--a one-on-one meeting with an experienced cyclist who reviews bike safety, rules of the road, bike and helmet fit, and even helps plan out bike routes near the person’s home. The same can be done for bus riders as well.

Once the order form was received by SocialData, the requested materials were quickly delivered to the person’s home by bicycle. About a week or two after a delivery SocialData would contact the household to make sure they had received everything they wanted and answer any questions they might have. Households that participated in the 2008 IndiMark project received an average of four to five phone calls and/or visits. This high level of interaction sets IndiMark apart from standard direct mail campaigns, which typically achieve a 3-4% response rate.

So what are the results? Do all these phone calls and bike deliveries make a difference?
You bet! In Bellingham, we saw a 15% reduction in VMT (vehicle miles traveled), as well as an 11% increase in bus trips, a 22% increase in walking trips and a 35% increase in bicycle trips! This results in city-wide mode share of 12% walking, 6% bicycle, 1% motorcycle, 55% car as driver, 21% car as passenger, 4% bus, and 1% other public transportation. In the targeted area, the active transportation mode share is an amazing 20% walking and 11% bicycling!

So why is IndiMark so successful? I think the main reason is that humans respond to and like genuine interactions. Encouragement from a real human being takes the fear and the unknown out of change. Someone may want to ride their bike to work, but if they don’t know how to do it safely, or what the laws are, they have to do the research themselves. They may not even know where to start looking for that information. So if someone calls them and says, “Good afternoon, if you’re interested I’d like to send you some information on bike commuting”, the fear is eliminated and they are on track to start biking.

Another reason for the success of IndiMark is that the information provided is individualized and specific to their neighborhood. If a resident doesn’t know where the bus that stops on their street will take them, they are unlikely to use it; it isn’t even an option for them. But if they get a call and ask for information about the bus, they’ll receive a detailed summary of the bus options available to them in their neighborhood. The guesswork is gone; the bus and the bike are now options.

As I said earlier, bike lanes are great. However, adding infrastructure isn’t the only way to increase bicycling trips. Providing quality education is much more cost effective than a construction project. IndiMarkTM costs about $20 per person ($450,000 for 22,500 people). Compare that to a recent bike/ped improvement project that installed about 1800 feet of much needed sidewalks and bike lanes on a local Bellingham street for a cost of $710,000.

Now don’t get me wrong--this was an amazing project (it just so happens to be in my neighborhood, so I directly benefit from it). However, it’s unrealistic to expect the level of behavior change from that new facility as we achieved in the IndiMark project. The new facility will be used most likely only by people in that immediate neighborhood, whereas the IndiMark project reached a third of the City’s population. If communities are able to couple infrastructure projects with education we will all benefit and have safer, more livable places to reside.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Bright Bicycling Future

Kids are our best hope for the future. They'll carry what they learn in childhood forward into adulthood, which is why cigarette companies are banned from marketing to children. Fortunately, no such stricture exists against teaching children how to bike for transportation, and I recently had the opportunity to observe some bike brainwashing education in action.

Eileen Hyatt, a board member who lives in Spokane, arranged for me to visit Farwell Elementary School for the week of September 13. There I had the pleasure of learning from Eileen and observing and assisting in Farwell's week-long bike PE class. Here’s what I saw.

Kids learning how to keep their shoelaces from becoming safety hazards...

Kids being visible -- or invisible -- on a road-like background...

Kids learning how to stop quickly...

Kids learning (or not learning) how to signal turns...

Kids looking behind while riding straight...

Kids waiting their turns and communicating non-verbally on the "road"...

Kids cooperating as a team to avoid hazards on the "road" while all getting to their destinations safely...

Kids signaling their turns and positioning themselves appropriately in lanes...

And kids having fun!

...or not.

Based on what I saw in Spokane that week, I’d say the future looks pretty bright.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Location, location, location! Burd
In August, I wrote a post titled It's all about the bike rack that examined features of a good bike rack.  Today's post revisits the venerable bike rack, and explores things to consider when picking a location for it.

As a bicyclist, I am delighted to find a bike rack at my destination but, on occasion, I sometimes come across a bike rack that I cannot or will not use.  Why?  Because the bike rack has been poorly sited.

Easily spotted, covered, steps to the door.

Bike parking is a key factor in encouraging people to make trips by bike and where a bike rack is located determines whether and how much it will be used.  The bike rack pictured to the left is superbly located, in my opinion, and gets lots of use.  As a customer who arrives by bike, I feel welcome at this Seattle supermarket because the rack is located just steps from the entrance.  The bike parking is also protected from rain because it has been placed under the entrance covering.

Hidden away, inconvenient, unused.

On the other hand, I have never used the lonely bike rack shown at the right.  This rack is hidden away in the parking garage of another grocery store and I suspect that few bicycle patrons of this business even know it exists.  To their credit, the store has since installed a bike rack at entrance level and steps from their door, and this particular rack is regularly used.

Here are more examples of well-sited bike racks at locations that serve people making trips by bike:

On-street corral, downtown Vancouver

Redmond Transit Center.
Now for some examples of poorly placed bike racks that see little or no use:
Redmond arterial next to parking lot.
Seattle commercial property, too close to landscaping and sprinklers.     
The Bicycle Alliance website has a section on bike parking, and includes our Retailer's Guide to Implementing Effective Bicycle Parking and APBP's Bicycle Parking GuidelinesThese documents offer guidance on selecting a well designed bike rack and recommendations on where to locate bike racks.
Bike rack needed here!