Folks, as you may be aware, we did this Streetfilm Shortie (below) on the Storm Water Treatments along the Indianapolis Cultural Trail. It was just something I cobbled together as an "extra" since I was surprised by the enormous size & placements of the bioswales along their protected bike paths.
With rising seas and the urgency to treat more stormwater, we really need to get going with these in New York City - and we are slowly - but we do have a few goodies in the ground. My favorite is one installed at 39th Avenue & Woodside along the burgeoning (as I call it) "Queens Bike Superhighway" which runs from 34th Avenue thru Sunnyside and on to link up with the Queensboro Ed Koch Bridge bike path to Manhattan.
Last year I snapped these photos right after its installation in the Streetsblog post: "Runoff Retention? Sidewalk Extension!" It showed the plantings in their infancy. It was nice then, but MY look how it has blossomed! It looks extremely well kempt (presumably by the community) and the verdant flowers and lush beauty that has been added to this stretch of road has to please neighbors. It certainly looks as if some have been adding in their own plantings.
Heck, I think they could use a Citibench so residents can eat a lunch amongst its beauty.
Thankfully, I've been lucky enough to know many friends/relatives/colleagues who vacation on Block Island, Rhode Island - thus I get to visit often. If you don't know where BIRI is you go all the way to Montauk (on the eastern end of Long Island) and then jump a 90 minute ferry to a pork chop-shaped island in the Atlantic Ocean. For reference, it's southwest of Narragansett and Martha's Vineyard, but I find it is more laid-back and friendly then the Vineyard (and cheaper!) Plus. far more people use bicycles as their main mode of transportation.
I was recently there before the big season launches and was still wowed by the number of people on bikes. And the thing about BIRI is drivers are so incredibly kind, they'll crawl along behind you at 5 mph until it is absolutely safe to pass or you wave them thru. And the number of children (we are talking VERY young children) riding bikes is unlike anywhere I have seen - except Copenhagen.
Perhaps my favorite point on the island is where Ocean Avenue and Corn Neck Road intersect. During the busiest weekend days of the summer, you can see dozens of bikes crossing at once in all directions while drivers calmly sit for up to a minute or more to get their turn. Just watching the ballet of bikes and pedestrians stream is fun in itself. Besides, no one is in a hurry.
I'll be upfront, there's not a lot of distance/courses to ride. The island is small. You can do a nearly 10 mile loop of the island or an out and back 8 miler to the north lighthouse. There are a few additional streets to change it up a small bit, but the main point is to use a bike safely on vacation and enjoy. If you love bikes (and ice cream!) you should get there once in your lifetime.
As you may know, Streetfilms has done more videos about bike share than any other outlet on the planet. Here are some observations/thoughts I have after a few weeks of Citibike use. I'm not saying I am correct here or claiming to be a "Citibike expert" and regardless, I'm sure I'll hear it from you in the comments.
1. Citibike riders are more courteous. Remember how the press tried to frighten us about the maniacal, out-of-control, new riders on Citibikes? Well, we all knew that wasn't gonna happen, but if you compare the general population of cyclist behavior on the streets, I think Citibike riders are certainly more well behaved to this point. I have plenty of logical theories why, but this thought seems to jive with all the experiences of my friends.
2. Helmets not required. If your city is gonna have a successful bikeshare, having a helmet requirement is gonna make it more difficult to thrive. I've always advocated against mandatory helmet laws but I also encourage people they should be wearing one riding on the streets in places like NYC. I've always been a 98% wear-a-helmet-kind-of-person, but with Citibike I haven't yet.
This proves once again that the helmet issue is a dynamic, complicated one. It all depends on where you are riding, the speed, the bike amenities of your city, the build of the bike, the topography, the weather, your age and plenty others. Thus far, because of their upright and slow speeds (and if you stick to the safest routes) I've felt just fine Citibiking without a helmet. That said, I've also been surprised by the number of people toting a helmet and using one. Choice is a good thing.
3. Overall bike shop sales will probably be largely unaffected or higher, but what about folding bikes? Just an observation here. Not trying to alarm the industry, but in cities with bike share (if there is large coverage in the places you visit) the advantages of the folding bike are greatly diminished. Citibike is cheap. It doesn't need to be folded, carried, or stowed. No worries about maintenance or flat tires. Not sure if there are any folding bike sales figures out there to pour over. If anyone has more insight, please share.
4. Citibikes are more difficult to dock then other bike share systems I have used. To put it in perspective, I can't recall ever having one problem docking back in after using the very similar bikes of Capital Bikeshare and Nice Ride Minneapolis. But of all my Citibiking in NYC, only once did it check in on the first try. The others I've had to attempt it numerous times, try other docks and - in a few cases - gave up and used a nearby station. I am a strong guy, I should have no problem. I am hoping they are working on this.
5. The fun social aspect of Citibikes was overlooked by the media. How many times have I heard someone riding a Citibike say to another user, "Hey, nice bike!"? I've lost count. I've also noticed something I've termed "The Citibike Nod" which is the grin & nod of smugness and self-approval when riders pass each other. Sort of like being in a secret club when you were a kid.
By now, we've all seen tourists posing for pictures taken while sitting on a docked Citibike. I'm sure we aren't far from having a Citibike Meet-Up group. And even cab and truck drivers ask about the blue bicycles while stopped waiting for the light.
Did I say "waiting at the light"? Well that seems to happen way more often for me while riding the Citibike!
Just a series of photos to share. Today, I grabbed a Citibike and roamed around on our protected bike lane couplings on 1st & 2nd Avenues for about 5 minutes during the PM rush. Frankly, I've never seen so many people in NYC on bicycles. It's even more than last summer!
It's possible that the great weather combined with the addition of Citibike, people's desire to get fit and save some money could all be factored in, but in just five minutes I snapped these photos to share. Every block had at least 5 or 6 riders at all times. It felt like a constant bike parade.
I just returned from a very invigorating jaunt to Salt Lake City, Utah to attend the CNU 21 conference. A day earlier, I was a special guest presenter of Streetfilms University at the Streetsblog Network Training which brought in 15 bloggers and advocates from around the U.S. to learn some of the expertise we have in covering the livable streets movement. There was an eclectic lineup of speakers including Streetsblog founder Aaron Naparstek, traffic engineer Ian Lockwood, the master of Tactical Urbanism Mike Lydon and former Milwaukee mayor and CNU President John Norquist.
The summit was an enormous success. And amongst the seriousness there was also adventure and camaraderie. For one, we all decided to take a group spin on SLC's GreenBike, a bike share system with just ten stations and 100 bikes which debuted in May. It may pale in comparison to the 6,000 bikes on the streets of New York, but there were copious folks using them (and many others inquiring.) Since the bikes are from B-Cycle they offer a slightly different feel and look then NYC's Citibike. See for yourself in the Streetfilms Shortie above, but the front racks support carrying up to 20 pounds which scores huge points with this filmmaker from New York.
Salt Lake City is fascinating on many levels. It's taking major strides in expanding transit (which you'll see more of in a Streetfilm very soon) and is erecting some great bones to a system with it's newest light rail lines (the green line to the airport just opened last month), it's Frontrunner commuter line service (opened in 2008 and just added 8 new stations at the end of last year) and a Streetcar line which is under construction and due to open by the end of 2013.
There also is a healthy bike culture. Lots of fun things to see.
The above image is from SLC's first experimentation with protected bike lanes and I really loved this signage. It's to the point and I would love to see it standard for these types of facilities. Especially initial deployments of the first protected lanes in cities where it's a fresh concept. Anything we can do to reduce the ire or confusion of motorists, I think is a swell idea.
But Salt Lake City still faces many challenges. It has very, very, very, l-o-n-g blocks. And as a pedestrian it can feel like an eternity until you get to cross streets that feel much like highways. And it's not only in the downtown. I ventured out to see many of the neighborhoods and was astonished: I've never seen road widths in communities of this length (which dates back to the settlement of SLC). You could seriously probably land an airplane. Play the above video to see the expanse of asphalt!
In one section north of the city, I saw probably a dozen of these consecutively. In the above photo you will see I did come across one with a huge green median filled in and what a different experience it proved. I'd love to see some sort of depaving action on these very low travelled streets. Imagine every homeowner getting to grow a garden or vegetables on their streets? (With still plenty of room for cars.)
But a voice in the back of my head tells me the residents may see nothing wrong with this setup. Which is fine, too. You can't impose a solution on a community which desires none. Still, just imagine how much cooler these homes would be during the hottest months of the year with 3/4s of that asphalt gone? I'm just sayin'.