Right on, ride on

Ceci n'est pas une vélo

Chicago Bicycle Program Presents: Share the Road – Buses and Bicycles

Posted by @teeheehee on 18th March 2010

Take the twelve minutes and watch this video put out by the Chicago Bicycle Program geared towards their city’s bus drivers and cyclists.

Share the Road – Buses and Bicycles from Chicago Bicycle Program on Vimeo.

Via: Treehugger.

A couple of questions:

  • I don’t know any riders from the area, are the public transportation buses as accommodating as they appear to be in the video – can anyone share their experience?
  • Is the video effective – have you spotted something you didn’t know before that now makes you feel more understanding towards your fellow bus driver or cyclist counterpart?
  • Does the city of Boston and/or MBTA have any equivalent bicycle educational videos for their staff? If not, should they?

Posted in bike friendly, film, safety, traffic | 2 Comments »

Thumbs Up

Posted by @teeheehee on 24th October 2009

Honestly today’s blog post is more to get me to write something because I know I have been lazy. Nothing particularly new happened, this is one of those oft-told stories of harrowing experience, conversation with a motorist, and acclaim from a nearby witness.

For starters, it was a rainy morning. Often this means I wear extra-vibrant clothes to make myself more easily visible to the armored ones I share the road with, but today I sufficed with a light-reflective courier bag and one reflective ankle-cuff. These, combined with my lights, make me relatively conspicuous.

Except if you drive a blue Honda minivan. But, we’ll get back to that after some more build-up….

This morning I went on an errand to the local RCN building (in Arlington) to drop off a couple of cable converters. It was a light rain, and the temperature wasn’t horrible, so I was mostly enjoying the ride except for the occasional red light when I would stop and my glasses would fog up. Note to self: start wearing contact lenses again until the warmer months return.

I was all done with this chore and beginning to switch to the next one (gathering my costume apparel) when I headed back towards Cambridge and Boston via Mass. Ave. For those not familiar with the area of Mass. Ave. in Arlington and Medford: it’s quite wide, but typically problematic with cracks and wrinkles all over. No problems here, though, vehicles were quite respectful this morning.

After I passed the turn towards Alewife the road feature I call the bike share “line” appeared. Cambridge has done some funky things with Mass. Ave., it seems they couldn’t quite figure out what to do to help cyclists – there’s sections with bike lanes, sharrows, and a line with intermittent bike stencils, depending on what area you’re in. The line is my least favorite, even though the area with the sharrows is practically impossible to ride within as it has quite poor road conditions.


Bike lane

Bike lane


sharrow

sharrow


Bike stencil

Bike stencil


So, it was a short time after passing the turn-off towards Alewife that I was buzzed by her. Blue Honda minivan. One occupant: driver. I quickly read the license plate and committed it to short-term memory, but before long I had quite forgotten it. (Well, it was short term memory. *shrug*)

Then the usual Mass. Ave. thing happened: I caught up within the next light or two, and passed her. This is not unusual, I stop at all the red lights but being a bike with some marked space on the road I stop right up at the light. Other areas where it’s too sketchy to do this safely I’ll hang back behind the last car in line I come up to and take the lane until the light goes “green”. But, good ol’ Mass. Ave. lets me creep up to the front almost every time.

When I caught up to her I leered over and kind of gave her “the look” as I passed her, then proceeded to wait dutifully at the light. Light went green, traffic went into motion, all the vehicles passed me with at least two feet distance (not the legal amount, but whatever,) until blue minivan comes zooming past within a few inches. Again.

Well, it was still Mass. Ave. and there were plenty of lights ahead. I caught up to her just before Harvard Square at the bus stop. I stopped, waved, and she rolled down her automatic window.

“Hi,” I said. “I just wanted to let you know that you passed me, twice, with very little space between us. Just inches.”

Now, most conversations I’ve had with drivers in similar circumstances would usually cause me to prepare for the usual response in the next moment: my life being threatened. But, it was not so! I may have found one of the nicest, albeit somewhat daft, motorist of the day! “I’d really appreciate if you’d give a little more room.” She nodded and her eyes told a whole story of unexpected shock. She said not a word.

Maybe she didn’t know that what she was doing was endangering me. She had had a couple of feet of space between her left side and the normal lane lines, but hugged the right anyways despite my presence there.

At that moment the light we were at turned green and I cut the one-sided conversation short. I said my piece, she seemed to take it in. I looked to the right at the bus stop and see a dude in bright yellow, bike balanced in one hand, giving the thumbs-up with the other, and he gave a smiling nod which I gladly returned.


Thumbs up

Thumbs up


Posted in bike friendly, rant, safety, traffic, wrong | No Comments »

Transportation Energy Intensity

Posted by @teeheehee on 3rd September 2009

For those who are interested in “green” ideas I encourage you to check out this write-up by Alex Wilson (Green Building Advisor) entitled “Transportation Energy Intensity” of Buildings. Via: TreeHugger

I wanted to come up with a metric for the transportation energy use associated with buildings that was parallel to the metric used to measure the energy intensity of a building–for heating, cooling, lighting, computers and other uses. This is commonly reported in thousands of British Thermal Units, or Btus, of energy per square foot per year (kBtu/sf-yr). The U.S. Department of Energy reports that the average energy intensity of office buildings in the U.S. is 93 kBtu/sf-yr. If I could calculate the average energy consumption for commuting using this same metric, I’d be able to show how the commuting energy use compared with the direct building energy use. I called this value “transportation energy intensity.”


How Americans Get to Work

How Americans Get to Work


The results were really interesting. Using these admittedly crude assumptions, I found that office building energy use for commuting averages 121 kBtu/sf-yr. That’s 30% more energy than an average office building uses itself. So it takes more energy to get to and from our office buildings than those buildings use directly!

So, buildings are supposed to be more efficient, but we spend off so much energy getting to these buildings that even the most noble attempt to “green” a living or office space may be countermanded by our transportation expenditures. This is definitely something to consider for improved sustainability.

Alex concluded brilliantly:

For me, even though I live in a rural area, seven miles from my office, this understanding of transportation energy intensity inspires me to get on my bike and enjoy that invigorating (and sometimes mentally productive) ride to work.

Here, here! Riding a bike to/from home/work is an excellent move towards improving one’s own energy intensity – and you’ll develop some fantastic leg muscles in the process.

Posted in bike friendly, news media | No Comments »

Road Design: Boston.com op-ed, MassBike response

Posted by @teeheehee on 19th August 2009

You, my few readers, may recall the recent Boston.com article on Boston’s unruly riders, or the op-ed that left a particular vomit-taste in any cyclist’s mouth. Finally we may have something sane to consider and discuss: roads are designed to kill (which is another op-ed.) Excerpt:

I took a photograph of the scene where I had found the runner. When I showed this picture to friends from Sweden they asked, “This is where you live? This is your neighborhood? Your streets are designed to kill people.’’ They said that the thin painted white lines at the intersection could not be seen at dawn, nor was there a raised bump to or a narrowing of the road to demarcate the intersection and slow down traffic. They said the speed limit should be 30 kilometers per hour (about 18.6 miles per hour) or less if we wanted pedestrians to have much of a chance of surviving. They also said traffic lights increased the number of deaths because people often speed up when the light turns yellow.

 

When Sweden removed red lights from intersections and replaced them with traffic circles or rotaries, death rates at these intersections fell by 80 to 90 percent.

This is the closest article I’ve yet seen that seems in line with Liveable Streets: the engineering is directly related to the use of the system. The usual discussion page is also available.

In addition to this op-ed there is a letter in response to the Unruly riders article as written by MassBike. (Here is the discussion page.) Concluding excerpt:

By all means, let us build better roads, which lead people into safer behavior by design. But each of us can help make everyone safer now, today, by more often following the rules of the road whether driving, bicycling, or walking.

We need more of this!

Posted in news media, traffic | No Comments »

Space comparison: bikes, cars, bus

Posted by @teeheehee on 26th January 2008

Bike vs. cars vs. bus. How much space do these modes of transportation take up for the same number of people? Thank you for finding out for us, Muenster.

 

Muenster space comparison 72 bikes, 72 cars, and a bus

From the site:

  • Bicycle: 72 people are transported on 72 bikes, which requires 90 square meters.
  • Car: Based on an average occupancy of 1.2 people per car, 60 cars are needed to transport 72 people, which takes 1,000 square meters.
  • Bus: 72 people can be transported on 1 bus, which only requires 30 square meters of space and no permanent parking space, since it can be parked elsewhere.

Posted in bike friendly, traffic | No Comments »

Berkeley Bike Boulevards

Posted by @teeheehee on 26th January 2008

I really like the looks of this. This is a good solution to accommodate bicycling and pedestrian needs while calming motorist traffic.

I am left wondering how this could ever be adopted in Boston. Yeah, right.

Posted in bike friendly, traffic | 1 Comment »