"Healthy Community Design"
When Americans decided to separate communities from employment and pursue sprawl, we opened ourselves to the negative effects of increased dependence on the automobile. In this video, Dr. Howard Frumkin of the CDC explains what healthy community design is, and how it is a fundamental change from the residential sprawl so prominent today.
The idea of healthy community design is to bring back together the features that make up a person's life: home, work, shopping, and recreation. It hinges on mixed land use and increased density. While we might shy away from increased density, he points out that by bringing the prominent features together, this allows people to pursue transportation alternatives such as biking and walking. As a result of increased use of these transportation alternatives, physical activity becomes a part of the routine of every day life. Routine physical activity protects against heart disease, many kinds of cancer, depression, osteoporosis, gall bladder disease, and strokes.
Reduced traffic reduces air pollution, traffic deaths, and road rage. With decreased commutes people have more free time to spend with their families and become involved in their community. Another benefit to reduced reliance of automobiles is reduced CO2 emissions because of transportation, which in the United States is the source of a third of all of our greenhouse gas emissions.
The final aspect of healthy community design is the importance of green spaces and parks, which allow people to have more contact with nature despite increased density. These green spaces offer people the opportunity to be active and to connect with others, such as at parks.
Want to learn more? Watch this!
Are bicycle and pedestrian trails a key for economic revitalization? Success stories in Eastern Pennsylvania, Western Maryland, and Colorado suggest that attracting bicycle-tourism is a boon to local economies. The D&L Trail in Eastern Pennsylvania, according to a December 2012 report by the Rails to Trails Conservancy, brought in over $19 million in 2012, with over $16 million directly injected to the local economy. This was over an estimated 282,796 annual trail user visits.
This success story can easily be extrapolated to our own C&O Canal, which Michael Nardolilli of the C&O Canal Trust did in a blog post for the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce. Both trails have one end point in a major metropolitan area (Pittsburgh and DC) and end in a regionally influential, but smaller city (Wilkes Barre and Cumberland). However, unlike the D&L Canal with under 300k annual visitors, the C&O Canal records 4.7 million visitors a year. While the economic impact has not yet been measured as it has been for the D&L Canal, it is reasonable to believe that it is at least as large, if not larger.
The Mineral Belt Trail is the story of Leadville, Colorado. Historically Leadville has been a mining town, but over the years the mines have shut down leaving the Two-Mile-High City without its economic and cultural backbone. The Mineral Belt Trail has served as a rallying point for the city and in the months following the trail's opening sales tax revenues increased 19 percent. While bikers and pedestrians enjoy the trail in the summer, Leadville re-purposes it for cross country skiing, winter biking, and snowshoeing in winter.
(A little soap boxing: We can learn a lot about embracing bicycling tourism as an important piece of the economic prosperity puzzle. The East Coast Greenway is a 2,900 mile trail that, when completed, will provide a traffic-free route for tourists to travel the eastern seaboard. Currently ECG is fighting for a safe crossing of the Susquehanna River which will connect the Delaware and Cecil County portions of the trail to those in Harford County and the rest of the state. Another disconnected trail in Maryland is the Washington, Baltimore, and Annapolis Trail, another part of the East Coast Greenway. The WB&A Trail is currently disjointed, with a middle segment of it missing between Bowie and Odenton.
Announcement from Rails to Trails here.
The International Transport Forum released a paper on Cycling, Health, and Safety. This paper comes out in support of cycling as a healthy mode of transport. Cycling significantly improves health, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, osteoporosis, and depression. Even when the researchers took into account breathing in air pollution and crashes, cyclists had reduced relative risk for all-cause mortality when compared to non-cyclists.
One of the most important changes that policy makers can pursue to reduce fatalities is to reduce car speed and to create separate facilities for bicyclists. The study recommends speeds to be dropped as low as 30 km/hr (18.6 mph!).
The report calls for "Recognizability" in traffic safety. Functionality: It works. Homogeneity: Road users are brought on more even territory (i.e., reduced speeds to lower the impact of speed and mass). Predictability: Users know how to use it. Forgiveness: If a mistake happens it is less likely to be severe. State Awareness: Users should be taught how to use the road. This includes children as well as adults who are unfamiliar with riding with traffic.
Do you need a refresher on riding in traffic? Bike Maryland runs bike safety classes for both children and adults through our Bike Minded Safety Program!
[Side note: The state awareness is on page 69. This could be an interesting discussion because cyclists generally oppose any sort of licensing scheme but there is a need for people to know what rules to obey when riding.]
Read the paper here.
Bloomberg Businessweek, Politics and Policy, Infrastructure
By Caroline Winter April 01, 2014
American car culture may be declining, but much of our urban infrastructure remains steadfastly centered around the automobile. Planning choices made in the heyday of car ownership may prove incompatible with a rising generation of consumers who seem remarkably disinterested in driving.
“In the ’50s and ’60s, cities did things like subsidize garage parking, and they condemned buildings so the lots could be used for parking,” says Norman Garrick, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Connecticut. Many, he adds, still require a minimal number of parking spots to be added for each new development. But it turns out that all the parking doesn’t pay off.
A pair of forthcoming studies by Garrick and several of his UConn colleagues examine the economic and sociological impacts of parking trends in six U.S. cities from 1960 to 2000. They conclude that some car-centric cities forfeit more than a thousand dollars per parking space per year in potential municipal revenues by using land for parking rather than more lucrative alternatives. The researchers also found that minimum parking requirements inhibit development and exacerbate traffic by placing incentives on car use rather than on walking and cycling.
The studies chronicle changes in Arlington, Va., Berkeley, Calif., and Cambridge, Mass.—all of which showed only modest growth in parking over the past 40 years—and Hartford, Conn., Lowell, Mass., and New Haven, Conn., where parking spaces were added with great zeal over that span.
In Cambridge, for example, parking increased 39 percent while usable building area—a term that indicates a building’s footprint multiplied by its height—increased 46 percent. In Hartford, by contrast, parking increased 158 percent while useable building area grew by only 27 percent. The differing growth patterns resulted from varying incentives: “In Cambridge, they tax parking at a higher rate than any other use,” Garrick says, “while in Hartford, they tax parking at a lower rate.”
Garrick isn’t sure how the cities settled on their different policies, but he says overemphasis on parking growth led to a decline in physical appeal. “When I came to Hartford 30 years ago, it was a much more attractive place,” he says. “You want cities where people are on the streets, where there are things to do, places to go. You don’t want a city that is a big office park.”
Parking-centric cities also sacrifice income. In all six cities studied by UConn’s researchers, land devoted to buildings provides at least 88 percent of tax revenue and sometimes as much as 97 percent; parking contributes very little. In other words, cities that turn themselves into car lots relinquish tax money in the bargain.
Hartford loses an estimated $1,200 annually per parking space, a subsidy of more than $50 million per year, according to Garrick. The city is no anomaly: “We pick on Hartford because it’s our state capital.” Cities such as Cambridge, where parking is kept in check and more heavily taxed, don’t lose money.
Garrick suggests that cities suffering from the Hartford syndrome revisit their tax incentives and minimum-parking requirements. He also recommends improving public transportation and installing bike lanes. Cars, he points out, take up more space than any other mode of transportation. “For each person, a car takes up 10 times more space than a bike, 15 times more than a train, and 30 times more than a pedestrian,” Garrick writes via e-mail. “Space equals money in one way or the other.”
A PhD student at the National University of Ireland in Galway is researching the design of greenways as routes for walking and cycling. To inform this research, he has put together a greenway design survey, which Bike Maryland has participated in and now is sharing with our friends on this side of the pond. Share your experience and help this student develop his thesis.
The survey poses some questions on greenways in Ireland, but the majority are related to international greenway design. As the survey will make up an important part of his PhD, he is trying to get an international sample and so your help is greatly appreciated.
If you have questions related to the survey, feel free to email the PhD student, Richard Manton
By: Zachary Shahan, Transportation / Bikes, treehuger.com
One of the most hilarious (or, hilariously illogical) attacks on expanding bicycle infrastructure that I've seen repeatedly pop up over the years is the idea that "bicycle infrastructure costs too much." It only takes a few moments to reflect and put such costs into perspective.
For one, bikes are clearly much smaller and lighter than cars or trucks. So, the space needed to accommodate bicyclists is obviously much smaller, and the repairs needed from deterioration are also smaller. Furthermore, as you attract more people to bicycling, that pulls people out of their cars, reducing the deterioration and eventual repair costs of the car lanes. Naturally, the benefits improve even further when we think about bridges.
Looking at San Francisco, in particular, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition recently published an article on the cost of a mile of bike lane in San Francisco versus a mile of other forms of transportation. The difference was stark, but PeopleForBikes made the starkness much more evident by creating a chart of those numbers.
By MEGHAN PETERSEN
March 10, 2014
Photo Credit: New York Times Bicycle Image by Stock
"In a widely viewed YouTube video, a cyclist named Casey Neistat, deliberately takes tumble after tumble while trying to navigate obstructed bike lanes in New York City. The video is funny — it even includes a crash into a parked police car — but it also has struck a chord with bike commuters around the country facing a seemingly endless array of road hazards.
In urban areas, many riders have reason to be nervous, and that in itself is part of a vicious cycle.
“The most common mistake new cyclists make is not riding predictably,” said Ken Podziba, chief executive of Bike New York, a nonprofit group that promotes cycling. “For example, people who are afraid of getting hit from behind by a car will often do things like ride on the sidewalk or ride against traffic, which actually increases the danger that they will get hit by a motorist who doesn’t see them. Fear is a cyclist’s worst enemy.”
Driven in part by riders’ demands for a greater sense of comfort and safety on the road, new apps and gadgets are promising to do for the bicycle what air bags and satellite navigation did for the family car. What used to be a simple, healthful mode of transport is fast becoming a tech festival on wheels.
Perhaps it was to be expected. Travel by bike has surged in recent years, spurred by bike-sharing programs and efforts to set aside and improve bike lanes. New York, Chicago and San Francisco introduced bike-share programs last year, and a dozen cities nationwide are planning to follow suit.
From 1990 to 2012, the number of bicycle commuters nearly doubled in the 70 largest cities, according to data collected by the League of American Bicyclists. Today, Americans make more than four billion trips by bike each year.
One of the biggest grievances of all these cyclists is not being seen. Jonathan Lansey, 28, spent so much time dodging cars on his daily commute in Boston that he began a Kickstarter campaign to finance production of a bike horn that could not fail to get drivers’ attention. His brainchild, Loud Bicycle, sounds like a two-toned car horn and, at 112 decibels, is about as loud.
“It’s embarrassing to get honked at,” Mr. Lansey said. “But it’s more embarrassing to get honked at by a bicycle.”"
Click here to read the rest of the article!
By Marla Streb, Bike Maryland Bike MINDED Safety Program Coordinator
March 2014 Newsletter - Mt Washington Improvement Association
"Last year when searching for a new home, I rode my bicycle all over Baltimore City (this travel works best for me because I can stop on a whim). I sought out gentle hills with actual trees, good schools, walk-ability, bike infrastructure, and proximity to the light rail. But mostly I sought out a friendly, safe community for my family. And some cool... and progressive people!..."
READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE. You won't want to miss thiss one as it includes her experience bicycling with her two girls, best bicycle commuting in the Mt. Washington neighborhood of Baltimore, MD, and also 5 safe bicycling tips from the League of American Bicyclists.
Thank you to Marla for being such a progressive force in the bicycling movement! We are lucky to have her on our team.
We know you've heard the phrase "if you build, they will come". Well how about "if you build a bike route, they will ride." Board of Directors Member, Kevin King sent over this worthy article from Crains Detroit Business online, by Rod Kackley.
Grand Rapids officials, inspired by dreams of becoming a bicycling mecca like Ann Arbor, are putting together a 100-mile urban bike network. The U.S. Census Bureau's 2011 American Community Survey estimated that 0.4 percent of the 81,823 people working in the city of Grand Rapids rode a bicycle to work. That's only 334 people. But when Atomic Object put a single bike rack outside its Grand Rapids office, "all of a sudden, there were more bikes than could be secured, so we added another," said Mary O'Neill, business manager of the Grand Rapids-based software development company, which also has an office in Detroit. "Then we realized there were people who wanted to bike in all seasons of the year, so we looked at a place to store bikes inside," O'Neill said. Despite humble Census numbers, more employers in Grand Rapids may be pushed by their workers to follow Atomic Object's lead as the city government works to become more bicycle-friendly and encourage more people to pedal to work.
Read the full article here.
Meet Yujun Wang and Emily Ranson, the two newest additions to the Bike Maryland team. Yujun and Emily with be working with Bike Maryland through June.
If you are interested in joining the Bike Maryland team or know someone who may be interested in a Summer 2014 or a Fall 2014 internship, check out our Careers page.
Eight cents a day is all it takes to join Bike Maryland at the individual membership level. The $30.00 for your yearly membership contributes to Bike Maryland's ability to continue to host free workshops, education and awareness classes, represent bicyclists during the legislative session in Annapolis and continue to be a leading resource for all things bicycling across the state.
Please consider joining today and be a part of a unified voice for Maryland bicycling!