I have just about wrapped up reading the fine book, Pedaling Revolution, by author Jeff Mapes. The subtitle of How Cyclists are Changing American Cities best describes the premise of his book, as Mr. Mapes thoughtfully explores the promises and pitfalls cycling advocacy in America. As an avid cycling proponent myself, I can certainly relate to many of the issues he describes. Even though the book was published approximately five years ago, it is largely up to date on the state of affairs in cycling and presents an interesting history of cycling and the bike culture; cycling advocacy in Europe (Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and London); cycling advocacy efforts in the United States; as well as specific advocacy efforts in iconic cycling cities like Davis, Madison, Portland, New York City, Boulder, Eugene, and Chicago.
I greatly enjoyed reading Pedaling Revolution and it will certainly be an important part of my bicycling advocate library. Here are a few dandy quotes gleaned from the book for your enjoyment:
- “…very little is said about the huge subsides received by motorists that far outweigh any freebies received by cyclists. The largest is free–or cheap—parking.” (page 19)
- “For all the ire directed at urban cyclists, most people do have a fondness for bikes themselves.” (page 20)
- “We were, it seems, the last generation of children who headed out into the neighborhood with no more guidance than to be home by dinner.” (page 31)
- “…just as war is too important to be left to generals, so highways are too important to be left to highway engineers.” (page 48)
- “…suburban sit-coms like ‘The Brady Bunch’ were replaced by shows like ‘Seinfeld’ and ‘Friends,’ which celebrated city living.” (page 50)
- “If you’re the kind of cyclist used to riding in American cities, it doesn’t take long for Amsterdam’s bike magic to wash over you. Here you feel like part of the majority, not an oddball.” ( page 63)
- “Amsterdam had to be the quietest big city I’d ever visited.” ( page 76)
- “Critical Mass is kind of an anarchical ride for all.” (page 104)
- “One of the spiels I give is about slowing down. We think we have to cram our lives full, 24-7, but there’s something about giving yourself some extra time. I realized that nobody would think it remarkable if he went to a gym for forty-five minutes every morning and then rushed downtown in a car. Yet doing an eighteen-mile commute through suburbia is weird.” (page 113)
- “Somehow, in Portland at least, bicyclists have become part of that great American melting pot.” (page 168)
- “Sometimes we have to use cars, but that does not mean they have to dominate our lives. Instead it should be dominated by human interactions…” (page 179)
- In America, we spend more on dental research than traffic safety research.” (page 208)
The last quote is quite shocking and should stand as a clear wake-up call that our priorities are bass ackwards.
One of my favorite bicycle advocacy catch phrases is “One less car!” In celebration of this worthy and sustainable effort, Kathy and I spent yesterday (Saturday) accomplishing all our errands on our bicycles. Between us, we totaled more than 27 miles of travel on our bicycles, riding to places like the florist, Kohl’s, the bank, my apartment, her house, Douglas J, the Trek store, and other businesses in the area.
All in all, it was a very rewarding experience that we intend to duplicate over and over again, thus removing our two cars from the local roadways on those days where we ride about town instead of driving. Combined with our regular bike commuting to/from work, we are hoping to eventually limit our car usage solely to longer trips, inclement weather (particularly in winter) or travel-related purposes.
Considering 50 percent of all trips are three miles or less in length, just imagine the positive impacts that could occur if each and every one of us dedicated just one day per week or one day per month to run all our errands by bicycle…or by transit…or by foot. Such an act would lower our individual and collective carbon footprint, improve our health, reduce congestion, demonstrate sustainability to others, and serve as a positive reminder that not all transportation must be done by the almighty automobile. Will you join us?
Rode my new Trek Allant to the local Kohl’s store this morning. I ended up parking and locking it inside the vestibule, as there are no bike racks and not even any signs near the entrance to park my bike safely. Of course they have cigarette disposal units near each entrance for the unhealthy set, and they kept broadcasting how green and environmentally conscious they are on their intercom system, but not a single bike rack to be found. Only acres of asphalt and concrete.
I have been trying to persuade the store to add bike racks ever since it opened approximately 8-10 years ago. I have spoken to staff, written emails, and left customer comment cards – so far without any success. This despite the documented evidence showing bicycling is good for business.
So here’s my new tactic – broadcasting how much I spent in their store as a bike riding customer in hopes to shame them into action. So Kohl’s – I spent $140.00 at your store this morning – do you think you could afford a bike rack or two now?
Here are some great satellite images from Honolulu, Hawaii; Long Beach, California; Los Angeles, California; Mazatlan, Mexico, Oakland California; Tacoma, Washington; and Vancouver, British Columbia. Enjoy!
Honolulu and Pearl Harbor, HA – Source: commons.wikimedia.org
Long Beach, CA – Source: en.wikipedia.org
Los Angeles, CA – Source: en.wikipedia.org
Mazatlan, Mexico – Source: mazatlantoday.com
Oakland, CA – Source: unknown
Tacoma, WA – Source: aeerialarchives.com
Vancouver, BC – Source: urbanlifesigns.blogspot.com
Canal Bridges in Copenhagen – Source: copenhagenize.com
Above and below are both photographs and/or artist’s renderings of some of the graceful and stylish bicycle bridges that can be found in Denmark. While these bridges may not have the dynamic boldness of those posted previously from the Netherlands, they are sleek, artistic, handsome, and functional in their own right. Particularly likable is the way these bridges fit aesthetically into their surroundings without being overpowering. Enjoy!
Brygge Bridge in Copenhagen – Source: kimbach.org
Inderhavns (retractable) Bridge in Copenhagen – Source: dak.dk
Abuen Bridge in Copenhagen – Source: demotix.com
Cable-stayed bridge under development in Odense – Source: cycling-embassy.dk
Woven Bridge in Copenhagen – Source mlrp.dk
For those out there that think Detroit’s a lost cause, the magnificent Dequindre Cut Greenway is an example of why you are wrong. Constructed along an abandoned below-grade rail corridor, the 1.35 mile greenway links some of Detroit’s coolest features – including the scenic 2.5 mile long RiverWalk, the vibrant Eastern Market, and the trendy Villages. Combine those with a world-class greenway for cyclists and pedestrians and some seriously hip graffiti artwork and you have the recipe for a Midwestern version of New York City’s High Line or Atlanta’s Belt Line.
Kudos to all those individuals and organizations involved in making the Dequindre Cut a post-industrial success story that truly is “a cut above” most other nonmotorized trails.
The twin-tube 4,200 foot long PortMiami Tunnel is scheduled to open to traffic in May of 2014. Under construction since 2010, the $1 billion public-private partnership project will extend Interstate 395 under the Government Cut shipping channel separating Watson Island and Dodge Island thus linking the Port of Miami (a.k.a. PortMiami) with the city’s mainland highway network.
The highway tunnel is designed to provide a continuous fixed link (rather than a drawbridge) which allows port related traffic, including heavy truck traffic and cruise-related traffic, to avoid clogging downtown Miami streets. In 2013, Miami saw more than four million passengers pass through its cruise ship terminals, which makes it the busiest cruise port in the world.
Some of the best seaport images yet, come from East Asia. Enjoy!
Incheon, South Korea – Source: ark.co.kr
Kaohsiung, Taiwan – Source: reocities.com
Kobe, Japan – Source: eorc.jaxa.jp
Tainjin, China – Source: chinadaily.com.cn
Tokyo, Japan (great view of Haneda International Airport too) – Source: eoearth.org
Vladivostok, Russia – Source: earthobservatory.nasa.gov
Downtown Boston from Cambridge
I had the opportunity to visit Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts in mid-March. Here is a list of eleven planning-related lessons I took away from visiting these two dynamic cities.
- Preserve, protect and celebrate your community’s history.
- A varied blend of historic structures and new edifices is visually intoxicating.
- Savor and build upon the benefits derived from being home to institutions of higher education.
- Cultural diversity and inclusiveness makes a community much more vibrant.
- Accessible mass transit and bike sharing systems are wonderful things.
- Denser urban development can be softened by rich and varied public spaces.
- The removal of an ugly freeway can reawaken once forlorn areas.
- The heart of the city can be a great place to raise a family.
- Pedestrians, bicyclists, transit, and cars can successfully and safely coexist.
- A thriving city requires thriving neighborhoods – you cannot have one without the other.
- A compact and walkable urban core is far more preferable to a sprawling mess.