Book review of “Pedaling Revolution”

en.wikipedia.org

en.wikipedia.org

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.

Roadside Americana – discount department stores

en.wikipeia.org

Source: en.wikipeia.org

The discount department stores listed below represent memories of the golden age of sprawl (if there is such a thing as a golden age for sprawl). Many of these were local and/or regional chains that grew out of a full-line department store in order to compete with the national discounters. For example, in my hometown of Indianapolis, Ayr-Way was started by L.S. Ayres. They eventually had stores all over Indiana and much of Kentucky.

Source: eastwashingtonstreet.org

Source: eastwashingtonstreet.org

Personally, I recall many trips with my parents to the Ayr-Way stores in Nora or Augusta, which are both on the far northside of Indianapolis. These two stores, as with the entire Ayr-Way chain, were later absorbed and converted into Target. Due to heavy competition from Walmart, Target, and Meijer, many of these chains are long gone and the only reminder are sad, shuttered/abandoned units along an old commercial highway. Others are now occupied by flea markets or second-hand stores.

Source: beatricedailysu.com

Source: beatricedailysu.com

See how many you many of these stores you remember and please feel free to forward any others that I might have missed. The list does NOT include five and dime stores like Ben Franklin, McCrory, G.C. Murphy, Kresge, Kress, or Woolworth, as those were a different retail niche, though some of those chains did start successful discount department stores like Kmart, Murphy Mart and Woolco.

Source: writtenward.com

Source: writtenward.com

Here’s the list with links to their history and the year they were closed or taken over. The ones I have shopped at are shown in italics.

Two less cars!

0419141724aOne 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.

Source: pioneerpress.com

Source: pioneerpress.com

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.

Source: zazzle.com

Source: zazzle.com

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?

Hey, Kohl’s – how about a bike rack?

unnamedRode 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?

How about insurance incentives for bicycling?

Source: usastreetsblog.org

Source: usastreetsblog.org

Among my many ponderings about cycling and bike commuting, one topic that bugs me on a semi-annual basis is why I am not eligible to get a lower auto insurance rate for commuting to/from work so often by bicycle? In calendar year 2013, I bike commuted 73 times to work or 33% of the time, while in 2012 my bike commutes accounted for 40% (or 87) of my work commutes. Given the greatly reduced time, mileage, and wear/tear on the car as a result of bicycling to and from work, why don’t I qualify for some sort of discount from my auto insurer? Yes, I have asked them in the past.

The same holds true for health insurance. Shouldn’t those of us who practice a healthier lifestyle be rewarded with lower rates or some sort of discount? It would be one thing to only ride now and then to work, but when it equates to 20 percent or more of your total commutes, there should be an “x” factor built into the actuarial tables which rewards those who cycle to and fro. Granted, some type of substantive proof would be necessary, but a notarized document from an employer could suffice. The HR Department where I work certainly is aware of my bike commuting.

It seems to me, if there were a 5% or 10% discount on auto insurance rates for being a consistent bike commuter, overall ridership and safety produced from the corresponding increase in cyclists would be beneficial to all. Growth in ridership would also contribute to improved health and fitness in the community, which should drive down health care expenditures, which should (in a perfect world) lead to lower health insurance rates.

There may be some examples of discounts already being offered here and there around the country, but it is hardly universal and certainly is not marketed extensively like good driver, good student, multi-policy, and other available discounts. To me, it is long past time for the insurance industry to shift gears and start pedaling some innovative and new ideas for those of us in the cycling community. If it does not embrace such an approach, then perhaps state regulators should consider requiring such an option be made available.

Graceful Danish bicycle bridges

Canal Bridges in Copenhagen - Source: copenhagenize.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

Brygge Bridge in Copenhagen – Source: kimbach.org

20110930_120352_Bro_over_Inderhaven_2_1200x695-1

Inderhavns (retractable) Bridge in Copenhagen – Source: dak.dk

Abuen Bridge in copenhagen - Source: demotix.com

Abuen Bridge in Copenhagen – Source: demotix.com

8946188908_94003882f3_z

Cable-stayed bridge under development in Odense – Source: cycling-embassy.dk

woven_bridge_copenhagen_m270312_1

Woven Bridge in Copenhagen – Source mlrp.dk

 

A cut above – Detroit’s Dequindre Cut

Source: smithgroupjjr.com

Source: smithgroupjjr.com

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.

Source: streetsblog.org

Source: streetsblog.org

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.

Source: freep.com

Source: freep.com

 

 

Great seaports from space – Oceania

Adelaide, Australia - Source:

Adelaide, Australia – Source: flindersports.com.au

Auckland, New Zealand - commons.wikimedia.org

Auckland, New Zealand – commons.wikimedia.org

Hobart, Tasmania - Source: macquariepoint.com

Hobart, Tasmania – Source: macquariepoint.com

Melbourne, Australia - Source:

Melbourne, Australia – Source: satairtime.com

Sydney, Australia - Source:

Sydney, Australia – Source: azosensors.com

Wellington, New Zealand - Source: if-9.de

Wellington, New Zealand – Source: if-9.de

PortMiami Tunnel to open in May

Source: youtube.com

Source: youtube.com

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.

Source: portofmiamitunnel.com

Source: portofmiamitunnel.com

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.

Source: gzconsultants.com

Source: gzconsultants.com

 

Great seaports from space – East Asia

Some of the best seaport images yet, come from East Asia. Enjoy!

Inchon, South Korea - Source:

Incheon, South Korea – Source: ark.co.kr

Kaohsiung, Taiwan - Source: reocities.com

Kaohsiung, Taiwan – Source: reocities.com

Kobe, Japan - Source:

Kobe, Japan – Source: eorc.jaxa.jp

Tainjin, China - Source: chinadaily.com.cn

Tainjin, China – Source: chinadaily.com.cn

Tokyo, Japan - Source:

Tokyo, Japan (great view of Haneda International Airport too) – Source: eoearth.org

Vladivostok, Russia - Source: earthobservatory.nasa.gov

Vladivostok, Russia – Source: earthobservatory.nasa.gov