Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Baltimore Bus Lanes Make Debut

About a year ago, I studied the feasibility of bus/bike lanes for downtown Baltimore to improve bus reliability and bicycle safety. It was one of my favorite projects as we studied downtown traffic and the potential benefits of reducing conflicts for bus operations. There was early discussion of doing painted bus lanes, but it looks like they finished without adding the pavement color. The video has good feedback from bus riders, hopefully they will study whether the bus operations actually improves with the project.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Traffic Engineers Discuss Bike Signals

  We had a visit from the Oregon Traffic Control Devices Committee (OTCDC) to Portland to review our operation of the Bicycle Signals we have at N Interstate and Oregon Avenue and the HAWK (High Intensity Pedestrian Activated WalK) signals, which are now being called Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons.
  I was fortunate to have Paul Zebell conduct some of the presentation out in the field, there is a considerable amount of history that's been involved with the signals. These innovative designs have been the subject of a Federal Highway Administration Experimental Evaluation because we have used a new indication that hasn't been included in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices.
  We had a large group at the signals with engineers from Salem, Marion County, Springfield, Eugene, and points in between. ODOT engineers have been supportive of our project, but there are some details to work out related to how we operate the signals.
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The striping is important as well and the sign that we put up adjacent to the signal was used to explain the indication and the detection since it is one of the first one you'll see.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Tree Gathering... Sellwood Style

I posted a picture of someone that did this in Copenhagen last year and have a friend that brought their tree home via xtracycle and thought that was just a one in a kind. Low and behold, we come home and our neighbor (I did not put him up to this) has gone to the local tree lot and arrives back with this configuration.  
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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Portland Historical Traffic Conditions

A blog that Eric Lindstrom suggested to me that I found enjoyable. I had seen some of the historical videos before, which reinforces that some of our problems are not unique to today.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Bill Kloos' Passing

A note I posted on Bill Kloos' Caringbridge site. It was comforting to read the memories of Bill, Paul Olson's comment that a bright signal went dark hits the mark best, here was my offering.

I was so very fortunate to work with Bill and want to let you know that he’s one of the inspirations in my professional life. His deft ability to create opportunities to improve the operations of signals for the City have affected so many of us that have had the pleasure of learning from him. Much of my understanding of signal operations stems from the opportunities that were initiated by Bill’s Team and a lot of the examples I share as I work in the various communities are those that have been demonstrated by the City of Portland.

Every day I come downtown for work, I appreciate the thoughtful way Bill and the City staff developed signal timing plans in the Central City. Just today, I was sharing with the newest staff at Kittelson why the downtown signals are able to provide progression in both directions within the grid and why the traffic speeds adjacent to our office are so conducive to a vibrant pedestrian environment.

Bill’s inspiration for innovation as it is rarely seen in the communities I have travel to. Whether it be with pedestrians detection, HAWK signals, truck priority, or incident management plans, his ability and interest to push into new areas was unrivaled. We will miss the creativity and humor he brought to the profession and in all of our lives.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Boise Streetcar News

I've been on the news twice in the past week. I was walking to the MAX at Pioneer Square and was asked whether the Made in Oregon sign should stay the same. As a Beaver, of course the sign shouldn't have any U of Zero influences.

Today, upon leaving downtown Boise after happy hour I was asked what I think about the streetcar in downtown, so I gave them a piece of my mind. They didn't get the whole bit, but enough for a sound bite.

Ada County Highway District Public Comment Period

Hopefully, I won't be caught in this sort of back and forth..... ever.

The link is a video of the commission meeting earlier this week...the meeting lasted 7 minutes and it gets real good about 1:40 into the video.

Portland's Bicycling Story

I am on the Board of the Initiative for bicycle & pedestrian innovation (IBPI). They put together a nice piece on how Portland's Bicycle system has been built over time. The City's Bicycle Master Plan points toward a goal of 25% bicycle trips by 2030.

They have a great Bike Tour online. http://www.ibpi.usp.pdx.edu/biketour.php

Monday, October 5, 2009

Overview of Traffic Signal Timing Manual

I presented this at the ITE meeting this past year. I found it online and thought I should post it to keep track of these presentations. Nothing more.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Progressive Bicycling Cities Coalition

Found this on the internet (Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle), a little surprised Austin wasn't thrown in there for fun ( I wonder how this list was created):

Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing to invite the City of Minneapolis to the chartering of the Progressive Bicycle Cities Coalition. The meeting and related events will take place in Portland, Oregon from Thursday, October 1st to Saturday, October 3rd. We hope that a city representative will come and share Minneapolis's recent accomplishments in developing its bicycle infrastructure, as well as learn from the experiences of other
progressive bicycle cities. We request your city’s participation in helping establish a framework for this coalition to advance technology and innovation in the development of urban bicycle transportation systems, and guide national policy, standards and best practices to support these systems. Our collaboration is needed to create a model for U.S. cities to illustrate how providing quality bicycle infrastructure and programs can provide transportation options, promote healthier citizens and reduce theeffects of global climate change.

As host, Portland invites you to visit our bicycle-friendly city, meet with representatives from other cities, and participate in bicycle-related events that will be occurring during this time. Some of the concurrent events include:
- Private preview of the Danish 'Dreams on Wheels' exhibit featuring the art and function of the bicycle;
- Singer/ songwriter/ bicycle activist/ and author David Byrne book release event;
- Lecture by Niels Jensen, from the City of Copenhagen;
- Discussion with representatives from the Netherlands and Denmark regarding international best practices for bicycle infrastructure; and
- Tour of Portland's bicycling facilities, including an opportunity to ride on Portland’s first ‘cycle track.’
In addition to interacting with representatives from coalition cities (Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle), we have invited three renowned bicycle advocates to participate and discuss federal reauthorization opportunities, and provide coalition guidance. They include Tim Blumenthal of the Bikes Belong Coalition, Randy Neufeld of SRAM and Andy Clarke of the League of American Bicyclists.
We realize that the time frame for planning this event is relatively short, and that this is a challenging time to request expenses. We are currently doing all that we can to secure funding to assist PBCC representatives with their travel expenses. City of Portland staff is available to help you with local hotel arrangements, ground transportation, bicycle rental, or any other issues that would help make this trip possible for you.

Catherine Ciarlo
Transportation Director
City of Portland - Office of Mayor Sam Adams
Todd M. Borkowitz, ASLA
Planning & Policy Staff Assistant
City of Portland - Bureau of Transportation

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bus Reliability in DC

I was in DC yesterday for the National Bus Rapid Transit Institute Advisory Board Meeting and on the way to the meeting I was reminded about how we've got a lot of work to do to improve transit service. As I was walking to the meeting, I took this photo of a Route 52 buses bunched up at the intersection of 14th & L Street NW. I walked for about a mile and captured this image after seeing it occur twice within 10 minutes. The real-time passenger information system wasn't reporting this through the NextBus Arrival system very accurately either, so there's work to be done to improve both the management of the system and the technology behind it.
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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Bike Sharing Demonstration at Sunday Parkways

Portland is considering a bike sharing program like Paris and had the four potential vendors pitching their wares at Sunday Parkways this year. There were some interesting philosophical questions posed by the local entreprenuer that does Portland Bicycle Tours. Their point was that if the City selected them, they would employ some folks locally that were unemployed.
The first vendor, bixi was from Montreal and looked most professional. They recently won the Boston and London contracts and are probably the most likely to succeed. Their staff even had matching outfits, so you know that's a great sign. B Cycle is a consortium of Humana (the health folks??), Trek Bicycle Corporation, and Crispin Porter + Bogusky (??), which seems to have the best bikes, since they could be maintained by local suppliers (Bike Gallery).
The third potential supplier is Bike Share Group, but they had these goofy little bike houses that I had to chuckle a little bit. Apparently, they are based in Seattle and more information is available here.
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Finally, there is the home grown option, which I would be curious learning more about. I imagine financing is a huge issue for these guys.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Portland's Traffic Signals Recieve Mention in Portland Monthly

Posted in the "I know that guy" category, there was an article on the traffic signals along the new light rail line for Portland's bus mall. Equating the signal controller upgrade as moving from a Commodore 64 to a early 80s Macintosh was a nice touch to explain that our traffic signal controllers don't have too much processing power. Portland Monthly Magazine / Past Issues / Archives / Detail

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Portland's Bicycle Brilliance

Last night I was at Rob Bertini's going away party and happened upon John Pucher, who wrote the article entitled "Making Cycling Irresistible". A video of his presentation is located here. We were at the Lucky Lab enjoying some Blue Dog Pale Ale and we got to talking about the various elements of cycling and how he had come to Portland to take it all in. John was with a former doctoral student of his, Ralph Buehler, who is at Virginia Tech in the Alexandria campus. They were both very impressed with the tours and the visit overall having seen some of our best facilities during a tour with Mia Birk.

The article raises several points about Portland related to how we have established ourselves and what Vancouver might do to catch up. I always thought Vancouver was very forward thinking and they have still got us on the density and urban residential living, but maybe that's not as critical when you have a good bicycle system, i.e. things can be further spread out because it remains efficient to get there by non-auto modes.

Certainly, the politics plays an important role in all of this and the leaders in charge have to support the efforts of the public agency staff to insure that the policies are carried out.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Google: Leaving Freeway Era

I reviewed a research problem statement for the Transportation Research Board Traffic Signal Systems Committee tonight and came across this paper online (see link above) that came up when googling "leaving freeway era". It states: While the jury is still out on the long-range impacts of freeway deconstruction, evidence to date suggests that, on balance, they are positive. Original research reveals substantial capitalization effects. Whether this has been due to the removal of a visual eyesore and public nuisance or the positive effects of a central-city stream and public amenity cannot be assessed from the cross-sectional database used to conduct the analysis. Still, the evidence suggests that the more valuable resource in many large, built-up cities is high quality public space, not transportation accessibility.
Evidence from the United States suggests that following the removal of freeways, most traffic gets redistributed to alternative routes, with public transit absorbing relatively few former freeway travelers. Many discretionary trips are likely not taken once central-city road capacity is removed. Also, the traffic chaos predicted following freeway demolition generally has not materialized, a consequence of operational enhancements, marketing, and transportation demand-management strategies.

It would be wrong to conclude that elevated freeways are increasingly relics of a bygone era. Tampa, Florida, for example, recently opened six-miles of an elevated freeway (three lanes plus a breakdown lane on each side). However, the era of indiscriminate freeway construction and a focus on mobility-based planning is without question over.

Whatever freeways and high-capacity road facilities are built in the future will have to be strategically sited and tied to larger urban development and land-use objectives of the cities and neighborhoods they serve. In this sense, freeway deconstruction is tied to the re-ordering of urban priorities that gives preference to planning for people and neighborhoods, not mobility. Smart growth, high-quality public transit options, bike- and pedestrian-friendly corridors, and improved boulevard designs will no doubt serve to further diminish the necessity for high-capacity elevated freeway structures in many global settings.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

WSDOT wants feedback from cyclists

I haven't seen a press releases like this before and I applaud WSDOT for their focus on this.

The Challenges of Transit

Toles+on+Blind+Spot.png (image)

The Simpons Monorail Episode

Came across this blurb and love the Simpsons episode.... There was a point made that high speed rail may not be the right answer to our transportation challenges.

America will just be living through a real-life version of the Simpsons episode where the residents of Springfield were foolishly infatuated with a snazzy Monorail project oversold in song by Phil Hartman's character.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Columbia River Crossing Debate

A lot of debate has centered on the CRC. I appreciate that it has raised the consciousness of both sides.

The Oregonian had a front page article on this and it was scathing.

A new Interstate 5 bridge over the Columbia River has so far cost taxpayers $65 million, without a spade of dirt turned. By this time next year, the tab will hit $100 million -- burning though cash at a rate of more than $1 million a month.

The result: mainly an environmental impact statement and thousands of pages of reports.

And although large initial outlays for design and engineering work are standard, the project remains stuck on square one decisions amid disagreement over the scale and look of the Columbia River Crossing project.

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5th & Lincoln Pedestrian Crossing

We are studying the Portland to Milwaukie Light Rail Line and there are several unique challenges associated with the new alignment. This intersection at 5th & Lincoln is one of the more complicated from all users perspective because the LRT and bus lanes make it a wider crossing for bikes and pedestrians. There's also the right turn only lane. There's something to be said about simplicity in transportation engineering.
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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Downtown Raleigh

Okay, so maybe I was a little tough on ole Raleigh. There are good signs in a downtown when you have a little local flavor and it is a Sunday. The Morning Times looked like a cool place to hang out and had a nice vibe to it. I also walked over to the State Capital Building down Fayetteville Street and the place was being rehabilitated, so this didn't look like a great place to spend a lot of time.
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Ended up walking off of Faytteville Street and there were some nice signs of life as people were enjoying a little coffee and breakfast on the sidewalk on a beautiful morning. One thing to say about Raleigh is that the downtown is nice and clean. Almost too clean...

Downtown Raleigh

We're glad you're here.... because nobody else is on a Sunday afternoon.
I guess that's my impression from walking around Raleigh, NC thus far.
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Monday, July 13, 2009

Western District ITE Meeting - Denver, CO

One of the exciting things about my job is having the chance to visit cities associated with the professional societies I am involved in and that includes the Western District of the Institute of Transportation Engineers. This year's meeting is in Denver, so it was a familiar place to me as I have done a bit of work and visited the Mile High City a half dozen times in the past three years.
Denver's downtown is very walkable, the streets are wide (it is in the west) but they have managed the system well to create a comfortable environment for pedestrians, particularly on the 16th Street Mall. The Colfax corridor is at the edge of the walkable category as it is a major arterial that provides mobility throughout the City and beyond.
The State Capital building is a beautiful structure (what's wrong with Oregon's?) in the most traditional sense and I love the grounds leading up to the dome. I visited the Colfax Corridor on this trip to enjoy the sun and snap a few photos for future use and to get a better sense of the area surrounding the capital. On my last trip, it was a little colder than the 85 degrees that we had today.
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Monday, July 6, 2009

Secretary of Transportation Visits Portland

I wasn't in Portland to enjoy the festivities, but it sounds like the visit from the Secretary of Transportation was a success. I liked the comment that transit is in the DNA of the City.
There was a good commentary on the topic on Oregon Live http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2009/06/the_once_and_future_streetcar.html

The details of how it all is being built would be great to get involved in.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Hot, Flat, and Crowded

I am reading Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why we Need a Green Revolution and How it Can Renew America. The book promises an outlook to the crises of destabilizing climate change and rising competition for energy. The recent chapter that I read speaks to Petropolitics which makes the link between the price of fuel and the freedom associated with the country involved. His argument speaks to those who are concerned about the state of America in the global future.

Emergence of Additional Bike Boxes - Roswell, Ga. Inspired by Portland's Bike Boxes

The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition says the North Fulton city's bright green bike box is the first one in Georgia. The newly painted bike box is on the asphalt of Riverside and Dogwood roads - one of the most heavily cycled intersections. Roswell borrowed an idea from Portland, Ore., to make the area safer for bicyclists. Read more.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Baltimore Streetcar Press

I worked on this project several years ago when it started out so it is fun to watch the trolley go down the tracks, pardon the pun.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Portland's Bike Boxes

An innovation of significant proportions, the City of Portland implemented a bicycle box at the SW 3rd/SW Madison intersection (among other locations) to reduce the potential for a right hook crash. This was implemented in March and was planned hastily after the October events that took the lives of two cyclists.
The first implementation was well documented by BikePortland.
The Federal Highway Administration and the Bicycle Technical Committee of the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) warned that "Insufficient information has been provided for the control intersection locations to determine if these locations are effectively comparable to the experimental locations. Control locations must have very similar or identical traffic & bicycle volumes, lane configurations, and traffic control (including comparable turning movement restrictions). The City needs to provide this information to FHWA for review & approval"
So the Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation is studying the uncolored boxes that have been installed. The good that came out of the FHWA involvement was that additional bike boxes without color were installed. Here's to hoping that the study shows good things for bicyclists.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Calgary Visit

I visited Calgary in April for a project we were doing with the Stampede.  
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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Rubber to the Road

This is a very cool GPS application linked to great rides around Portland.


Monday, February 23, 2009

The Role of Transportation in a Sustainable Future

The Role of Transportation in a Sustainable Future
The scientific community believes that greenhouse gases emissions, especially carbon dioxide, needs to be reduced by 50 to 80 percent by 2050 to stabilize the climate and avert economic and environmental cataclysm (IPCC, 2007). Transportation is responsible for about one-third of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States; passenger automobiles and light trucks alone contribute 21 percent. The built environment, transportation plus the building sector, accounts for more than half of the nation’s emissions. Increasing fuel efficiency and decreasing the carbon content of fuels can reduce vehicles’ greenhouse gas emissions, but the emissions reductions from technological fixes will be overtaken by the continuing growth in vehicle miles traveled (VMT). It’s clear that in order to reach our climate goals, we will have to reverse the upward trend in vehicle miles traveled.
A new culture of innovation is needed in transportation within our communities, as traditional solutions alone will not suffice. The suburban development patterns that have been aided by outdated policies must be changed to encourage better choices and more effective integration of land use, transit, cycling, and walking. Effective transit has the potential to serve our communities as we saw this summer as people found transit as an alternative to the high prices of gas. Yet public transit, carpooling, biking, and walking are unattractive in many cities because of the built environment we have created in the past forty years. In order to improve our communities and reduce carbon emissions, we have to find a way to improve public transit thereby changing the way our communities travel.
Is ITE and the Transit Community Prepared to Address this Issue?
The tools that ITE has been developing are starting to address these issues. The Context Sensitive Solutions Handbook is an example of a document that can be used to improve our communities given the realities of today’s challenges. The soon to be released Signal Timing Manual describes the importance of establishing policies prior to changing traffic signals and encourages the consideration of all modes. The use of these tools however lags because the dialogue within engineering circles remains largely focused on the old paradigm and the transportation policies of 1960s. We continue to consider moving cars as opposed to people in our communities, we favor single land uses as opposed to mixed ones, and we use tools that only consider automobiles as opposed to all users.
The Trip Generation and Parking Generation Manual are two documents that exacerbate the auto-dominated design of our communities and their use by many engineers fails to address the modes that are most important to our future. The Trip Generation Manual has a section on shared trips that considers multi-purpose trips within a single mixed-use development, but this is still very automobile focused and barely mentions transit. Further, concurrency requirements imposed in some jurisdictions limit development based on the projected capacity of available infrastructure, including roadway capacity. For example, developers might be required to pay for roadway expansion if a project is projected to increase traffic when road Level-of-Service degrades from C to D (Litman, 2005). This action discourages infill development and fosters dispersed, automobile-dependent sprawl. Revised concurrency requirements take into account the reduced per capita traffic generation, shorter trips and improved travel options in urban areas, and so allow more infill development (Wallace, January 2005).
Alternatives to concurrency models include use of a multimodal level of service concept or accepting congestion in exchange for transit improvements. If congestion increases, people change destinations, routes, travel time and modes to avoid delays. The competitiveness between travel alternatives has a significant effect on the use of various alternatives: For the alternatives that are inferior, travelers will choose the most attractive travel alternatives. The actual number of motorists who shift from driving to transit may be relatively small, just a few percent of total travelers on the corridor, but that is enough to reduce roadway congestion delays.
We must develop resources that address the new direction our communities will need to address the issue of climate change. Resources and handbooks are not enough to address the issue and may not be as important as steps that are necessary to result in a culture shift within the engineering community. This culture shift would be based on new values and a vision for the future. A vision which replaces the mindset that traffic delays must be mitigated, but rather seen as an opportunity to apply new techniques to improve transit, thereby helping transform travel behavior in the future.
Workshops to Cultivate Cooperation between Transit and Engineering
To meet these needs, the Institute of Transportation Engineers is excited about the opportunity to host five workshops to discuss model actions to shift our industry’s focus toward more sustainable transportation solutions. To attract discretionary riders (travelers who have the option of driving), public transit must be fast, comfortable, convenient and affordable. Engineers have an important role to helping transit agencies achieve this goal. A brief comparison of light rail transit and mixed flow bus service indicate the deep divide in investment and quality of transit. Light rail transit provides a travel time advantage that tends to attract discretionary riders. When transit is faster than driving, a portion of travelers shift mode until the congestion declines to the point that transit is no longer faster).
Transportation problems can be viewed as individual problems with technical solutions or opportunities to affect behavior. Traffic and parking congestion require building more roads and parking facilities, but these solutions improve the competitiveness of auto traffic as it compares to transit or non-motorized traffic options. To make the change our communities need, we need to focus on moving people and goods rather than vehicles. In dense cities, transit saves valuable space and energy compared to private automobiles and must be improved to maintain our mobility. Cities must also invest in bicycling and walking to further increase the opportunities for people to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Transportation systems are a critical element of a strong economy, but can also contribute directly to building community and enhancing quality of life. As engineers, we have a responsibility to act as stewards of the natural environment, undertaking to help our communities make sustainable choices with regard to personal movement and consumption.

Other worthwhile facts to communicate the message:
According to the American Public Transportation Association, public transportation reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 6.9 million metrics tons annually, yet only 2 percent of the trips taken in the U.S are via this mode.
Eighty-two per cent of Manhattan residents travel to work by public transit, by bicycle, or on foot.Transit accounts for only 2 percent of passenger miles traveled in the U.S.
A study published in the City Journal stated that in almost every metropolitan area, carbon emissions are significantly lower for people who live in central cities than for people who live in suburbs (Glaeser, 2009, Winter). It goes on to suggest that land-use regulations bind most tightly in the places (existing cities) where environmental concerns should lead us to have the most growth.
An average U.S. urban dweller uses 24 times more energy annually for private transport as a Chinese urban resident, and around five times as much as a resident of a European city of equal economic prosperity. (Kenworthy, 2004)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Blumenauer addresses WTS Meeting in Portland

The link above outlines some of what Earl described at the WTS meeting yesterday. I have some detailed notes that I will place here, but I didn't want to lose this link, because his speech echoed what is written in this response.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Garmin GPS Unit

I got a Garmin 305 Edge for a gift and it has been fun tracking my cycling activities on the weekends. The Garmin software that comes with the unit is proprietary in nature, but of course there is something on the web that gives you the ability to convert to a more useful format. GPS Visualizer is the name of the folks (see link above) and my first few rides are at the following link:


Boulder Bikes!

This week I visited Boulder and came back thinking about the community and how progressive they are. I have always been excited about how we shape our communities. Downtown Boulder is a very walkable scale, but it quickly changes as you leave the center core. One thing is for sure, after reviewing their Bike Summit document (see link above), they are talking the talk and judging from their facilities, they are producing a community that is seeking to be one of the best in the country.

I wrote the following article for Bikeportland.org, it would be great if accept it.

Comparisons to Portland
As a City that just went Platinum shortly after Portland, it is remarkable that while many similarities exist between the cities, Boulder used a distinctly different path to get there. Boulder’s emphasis for physical infrastructure has been on off-street paths associated with flood control and connecting the community by using wider sidewalks for connections on busier suburban streets.


The City and County have been opportunistic in how they’ve built up the system. This approach has been inspired by people open to trying new things in a community that has been willing to experiment. I knew I was in a special place when the hotel I checked into offered bicycles for loan to visit nearby homes for sale. Pedal to Properties is behind the program and maintains nearly 40 bikes for visitors to use whether or not they’re looking to relocate.

Boulder also is lucky to have great events dedicate to cycling. Whether it be programs in the schools to those that develop commuters, they’re best known for their Walk and Bike Month which is celebrated throughout June, with a Bike to Work Day held on the last Wednesday in June. The event is presented by GO Boulder and is produced by Community Cycles. Begun in 1977, Boulder's annual celebration of biking is believed to be one of the oldest in the United States.

I visited with Boulder staff fresh off their first Winter Bike Day that was held to “encourage local commuters to give winter biking a try and to celebrate those who cycle all year long”.

The People Make it Happen

Boulder is a great community because it is made up of good people and great places. CU Boulder is just one of the institutions that helps attract enlightened minds and develops a well-educated community that is passionately devoted to making sure Boulder maintains its position as one of the greenest cities in America.

Marni Ratzel, the City’s Bike Coordinator described that the City maintains 381 miles of bike lane that includes on-street, contraflow bike lanes, and bikable shoulders. This includes over 100 miles of off-street paths, which represents a unique network for a City of Boulder’s size.

Marni and Cris Jones hosted me on a bicycle tour last year and I was impressed with the efforts the City took to keep the off-street paths clear of snow and other hazards for cyclists.

The Engineering Details

Marni, Cris, and others also make sure that City staff are focused on the details associated with making the community work. City design policies focus on good signage to warn motorists of cycling facilities and physical design elements such as speed tables in the path of turning vehicles, in the right turn lanes.


Boulder has also experimented with blue markings on the pavement designed to raise awareness of vehicle-bicycle interactions.


One of my observations during a recent trip to Boulder was the number of cyclists travelling on the left side of the road. While the path widths allow for two-way operation, it creates conflicts that present new challenges for engineers and planners. The City is keenly aware of these challenges as they consider our first cycletrack design.

Boulder is a model city for creating a community that is conscious of the importance of cycling infrastructure and how significant a role it can play in creating a great place. Similar to Portland, the success of the community will continue to rely on the people that have inspired others through innovative ideas such as a Winter Bike to Work Day.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Bicycling "Trash Talk"

Interesting dialogue regarding the debate about cyclists not paying their own way.

John Boehner, the Republican leader in the United States House of Representatives, made a rather unfortunate comment about the economic stimulus package currently being debated and cycling infrastructure on CBS's "Face the Nation" - a well-known political news program.

John Boehner states: “I think there’s a place for infrastructure, but what kind of infrastructure? Infrastructure to widen highways, to ease congestion for American families? Is it to build some buildings that are necessary?” He stated. “But if we’re talking about beautification projects, or we’re talking about bike paths, Americans are not going to look very kindly on this.”

You can see the segment on You Tube at 5:05

Unfortunate rhetoric regarding cycling from our country's leadership.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Greening the Games

Building off that last post, I almost forgot something I noticed on Friday as we were walking in Downtown Boise. The City is preparing for the Special Olympics World Winter Games and as a part of that event, they are asking that athletes and fans leave "no record on our environment". With the help of partners likeWal-Mart, Idaho welcomes international athletes to eat locally, ride green and recycle. Once again, I don't want to be too cynical, but I am really curious about what Wal-Mart is doing to make a difference in their stores. Green must be the new black in the marketing circles. It is interesting to see the condo development advertisement going up behind this, which is part of greening the City. Perhaps they can put a Wal-Mart in the ground floor of the building and give the City a supermarket for the residents they hope to attract.
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Marketing the Environment

  At the Annual Transportation Research Board meeting, I couldn't help notice the marketing associated with the environment. That and the Obama inauguration were the two big topics, could it be that they are related? Regardless, the first of the pictures is a campaign by Chevron entitled Will you Join Us? and centers on saving energy by biking, using less energy (unplugging computers?), going solar, etc. Is it just me that finds it strange to have big oil pushing this concept?
That being said, they are paying to advertise on transit, which helps WMATA pay for service and consultants, so I have to say thanks to Chevron, but I do so with a bit of a cynical perspective just wondering whether their intent is environmental or self-serving. There was a recent article in the Wall Street Journal that suggested that consumers (I consider my clients consumers of my services) are willing to pay for companies that they feel support the green cause.
  On the other hand, I saw these two banners in the subway that was designed to provoke the question, there's no such thing as clean coal. Here they have Chewbaca (or is this Bigfoot) holding a piece of coal. The alien is probably a clearer image, yet with the X Files still fresh in my mind I am not sure if they're not real.
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DC Bike Share

While at the TRB meeting, I had a meeting with DDOT to discuss the Transit Signal Priority project we have been reviewing for WMATA and I stumbled upon one of the Bike Stations that DC has set up as a rental system. This is set up to mimic what Paris did with the Velib.
  I heard several criticisms of where the stations are and about the bikes, but you know what I can't criticize. I am glad they went ahead with it. It is brought to the City by Clear Channel and I am not sure of what the relationship is (did the City pay them for this?), but all things considered, if it gets people on bikes, I am supportive of the concept.
  That being said, I think there membership is a bit prohibitive, especially for visitors which seems to be a nice market, so I hope they review that part of the system.
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