Friday, September 30, 2011

Bicycle Commute Challenge Day 21 - Number of Miles to Date

Here's the summary of the Bike Commute Challenge. I also rode a century this month, so I had a great month!

Congratulations to us all: PBOT downtown offices registered its highest Bike Commute Challenge rate ever: 27.5%!

I.          Team PBOT Downtown Highlights:
·         PBOT Downtown increased its bike commute rate by 35% over last year.
·         PBOT Downtown came in 2nd place in the Public Agency 100 -499 employees category (BPS was first w/ 36.6%)
·         PBOT Downtown repelled a challenge from the Director of PDC (17.9% commute rate).
·         Downtown PBOT beat BES (23.4%) for the first time.
·         Our 93 riders logged 1,208 bike trips, riding 10,623 miles.
·         Twenty-one (21) new PBOT riders logged bike trips. These first-timers had an amazing 55% bike commute rate!
·         Twenty-two (22) PBOT riders had perfect (100%) bike commute rates.

II.          AWARD Winners
  • PBOT Most Valuable Player:   Anne Hogan.
    • Anne was the Division Captain for Signals and Street Lighting, which had four new riders. Anne was also a new rider and biked 90% of the time. Anne will have personal use of Jeff Smith’s portable refrigerator for one week. Enjoy!
  • Bike to Japan Award:  Rob Burchfield
    • Rob (as he noted, at a spry 54) traversed the hills of Washington County to continue his long-distance dominance.
Rob Burchfield
330 miles
Truc Nguyen
315 miles
Peter Koonce
303 miles
  • Kong Award for Division with Highest Commute Rate:  Transportation Options. Here are the leading divisions:
BCC Commute Rate
Transportation Options
Transportation Planning
Project Management
Signals and Streetlighting

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Bicycle Commute Challenge - Day 19 Introducing Your Friends to Cycling and the Services Offered.

It was great to see the multitude of new people exposed to cycling associated with the Bicycle Commute Challenge. I was responsible for four cyclists that hadn't been commuting regularly. I am very proud of them and it will be interesting to see if they continue on as the weather turns and the days become shorter. It makes me wonder why bikes don't just come with lights. Some of the "Dutch" bikes have those features, but it's one more barrier to getting on your bike in the morning and of course lights are important for safety.  One of the best programs to that end is the "Get Lit" program. It's another smart program put out there Portland volunteers that are motivated with the goal of getting more people on their bikes and getting them there safely.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bicycle Commute Challenge - Day 18 Lunch #2 for Staff

I have been impressed with the Signals, Street Lighting, & ITS Division's response to my challenge. We have over 60% of our staff participating. Many of those that are have multiple trips and there are a few that haven't missed a day. The rain returned this Monday and that scared away a few of our usual riders, but that didn't matter as it was time to celebrate our success. We ordered Chipotle for everyone and I ended up buying for 10 of us. A few folks were out of the office that day and I will have to make it up to them.

Bicycle Commute Challenge - Day 17 - Bicycle Diaries Book Review

I am currently reading Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne. It is a bit of a rambling book about biking through various cities and miscellaneous events that are similar to this blog. Certainly, with my blog there isn't a consistent theme and the same could be said of this book. It is a bit random at times and I can't say that I would recommend it. Oh well, it was in the list of blog posts, so I might as well go ahead and post about it just in case someone else decides to pick it up.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Bicycle Commute Challenge Day 16 - Use a Golf Course for Bike Paths, maybe Cyclocross

I was biking through Olympic Park and the nearby golf course tonight in Montreal.

The City has done a good job of making good use of the golf course beyond chasing a little white ball throughout the course. On the golf course cart paths, there was a little yellow stripe, which coverted the singular use facility to one that could be used by cyclists, rollerbladers, anyone. There is an adjacent path for walking, similar to what you would see in rural conditions in Europe.

Golf courses are nice amenities to the community, but they are underutilized in the winter time. Wouldn't this be a perfect time to use them as cycling facilities, specifically for cyclocross?

I started thinking a bit about the economics of this and how much golf courses cost to maintain and how you might make the transition to a more multiuse facility. This got me thinking that why wouldn't the City of Portland rent them out in November and December taking care not to disturb the conditions of the facilities, but also finding a way to create paths that are used by the community.

In fact, I didn't see any golfers out there at 6 PM, presumably because it was getting a little dark and that wouldn't have been the best time to start a round. There were a wide variety of users, fitness classes (several different boot camps), Tai Chi, cycling clubs, and rollerbladers. At first, I wondered about the risk of the golf balls, but that seems fairly remote in a lot of ways.
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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bicycle Commute Challenge Day 15 - Biking in a New City, Be a Tourist, Learn about Transportation: Montreal

I am in Montreal and I have been taken by this City. It's a great cycling City, clearly earning the title of Best Cycling City in North America. The recent ranking by doesn't do this City justice, putting Montreal just two points ahead of Portland.

There are several elements that make Montreal superior to Portland. The first is 2-way cycletracks. They have a comprehensive system that is very comfortable to ride on. The only criticism I can offer is that they are a little narrow and don't offer sufficient width to ride side by side with a companion like you can in the best cycling cities.

There was also some seasonal lanes that were signed to operate from April 1 to November 15th. These were areas that seemed to be where they were trading off parking closer to homes for the bike lanes, which makes for a reasonable compromise if it is below freezing temperatures and it's the only way to get community support.

The treatments at intersections were very diverse and they have been at it a lot longer than I have. The use of sharrows was prolific in intersections, they must have a healthy striping budget for keeping these maintained. They use some bike signals, but they rely a lot on simple green indications, at the opposite direction on the cycletrack (on a one way street).

They have done a fantastic job with construction rerouting and I had a chance to see that on several occassions because there is a lot of changes happening in the City. There's a lot of work near the University.
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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bicycle Commute Challenge Day 14 - Biking in the Dark, with Luggage

Biking in the Maas tunnel (Rotterdam) is like the view I had this morning.

The darker days are upon us, especially when you leave the house at 5 AM. I had to leave this early to get to the airport for a trip to Montreal as I am an invited speaker at McGill University. I thought twice about commuting by bike with my luggage, but when I thought about it, I packed lighter, had a bag that I could wear on my back and realized I wasn't keeping to the spirit of the Bicycle Commute Challenge if I didn't try something new.

There was another trip when I was considering biking to PDX, but I decided against it because it seems like a bad idea to get sopping wet and then board a plane close to others that won't appreciate a neighbor dripping on them.

The trip to Montreal will provide some great ideas for my work. I am speaking as a guest of the Transportation Research at McGill Group. They have done a wide variety of work and have a history as one of the premeire universities in Canada and North America for that matter.

Montreal has been long mentioned among the most beautiful cities in North America and they have done some great work with bike signals and are very progressive with transportation policy. They recently reduced their speed limits on residential facilities from 50 km/hr to 40 km/hr (sound familiar?) and have a fabulous transportation plan. Montreal was recently named one of the most bike friendly cities (#8) on the planet by Copenhagenize, and they have bikesharing company Bixi as a hometown industry (much like we have Alta).

I am meeting with City officials to discuss the various investments they have made in the transportation sysytem, seeking ways to be more freight friendly at the same time while we invest in our bicycle network.

I also just learned about a meeting with representatives from Velo Quebec, their version of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance or the Dutch Cycling Federation.

I am especially interested in my host's recent research, Ahmed El-Geneidy's recent research on transit operations and cycling. He did some great work while at Portland State University and it will be nice to catch up with him on his recent efforts.
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Monday, September 19, 2011

Bicycle Commute Challenge Day 13 - Creating Community

This morning as I was leaving the house, I saw a cyclist roll on by. I am sort of like the proverbial lawyer chasing an ambulance (no offense to my friends who are in the biz) or dog chasing squirrels when it comes to people that are coming by the house. We're fortunate to be on a street that gets fairly low amounts of traffic and being a transportation professional, it is fun to see who is using the street.

dlowe93: David Lowe-Rogstad's morning inspiration.
This morning as I was preparing to pull the bike off the porch, a friend had just finished a quick trip to the park to work on some cyclocross skills. He was taking advantage of the change in season to get prepared for the rain. It was nice to see him and chat about a project we're working on. He's a brilliant guy that makes creativity look easy. It's fun to be in a neighborhood, a few doors down from people like that.

One of the great things about cycling is that it has it's own community and it gets you out in the neighborhood more so than if you were driving your car down the street with the windows rolled up, listening to music. Yet, it's not as good as walking because, if you're in the back of the house, you can't make it to the window in time to see the world go by.

Bicycle Commute Challenge Day 12 - Debunking the Cul-de-Sac

In catching up on my posts, I am resorting to citing others work. Alas, it's all about keeping my goal of a blog post a day and this link is really good and supports the post that I want to add next.
In their California study, Garrick and Marshall eventually realized the safest cities had an element in common: They were all incorporated before 1930. Something about the way they were designed made them safer. The key wasn’t necessarily that large numbers of bikers produced safer cities, but that the design elements of cities that encouraged people to bike in places like Davis were the same ones that were yielding fewer traffic fatalities.
These cities were built the old way: along those monotonous grids. In general, they didn’t have fewer accidents overall, but they had far fewer deadly ones. Marshall and Garrick figured that cars (and cars with bikes) must be colliding at lower speeds on these types of street networks. At first glance such tightly interconnected communities might appear more dangerous, with cars traveling from all directions and constantly intersecting with each other. But what if such patterns actually force people to drive slower and pay more attention?
A lot of people feel that they want to live in a cul-de-sac, they feel like it’s a safer place to be,” Marshall says. “The reality is yes, you’re safer – if you never leave your cul-de-sac. But if you actually move around town like a normal person, your town as a whole is much more dangerous.”

This is the opposite of what traffic engineers (and home buyers) have thought for decades. And it’s just the beginning of what we’re now starting to understand about the relative advantages of going back to the way we designed communities a century ago.

Bicycle Commute Challenge - Day 11

Team Signals and Street Lighting is topping the list of frequent riders. I am very proud of our group halfway through the Challenge!
What's really great is that a few of our staff were not riding before this month, so it is great to see so many miles being logged that we end up doing better than ever. The weather looks like it will hold up for this week, so with any luck we will sail into October with a new group of riders ready to support the bikeconomy by buying rain gear.
I know of three people that are brand new to the ride and I am hoping to get at least one more before the end. If only SW Barbur were a little less dangerous, a little more flat!
Posted by PicasaBike Commute Challenge Standings
As of Monday, Sept. 19th 15:00 hours - “If you don’t log ‘em  I can’t count ‘em”
Ø      Tuesday Sept 20th, noon-  1 pm  in the Broadway Room: Bike Stuff Swap – deals! deals! deals!

PBoT Downtown Total:  539 trips / 4,884 miles

Most Miles:
§         Peter Koonce (197)
§         Rob Burchfield  (195)
§         Jeff Smith (150)
§         Kate Petak (143) - SSL INTERN
§         David O’Longaigh (132)
§         Abra McNair (126)
§         Raphael Haou (124)
§         Anne Hogan (122) - SSL NEW RIDER (was previously)

Most Trips (round trip = 1):
§         Kate Petak (13)
§         Linda Ginenthal (13)
§         Peter Koonce (12)
§         Jeff Smith (12)
§         Anne Hogan (12)
§         Denver Igarta (12)
§         Noberto Adre (12)
§         Winston Sandino (12)
§         Bill Beamer (11.5)

100% Club(all work trips by bike):
Kate Petak (SSL), Anne Hogan (SSL) , Denver Igarta, Noberto Adre (SSL), Kirk McEwen, Chris Vigliotta, Timo Forsberg,  Debbie Meisinger, Dave Hatch (SSL), Jon Bates (SSL BOM) ,  Steve Hoyt-McBeth,  Taylor Sutton, Ryan Mace, Andrew Pelsma, Jeff Smith 

Bicycle Commute Challenge Day 10 - Ride Your Bike, Get a Coffee

Posted by PicasaHere's my latest Bicycle Commute Challenge offer. Ride your bike to work, get a coffee on the boss. I think I will break this out the last few days of the Challenge. What do you think? Is that enough or should I get Donuts too. The donuts would honor the BTA's message that the next donut is only a few minutes away!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bicycle Commute Challenge Day 9 - Describe a Technique to Improve Cycling

Transportation infrastructure has the ability to encourage behavior if designed correctly. Here is an example from Vancouver, WA where the detection for the signal is placed in advance of the stop bar, which results in a call going into the controller before the bicycle arrives at the intersection. This advance indication provides an opportunity for snappier signal timing, especially at night. An ideal situation for reducing violations of the red indication at traffic signals is to improve the ability of the signal to respond to those that arrive at the intersection and reduce unnecessary delays.
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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bicycle Commute Challenge Day 8 - Create a Commuter Still Going Strong

On Day 2, I reported on my guest commuter Charles Radosta who took up my challenge to bike in as a part of the Bicycle Commute Challenge. I am happy to report that he is still going strong on the ride in and is much more comfortable after 8 days of riding. I am excited that it's working out for him and it's fun to share the ride in as opposed to having the ride be the same route day in and day out.

Charles is starting out much like I did 15 years ago when I started commuting regularly in Texas A&M (at graduate school), he's wearing a heavy backpack complete with laptop (I had books) that would go much better in a pannier and he's been doing that on some hot evening rides. He's gotten pretty comfortable with the bike in a little over a week and it makes me think that there should be some late night infomercials promising results in just one week.

I am travelling next week and am hoping that Charles will keep it up when the threat of rain starts peaking in. If only his firm did a bicycle commuting cash incentive that matched their pre-tax transit and parking subsidy.

I guilted Kurt Krueger into riding in for the first time in his over five (or is it 7?) years at the City on Friday and he lived to tell about it. His kids thought he might have trouble on SW Barbur Boulevard, but it seemed to work out for him. There are a few engineers in Signals & Street Lighting that I am hoping get out soon and try it.
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Friday, September 9, 2011

Bicycle Commute Challenge Day 7 - First Day of Kindergarten New Commuter

Our five year old has a bit of a competitive streak. I wonder where she gets that?

She wanted to ride in just like her sister, so today she asked to get the bike out early and get ahead start on her sister in getting to her first day in Kindergarten. This sort of action will inspire her friends to ride, wanting a bit more independence from us parental types.
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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Bicycle Commute Challenge Day 6 - Creating a New Commuter

I noticed this rack on the bike of Kate Petak, PBOT's super Signals & Street Lighting CECOP intern. It was great to see how the building of a bicycle bucket stimulated her to get a rack so she could use it. There's something about the bike economy (bikenomics) that I could share, but hopefully what this ultimately does is make her commute a little more comfortable, especially on these hot days. I forget how many lessons you learn as a bike commuter regarding ways to make the ride better.

I was especially pleased to see that she had prominently added the tail light she won at the BCC Day 1 Celebration and the bike bucket will help add some reflectivity to her as the days get a bit shorter.
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Bicycle Commute Challenge Day 5 - Make a Bike Bucket

Today, during lunch there was a Bike Bucket making session. In about 30 minutes I was able to put together a functional bucket pannier for my bike. I am excited about trying this out soon and enjoying a great way to get stuff from Home to Work and back. I was honestly surprised at how quickly it came together and I was told that some of these have been in service for 20 years, much longer than any of my panniers.

All I need is a Stop this War bumper sticker and a Don't Panic, Go Organic sticker and I will be ready to join the Green Party. Seriously, I thought these were kind of corny when I started seeing them around town, but there's a certain allure to these buckets because there's little risk of the bag getting stuck in the spokes.
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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Bicycle Commute Challenge Day 4 - Remind Yourself to Bike More

The Bicycle Commute Challenge is a nice system to give people reminders about the bicycle commuting and I really like the personal competitive spirit it brings out in people. Reminders to keep biking are key to changing behavior long term. I have found that stickers placed at key locations are helpful reminders as my family makes transportation decisions. The kids love stickers and they are like subliminal messages that make you think twice about how you get to the store to pick up milk or even getting to school or to the soccer games on the weekends (see the old post about our use of bakfiets as the new SUV).

Bicycling will never have the marketing resources that the automobile companies have, so it is the little things that make a difference in our household that are key.

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Monday, September 5, 2011

Bicycle Commute Challenge Day 3 - Bike Your Child to Work

Part of the Bicycle Commute Challenge is sharing bicycling with others. Hopefully when one family member is biking, others take note and join in. Our family has gotten the bug and it has been fun to see my daughters grow up thinking of bicycling as a normal activity for transportatin. My daughter was on the KBOO Bike Show last month talking about where she bikes, what she wears, and when she bikes and it was fun to listen to. She described her biking to school as something she does "every single day" and it is sort of a badge of honor to not let the weather bother us. She seems to link the environment ahead of the simple bother of taking her wet clothes off when she gets to school.
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Friday, September 2, 2011

Bike Commute Challenge Day 2

As a part of the Bike Commute Challenge, I offered to friends and family the opportunity to have me escort them on a ride to their work or even easier for me.... to join me on mine. This morning, I was joined on the commute by Charles Radosta. I worked with Charles at Kittelson & Associates, Inc. and he's one of the best traffic signal design engineers out there. Charles is an important guy because he's one of the most knowledegable folks I know on the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices serving as the Oregon Section of ITE liason to the Oregon Traffic Control Devices Committee for the past 9 years.

It is great when design engineers are on bikes or walking, or riding transit, because in any of those cases (as an American) they are likely to be experiencing the transportation system differently than they are used to. It's the same as getting in a triple trailer truck and touring the City with a freight hauler.

It's this sort of interest in trying something new that will move us forward as community builders. In doing something new, you learn to appreciate another's perspective. So, Bravo Mr. Radosta and thanks for taking the time this morning.
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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bike Commute Challenge Day 1 - Buy Lunch for Coworkers

In honor of the Bike Commute Challenge, I bought pizza for staff that biked to work on the first day. A few of our regular engineers that ride were out today, so when I bought too much pizza we shared with others outside of Signals & Street Lighting. It was a fun start to the BTA's BCC and a great way to motivate friends to try biking for a day, a week, a month.

Everyone likes free stuff, so I also bought a tail light and a CO2 cannister for flats. The tail light was given to our intern, who didn't have one on her bike AND a pump was awarded to our GIS guy who had a flat today.

Hopefully, we'll help PBOT set a new record this year for participation.
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Automated Bicycle Counting

The standard for loop detection in the City of Portland is to be inclusive of traffic in the bicycle lane. Detection is used to provide information to the signal controller in advance of the stop bar. The secondary purpose of the inductive loops is data collection if the equipment is set up properly. This is one of our most recent examples that we have put in for this purpose. The detectors must be wired independently to insure counts are applicable and can be measured. This wasn't historically the City's practice, so where we are doing replacements, we're spending a little extra time while there investing in the setup that will provide information that we can use to monitor the system. We've done this now at several locations and are mapping the locations using Google Maps.
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UPDATE: I have uploaded the research paper that describes our work as of August 2011 to this. Here is the documentation and some actual measurements based on the research from Portland State University students.