Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Our Blog is Getting a New Home

"Eventually, all good things must get face lifts." This is true both in alarmingly superficial subsections of Beverley Hills, and on the Internet.

Yesterday afternoon we launched a brand-new website. You can check it out at bicyclecoalition.org (yup, same domain). But one goal of our website redesign was to better integrate our blog into the rest of the site.

And so, we now have a new blog, at a new location: bicyclecoalition.org/blog.
Meet the new blog/ Same as the old blog / Except now on Wordpress and / with different CSS styling

On the new blog you will find a handful of blog posts which were originally posted here. It's like with a new house - you carry over some old furniture just to have something to sit on while waiting for the PECO guy. But starting henceforth we will be filling the new blog with the blog-post-equivalent of antique mirrors, a sectional or two, and a cherry or Brazilian walnut dresser if we can find one in our budget.

What does this mean for those of you who have read our blog via emails sent to your inbox?
We are working to get a blog-to-email subscription service up and running soon. Until then you can use services such as Feedly.com to subscribe.

What does this mean for our Yahoo group listservs?
We will not be posting new blog posts to those groups, as we are trying to consolidate the channels through which we share information (we only have so much time & effort to monitor everything). However, we do want to facilitate the continued communication among those counties with active groups. Shoot an e-mail to Nicholas at nicholas@bicyclecoalition.org if you'd like to be part of that conversation.

This blog will remain online as an archive. So if you want to flip through these 2,900+ blog posts and reminisce about the good old days, you can. But remember - as Peter de Vries said: "Nostalgia is not what it used to be."

Thanks for reading. And thanks to the William Penn Foundation, whose funding made this website redesign possible. We'll see you at bicyclecoalition.org/blog.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Your Guide to Bike Month in Philadelphia

May is Bike Month! Yes, bikes work year round. We don't celebrate "Shoes Month" after all. But we suppose at some point May wasn't anybody's month, and Bikes saw an opportunity for naming rights, and now here we are.

Here is a guide to some of the many May bike rides, activities, and events happening in Philadelphia.
Last year's Cyclofemme ride. Join this year's Mother's Day casual ride on May 11th.

May 1st - National Bike Challenge
The National Bike Challenge starts in earnest. It's a free, good-natured competition to see how much you can ride your bike this summer. A great motivational tool to get in shape, finally bike to work, or encourage your friends or coworkers to give it a try. Read more here and sign up today!

May 7th - National Bike to School Day
Schools around the country are planning Bike to School Days to encourage children (and parents) to get exercise on their way to school. If you are an educator or parent and want to organize an event at your school, read this article for more information.

May 10th - Philly Pumptrack Opens
At long last, the Philly Pumptrack gets its official debut.

May 11th - CycloFemme Mother's Day Ride
RSVP for the ride here

CycloFemme is a global women's cycling day created to honor the past, celebrate the present, and empower the future of women in cycling and the opportunity for positive social change. Encourage women to ride and they will change the world! Philadelphia's Cyclofemme Ride is a collaboration between our Women Bike PHL program and the Sturdy Girls Cycling Club.

Free rides beginning and ending at Clark Park: beginner, intermediate, and fast ride options. All people welcome (not just women), helmets required. Stay for a post-ride picnic in Clark Park!

May 13th - Take Your Time Ride [Women Only]
Ride Facebook event here

Looking for a bike ride where no one expects you to go fast? Or even...one where you're SUPPOSED to take your time? This is it. A social, take-your-time-paced bike ride, on the second Tuesday of every month. We meet at 6:15 PM at the Northwest Corner of Rittenhouse Square Park (across from the church) to roll at 6:30. This month we're riding to Frankford Hall (~3.5 miles).

May 15th - Urban Riding Basics class [Women Only]
Claim your spot in the class here

New to city biking? This free, one-hour class will give you tips and directions to confidently and safely bike on Philly streets. No bike needed. This class is through our Women Bike PHL program and is women-only.

May 16th - Bike to Work Day with Mayor Nutter
What better way to celebrate bike to work day than a bike ride with the Mayor? Join bicyclists -- both veterans and newbies -- at Lloyd Hall (on Boathouse Row) at 7:30am. Light breakfast provided by Cosmic Catering. We'll ride as a group from Lloyd Hall down the Parkway to LOVE Park. Ride leaves at 8:15, short press conference to follow. All are welcome!

May 17th - Trenton Ave Arts Festival and Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby
You know it. You love it. It's back. "Free and open to the public, the Trenton Avenue Arts Festival celebrates East Kensington's incredible mix of local artists, musicians and eateries." Where to do the bikes fit in? The event features the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby, a design competition and parade of human-powered vehicle floats. Keep an eye out for the entry from our young friends from Neighborhood Bike Works! Festival runs 11-6, Derby kicks off at noon. 

May 17th - Kidical Mass Ride
Philadelphia's group for parents and kids on bikes, Kidical Mass, is riding in the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby (at the end of the parade!). We agree that the bakfietsen and other fancy cargo bikes some of these parents pedal around are definitely parade-worthy! If you'd like to join, check out the Facebook event and email Dena at phillykidicalmass(at)gmail.com to fill out a waiver ahead of time!

May 21st - Ride of Silence
RSVP for the Facebook event here.

A somber but important event, the annual Ride of Silence honors cyclists killed/injured in motor vehicle related crashes and to raise awareness about the rights of cyclists to ride on the roads. The ride is being held in Philadelphia for the ninth gear in a row. Sister events are expected to be held this year in over 300 U.S. locations and in over 15 countries. We will ride 8 miles in silence through Center City, taking approximately 1 hour. Ride begins and ends at the front steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum on the Ben Franklin Parkway. A brief pre-ride dedication ceremony will take place at 6:45 PM and the ride will start promptly at 7:00 PM.

May 22 - Ride for Reading
Like bikes and books? Yeah, us too. Combine the two by volunteering for our second annual Ride for Reading! We need bicyclists to help us deliver donated books to a local public school, where they will be distributed to students. If this is your jam, fill out this form and we'll be in touch (and don't forget your cargo bikes, panniers, messenger bags or backpacks to help tote books!). The schedule for the day is below:
  • 7:30 AM – meet at 2000 Hamilton Street to load books into bags and onto bikes 
  • 7:45 AM - Bike ride leaves Hamilton Street (bike ride is approximately 5 miles) 
  • 8:45 AM - (approximate): Arrive at Blankenburg School (4600 W. Girard) 
  • 9:00 AM - Ride for Reading assembly 
  • 10:00 AM - Book Distribution begins
June 1st - The Velothon
The ride before the race.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bike Share Rolls Closer to Philadelphia with Vendor and Timeline Announcement

Today the City of Philadelphia moved one big step closer to the launch of our much-anticipated, much-needed bike share system. A Philadelphia Inquirer article this morning names the City's selected vendors for supplying the equipment, running the system, and marketing the naming rights. An official press conference is set for 2:00 PM today on the Art Museum steps.
Mayor Nutter checking out bike share bikes at an exhibition in Rittenhouse Square this time last year.

The City has selected vendors whose resum├ęs give us confidence in their ability to deliver a world-class bike share system. The equipment vendor, B Cycle, has a good track record of providing high-quality, reliable bike share bikes. For the curious, they are not the bike share company which drew some attention recently for declaring bankruptcy.

Bicycle Transit Systems (aka Bicycle Trans) has been selected to run the system. On paper they are a new firm, but they are staffed by people with extensive knowledge of launching and running other cities' bike share systems. And they are based in Philadelphia!

Philadelphia is also doing something smart in splitting off the corporate sponsorship piece and hiring Front Row Marketing to pursue that funding directly. This should allow us to maximize the money obtained through sponsorship. (Just spit-balling here, but what about "Ryan Howard's Bike Share System?" He's looking better this season, but supporting bicycling would help us forget that .198 average against lefties the past 3 seasons.)

For those curious about our role in this, we have been advisers to the city's deliberations up to this point, and will be taking a lead role in the equity component of bike share - making sure the system is accessible to all Philadelphians. But we will not be running the system.

Philadelphia is behind other cities in the adoption and implementation of a bike share system. But one advantage of this is that we can learn from the best practices honed in those other cities. (One example of that is hiring a marketing firm explicitly to secure corporate sponsorship.) And we are pleased that Philadelphia is taking the time to get this right, and launch in the spring when adoption will be easiest.

If you like your news fresh and locally-sourced, you can attend the press conference today at 2PM at the Art Museum Steps. You can also check out the Philadelphia Inquirer and WHYY Newsworks coverage.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

New Report Finds Evidence That Greater Bicycling Means Greater Safety

The Alliance for Biking & Walking released a major benchmarking report covering data and research on walking and bicycling across the country. The goal is to identify trends and examine how they relate to public health, safety, and social and economic well-being.

There's a lot of juicy information in here, and you should do the "informed citizen" thing and check it out yourself. (We're not Upworthy, we're not going to turn their report into a listacle and chew it for you.) But we're pulling out one chart to share because we are especially heartened by its findings:

Cities With More Biking and Walking See Lower Fatality Rates
One of the report's findings is that bicycling and walking fatality rates are lower in cities where more people bike or walk to work. This supports the "safety in numbers" argument and the intuitive understanding that as bicyclists become more common on streets, drivers and bicyclists learn how to share that street safely.
Orange dots represent bicyclist fatality rates -- i.e., the number of people who have died while biking as a portion of the number of people who bike to work. The grey line indicates the percentage of the population who bikes to work, and the green line shows correlation between the two.

Now, infrastructure and education remain critical components of a safe bicycling environment. Given two streets with the same rates of bicyclist traffic, the street with a protected bicycle lane will have lower rates of bicycle crashes (and likely car crashes too). But this report should be encouraging to those of us in the Greater Philadelphia Region who care about safe walking and biking. Among all the reasons to bike to work, you are making all bicyclists safer by doing so.

Read more of the findings on the Alliance for Biking & Walking's website here.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Are You Ready for the National Bike Challenge? Registration Is Open

Any and all bicycle trips count! Warning: the bicyclist shown here is an immortal professional. Do not attempt.
This year's National Bike Challenge is nearly here! Registration is open at nationalbikechallenge.org, where you can set up teams and workplaces and log practice miles. The challenge begins for real on May 1st, and runs through September 30th. (Miles recorded during April won't count towards your final totals.)

What is the National Bike Challenge
In a nutshell, it is a nation-wide friendly competition to encourage bicycling by making it a contest. Using the website or one of three(!) smartphone apps, you can log the trips you take by bicycle. You are awarded points for those trips, and points allow for competition on a individual, team, workplace, school, city, and state level.

The challenge rewards riding frequency over distance. It's about using your bike for a wide variety of trips, and encouraging others to give it a try! You can register anytime, even after the start on May 1st. For more information, check out the site's FAQ.

What Is New This Year
The League of American Bicyclists, who runs this program, overhauled the website for this year. The site's functionality, the leaderboards, and other mechanics have been tweaked. They have also facilitated integration with three apps: Endomondo, MapMyRun, and Moves. (No Strava integration yet.)

Why Should I Do This
  • If you already bike regularly, it can be a fun way to compete against your fellow bicycling friends. Form two teams of friends and place a wager on monthly or summer-long totals.
  • The Challenge offers a fun, engaging framework through which to encourage a partner, friend, or coworker to give bicycling a try.
  • The League of American Bicyclists offers prizes based on points level, up to and including new bicycles.
  • Workplaces that encourage bicycle commuting have healthier, more productive employees.
  • Pride and glory.
The challenge begins May 1st. Register today, get your profile and team set up, and start bicycling!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

How to Keep the South Street Bridge Bike Lane Safe After CHOP Expansion

Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has proposed a new building for Schuylkill Avenue with driveways that will connect to the South Street Bridge. We testified on the project at the April 1st Civic Design Review meeting and sent a letter to CHOP today that further clarifies our concerns about the impact of the driveways on the bike lane.

The two proposed driveways for the new CHOP office building seriously degrade the safety of the bike lane on the South Street Bridge. While it would be optimal if the project could be designed to require only one driveway, whether with one or two driveways we believe the safety of the bike lane can be restored by repositioning and protecting the bike lane.

The driveways onto the bridge came as a response to strong community desire, expressed at CHOP-held community meetings, that the project not create increased traffic on neighborhood streets. The second driveway was added to facilitate SEPTA buses reaching the site, as transit access is a priority and buses can't otherwise make the difficult turn from the bridge onto Schuylkill Avenue.

For bicyclists, adding one or two driveways creates additional turning conflicts, on a downhill, on the most bicycled bridge in Pennsylvania. Continuing the existing bike lane to the right of these new turning conflicts seriously degrades the safety of this bike lane.

To mitigate this danger, the bike lane should be:
  • Repositioned to the left of the vehicles turning into the new driveways. 
  • Protected from encroachment by vehicles crossing the bike lane to get to the right turn lane. 
This will require some sort of physical barrier to cars encroaching on the bike lane and also the creation of a right turn-only lane. There are design solutions in the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide that can restore the bike lane to its present safety level, such as flexible bollards that can be removed during snow season. Other cities have used these solutions but Philadelphia has not yet tried them.

We have asked for the chance to meet with CHOP and the Streets Department to develop a solution that repositions the bike lane and protects it from right-turning traffic.

We made a word choice error in an earlier blog post by suggesting that CHOP had only recently shared plans for the new building with the Bicycle Coalition. In fact, CHOP’s designs have been publicly available but we only commented on them earlier this month.

Peter Grollman, CHOP’s Vice President for Government Affairs, Community Relations & Advocacy, serves on the Bicycle Coalition board.