Tag-Archive for ◊ Biking ◊

• Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Investments in bike paths and walk ways pay offSource: DC.StreetsBlog.com

If you ever doubted whether a small investment in biking and walking could have a large impact, here is your proof.

The last transportation law, SAFETEA-LU, provided four communities with four years of funding to build an infrastructure network for nonmotorized transportation (a fancy way of saying “sidewalks and bike paths”). It wasn’t a lot of money — $25 million each to Columbia, Missouri; Marin County, California; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Sheboygan County, Wisconsin.

The program built 333 miles of on-street biking and walking routes, 23 of off-street facilities, and 5,727 bike parking spaces in the four municipalities — not to mention some outreach and education. Not bad, especially when you consider that $100 million would only buy about five miles of new four-lane highway in an urbanized area…

The FHWA report is full of data showing how a small down payment on active transportation can lead — quickly — to dramatic improvements in air quality, traffic levels, and public health.

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a major supporter of the pilot program, called it a “raging success.”

“These are not all typical, bike-friendly cities,” said Marianne Fowler, RTC’s senior vice president of federal relations. ”These four communities represent a solid cross-section of America. Even in places like Sheboygan, which doesn’t have urban density, has cold winters, and has had almost no experience with biking and walking initiatives in the past, locals have rapidly become champions because they have seen the real-time effects, the actual benefits to their community.”

Fowler went on to say that with the evidence now in black and white before them, Congressional representatives must now recognize that continued investment in walking in biking represents terrific value for American taxpayers.

“The incongruous thing is that Congress, with a simple, low-cost solution to so many transportation problems right here in front of them, can’t see the people for the cars,” she said.

• Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

On this Earth day, one of the easiest and most fun ways to help Mother Earth is to drive less, walk more and bike more. Yes, it really is that easy and so healthy for us, too. First, moving our bodies is very healthy and second, cars are deadly – for the planet and people.

The car companies, tire companies and gasoline companies don’t want you to know that 1.4 million people die every year from car accidents worldwide. No, that would shatter the glorified, sexy image we have of driving. The truth is, there should be warning labels on cars like the ones on packs of cigarettes – no joke.

To obfuscate the fact that cars are deadly, the auto industry plants  seeds of fear around biking. One way to discourage biking is to promote bike helmets. While a bike helmet seems to make sense at first glance, there is mixed evidence to the efficacy of bike helmets in preventing head injury in adults (for children, there is more evidence that helmets prevent traumatic brain injury). In fact, bike helmets make adults 14% more likely to be involved in an accident.

For an eye opening look at the fear propaganda around bike helmets, see the video below (note how Montreal is on the Top 20 list of most livable cities in the World!).

Source: Lew Rockwell

Some folks believe that not wearing a helmet while cycling or motorcycling is “stupid,” though this comment is actually pretty dumb on its own. The lack of a helmet is not a result, at all, of lacking intelligence, or even common sense. The wearing or non-wearing of a helmet reflects how you comprehend and rate risk.

There is a website called Helmet Freedom: Risk in Perspective, and its motto is “Cycling without helmet laws is safe. Fear is unhealthy.” I like that motto because as much as the fear mongering and obsession with safety is worldwide, in America, the totalitarians-at-large have turned safety fixation into a national pastime.

On TedX Copenhagen, bicycle advocate Mikael Colville-Andersen gave a talk, “Why We Shouldn’t Bike With a Helmet.” In his talk, he discusses the culture of fear that controls the public. He calls it a “pornographic obsession with safety equipment” in a “bubble society.” While the culture of fear ignores facts and science, the fear mongering is big business, and it is lucrative.

Category: Transportation | Tags: ,  | One Comment
• Sunday, March 21st, 2010

My mother lives in Charlottesville and marvels at the pedestrian and bicycle friendly features it has. Google Maps with bicycle paths does a good job of showing this off.

Unfortunately, this feature is NOT YET available for Montreal. However, Google does provide walking directions which should be a decent substitute until Google makes this feature available for us. To request that Google make bike paths available for Montreal, send them an email.

In Montreal, traveling from the west to east, or vica versa, is relatively easy due to the topography. Any bicyclist knows to just take deMaisonneuve or Sherbroke St. But how about traveling north and being able to avoid the steep grades due to the Mont? This is where Google needs to help cyclists.

Giving cyclists the same type of support tools as motorists for finding their way in a busy world is a step in the right direction towards making the world a better place. For more info, see Google Maps Bike There.

Source: Discovering Urbanism

Google has released a “Grab Your Bike and Go” feature to give cycling directions for all maps. Google’s Shannon Guymon is the opening plenary speaker at the National Bike Summit and she’s expected to announce the new feature this morning and give a demonstration.

Google maps with Bicycle pathsThe feature:

  • Identifies cycling facilities (for now in “hundreds of US cities”)
  • Shows which routes are considered safer than others, including paths that have limited or no driving
  • Uses elevation grades to estimate times and recommend routes

It shouldn’t be too long before many localities and non-profit organizations are able to feed their information to Google. Unlike transit routes, there’s nothing proprietary about safety recommendations. Right now Google lists the Charlottesville pedestrian mall as a recommended route, although it is actually prohibited to cyclists. Google accepts feedback on all of these recommendations, so we can all take part in building the most accurate and useful mapping tool.

Category: Transportation | Tags:  | One Comment
• Thursday, December 18th, 2008

When I was growing up, my mother bought a “beaker-brush” Christmas tree. It was all white and made of plastic and wire. Basically a bunch of beaker brushes from a high school chemistry class attached to an aluminum frame. Every year we didn’t have to buy (and kill) a baby spruce tree. It seemed like a sensible idea: buy a renewable tree that could be re-used year after year.

But a new study from a Montreal firm, ellipsos inc., says that buying natural trees for xmas is actually more sustainable in the long run. Here are their conclusions from the report:

The natural Christmas tree has lower impacts on the environment than the artificial tree, according to an independent Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) conducted by ellipsos inc., a firm of experts in sustainable development…“The results are astonishing”, says Jean-Sébastien Trudel, president of ellipsos and co-author of the study. “Considering that the artificial tree is reusable for many years, one would think that this choice is best since the natural tree requires annual trips to purchase it.”

While natural trees also have environmental impacts, the LCA shows that an artificial tree would need to be kept for at least 20 years to be equivalent! Currently, people keep it for six years, on average.

Interestingly, to compensate for the impacts of a Christmas tree, be it natural or artificial, one can offset the carbon emissions by carpooling or biking to work only one to three days per year, according to ellipsos. “Knowing this, the most ecological choice between the natural and the artificial Christmas tree becomes anecdotal. Regardless of the chosen type of tree, the impacts on the environment are negligible if compared to other activities, such as driving solo to work on a daily basis”, concludes Jean-Sébastien Trudel.

Still, getting no tree is the most sustainable solution of all.

Download the full report from ellipos: Christmas Tree Life Cycle Analysis