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Archive for the ‘bicycling’ Category

Hurrah! Oakland and San Francisco Slow Streets are now on Google Maps (but no Alameda?).

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Do Pastafarians count?

The fashion police in Canberra (Australia) will no longer require that Sikhs wear bike helmets:

Australians will no longer be fined for wearing religious headwear instead of a helmet while bike riding in Canberra, under new rules aimed at making cycling more inclusive. The exemption, which came into effect quietly in December, was introduced after a Canberra man wrote to ACT Road Safety Minister Shane Rattenbury with a problem.

“I am a big fan of riding bicycles and I used to have a bicycle when I was in Melbourne because as a Sikh boy I had exemption not to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle,” he said.

The decision brings Canberra in line with Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia, which all have similar regulations in place. In NSW, the only state currently without a bike helmet exemption, members of the Sikh community have unsuccessfully lobbied state government representatives to have the law amended.

US Federal Law (and the courts) have increasingly taken a dim view on rules and regulations that infringe on religious freedom. I wonder if/when we see a court case on the constitutionality of bike helmet requirements.

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After months of construction, the new 2-block $10 million Shattuck “reconfiguration” project is now operating in downtown Berkeley. Whereas Shattuck used to split into a northbound and southbound leg, the road now makes the old southbound section two-way. The northbound leg is turned into a giant turn pocket:

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If you find the above diagram confusing, the red arrow indicates the old travel path for northbound traffic (Shattuck West used to be one-way). So $10 million was spent just to streamline northbound car traffic at the Shattuck/University intersection.

The reconfigured Shattuck is now more of a traffic sewer (even the left-turns were eliminated). For drivers, this is really great because they can blast through downtown. For bicyclists though, the new road is stressful. To fit 4 lanes in this section, the traffic lanes were narrowed. While narrow lanes can sometimes serve to calm traffic, in this case the result is impatient motorists passing bicyclists with mere inches to spare.

The Shattuck reconfiguration project is one piece of a package of projects to increase automobile access to the downtown, including a new $40 million parking garage (LEED Certified of course), and additional “back-in” parking spaces along Shattuck East. While other cities are creating cycletracks and even eliminating car traffic in their downtowns, Berkeley is moving in the opposite direction.

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Mayor Arreguin at the ribbon cutting for the new Center St. parking garage

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Shattuck construction

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Four car lanes, wider sidewalks — but no bike lanes or cycletracks

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JBSN5A recent NY Times headline reads: Experts Back Mandatory Bike Helmets but Not All Cyclists Are Sold. This headline refers to that awful NTSB decision to recommended mandatory helmet laws. Looking at the official NTSB bio’s, it is unclear why the NY Times uses the term “experts” as neither the NTSB staff nor Board members have professional background in bicycle planning. Dr. Ivan Cheung, who wrote the NTSB report on bicycle helmets, previously worked for the insurance lobby. 

Of course the actual bike safety experts — who are are in places like Copenhagen and the Netherlands — specifically recommend against bicycle helmets. So contrary to the headline, bicycle advocates and the actual professionals are very much in agreement on the helmet issue.

However the press cannot be entirely blamed for mis-reporting, because the American cycling community has put out a confusing message:

The League of American Bicyclists, an advocacy group based in Washington, is opposed to that idea. “We certainly promote helmets,” Ken McLeod, the league’s policy director, said. “Helmets do make individual bicyclists safer. We just think a mandatory helmet law is the wrong policy for federal or state governments to pursue.”

It is incorrect to claim helmets make bicyclists safer. According to the NHTSA, virtually all bicycle fatalities involve a motor vehicle — and bicycle helmets are not designed to protect against motor vehicle collisions. It says so in the CPSC specs. Moreover motor vehicle collisions are not part of the helmet testing protocol (if they were, then every helmet would fail).

It is irresponsible for a cycling organization to promote a piece of safety equipment that is ineffective. Not only does this misinform, but it leads to this confusion. The general public doesn’t understand why cyclists are opposed helmet laws when cycling organizations themselves are promoting helmets as valuable safety gear. Cycling organizations need to be clear on the reason for opposing helmet laws: helmets don’t work.

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It is curious how it is cyclists who can get their vehicle confiscated, but rarely car owners:

PEABODY, MA — Police confiscated bikes from more than 30 kids who were riding without a helmet Thursday morning as part of “a concerted effort to educate those children who are riding their bicycles in an unsafe manner.” The crackdown comes after complaints in social media forums for Peabody residents about kids riding bikes. Children who had their bikes taken by police were told they could get it back by going to the Peabody Police Station with a parent.

 

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Screen Shot 2019-10-02 at 9.54.45 PMYet another Climate Mayor who had bike lanes removed:

 It was a short-lived ride for Eaton Street’s brand-new bike lanes in Providence. NBC 10 News asked Mayor Jorge Elorza: What went into the planning?

“We’ve held a number of community sessions for a number of years now,” the mayor said.

Elorza said this investment into the city’s Great Streets Program didn’t work. “What happened on Eaton Street is that I think frankly that was the wrong street to start on,” Elorza added. The lanes installed on the narrow street rolled in a lot of negative feedback. Now, they’re coming out.

Elorza joins an illustrious group that includes the Mayors of Berkeley, San Jose, and Baltimore. If these “Climate Mayors” want to be taken seriously, its membership needs to stop promoting auto-centric policies.

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Mayor Elorza said this street was too narrow for a bike project

 

 

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Cyclists criss-crossing the city in large packs, oh my:

SCHENECTADY — The city agrees young bicyclists are posing a public safety risk by criss-crossing the city in large packs.

But lawmakers disagree on the scope of the problem and how to quash it.

Some City Council members want a law that would allow police to seize bicycles from adolescents engaged in “reckless” trick riding like popping wheelies and zig-zagging, while others called the proposal “extreme” and advocated for less severe options for dealing with the behavior.

“It sounds like it’s not even legally viable, really,” said Councilwoman Leesa Perazzo. “I just struggle with taking a kid’s bike away.”

 

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