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#Bikemonth: Celebrating the Bike Ride in California: Sacramento Area

Riders fuel up at "Great Scott," the Sacramento Area's May Is Bike Month kickoff event last Saturday. Image: May Is Bike Month

Riders fuel up at “Great Scott,” the Sacramento Area’s May Is Bike Month kickoff event last Saturday. Image: May Is Bike Month

It’s Bike Month, hurray! Time to get out there and join your fellow bike riders to celebrate this awesome travel device that also generates smiles, increases health, improves air quality, and fixes lots of other problems in cities.

Every city and region in the state does Bike Month a little bit differently. Although National Bike to Work Day is officially on May 20, local areas choose whichever day works best for them. Some cities have a nice quiet celebration with a few people standing by to offer snacks and cheer on commuters, while other places pile on the pancake breakfasts, after parties, mileage competitions, and giveaways.

Yesterday Damien Newton talked with Anthony Molina in Fresno about that city’s Mall-to-Mall ride, its Million Mile Challenge, and I Bike Fresno’s Bike to Work Day.

Today, we take a peek at the activities for May Is Bike Month in Sacramento, which challenges riders to register and log their bike miles during the month with the Two Million Mile Challenge (up from just a measly million miles). Riders are ranked individually, within their employer’s stats, and by city, school, and team, which makes for some fun competition. So far, 70,795.2 miles have already been logged, only a few days into the month. There are 7,407 cyclists registered, and between them they have pledged to ride 1,567,120 miles.

What’s really interesting is to look at the numbers and see how many of those miles replace car trips. It is is not as much as one would hope. By far the most bike miles are recreational, unsurprisingly, but there are some bike riders who are leaving the car behind. The statistics are also broken out by work, errand, and commute miles. It’s self-reported, and the prizes (May Is Bike Month socks, gift certificates) are given out by lottery, but winners do earn bragging rights.

What we’d like to see are rewards for trip-replacement (and therefore emissions-reducing) miles. No doubt, bike riding is good for you, but let’s make it great for the planet, too.

Meanwhile the Sacramento area boasts a packed calendar of events for May, including daily rides, kids rides, classes, parties, tours, and bike-in movies. Highlights below:

May 1: May Is Bike Month got a kickoff called “Great Scott” because it closed off over thirty miles of Scott Road in Rancho Cordova and Folsom to cars so walkers and bikers could enjoy a stress-free experience. Food trucks, a bike festival, and a photo scavenger hunt rounded out the day, while light rail made the return to the starting point easy for tired participants.

Upcoming area events include: Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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Cyclists Will Pay to Park at Seattle’s New Light Rail Stations. Will Drivers?

Right now, the Seattle region is hashing out how to spend $50 billion to expand transit. The project list, known as ST3, is tilted heavily toward the suburbs, not the urban core where ridership would be higher.

Parking at Sound Transit's Tukwila International Blvd Station. Photo: Oran Viriyincy

Parking at Sound Transit’s Tukwila International Blvd Station. Photo: Oran Viriyincy

Included with all those suburban stations will be thousands of new parking stalls, which each cost tens of thousands of dollars to build. Interestingly, Josh Feit at PubliCola reports that Sound Transit hasn’t decided yet whether to charge for car parking at stations, but it has already indicated that bike parking won’t be free:

As the debate over parking for cars at light rail stations gets underway — should people have to pay for parking (activists from the Transit Access Stakeholders group think so) — ST is already setting a precedent for bike parking. Bikers have to pay.

Sound Transit debuted a new bike storage cage at its Beacon Hill station last month where bikers pay $4.10 a month for access. ST says they will replicate the bike storage model at more stations going forward.

With the ST3 plan considering at least 8,330 new parking spaces for cars at about $70,000 a stall, the debate should include another stat: Federal Highway Administration estimates put the cost of building new bike racks at about $50 per bike and more elaborate storage, like cages, costing about $1,500 per bike.

At least if bike parking has a price, there’s no excuse to provide free parking for cars.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Mobility Lab posts a new video explaining the concept of transportation demand management. Columbus Underground announces the opening of the city’s new airport bus service. And Broken Sidewalk details what the city of Louisville is doing to make biking to the Kentucky Derby convenient.

Streetsblog USA
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Cycling Booms in London, and the City’s Not Looking Back

Image: City of London

If current trends continue, there will be more people bike commuting in central London than car commuting by 2018. Image: City of London

Boris Johnson says that one of his goals as mayor of London was to make cycling “more popular and more normal.” As Johnson’s eight-year tenure winds down, it looks like the progress he made in his second term has accomplished that mission.

If current trends continue, bike commuters will outnumber car commuters in central London by 2018, according to a recent report from Johnson’s office [PDF]. Citywide, Transport for London estimates people already make 645,000 bike trips on an average day.

When Londoners head to the polls later this week to elect their next mayor, five candidates will be on the ballot, all of whom have signaled they will continue to expand the city’s bike network, reports the BBC’s Tom Edwards. Most of them have pledged to triple the amount of protected bike lanes in the city.

You can trace the London cycling boom to several factors, including the introduction of congestion charging under Johnson’s predecessor, Ken Livingstone, in 2003. But the big turning point came during Johnson’s second term, when bike advocates prompted him to get serious about installing protected bike lanes.

In his first term, Johnson championed the construction of “cycle superhighways” on some of the city’s busiest streets. But these routes, which offered little or nothing in the way of physical protection, didn’t live up to their billing. Cyclists were not satisfied with them and staged huge protests calling for safer bike infrastructure. The BBC’s Edwards recalls how cyclists booed Johnson when he was seeking reelection four years ago.

In recent years, Johnson has devoted more resources to protected bike lanes, upgrading the existing “cycle superhighways” and laying out a plan for more. He now says his “single biggest regret” was not doing so sooner.

Read more…

Via Streetsblog California
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#DamienTalks 36 – Celebrating Bike Month with Tony Molina of the Fresno Bike Coalition

It’s Bike Month! Welcome to Bike Month!

#DamienTalksToday, #DamienTalks with Tony Molina with the Fresno County Bicycle Coalition to kick off our Bike Month coverage. Fresno has a full complement of Bike Month events, some of which we talk about in our conversation and others we list below. To find out more, visit the two bicycle advocacy groups in Fresno’s webpages: Fresno County Bicycle Coalition and I Bike Fresno.

As excited as we are by Bike Month in the Central Valley, we’re hoping that their example will inspire advocates in other mid-size and small cities to program Bike Month events in their own communities. I started programming a Bike to School Day at my son’s school (which will be on May 16 if anyone is reading this that lives within a couple of blocks of my place). If you want to read a quick story on how we planned the first Bike to School event at my son’s school, click here.

But as we said, there are lots of great events in Greater Fresno this month. Here is a partial list for anyone interested in learning more:

Today, Clovis Bike Month Presentation

May 4, Mall to Mall

May 18, Clovis-Fresno Ride of Silence

May 20, Bike to Work Day

Streetsblog California will check back in at the end of the month to see how Bike to Work Day goes. In the meantime, we’ll have a full month of Bike Month podcasts here at #DamienTalks.

Streetsblog LA
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Quantifying Transit Ridership, Some Lessons from UCLA’s Transit Conference

Transit ridership flat xxx

U.S. Transit usage has been largely flat in the U.S. since 2000. Source: Blumenberg presentation

Earlier this week, SBLA attended UCLA’s The Future of Public Transit conference. The one-day event was hosted by UCLA’s Lewis Center and Institute of Transportation Studies. Numerous speakers spoke on the evolving landscape for public transit and broader mobility – from Houston to New York to Los Angeles. This article recaps two of the more informative and more academic presentations on trends impacting transit ridership. There are no major surprises gleaned for folks who read Streetsblog and who ride transit in Los Angeles, but it is interesting to see data quantified to back up trends observed.

Manville on Driving vs. Transit Ridership

Michael Manville, Assistant Professor of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University, spoke on how recent driving trends have impacted transit ridership. In 2005, driving in the U.S. leveled off. It subsequently declined through 2014. Though there has been a recent uptick, per-person driving is still below 2004 levels.

xxx - via @yfreemark Twitter

In the U.S., miles driven per person declined from 2005 through 2014. Driving recently rebounded to 2002 levels. Source: FHWA via @yfreemark Twitter (AADT is Annual Average Daily Traffic)

Does less driving mean more transit ridership? Manville’s prognosis is “probably not.” Read more…

Via Streetsblog California
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Beall Proposal Tries To End California Transportation Funding Stalemate

bikeatCapitollabel2sizedLast year, Governor Brown called a “Special Session” to prod the California legislature to find solutions to what seemed an intractable problem: how to fund transportation needs in the state. Some bills were introduced, some hearings were held, but the biggest result of all the ballyhoo is a confirmation that the problem is, indeed, intractable.

Pavement condition is terrible in many places, and growing worse, in part because funding sources encourage building new roads and highways over maintaining what is already built. Traffic congestion and inadequate transit service waste time and money. Existing funding sources are not enough to pay for the backlog of deferred maintenance, let alone new projects on state priority lists. The gas tax is shrinking. Cities and counties have voted on or are considering local sales tax measures to raise money to “fix” transportation.

Some legislators insist that there is enough money being raised, but that it is being allocated inefficiently. Others disagree. Advocates say that spending priorities need to shift away from business as usual, while business as usual proponents argue there is not enough money to fund everything.

The Special Session has, so far, produced a few bills that have gone nowhere, and not much else. Assembly Transportation Committee Chair Jim Frazier has focused his energies freight movement, but nothing was produced by his committee. Senate Transportation Committee Chair Jim Beall (D-San Jose) came up with a solution that would raise gas taxes but faced stiff Republican opposition to the idea. His bill, SBX1-1, stalled in committee last fall.

Meanwhile the Governor released a proposed budget that, among many things, sought to create a new, undefined “Low Carbon Roads” program rather than support or increase funding for the Active Transportation Program. In May, he will issue a revision of his proposal, and one way or the other the legislature will have to grapple with his suggestions.

By law, the legislature must complete the budget by the end of June, and all legislative activity must be wrapped up by the end of August, including the Special Session. But there has been a long lull in the action.

Until last week, when Senator Beall amended his transportation funding bill. It seems to include a little bit for everyone to dislike, which means there’s at least a little bit for everyone to like, which is one way to find consensus. For example, the bill includes increased funding for the Active Transportation Program, but it comes with a trade-off on Complete Streets language.

Whether his approach will garner the bill the support it needs remains to be seen. It has yet to be scheduled for a committee hearing. After the jump we discuss some of the bill’s highlights. Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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Does It Make Sense for Transit Agencies to Pay for “Last Mile” Uber Trips?

Should transit agencies subsidize short “last-mile” Uber trips to expand transit access for people who live outside comfortable walking distance of a train station?

Is it smart of transit agencies to use Uber subsidies to expand their service areas? Map of Atlanta's MARTA plus a three-and-half mile buffer via CAP

The green areas denote where people would be eligible for ride-hail commute subsidies. Map: CAP

Columbus, Ohio, has proposed something along these lines as part of its application for U.S. DOT’s Smart City Challenge. The city is one of seven finalists competing for a $50 million federal grant.

New technologies associated with ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft make such a program more feasible, but is it a good idea? In a new report, the Center for American Progress explores how such a program might work for low-income residents of Atlanta.

CAP’s Kevin DeGood and Andrew Schwartz don’t reach a firm conclusion about the merits of such a program, but their report suggests it would have very limited impact.

They start by defining who would be eligible for the subsidized ride-hailing program, mapping out a radius of 3.5 miles from MARTA stations while excluding areas closer than half a mile away from a MARTA rail station or a quarter mile away from bus lines that connect to rail.

In one of their scenarios, any commuter living in that zone who doesn’t own a car would be eligible for a $3 ride-hailing subsidy for each trip to or from work. That would reach an estimated 8,300 people and cost $12 million per year.

In the other scenario, the same subsidy would be available for workers in households below the poverty line with three or more children, regardless of car ownership. CAP estimates this would encompass 3,300 people and cost $5 million per year.

Read more…

Via Streetsblog California
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#DamienTalks 35 – Mike Gatto and Parking Placard Reform

Parking placard abuse.

#DamienTalksArguing for reforms in the placard system is one of the few times parking reformers don’t sound overly wonky to the larger car driving public. In California, one out of every eight drivers has a disabled parking placard, a number which doesn’t correlate to data concerning how many drivers SHOULD have such a placard.

This abuse of the placard system creates a ripple effect of unsafe street conditions, a distorted view of our car parking stock, and worst of all undercuts the value of the placard to those drivers who are actually disabled.

Today #DamienTalks with Assemblymember Mike Gatto (D-SFV) about AB 2602, his legislation that seeks to reduce placard abuse through two common sense reforms attacking the supply of and demand for disabled placards to those who don’t really need them. Gatto’s legislation sailed through committee last week.

Also moving in the Assembly is Gatto’s “Parking Bill of Rights” which takes a broader look at parking issues.

We’re always looking for sponsors, show ideas, and feedback. You can contact me at damien@streetsblog.org, at twitter @damientypes, online at Streetsblog California or on Facebook at StreetsblogCA. Or, if you want to reach Asm. Gatto, he can be reached at twitter @mikegatto or at his webpage, MikeGatto.com

Streetsblog USA
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After Big Push From Mayors, TIGER in Line For Slight Funding Boost

There’s good news out of the Senate committee responsible for doling out transportation funds.

The Indianapolis Cultural Trail was funded in part with a TIGER grant. Photo: Walk Indianapolis

Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee okayed a small increase in TIGER funding, according to Stephen Lee Davis at Transportation for America. TIGER is the program that allows local governments to compete directly for transportation funds, circumventing state DOTs, and helps get a lot of walking, biking, and transit projects off the ground. It must be renewed every year, so its prospects are always in doubt.

If approved by the full Senate and House, the committee’s proposal would set TIGER funding at $525 million, a $25 million increase over the previous year’s budget.

Elected officials and civic leaders across the U.S. campaigned for funding TIGER. A letter signed by 25 mayors — including the mayors of Tallahassee, Kansas City, and Anchorage, Alaska — urge lawmakers to continue the program [PDF], noting that applications for TIGER grants have typically exceeded available funds by a factor of 10.

T4A’s Davis said the bill could be brought to a floor vote sometime this week. The same bill would also authorize $2.3 billion for New Starts, the grant program that funds major transit expansion projects, and $1.4 billion for passenger rail. Those funding levels are in line with what was laid out in the most recent federal transportation law.

Streetsblog LA
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Parents Restrict Toy Guns, Why Not Restrict Toy Cars? #StreetsR4Families

If only all cars were as puffy and harmless as this one. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

If only all cars were as puffy and harmless as this one. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Many parents, including me and my mother, don’t let their kids play with toy guns. We believe that guns aren’t good for kids. They inure children to the danger inherent to guns.

But what about toy cars?

I write about transportation, so I am no expert on guns. From a little online research, here’s what I found. On an annual basis in the United States, cars have killed more people than guns. Since the 1960s, car deaths are trending downward. Gun deaths are trending upward. For the past half-decade, though, cars and guns each killed more than 30,000 people per year in the U.S.

U.S. Car deaths have historically been greater than gun deaths. Currently each accounts for roughly 30,000 deaths per year. Image via Bloomberg

U.S. Car deaths have historically been greater than gun deaths. Currently each accounts for roughly 30,000 deaths per year. Image via Bloomberg

But whether cars or guns kill more isn’t the question. It doesn’t matter which serial killer has the lower body count. Both kill.

We restrict our kids from playing with guns. We allow our kids to cuddle with, read about, and watch cartoons about cars.

Car toys are ubiquitous. Cars are in movies, on television, in video games, and books. Kids play with toy cars, ride in toy cars, clutch stuffed toy cars as they fall asleep. My mom encouraged my siblings and me to play car-race video games as an alternative to shoot-em-up video games.

What messages are all these toy cars giving to our children? Read more…