Bike Month in New York City Promotes Clean and Sustainable Lifestyle

With the increasingly warmer weather and longer days, spring is in full bloom. New York City takes this annual season, in the month of May, to present Bike Month, a city wide campaign that encourages New Yorkers to spend time cycling around the city that never sleeps. Started in 1990, Bike Month originally began as only a one day celebration of all things cycling. Two decades ago, people were encouraged to ride their bikes to work for one day. The festivities have grown since then, and over the years has become a month long event. With the sole purpose of promoting the biking lifestyle, this New York City campaign is able to advocate for a healthier, greener lifestyle.
New York City has partnered up with government agencies and organizations to bring Bike Month to the public. New York City’s Department of Transportation has been a key player in creating and exposing New Yorkers to the May festivities. With the mission of showcasing an environmentally friendly alternative, the Department of Transportation hopes to encourage New Yorkers to bike to work and around town, while maintaining a healthy relationship with the environment. Another important team member of Bike Month is Transportation Alternatives, an organization that believes the people of New York can steer away from relying on cars as a means of transportation, and instead walk, take public transportation, and bicycle from place to place. The overall missions of these two partners are promoted throughout the month, with the hopes that their message will be carried on permanently in New Yorker’s lifestyles.
Other major contributors to Bike Month are New York City’s Department of Parks and Recreation, New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and GreenNYC. GreenNYC is an organization that strives to educate people on the importance of how simple, daily actions, can reduce the overall amount of pollution in the environment, as well as decrease  greenhouse gases. The combination of these organizations working together are positively aiming to make New York City a greener place to live and enjoy.
Bike Month hosts hundreds of cycling events throughout the five boroughs. There are plenty of different races, rides, and workshops happening throughout the city for adults and children to take part in. Bike Month has set up an event entitled, Three Beaches in Brooklyn. Cyclists are able to take to the waterfront of Brooklyn, in historical Coney Island towards Floyd Bennet Field. The event gives riders the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and a more tranquil side of New York City. Brooklyn will also be hosting a class for adults who want to learn how to ride a bike. Instructors will help adults learn the basics of bicycle riding and motivate them to continue practicing with their newly learned skills. A similar class for children will take place in Staten Island, the Bronx, and Queens.
Bike rides are taking place throughout Manhattan and the outer boroughs. There are chances for cyclists to ride in community parks in Manhattan, along the waterfront, and during a moonlight ride in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. The Lighthouse Hill bike ride, taking place in Staten Island, allows cyclists to ride down quiet streets while taking in some of the architectural and cultural sights of Staten Island. The route passes by an active light house, as well as museums and a private house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Another worthwhile bike tour goes through the Brooklyn Navy Yard, while the Bridges by Night tour brings cyclists over a number of bridges along the Harlem River at twilight. A quirky Brooklyn event with a bit of nostalgia is the Bike-in-Theater, a free movie screening similar to that of a drive in movie, where participants are encouraged to ride their bikes instead of taking cars.
Along with learning how to ride a bike and actually riding around the streets of New York City, Bike Month hosts events markets for bike enthusiasts. The Brooklyn Bike Jumble is the place to buy and sell both new and used bicycles. Buyers and vendors will be on hand with an array of bicycles, as well as other cycling merchandise and accessories. There is also a class available to the public, entitled Bike Maintenance 201, that discusses and teaches people how to properly repair their bicycles. New Yorkers can also learn about different styles of bikes, including the various models of folding bicycles.
Friday, May 20th, is designated as National Bike to Work Day. Participants will have the chance to join thousands of other cyclists during their daily commute. Transportation Alternatives will have stations set up all across New York City distributing Clif bars and iced coffee for the commute to work. There are an estimated 236,000 people who use bicycles in New York City daily, and organizations like Transportation Alternatives would like to see this number grow with their positive outreach and education on how to make the city greener and healthier by bicycling.

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Barclays Cycle Superhighways Receive Positive Results

January 27, 2011 – By Jen Noelken

London’s newest green initiative is up and working with positive statistical trends.  Barclays Cycle Superhighways allow bicyclists a safer way to commute from the outskirts of London into the heart of London.  The first two routes launched in July by Barclays Human Resources Director, Cathy Turner and London Mayor, Boris Johnson.  With the launch, the Transport for London (TfL) office published figures showing a 70 percent increase over the routes since last year.

Representatives refer to the two part project initiative as “schemes.”  The first scheme focuses on construction and use of the Superhighways.  The second scheme focuses on development of a bike sharing program.  Barclays purchased a London based bike sharing company from Mayor Johnson and will incorporate use into the Superhighways bike options.  The bike sharing program based itself off Montreal’s program called “Bixi.”  Six thousand bikes bearing the Barclays logo will be available for a daily access fee.  Four hundred docking stations within zone one will allow for easy pick up and drop off of shared bikes.

The first launch features a route from Merton to the City (called route CS7) and a route from Barking to Tower Gateway (called route CS3).  Each route is approximately 12.5 kilometers or just over 7.5 miles in length.  Cathy Turner and others involved in the Cycle project placed bikers’ safety at the forefront of design. 

Lanes must meet a minimum standard of 1.5 meters (just under 5 feet) in width, 37 mirrors (called “Trixi”) are fixed at junctions giving drivers better visibility of cyclists before turning, and “84 new Advanced Stop Lines at least 5m [roughly 16 feet] deep at junctions, providing a space for cyclists to wait ahead of queuing traffic.”  Bike lanes are clearly marked giving cyclists direct and continuous routes through central London.  The lanes are painted blue for easy visibility of routes and for bikers’ safety.    

Sponsored by famous British bank, Barclays Bank PLC, the new Cycle Superhighways are intended to attract a healthier and environmentally-friendly alternative to motor vehicles.  The heart of the program aims to improve cycling conditions for people already commuting by bike, encourage new cyclist, help keep people fit, decrease traffic congestion, alleviate overcrowded public transport, and reduce emissions.

Mayor Boris Johnson hopes the new Cycle Superhighways will help Londoners turn to pedal power for daily commutes.  He goes on to state that he would like London to transform into a cycling city.  Mayor Johnson wants people to see the benefits of biking for air quality, transportation issues, and for health and personal finances.

So far, statistical figures from TfL show growing percentages of cycle use in all areas studied.  Routes CS7 and CS3 use have risen by 70% with an increase of 100% on some stretches during peak hours.  Figures also show an increase of 34% of new cyclists using the routes since Barclays Cycle Superhighways launch.  Many bikers remarked the safety standards allow them to feel more comfortable biking.  But, as a bonus the bikers explained they commute via bike routes as a means for a healthier lifestyle, to save money, and make the commute more pleasant.

Chief Executive of London Cycling Campaign (LCC), Ashok Sinha, said he is excited to hear more Londoners are biking.  He stated TfL and LCC members will continue to work together to increase the quality of the next routes.  Sinha hopes the next routes will attract even more Londoners to use the Superhighways.

Barclays Cycle Superhighways are set to expand to 12 highly-visible blue cycle routes by the end of 2015.            

Copenhagen to Build “Superhighways” for Bikes

November 30, 2010

In Copenhagen, one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world, 500,000 commuters travel to school or to work by bicycle every day.  This equally nearly 40% of the commuting population, with the remainder split almost evenly between those driving in cars and those who take public transportation.  Copenhagen’s success at persuading people to adopt low-carbon forms of transportation has already made it an international model for cities that want more people to get around by bike.  However the city is aiming to go even further.  To increase the percentage of individuals who commute by bike even more, Copenhagen is looking at designing bicycle “superhighways” that make it easier to commute from the suburbs to the city.

By the year 2015, Copenhagen officials hope fully half the commuter trips in the city will take place on the seat of a bicycle.  To accomplish this goal Andreas Roehl, bicycle program manager for the Copenhagen area, is working to address the needs of bicyclists commuting to and from the city from the suburbs.  Because suburb commuters must travel a longer distance than those who live and work in the inner city, supplying them with good bicycling options can be particularly challenging. 

Bicycle superhighways—safe and well-kept streets for bicycles that travel from city to suburb in the straightest possible line—might turn out to be the solution.  In addition to keeping the roads clear of ice, leaves, and other hazards, advocates of the superhighway idea plan to provide bicycle maintenance stations along the route, which will allow cyclists to repair or pump up a tire should one of their wheels sprout a leak.  Another step that could make cycling on the superhighway convenient is to time traffic lights so riders traveling at twenty kilometers per hour will encounter almost all green lights and seldom have to stop.  This “Green Wave” concept has been implemented successfully on three bicycle routes within the city of Copenhagen already.

Concerns about global warming and oil dependence have prompted planners and local government officials from around the world to look to Copenhagen as a model for low-carbon transportation options.  In fact there is even a word for city planning that seeks to replicate the Danish city’s successes: “Copenhagenization.”  Results achieved so far in Copenhagen show that when alternative transportation is made easy, large numbers of people of all ages and from all walks of life become willing to give up their cars. 

However Copenhagen has not become a biking capital of the world by accident.  Rather a history of policy decisions that prioritize bicycles and alternative transit over cars has contributed to making the city the success story it is today.  During the 1930s and ‘40s, a tax on cars gave Copenhagen residents an incentive to use bicycles or public transportation instead.  This contributed to the city’s population staying focused on bikes through the ‘50s and ‘60s, while much of the rest of the industrialized world was embracing the automobile.  More recently, the government has spent $44 million on bicycle infrastructure projects over the last four years alone.  And today the city has a rule that during snowstorms bikeways are cleared of snow before the streets used by cars.

Meanwhile cities like New York, London, and San Francisco are finding reliance on cars comes with problems inner-city pollution, vulnerability to high gas prices, and a loss of a sense of place—not to mention higher carbon emissions.  They are trying to replicate Copenhagen’s efforts even as the Danish city strives to become even more bike-friendly.  The next several years may see bicycle superhighways cropping up around the world, as cities continue to Copenhagenize. 

Photo credit: Hunter Desportes

Is an Apple iBike in the Works?

[img_assist|nid=186374|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=251|height=241]Based on a patent filed by Apple on Thursday, it appears the company has been working on a technology that will allow bikers to track in real time important data such as speed, distance, location, and much much more. The system would hook-up to the user’s bike, which would then communicate directly with an iPod or iPhone the biker would need to carry.

The premise of the product is similar to Apple’s “Nike + iPod” system, except is for bikers instead of runners. Additional metrics the iBike system could measure include, time, altitude, elevation, incline, decline, heart rate, power, derailleur setting, cadence, wind speed, path completed, expected future path, heart rate, power, and pace.

The iBike system (not an official name yet) could also be used with partners, allow fellow cyclists to track and share information about each other within the group. And of course, similar to the Nike + iPod system, the iBike would allow bikers to track on a map where they have been and where they plan to go. There is no official word yet from Apple on when, or even if, this product will be released.

Image credit

Via EcoWorld

Red Bike Scare: Republican Candidate Warns Bicycle Rentals Will Lead to UN Take-Over

[img_assist|nid=186163|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=333|height=219]August 4 — Colorado’s Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes has accused his likely opponent, Democratic Mayor John Hickenlooper, of “converting Denver into a United Nations community” by promoting bike riding and other sustainability issues.

According to Maes, who is a Tea Party favorite, Hickenlooper’s bike plans are “all very well-disguised, but [they] will be exposed.”

Specifically, the plans that Maes is raising the alarm over include the city’s B-Cycle program which makes a network of about 400 red bikes available for rent at locations throughout the city. B-Cycle’s website touts that, “bike sharing makes it economical and convenient to use bikes for trips that are too far to walk but too short to drive…. With your magic red bike, you don’t have to look for a parking space or bring your own bike with you everywhere you go. Plus, riding a B-cycle is good for you and good for the environment. It’s the newest and best way to get around town.”

However, Maes warns that B-Cycle is “bigger than it looks like on the surface, and it could threaten our personal freedoms.”

[img_assist|nid=186164|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=250|height=167]Additionally, Maes, who made these comments during a campaign rally and also to the Denver Post, worries about Denver’s membership in the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). The ICLEI, which is an international association of local governments dedicated to sustainable development, has over 600 US communities as members.

Maes, however, says he is not being fooled — “At first, I thought, ‘Gosh, public transportation, what’s wrong with that, and what’s wrong with people parking their cars and riding their bikes? And what’s wrong with incentives for green cars?’ But if you do your homework and research, you realize ICLEI is part of a greater strategy to rein in American cities under a United Nations treaty,” adding “some would argue this document that mayors have signed is contradictory to our own Constitution.”

Responding to Maes’ accusations that Mayor Hickenlooper is leading Denver down a path towards UN rule, a spokesman for the mayor noted that Denver’s membership in ICLEI dates back to 1992, while Mr. Hickenlooper was elected mayor in 2003.

More about the “controversial” B-Cycle program: