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  1. #1
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    Boston aims for 30-50% of trips by bike

    OK, so it's a 30-year goal - do you think they (or your town) can get there?

    Nicole Freedman seeks gold medal for Boston cycling - Opinion - The Boston Globe

  2. #2
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    Boston aims for 30-50% of trips by bike

    Ambitious plan. I see some issues with it. Having the lanes is only part of the equation. The most important part is that development needs to support short trips. Here in Indy, I see a lot more bikes used for transportation in places where development is more dense. Get out into the sprawling developments of suburbia and the only bikes you see are kitted up roadies and the occasional family in the outlying suburbs that require developers to construct paths around new neighborhoods.

    Those things are good, too, but those riders aren't out getting milk or going to work. Partly because groceries and work are often several miles or more away.

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    Amsterdam and Copenhagen are in that range, so it's theoretically possible.

    But in addition to Nate's comments, I'd also mention:

    Theft - North Americans would generally seem to hate bikes, and yet bike theft is huge? That supply/demand doesn't make any sense to me, but potential theft is a big deterrent to casual cycling. Bikeshares and built-in gps trackers might help with this in the future.

    Clothing - Personally I'd love to know how the Europeans ride in long wool coats, scarves and hats. It's a degree or two above freezing, and I'm in a lightweight merino tee, and I'm still sweating. Under 2 or 3km and I'm probably okay, but after that I'm sweating.

    Helmets: This ties in with clothing, because I've got a decently vented helmet, and a shaved head, but I know I'd be less sweaty if I didn't wear a helmet. I've got relatives from Denmark who ride everywhere, and when they visited helmets were basically a foreign concept. They obviously knew what they were, but couldn't understand why you'd wear one to ride to dinner or the market.

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    Getting groceries has to be part of that equation. And to do that for a family with kids really takes a different kind of bike thus an additional investment. In order to take a bike grocery shopping without even thinking about it, you'd need a chain guard for your pants, fenders, likely a dyno light that can't be stolen easily, and some kind of wire panniers (if you've tried 4 bags of groceries in regular floppy panniers you'll know).

    Maybe they should subsidize the purchase of city bikes?

    I know you can do errands on a regular bike, but if it's not convenient and easy most people won't bother. That's why the Dutch bike everywhere - they can haul stuff around, see in the dark, not get wet, and not get their pant leg full of grease/oil.

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    I'd love to see some proper cycletrack make it to the US. You see the Dutch cities where cyclists have their own off-street paths separated from the pedestrians on the sidewalk and you understand why so many people are comfortable cycling around town, sans helmet.

  6. #6
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    If the current percent of trips by bike is 2%, I wonder what the rest of the breakdown is - car, T (subway), walking, etc. I would think they'll want a strategy that reduces cars, rather than poaching walkers or public transport users.

    In my more rural area, I don't think we'll approach 30%. Maybe the goal here should be 30% of trips under 10 miles, when the temp is above 50F.

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    I have some repurposed cat litter tubs for panniers that are great for piling with stuff. Wire isn't the only option for groceries, but point taken about big grocery trips. But this is where the development issue comes into play. Current development patterns encourage less frequent, bigger shopping trips. When I lived in TX, I had a grocery store on my commute home. I could stop in, pick up a couple of items for dinner, and roll home with nothing more than a backpack. Picking up TP required a rack to tie it down to, but that's really it. Denser development patterns with markets located "on the way" to where people are going anyway would encourage smaller, more frequent trips, and not require a single purpose cargo bike.

    Separated bike lanes/paths are important. Here in Indy, most of those sorts of things are managed as parks, but they get a lot of commuter use and errand use when they pass by the right sorts of locations. But the folks responsible for the lanes in the street have also installed some separated lanes. I think they're fantastic options, especially in really busy areas. But I don't think every mile of bike lane needs to be like that.

    I think the following tiered system would be a great start:
    No bike markings - neighborhood streets and other streets with no markings for cars
    Sharrows - low traffic roads with a right lane wide enough for a bike and a car to pass simultaneously
    Painted lanes - medium traffic roads with moderate speed limits (probably up to 40mph or so) where folks need more visual cues to give cyclists more space. road design otherwise relatively safe for cyclists
    Separated lanes (with something like pylons) - High traffic roads and high speed limit roads where cyclists need more protection
    Separated lanes/Separate path (where there is physical space AND a physical barrier between cars and bikes - like a median or more) - perfect for things like "bike highways" to help cyclists move through an area more rapidly. Should probably have bridges to help move through-traffic and ramps for cyclists who wish to split off.

    I think it would be good policy for EVERY road to be required to have one of the above cycling facilities. But that kind of thing won't happen here with bikes having single digit use rates. I think starting with sharrows and painted lanes will open things up to more people and increase use. As use increases, we can start adding the additional facilities in places they would be warranted. Backed by actual traffic metrics, not by which road would be cheapest to add this kind of facility, or based on some politician's pet project.

    I think to avoid poaching users from other public transport options, encouraging multi-modal use is going to be key. Folks should be able to bike or bus to the nearest station, ride the train to the station nearest their destination, and have a relatively quick trip to their final destination. This might just require allowing folks to take their bikes on the train/bus, or having a sufficient bike share program at the destination and secure (bike locker) parking at the beginning of the trip that they don't NEED to take their personal bike on the train/bus. There are ways around it, but all the transport methods should complement each other.

    I've seen plans for a pretty comprehensive transit system here in Indy. I doubt it'll happen as currently planned because of the ambitious nature of it and how tight locals tend to be when it comes to public financing of things. But the current plan involves a light rail system offering a number of connections on the most heavily traveled corridors, bus rapid-transit to fill in gaps on other fairly heavily-traveled corridors, a bus system that helps get folks to/from the train/BRT stations, a network of bike lanes that connect to every planned station, and a network (a rough spoke-and-hub arrangement) of greenway trails (separated lanes by another term, IMO) that connect to bike lanes and public transit stations. Combining the bike lanes and greenway paths would put the city's bike facilities well in excess of 300mi, and possibly in the neighborhood of 400mi). Interestingly, while the connections and relationship of the different aspects to each other is being promoted, the public transit, bike lane, and greenway plans are all separate, independent plans.

    I hope the plan encourages better/smarter development along the way. Parts of the city are getting this kind of redevelopment that make a transportation system like this more viable. But large areas are still just vast expanses of parking lot.

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    As a Bostonian, I think Boston is better poised to achieve such a goal than most other places I've lived. The compact nature of the city and the well-accepted public transportation system already encourage citizens to consider alternative transportation. And the success of the Hubway bike rental system indicates Bostonians want to bike!

    One possible deterrent to that goal is our weather. Our winters eliminate all but the most hearty cyclists due to the snow, wind, and sub-zero temps. That 30% will be hard to realize with only 7-8 months of "rideable" weather.

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    Quote Originally Posted by connolm View Post
    As a Bostonian, I think Boston is better poised to achieve such a goal than most other places I've lived. The compact nature of the city and the well-accepted public transportation system already encourage citizens to consider alternative transportation. And the success of the Hubway bike rental system indicates Bostonians want to bike!

    One possible deterrent to that goal is our weather. Our winters eliminate all but the most hearty cyclists due to the snow, wind, and sub-zero temps. That 30% will be hard to realize with only 7-8 months of "rideable" weather.
    Very true. It may take longer for that many folks to warm up to riding their bikes in that kind of weather. I am definitely less likely to pull out the bike and do errands or ride to work when I'm bundled up like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. Changing gear is a pain. And finding the right gear for certain conditions can really suck. The shoulder seasons with wild swings in conditions over the course of the day are tough.

  10. #10
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    Pros and cons of Boston bikecommuting from a one-week veteran.

    http://bostinno.streetwise.co/2013/0...ing-to-work-2/

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