Friday, June 26, 2009

Weekly Update

June 26, 2009
This week I have been hearing from people wanting to help with bike plan implementation—which is terrific. I’m also trying to set up meetings for just that. The challenge is coordinating so many schedules. I’ll post the meeting dates once they are set so anyone can attend. The topics for this round of meetings will be marketing/promotion of bicycling; bike safety classes; programs/events; and monitoring/evaluation/bike counts.

Bike racks will be going in Halls Crossroads Centre at Wal-Mart, Biketopia and Ingles. The property management company purchased them through our grant program and will be installing them soon. Yea! I’ll also be checking on a location today in the Old City (on Jackson) for another rack. Here’s a link to the bike rack grant website, complete with cards you can print for when you find a business that needs racks Be sure to let me know when you’ve contacted a business, and especially if you get the name of the manager, so I can follow up with them.

It’s the end of the fiscal year for our agency, so there is a lot of paperwork to be done to close things out and prepare for next year. It also means that purchases are on hold until July. For instance, we will be re-printing the Blount County Bicycle Map as soon as we can. Smoky Mountain Wheelmen, the Foothill Striders, Cycology and Mountain View Bicycles have all signed on again as sponsors.

We’re getting into planning mode for the annual Neighborhood Bike Ride. I can’t believe this will be the 9th one. When it started, I thought we would be lucky to have 20 or 30 people come out, and we had 150! Now we average about 250 participants. I hope that I can bring my daughter on the ride this year. (We were just spectators last year.) I’m still trying to decide between a seat or a trailer for her. I’ve only got 7 speeds on my commuter bike so not sure I can handle a trailer! Any thoughts from you parents out there?

Happy biking,

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Whoa, there.

Great way to slow down bicyclists who go too fast on the greenways!

>>>> from the London Telegraph, June 18, 2009
Cyclists were encouraged to slow down thanks to this crater-sized "hole" in the middle of a towpath. But the hole is an optical illusion, a three-dimensional drawing of a canyon, in an attempt to make careless cyclists hit the brakes rather than ride dangerously and ignore pedestrians.

The pavement art, the work of Joe Hill and Max Lowry, who specialise in three-dimensional images, was commissioned by British Waterways and was installed along the Regent's Canal towpath in Islington, North London.

Track crashes and hazards

Cascade Bicycle Club Launches Cycling Safety Web Site

A new cycling safety web site, Bikewise, was launched this June by Cascade Bicycle Club. Bikewise provides a venue for cyclists to track and report crashes, hazards and thefts in order to maintain and improve cyclists' safety on the road. Currently, the user-generated content on Bikewise is focused on the greater Puget Sound area, but cyclists around the world can access and update it with their own information. Track cycling safety in your area!

4th of July ride

it's that time of the year. it is time to dig out your most patriotic outfit, get some red white and blue tinsel for your bike, and come ride your bike through the streets of Knoxville in style. let's show people how real patriots get around town with none of that gasoline money going to those oil-rich yet democracy-deficient countries around the world. we've got people power up in here, because America is the Saudi Arabia of THIGHS! and don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

WHEN: Saturday, the 4th of July. 2pm bike and rider decoration party begins. 4pm ride departs.
WHERE: The Birdhouse (800 N. 4th Ave)
DRESS: to impress. we will have decorative "freedom wings" available ($3 suggested donation). also, if you have a surplus of American-themed decorations please bring them to share with others.
ROUTE: we're open to suggestions, but we will definitely hit up the close-in neighborhoods, Downtown, and World's Fair Park

see you out there, patriots!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

New Blog Feature!

I’m trying something new—I’ll be letting you know what I’m working on each week. Today, for instance, I have been in communication with the Sustainability Coordinator at UT about where new bike racks are needed. UT purchased 150 racks a few years ago through our grant program (the business or agency only has to pay 20% of the actual cost of bike racks!), but bicycling numbers have increased since then and there seems to be demand for more racks. One issue, though, is that the racks around dorms are full of mostly un-used bikes.

We also talked about setting up bike tours for freshmen, just before classes start, showing them around campus, and how to get downtown and to Bearden. We may also offer bike safety classes (Confident City Cycling) at UT next year as well.

The Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) is about to start implementation of the recently adopted 2009 Bicycle Plan.
If you are interested in helping us improve bicycling, email me at

Ellen in my office and I are talking about how to get developers (and KUB) to think about pedestrians and bicyclists during construction work. We hope to work on some standards to be adopted by local governments. She and I have also been working on the next phase of greenway signage. If you have been on Third Creek Greenway and seen the directional signs and new maps at the trailheads, that’s what we’re doing on Neyland, James White and Second Creek greenways now. It’s much more complicated than anyone could imagine so it takes awhile.

Some bicyclists around the state are hoping to start a Tennessee bicycle advocacy organization. They are meeting August 8th at 9 a.m. in Nashville, and one of our BAC members is attending. He has room in his car, so let me know if you want to join in the fun.

Check back soon for updates! And let me know if this is too much info, not enough, or just right. I'm trying to just hit the highlights.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

KAT news conference

Change is coming to KAT

You are cordially invited to a
news conference
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
9:30 a.m.
Knoxville Convention Center Exhibit Hall B (First Floor)

Over the following 14 months, mass transit in Knoxville will be undergoing dramatic changes, including a new brand, a new transit center, a route restructure, advanced technologies, and a new way of thinking. We invite you to join us for coffee and a light breakfast as we unveil our new look, and tell you about our upcoming changes.

Stylish riding

Cool blog.

Monday, June 1, 2009

new bike book

The New York Times
David Byrne
May 31, 2009

book review
How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities
By Jeff Mapes
228 pp. Oregon State University Press. Paper, $19.95
Full disclosure: I've ridden a bike around New York as my principal means of transport for 30 years, so I'm inclined to sympathize with the idea that a cycling revolution is upon us, and that it's a good thing. Like Jeff Mapes, the author of "Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities," I've watched the streets fill over the years with more and varied bike riders. It's no longer just me, some food delivery guys and a posse of reckless messengers. Far from it.

That said, the revolution isn't here just yet. Hedge fund managers and General Motors executives aren't riding to work (though don't laugh, they will), and this book is not likely to reach beyond the already converted, which includes me, other cycling advocates, and people in the city-planning and transportation universe. But the book is useful - for those of us who occasionally find ourselves on the defensive, Mapes provides names, dates, facts and figures. He details how cities from Amsterdam to Paris to New York to Davis, Calif., have developed policies encouraging cycling in recent decades, and how other towns are just beginning to make way for bikes. He lays out in an easily digestible way a fair amount of material on trip patterns, traffic safety and air pollution. He quotes the relevant studies and shows how those studies have been either heeded or ignored. All this information is great ammunition for those of us who would like to see American cities become more bike-friendly but may be a tough sell for the people on the fence - the ones who've taken the occasional Sunday ride along a riverfront greenway or in a park, or have a vague feeling that they might possibly bike to work somehow someday.

"Pedaling Revolution" is not all facts and figures. Mapes, a journalist who covers politics for The Oregonian, describes how he gained weight and started feeling a bit down when he was forced to exchange his 10-mile daily bike commute in Portland for a "super-sized, 50-mile" drive to the Legislature in Salem. He argues that cycling promotion can raise society's level of general fitness, since people exercise more when it seems less like exercise and more like something mostly enjoyable that also performs a function, like getting to work. "Bike and walking advocates," he writes, "have been rebranding their cause as 'active transportation,' which manages to come off as nonthreatening to your average couch-bound American while carrying a nice touch of gravitas as well."

Mapes finds the experience of riding around Portland - North America's most bike-friendly city (though I think Vancouver is close) - so enjoyable that he takes as a given that it's a positive thing, something that more communities should accommodate without question. But as he and I know, there's a lot of opposition. The United States is as much a car culture as ever, even if the companies that helped make us that way are now in ruins. And governments and urban planners have all been in on the game, helping make the idea of cheap, effortless transportation and a car of one's own a dream every American might aspire to.

"Pedaling Revolution" is not about mountain biking the Moab sandstone formations in Utah or the network of bucolic paths that link some of the rural Massachusetts colleges; it's not about racing, Lance Armstrong or what kind of spandex to buy. Nor is it about the various forms of extreme biking that have arisen lately: bike jousting on specially made high-horse bikes, BMX tricks or the arcane world of fixed-gear bikes, or fixies. For decades, Americans have too often seen cycling as a kind of macho extreme sport, which has actually done a lot to damage the cause of winning acceptance for biking as a legitimate form of transportation. If your association with bikes is guys in spandex narrowly missing you on the weekends or YouTube videos of kids flying over ramps on their clown-size bikes, you're likely to think that bikes are for only the athletic and the risk-prone. Manufacturers in the United States have tended to make bikes that look like the two-wheeled equivalent of Hummers, with fat tires and stocky frames necessitating a hunched-over riding position that is downright unsafe for urban biking and commuting. But that's been changing for at least a few years now. Whew.

As Mapes points out, when more women begin riding, that will signal a big change in attitude, which will prompt further changes in the direction of safety and elegance. I can ride till my legs are sore and it won't make riding any cooler, but when attractive women are seen sitting upright going about their city business on bikes day and night, the crowds will surely follow. A recent article in a British newspaper showed the pop singer Duffy on a pink bike. The model Agyness Deyn claims never to be without hers, and Courteney Cox reportedly presented Jennifer Aniston with a Chanel bike last year. Tabloid fodder does not a revolution make, but it's a start.

Toward the end of the book, Mapes gets into debates over bike lanes (are they really safer?), safety rules (should cyclists have to obey stop signs?) and traffic ideologies (should cyclists claim a full space in a lane, or stick to the edge of the road?) that only an obsessive or an advocate (hello!) is likely to be interested in. But the debates he presents may end up helping us all. Greenways, safer bike lanes, pedestrian zones and bike parking places will make our cities not only more comfortable and enjoyable, but also, as Janette Sadik-Khan, the New York City transportation commissioner, said recently, more economically competitive as well, as more of them become places where people with ideas and creative ambitions want to both live and work.

David Byrne's most recent album is "Everything That Happens Will Happen Today." His book "Bicycle Diaries" will be published in the fall.