Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Maybe We're Better Than Spain?

NPR story this morning:
"While cycling as a sport is extremely popular in Spain, hardly anyone there uses a bicycle to commute, run errands or just to have fun."

Is it wrong for me to be excited that we are better than at least one country in Europe?

By the way, I am reading Pedaling Revolution and highly recommend it!

"Jeff Mapes explores the growing urban bike culture that is changing the look and feel of cities across the U.S. He rides with bike advocates who are taming the streets of New York City, joins the street circus that is Critical Mass in San Francisco, and gets inspired by the everyday folk pedaling in Amsterdam, the nirvana of American bike activists. Mapes explores the growth of bicycle advocacy while covering such issues as the environmental, safety, and health aspects of bicycling for short urban trips. His rich cast of characters includes Noah Budnick, a young bicycle advocate in New York who almost died in a crash near the Brooklyn Bridge, and Congressman James Oberstar (D-MN), who took to bicycling in his fifties and helped unleash a new flood of federal money for bikeways. Chapters set in Chicago and Portland show how bicycling has became a political act, with seemingly dozens of subcultures, and how cyclists, with the encouragement of local officials, are seizing streets back from motorists. Pedaling Revolution is essential reading for the approximately one million people who regularly ride their bike to work or on errands, for anyone engaged in transportation, urban planning, sustainability, and public health—and for drivers trying to understand why they’re seeing so many cyclists. All will be interested in how urban bike activists are creating the future of how we travel and live in twenty-first-century cities."

Monday, July 27, 2009

Weekly Update

The Bicycle Plan implementation is moving forward. The performance measures committee met and developed a lot of options for how we can measure success (or lack of), and we will meet again to decide which are things we can track on a regular basis, and what our goal/targets should be. One example is bike counts. What kind of increase should we expect in those numbers over the next few years? I'll put the performance measures on the TPO Bike Program website for comment as soon as we've got a draft ready.

The bike map committee met today. One thing that came out was wanting to hear from the public on any backways/shortcuts that you take in different areas, either to save time or avoid bad roads. And if you think that the conditions of a certain road have changed since we last printed the map and the rating should be changed, please let me know that too. Sometimes it was hard to decide if a road should be yellow or red--traffic may be light, but speeds are high, for example. We do plan on zooming in a bit more on the city side of the map to provide more detail. The trade-off is losing some of the bike routes. We'll explore whether we have room for insets for those.

The marketing/programs committee will meet on Monday, August 10th at 3:30 p.m. in the MPC large conference room, 4th floor of the City-County Building. This group will be working on these two action steps:

• Spread the word about the bike program and bicycling, encouragement and safety (bring it into the 21st century--updated strategies like facebook and video).
• Special events and programs that encourage bicycling, including bicycle rides, Bike to Work and Smart Trips Month events.

Please attend if you would like!

I am updating the list of where bike racks purchased through our grant program have been installed and preparing a way for us to assess how much they are used (doing random counts throughout the year). If you would like to help us by checking bike racks at various times to see how many bikes are parked there, let me know We have installed 411 racks around the region, so we could definitely use some help.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Volunteer Opportunity

We conduct bicycle/pedestrian counts twice a year (spring and fall) on weekdays, but I would like to do some Saturday counts in August (before UT football starts!). They would be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the corner of Gay/Summit Hill and Clinch/Henley. I'm looking for volunteers. If I get enough people, it could be one-hour shifts, and it would be great to have two people at each location so you can talk. (But if you're happy listening to your iPod, that's cool too.) I'm looking forward to seeing how many people are getting to Farmers' Market by bike!

If you want to help, email me and let me know which Saturdays in August you'd be available.

Friday, July 17, 2009

More Updates

More intersection testing today. Discovered that the loops at World's Fair Park/Jackson/Broadway were cut during resurfacing and haven't been fixed yet. And at 5th and Broadway, there is video detection, which is normally great news for bicyclists, but in this case, the video wasn't set up to detect the rightmost lane westbound (or the center lane eastbound, but that shouldn't affect bicyclists). The City will work on getting both of those issues fixed.

Yesterday I attended a meeting of the Downtown North Streetscapes Committee. If you have any comments on how Broadway and Central corridors should look and function (sidewalks, street trees, bike lanes, building form, where parking is located, etc), you can email More info will be posted on soon, I expect. The committee basically looked at large-scale, detailed maps of the area and added notes about areas of concern and areas that we like. I made some comments about crossings that are hard for bicyclists and pedestrians, and the most common ways bicyclists travel through and across the area. The area under discussion is between Broadway/Central intersection up toward Woodland.

Those of you in Farragut may have noticed work is underway for a widening of Campbell Station Rd between Kingston Pike and the section that is already wide. Good news in that this project will include bike lanes!

I met with UT Cartography about creating some route maps that show UT campus to Bearden, and UT Campus to downtown and Old City. This is in preparation for "UT Bikes" Day on Wed, Sept 2nd. UT Outdoors Program and Make Orange Green are going to have various events that day, as well as group rides to Bearden and downtown, to show students how to get there by bike.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Weekly Update

This is my first day in the office after a long weekend, so here's the update for last week. I spent about 3 hours with a City of Knoxville Traffic Signal Engineer on Wed testing just 3 1/2 intersections to make sure bicycles would trigger a green light. Clinch/Henley had to be adjusted a little since some recent resurfacing and construction work (you have to be in the center of the lane). Clinch/11th, I discovered, is a bit strange. Instead of positioning your bike over the center pavement cut (center of the lane), you should be just a few inches to the right of it. We had one non-success story. If you are on Hill Ave turning left onto Hall of Fame, a bicyclist won't get a green light. That loop detector is very old and can't be adjusted to make it work. There is a push button there, which is awkward to use when you are on a bicyclist. I'll let you decide if if would be better to just go straight on Hill, or use Church Ave to get to Hall of Fame instead, or...
We also tested the left turn from Summit Hill onto MLK, and the straight thru from MLK (which turns into Hill at that point). There will be more testing this week and next. If there is an intersection which hasn't worked for you, let me know

Just a refresher, it's based on metal not weight. If you see two pavement cuts, you should be on the right one (right 1/3 of the lane). If you don't see a pavement cut at all, try that side also. But many signals are simply on a timed cycle. The cycles may be fairly long for side streets, esp at night or on weekends.

More later!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Weekly Update

Sorry I didn't get an update done last week--I had to take Lily to the doctor. Hope everyone had a good holiday weekend. Lily and I watched the start of the Freedom Thighs bike ride. We can't wait to participate next year! Great job, Monika.

So, last week, I met with the UT Outdoors Program and Sustainability Coordinator about a bike event for Tues, Sept 1st. There will be rides, bike repair, and classes. Fun! Anyone have experience with guerilla marketing?

We met with City Parks and Rec and City Engineering about Phase II of the greenway signage project. We got wayfinding signs installed on Third Creek Greenway and are now working on Neyland, James White and Second Creek greenways. Hope to have them in by the end of the summer.

This week I am working on grant applications so we can continue the Smart Trips program. It's a good time to reassess what has worked and think about new ideas to try out. Especially now that the long Commuter Challenge is over.

A subcommittee of the Bicycle Advisory Committee is meeting tomorrow to talk about performance measures--how do we tell if our actions are accomplishing anything? We do bike counts twice a year at several locations. What else can we measure, and how do we know if we caused the change or something else (like high gas prices) did it? Tough topic.

Happy biking,