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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bicycle facilities terminology - the infamous "door zone"

(Photograph courtesy of Wikipedia - Image is in the public domain.)
The door zone refers to the area at the side of parallel parked cars and trucks which would be intruded upon by the car door, were it to be opened. The door zone is hazardous for cyclists to ride in, since a car door often opens without warning, leaving the cyclist no opportunity to stop in time to avoid it. Bike lanes sometimes have portions that overlap the door zone. If such were the case, it would be extra hazardous for the cyclist to swerve into the car lane in order to avoid a collision, since any passing traffic would not be expecting such a maneuver. If there were no bike lane, there still may not be the expectation of such a maneuver. Worst of all is the case where the opening car door directly knocks the cyclist into passing traffic; fatalities due to such have occurred.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

AASHTO Withdraws Recommendation

Thanks to the thousands who contacted the director of their state transportation agency regarding last week’s action alert the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) has withdrawn their recommendation to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to weaken the requirements for states to give “due consideration” to the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians when constructing roadways. The League of American Bicyclists, the National Center for Biking and Walking, and America Bikes will be meeting with AASHTO officials next month to discuss this and other important issues.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day at Vanderbilt

This was by far the most receptive group with which I have dealt.  Sharing a ride with Tom assured we got there and set up 30 min before the official start. Even so, I didn't have a chance to survey the other exhibits before people began approaching  us.  The message was easy, statewide group advocating for better infrastructure, laws and culture to advance walking and cycling as legitimate forms of transportation and if you like that, join us. We have had enough recent issues to make specific pitches to each person's interests.  Bike Walk Tennessee is an easier sell than the 3-feet license plate. About the only people expressing any interest for the license plate had already ordered.

One message repeatedly came back to us.  Cyclists are behaving badly in downtown Nashville. Even among folks who considered themselves regular cyclists, there is a concern for how we are a bunch of scofflaws.  Some were knowledgeable enough to give us a pass on the homeless, etc. but will hold our feet to the fire when it's the guys in full kit blowing though red lights and swerving in and out of lines of stalled traffic.   I'll admit to doing all that before becoming a role model.  We must spread the word that we are all role models.  As Tom has mentioned in an email, this is  perfect example of education for the 501(c)3.

Even if none of the folks sign up, it was a good experience. I encourage all the directors to take advantage of similar opportunities.  Group bike rides seem a good place to sell Bike Walk Tennessee but it is much better to meet people in venues such as the Vanderbilt Clean Air Fair.

Economics of Bike/Walk infrastructure followup: Portland's example

From a previous post, the $60 million figure that Portland, OR spent on cycling infrastructure over the years was mentioned, and that the cost was around the cost of a single mile of 4-lane urban freeway.

Question: strictly from an economic point-of-view, was the money well spent, especially when we consider the fact that even in Portland, cycling mode share is around 5% of all trips. The answer is a resounding yes. Here's why.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Recreational Rail to Trail Project Has Momentum

The Northeast Tennessee region stands to gain greatly with a pending decision Thursday night for the city of Johnson City to purchase an unused rail line linking the city with Elizabethton, TN. This wise investment in civic infrastructure will provide a safe, accessible recreational and transportation opportunity for bicyclists, pedestrians, citizens of all ages and ability levels, and a great mix of socio-economic groups. It will allow those who wish to choose alternative modes of transportation to get to work, go shopping for groceries, spend time with the family in a park, walk to school, and take a peaceful stroll through the countryside. By looking at our communities as opportunities for going about life with networks that interconnect key resources and people we are moving from civic planning that once centered on "How fast can we move traffic from point A to point B" to "Planning that integrates a Complete Streets vision in the lives of a community". Johnson City has taken a bold step forward in considering investing $600,000 in a key linkage in its plan for an interconnected system of greenways and trails and, done wisely, will reap great benefits in a healthier population and find that this kind of economic development shows tremendous return on the investment. Read more on how one community is building for a better world HERE.

Friday, April 15, 2011

April Bike Rides in NE Tn

Spring in NE TN!

Safe Pathways Bill Withdrawn

I just spoke with Rep. Ryan Haynes, who is the sponsor for HB1061, the House version of the Safe Pathways for Students billBecause of opposition to the bill in the House transportation committee, Rep. Haynes is going to withdraw the bill, rather than risk it getting voted down in committee. If it gets voted down, we would have to wait 2 years for it to be re-introduced. With the bill withdrawn, it can be re-introduced next January. Rep. Haynes told me that's what he and Sen. Jamie Woodson, the Senate bill (SB1083) sponsor, plan to do. Rep. Haynes said that the issue on the committee was due to general opposition to increasing any fee.
Ellen Zavisca, Senior Transportation Planner, Knoxville Regional TPO

This is really sad!  Senator Woodson has resigned to take a position with SCORE, so we’ll have to start anew in the Senate as well!

Joan A. Randall, MPH, Executive Director, Tennessee Obesity Taskforce

Distracted Driving Legislation Advances

SB 1171 - HB 1007 that expands the definition of distracted driving and increases penalties for harming a pedestrian or cyclist advanced by passing the full state Senate on Thursday. The interesting (to say the least) discussion can be found here. The next action is in the full House Transportation Committee.

If your representative is on the House Transportation Committee give them a call.

How Do You Ride?

Are you on a carbon fiber Dura Ace steed wearing full kit or do you commute in old khaki's and a t-shirt? Here's an interesting English view on how to ride and plan (or not) your next tour. Sometimes I think we turn off potential new cyclists with our old Discovery team jerseys and clipless pedals.

MORE Rescissions of Bike Funding

This week brings a flurry of alerts to protect and advance biking and walking. But the biggest and most important fight will be next week regarding federal rescissions.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Time to ACT - This bill's for YOU!

This bill is now moving through the General Assembly. HB 1007 passed the House Transportation Sub-committee today and will be heard in the full House Transportation Committee next week.  Please contact  your state representative and ask them to support the bill especially if they are on the House Transportation Committee. Ask them to become co-sponsors of the bill.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Knoxville Third Creek/Neyland Greenway signs

(Sign images are adapted from the Manual of Traffic Signs, by Richard C. Moeur)

This past weekend when I went through Knoxville's Third Creek and Neyland Greenways, I noticed that the Neyland Greenway had its old "cross traffic does not stop" signs replaced with the much more straightforward yield signs. Portions of Neyland Greenway runs parallel to Neyland Drive, and turning traffic from Neyland Drive will cross the greenway. As previously mentioned, parallel paths to roads have a problem with intersections, in that turning traffic has a conflict with path traffic. The yield signs remind greenway users to the fact that at every such intersection they are to yield to any turning traffic for their safety. Fortunately, the number of intersections is not large, so the number of yields is manageable.

At the Third Creek Greenway. there is a partial detour due to a KUB (Knoxville Utilities Board) project. There, I saw the new combo Bike/Ped sign with a "Share the Road" supplemental for the first time when the greenway was detoured onto sparsely used service roads of the University.

Monday, April 11, 2011

National debate in Briton on bike laws reflects on similar needs in the USA

After the death of a pedestrian by a speeding cyclist in England legislators there are proposing harsher penalties for bicyclists under a 1861 statute. This has brought up the level of debate on broader and more sensible laws that would act to provide stronger penalties for those involved in accidents involving bicyclists and automobiles.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Dogwood Arts Festival Bike Rides April 9-10, 2011

The Dogwood Arts Festival is ongoing in Knoxville, and as part of it were two bike rides through town for riders to enjoy the views. The first ride took place April 9 from Ijams Nature Center and was cosponsored by the Smoky Mountain Wheelmen bicycle club. It wound through the Island Home Neighborhood, and was the first such ride in South Knoxville. The second ride was April 10, and started and finished at the Laurel Church of Christ and went through the Sequoyah Hills Neighborhood. It was cosponsored by the KnoxRevolution bicycle club, which did a marvelous job at marking the route, as well as having someone point riders to every turn. The Knoxville Police Department kindly provided some support with traffic. Several dozen riders participated in each ride.

Beginner friendly rides like these serve not only to get people introduced to riding, but can also serve as an introduction to the fun aspects of cycling, in addition to letting more experienced riders enjoy a leisurely ride.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

NACTO Urban bikeway design guide available online

The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) has released online a design guide for the design of non-standard and creative bike facilities. The guide shows a variety of setups such as bike boulevards, bike-specific traffic signals, intersection treatments, and the like. NACTO member cities are
Los Angeles
New York
San Francisco
Washington DC,
and Austin, TX is an associate member. Are there places in Tennessee that can benefit from some of their ideas?

Friday, April 1, 2011

RPM Bicycle Suitability/Routes Draft report out.

RPM's report is out and ready for review.  There is a Acrobat Reader pdf file ready now and a kml file for showing routes in Google Earth on the way.  It is hard to see the specific roads on the pdf file.
I'll post the Google Earth file when ready. To view pdf file, Click here. Note this may not work in Firefox.  IE is OK. In Firefox you may have to go to tools, options, applications and set Adobe Acrobat Reader files to always save. Then download and open file.

Please look at the map and let me know what you think. I have my own early impressions of the roads I know.  Especially look at the roads you can identify and have ridden.