Felix Salmon

The case of the $400 million bike lane

Everybody’s favorite transportation geek, Charles Komanoff, has a fascinating new paper out on the economics of New York’s new Tappan Zee Bridge. The old bridge is decrepit, and needs to be replaced — everybody agrees on that. And the replacement is now in the works, at a cost of $5.2 billion. But does it need to cost that much? Komanoff makes a strong case that it doesn’t.

How to rent a bike without a credit card, DC edition

Good news over at the Capital Bikeshare website, which has now been updated to make it perfectly clear that you can, after all, use your debit card to pay for a Bikeshare membership. The FAQ,which used to say that memberships require a credit card, now says “credit or debit card”; the signup page, which used to ask for your credit card details, now says “credit/debit card” at the top of that section. All of which means that although it was always technically possible to sign up for a membership with a debit card, now many more people are likely to actually do so.

Getting the unbanked on bikes

American Banker’s Andy Peters has a jolly story about how West Virginia’s United Bank is teaming up with Washington’s bike-sharing program, to help the formerly unbanked have access to this handy form of transportation.

Chart of the day, NYC biking edition

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This is a chart of the number of bike commuters in New York. It’s known as the NYC Commuter Cycling Indicator, and it comes from surveys taken ten times per year at predetermined points around the city. It doesn’t give a good count of the number of bike commuters in New York, but it gives an excellent idea of the trends: bike commuting has essentially quadrupled in the past decade, and has doubled over the past four years. Which just happen to be the four years during which Janette Sadik-Khan has run the Department of Transportation.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, bike salmon

The single thing that makes cyclists so hated by non-cyclists is disrespect for others: the way in which a highly-visible minority of cyclists consider themselves above the law, and flout not only traffic rules but also the basic tenets of civility.

Bike war datapoint of the day, rack-placement edition

Matt Chaban manages to get a quote today which perfectly encapsulates the self-defeating nature of anti-bike activists. He lays out the basics of New York’s bike-share scheme — 600 stations, 10,000 bikes — and then quotes one friend and one foe. The friend is Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign. Here’s the foe:

Why a lighter bike doesn’t make you faster

I’m very late to Jeremy Groves‘s wonderful little paper where, using himself as a subject, he timed his bike commute on a heavy steel bike and on a much lighter carbon bike. After riding 1,520 miles back and forth from Sheffield to Chesterfield Royal Hospital and carefully timing every journey, he came to an inescapable conclusion: the lighter bike wasn’t any faster than the heavier one. And this on a long journey where small differences would, you would think, add up: the round-trip commute was 27 miles long, with 2,766 feet of total ascent. That’s the kind of uphills where saving 9lbs of bike makes a real difference.

Bike slowly

One of the things I like about urban biking in the summer is that people go slower: no one wants to arrive at their destination a sweaty and disheveled mess. When bikes go slower, that’s safer for everybody, especially pedestrians. And it’s much more pleasant for the bicyclist, too. If you take your time, and you’re not always in a rush, stopping at red lights is no longer an annoyance: it’s an opportunity to cool down a little look around, learn about your city. I like the fact that my bike is faster than a car for most New York journeys. But that doesn’t mean I’m in a race.

How to create jobs: bike lanes

We know that infrastructure spending is a good way of creating jobs. But what kind of infrastructure spending? Heidi Gerrett-Peltier looked at pedestrian, bicycle, and road projects in Anchorage, Austin, Baltimore, Bloomington, Concord, Eugene, Houston, Lexington, Madison, Santa Cruz, and Seattle — and came to a pretty clear conclusion: