Opinion

Felix Salmon

The case of the $400 million bike lane

Felix Salmon
Mar 26, 2012 07:24 UTC

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.

I won’t try to summarize Komanoff’s paper here. Instead, I’ll just point to one fact which is buried there. The new bridge comes with a combined bike/pedestrian lane, 12 feet wide. And the cost of building that lane — the amount that the cost of the bridge would decrease if you simply built it without that lane — is an astonishing $400 million.

To put that number in perspective, Komanoff tells me it would cost roughly $40 million, in the same 2015 dollars, to build two bike/pedestrian lanes on the Verrazano Narrows bridge — lanes which would get vastly more traffic than the one lane on the new Tappan Zee.

As for the cost of the first three years of New York City’s ambitious bike program under transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, that was just $8.8 million, 80% of which was paid by the federal government.

In other words, for the $400 million which governor Andrew Cuomo is planning to spend on a white-elephant bike lane almost nobody is going to use, you could utterly transform the bicycling infrastructure for millions of New Yorkers in all five boroughs.

Oh, and I almost forgot — it looks as if the old Tappan Zee bridge is going to be converted into a bike/pedestrian walkway anyway, making such a facility on the new bridge even more superfluous.

But this is how big projects always work: it’s weirdly easier to raise billions for something huge than it is to add millions to an annual budget somewhere. “Gridlock” Sam Schwartz, for instance, in his clever new congestion-pricing plan, is proposing three new massive bike/pedestrian bridges: one from Jersey City and Hoboken, in New Jersey, would span the Hudson River and land just north of Chelsea Piers. A second would go from Long Island City and Hunter’s Point, in Queens, and would cross the East River to midtown Manhattan. And the third, and most ambitious, would start in Red Hook, in Brooklyn, head over to Governor’s Island, and then continue on to the Financial District.

These are utterly wonderful ideas. If beautiful new pedestrian bridges can be built by Santiago Calatrava in Venice or by Norman Foster in London, there’s no reason New York can’t follow suit. Still, it’s a bit depressing that we don’t seem to have the mechanisms to take the billions available for vanity projects, and use some small fraction of that money for things which would make a huge difference to the daily lives of millions of New Yorkers.

This phenomenon isn’t confined to government, of course: anybody working in a big corporation has seen some huge acquisition made, using money which was never available for smaller projects from existing teams which had much clearer benefits. And there are hundreds of museums around the world which never have money for important things like conservation, but which somehow manage to find enormous sums for glossy new starchitectural projects. Basically, people want to be able to see where their money is going, in the form of something large and grand and headline-grabbing. Even if there are much more sensible uses for it elsewhere.

COMMENT

What the lane looks like is only half the story?

Whether car drivers drive like steroid-charged idiots,
and whether bikers cycle like methamphetamine-charged teenagers and terrorize pedestrians — those are common realities why responsible cyclists avoid certain streets in cities.

I know a bike lane which abruptly ends half a block before a busy intersection, and where the pedestrian sidewalks narrow to half its size. The result: cyclists go up the sidewalk and literally terrorize pedestrians,
and the police turn a blind eye. As a result, some residents of that block have to resort to driving, instead of walking, even for just a few short blocks, to avoid getting run over by bikes! Now tell me, does that save gasoline, or the environment. Worse, how many more anxiety stricken residents have to talk to their doctors for medications or lack of exercise because they don’t feel safe enough to walk to the park!

Posted by Janeallen | Report as abusive

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

Felix Salmon
Jan 6, 2012 19:09 UTC

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.

On top of that, Bikeshare manager Josh Moskowitz tells me that some kind of installment plan should be in place “in the early half” of this year. It’s unclear whether that option will be open only to Bank on DC members, or whether it will be open to everyone.*

I still think that, in terms of getting the unbanked on bikes, the best approaches are always going to be ones which just get the unbanked on bikes, rather than ones which try to get the unbanked to open bank accounts which in turn will allow them to get onto bikes. But this is a move in the right direction — and a move which is probably going to cost some small amount of money for Bikeshare.

Remember that there’s a $1,000 fee charged to your card if your bike is lost or stolen. Now, what’s more likely: that your credit card has $1,000 of spare capacity on it before it’s maxed out, or that your checking account contains $1,000 in cash? I’d say the former, by a substantial margin. So the chances of Bikeshare having to chase down an individual when the $1,000 charge doesn’t go through are surely higher if that person signed up with a debit card than they are if they used a credit card.

So well done to Bikeshare for fixing its site and taking the risk that it might have to do more work chasing down the money for lost and stolen bikes. My gut feeling is that the marginal difference here is small. But government organizations like Capital Bikeshare are always overcautious and risk-averse, and I genuinely thought when I wrote my initial post on this that Bikeshare wouldn’t allow debit cards to be used for memberships at all. Now, let’s keep our fingers crossed in the hope that they come up with some way of being able to serve unbanked people without debit cards at all.

*Update: Moskowitz confirms that the installment plan will be available to everyone.

COMMENT

Please tell me there’s an option to purchase insurance so I don’t get hit $1,000.

Or better yet, incorporate the insurance with the membership.

Posted by SomethingGre | Report as abusive

Getting the unbanked on bikes

Felix Salmon
Dec 27, 2011 16:41 UTC

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.

To check out a bike from one of Capital Bikeshare’s 110 solar-powered stations, users must first swipe a debit card or credit card.

Such a system locks out plenty of low-income commuters who use Washington’s Metro trains and buses but lack a checking account or a credit card…

Bank on DC is offering a $25 discount on yearly Capital Bikeshare memberships to those who open an account at either United Bank, a unit of United Bankshares, or District Government Employees Federal Credit Union. A Capital Bikeshare annual membership normally runs $75.

“These are not necessarily high-balance accounts, but a lot of the customers are using their accounts very prudently,” says Craige L. Smith, the chief operating officer of United Bank’s Virginia division. “We think there is real value in establishing those relationships.”

The fact is, however, that there’s a lot not to like here, most of which is elided by Peters. This scheme is not going to get the unbanked onto Capital Bikeshare in any remotely significant numbers, for a lot of reasons.

Firstly, the $25 discount comes only on the most expensive form of membership — the annual membership which the poor and unbanked are least likely to be able to afford. If you want to help bring down the cost of accessing these bikes, then charging $50 just to get started is not a great way of doing that. In many cases, that’s $50 desperately needed for food or rent: buying bike access in eleven months’ time simply isn’t on the list of priorities, no matter how good a deal it might be.

Secondly, the unbanked tend to be unbanked for many, many reasons. Some are good, some are bad. But it’s ridiculous to imagine that getting a $25 discount on a bikeshare membership is going to be enough to persuade anybody to open a bank account. Millions of dollars have been spent on all manner of imaginative approaches towards trying to get the millions of Americans without bank accounts to open one. Few if any of those approaches actually work. This one won’t work either.

Thirdly — and this is key — opening a bank account isn’t enough to get you that $25 discount. A bank account will come with a debit card, and a debit card will get you a bike for either 24 hours or three days. But as the bikeshare website clearly says, “all Capital Bikeshare memberships require a credit card”. If you want to get that $25 discount, you’re going to need not only a bank account but also a credit card.*

At the same time, even if you don’t take advantage of the $25 discount, it’s still a bad idea for the newly-banked to rent a bike even for just one day, using their United Bank debit card. Capital Bikeshare spells this out quite explicitly:

When you join Capital Bikeshare with a 24-hour or 3-day membership, a preauthorization hold of $101 per bike is placed on your card account. This is a not a charge against your account. It serves as a security deposit and will be returned to you when the hold expires. Holds may last up to 10 days, depending on the credit card company. We recommend using a credit card and not a debit or check card when becoming a 24-hour or 3-day member. Using a debit card may result in overdrafts if you don’t have sufficient funds in your account to cover the hold.

It’s easy to imagine someone opening their first-ever bank account with United Bank, using their debit card to pay $7 for one day’s biking, and then immediately getting hit by some whopping overdraft fee because of that $101 hold.

Then again, the possible charges if you rent a bike with your credit card are substantially higher. This is hidden away in the small print when you sign up for a membership:

If Member maintains possession of the Capital Bikeshare bicycle beyond the Permitted Period of Continuous Use, then the Capital Bikeshare bicycle is deemed lost or stolen, Member’s credit card will be charged a fee of $1,000, and a police report may be filed with local authorities.

(The Permitted Period of Continuous Use, incidentally, is 24 hours.)

In order to get that $25 discount, then, an unbanked person in Washington has to first open a bank account; secondly get a credit card; and thirdly sign a contract under which they agree to pay $1,000 should their bike be lost or stolen or taken out for more than 24 hours. It’s not even clear that United Bank is promising to give a credit card to anybody who opens up a bank account under this scheme, but assume that they do: then they’re immediately putting the newly-banked individual into $50 of debt, with no real idea as to whether or when that debt will get paid off. Add in late fees and the like, and the $25 savings starts looking even less desirable.

Jim Surowiecki has a column on layaway this week; United Bank should take a leaf out of that book and offer their customers the opportunity to pay the $50 membership fee at a rate of say $4.25 per month, plus whatever usage fees are run up on the Bikeshare program.

Who, under that kind of continuous-layaway scheme, would take on the responsibility of paying $1,000 if a bike were to be lost or stolen? Bank on DC is the obvious organization to do such a thing. They should post a $10,000 bond to cover the first ten times this happens, see whether the scheme is any kind of success, and then take it from there. If there are lots of stolen bikes and the $10,000 disappears quickly, then the scheme would be an interesting failure — but organizations trying new ideas should be open to failure. And there’s a good chance that the $10,000 would not be touched at all.

What’s really needed, in other words, to get the unbanked onto bikeshare schemes is not bank accounts at all — it’s a way of finding institutions which will accept the responsibility of paying $1,000 should the bike be lost or stolen. If you do that, then memberships can be given out to individuals without bank accounts at all, and they can use any old prepaid card to pay the modest usage fees they run up, without worrying about the $101 hold.

Which institutions would do such a thing? Well, there are a lot of non-profit organizations which work with the poor and try to get them mobility — they’re a good place to start. But there’s another set of institutions which might be interested as well: churches, of which there are very many in the DC area. Churches know their flocks, after all, and might well be interested in giving out memberships to those who need them, and taking on a contingent liability in the process. All you’d need is a single credit card belonging to the church, which could then deal in its own way with any congregant who ran up that $1,000 charge.

The Capital Bikeshare scheme has been built in a very cautious manner, carefully constructed so that everybody with a membership needs to have a credit card associated with that membership. That in turn allows Capital Bikeshare to be sure that it can collect $1,000 every time a member loses their bike for whatever reason. This system was set up ex ante, with no indication of how often such a fine would turn out to be necessary — and it has essentially excluded the unbanked from Bikeshare.

I would much have preferred to see an optimistic scheme at first, with the restrictions coming in later if the cost of lost or stolen bikes turned out to be substantial. But even now it’s possible to imagine ways around these problems, if some well-intentioned group has faith in its members and in the Bikeshare scheme. The Bank on DC promotion, however, is not such a way.

*Update: It seems that the website is wrong about this: you can use a debit card to pay for a 30-day or 1-year membership, and when you do so no hold is put on your account. On top of that, Bank on DC also has a scheme to help defray the $1,000 cost if your bike is lost or stolen. More details as I get them!

Update 2: Details, from Bikeshare:

  • You can pay for 30-day and annual membership with a debit card.
  • There is no hold on an individual’s account if they purchase a 30-day or annual membership with a debit card. The reason for this is that Bikeshare has contact information (name, address, etc.) when an individual signs up online for one of these types of memberships — but not for 24-hour or 3-day members.
  • If the bike is stolen and no police report is filed, Bikeshare would charge the debit card $1,000. If the individual who is responsible for the bike does not have $1,000 in their account, Bikeshare would charge the amount available in the account and work with the financial institution to ensure no subsequent charges can be made to the account until there is a full reimbursement for the cost of the bike.
  • Approximately 85 percent of annual members do not incur any usage fees when riding. The average usage fee the other 15 percent incur is between $6-$7 per individual per month.
COMMENT

Bikeing and banking are two things which should both be expanded due to their obvious social merit.

Biking reduces congestion and pollution, and boosts health.

Banking increases access to capital and is a much better system of facalitating commerce than cash, coins, pawn shops, payday lenders, or loan sharks.

The issue I have with the unbanked or underbanked is that without direct goverment intervention there is no business model underwhich they can be profitably served by a bank.

All current evidence asside, banking is an inherantly profitable business. My community savings bank would not be much worse off if we were forced to open free debit card accounts or e-statement savings accounts for anyone who applied. Like all banks we depend on the implicit subsidy of FDIC insurance. Opening a few thousand unprofitable accounts seems like a fair tradeoff for that ongoing privelage.

Posted by y2kurtus | Report as abusive

Chart of the day, NYC biking edition

Felix Salmon
Dec 10, 2011 18:44 UTC

bikes.jpg

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.

This is important because it shows just how effective strong leadership can be, when combined with a dedication to creating good infrastructure. And if you delve a bit into the numbers behind the indicator, this comes out even more clearly. For instance: in 2007, the Queensboro Bridge saw an average of 1,292 cyclists per day, about 80% of the 1,626 cyclists per day on the Brooklyn Bridge. By 2011, the Queensboro number had shot up to 2,904 bikers per day — 25% more than the 2,322 cyclists crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. That’s entirely a function of the fact that the Brooklyn Bridge is unpleasant for cyclists, despite the fact that by dint of its location it should be one of the busiest bike corridors in the city.

The lesson of this chart, then, is that if you build bike lanes, cyclists will appear to fill them. That’s fantastic news, since cities with lots of cyclists are always the most pleasant cities to live and work in — even for people who don’t bike themselves. New York City has a long way to go before it can be considered genuinely bike-friendly. But it’s moving in the right direction, and the bike-sharing scheme to be launched next year will provide a massive boost. Let’s hope that now Sadik-Khan has provided the necessary momentum, her successors embrace and extend what she has started.

COMMENT

I certainly remember the hundreds of New Yorkers leaving NYC on foot 9/11/01 after the two planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers. Those New Yorkers could have escaped the dust and smoke faster on bicycles and negotiated traffic jams by bike better than by car.

Posted by mariaconzemius | Report as abusive

Arnold Schwarzenegger, bike salmon

Felix Salmon
Oct 2, 2011 13:16 UTC

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.

Cyclists, that is, like Arnold Schwarzenegger:

After reading the newspapers, this is what the former governor of California often does: rides his bike for cardio, then hits the weight room.

He hauls a bike off the back of the car, hops on, and takes off down an already busy Ocean Avenue. He wears no bike helmet, runs red lights, and rips past do not enter signs without seeming to notice them and up one-way streets the wrong way. When he wants to cross three lanes of fast traffic he doesn’t so much as glance over his shoulder but just sticks out his hand and follows it, assuming that whatever is behind him will stop…

We’re now off the beach and on the surface roads, and the traffic is already heavy. He veers left, across four lanes…

Having sped past a do not enter sign, we are now flying through intersections without pausing. I can’t help but notice that, if we weren’t breaking the law by going the wrong way down a one-way street, we’d be breaking the law by running stop signs.

This tells us nothing about the state of California’s finances, but it’s illuminating all the same; in many ways it’s the two-wheeled equivalent of Jon Corzine’s 91-mph seatbelt-free car crash.

Next time your blood boils at the sight of a suicidal bike salmon endangering his own life and that of everybody else on the road, then, don’t assume that it’s some devil-may-care hipster. Instead, there’s probably a good chance that it’s some overachieving alpha male with a much larger ego than could ever be healthy.

In other words, it’s exactly the same kind of person who will merrily cut you up on the highway while driving his brand-new Maserati. It’s not cyclists who salmon aggressively. It’s assholes.

COMMENT

Here’s motorists attending to traffic laws and upholding the basic tenets of civility:

http://youtu.be/eF45QnZWo48

and:

http://youtu.be/qNyYnlyxnlY

Posted by DavidHuntsman | Report as abusive

Bike war datapoint of the day, rack-placement edition

Felix Salmon
Sep 14, 2011 18:10 UTC

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:

“DOT and Janette Sadik-Khan’s problem is they say, ‘Here’s what we’re doing, take it or leave it,’” said Sean Sweeney of the Soho Alliance, a frequent DOT critic. “Instead, it should be, ‘Here’s 20 racks, where would you like them?’” He expressed concern about whether the stations would be located on too-narrow sidewalks or in valuable parking spaces or other inopportune locations.

Still, he said it would be nice if done right. “I walk a lot, I’ll walk from 59th Street downtown,” Mr. Sweeney said. “Let’s say I don’t want to walk or take the subway, then a bike sounds nice. But it’s still a matter of giving over public space to a private company, so we have to be careful.” He added that no stations should be place in Soho.

I love the way that Sweeney starts by implying that he would be happy to place 20 racks around Soho, underscores that by saying that the scheme “sounds nice” — and then, at the end, drops the bomb that he’s already decided that the optimal number of racks in Soho is precisely zero. He can’t even pretend to be open to the idea for more than a couple of sentences.

Soho, for those of you who don’t know it, is a perennial traffic nightmare, for two reasons. One reason is Broome Street, a key approach to the Holland Tunnel — and it’s hard to do much about that. But the other reason is the curse of on-street parking. Soho is Exhibit A for anybody trying to demonstrate the high cost of free or underpriced on-street parking: there’s way too much space devoted to cars, both in terms of parking and in terms of open pavement, and a huge proportion of the cars driving in Soho are going around in circles looking for a parking spot.

The drivers of those cars are unhappy, and they make life miserable for pedestrians and cyclists, too. It’s a horrible state of affairs, especially given the numbers: according to a 2006 study, 54% of people on Prince Street came to the area by subway or bus, and an additional 35% by walking or bicycle. Only 9% drove to the area in a private car, while an additional 9% arrived by taxi or livery. (The numbers add up to a bit more than 100% because some people use two or more modes of transport.)

If Soho can’t have bike racks, there’s really no point in having a bike-sharing scheme at all. Soho is precisely where people want to go: it’s full of shops and restaurants and other destinations. But somehow the Soho Alliance has already decided that a bike rack is never as important as a “valuable parking space”.

Sweeney, then, is the embodiment of precisely the reason why the DOT can’t outsource rack placement decisions to community organizations: those organizations tend to be dominated by people who are going to be aggressively unhelpful on that front. There’s not a parking space in all of Soho which is so valuable that its street space wouldn’t be better off as a bike rack. If Sweeney can’t recognize that, he’s never going to be a useful person to consult on placement decisions.

COMMENT

“In addition, the survey finds that 45% of respondents would visit Soho *less* often if there were more vendors taking up sidewalk space, which is *exactly* what this program contemplates. Only 10% would visit *more* often.”

Who is playing fast and loose with the facts here?

The reason people said they’d visit less often is because closing the streets of Soho to automobiles was not presented as an option in that survey.

If you keep car access the same — both for on-street parking and throughput — but allow vendors to take up more sidewalk space, of course pedestrians will feel squeezed and not want to spend time in the neighborhood. That’s explains the survey results.

But if you reduce car access in SoHo and eliminate it on some streets altogether, you could get the vendors onto the roadway and give back tons of sidewalk space to the overwhelming majority of people who visit the neighborhood on foot.

Ask pedestrians if they’d like to see the sidewalks cleared and the vendors moved into one of the lanes currently available for the storage of private automobiles, and you’d likely see a huge amount of support.

NYPedSafety is an anti-bike organization masquerading as a pro-pedestrian advocacy group. They are notoriously silent on the subject of the pernicious effects of automobiles.

Posted by Walking | Report as abusive

Why a lighter bike doesn’t make you faster

Felix Salmon
Aug 22, 2011 15:58 UTC

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.

So, what’s going on here? Groves has his own theories, mainly surrounding the idea that big factors, like the weight of the rider and the amount of drag, completely obliterate smaller factors like the weight of the bike and the resistance of the tires. But I think there might be something else going on, too. Here’s Joshua Foer on what he calls the “OK plateau”:

In the 1960s, the psychologists Paul Fitts and Michael Posner described the three stages of acquiring a new skill. During the first phase, known as the cognitive phase, we intellectualize the task and discover new strategies to accomplish it more proficiently. During the second, the associative phase, we concentrate less, making fewer major errors, and become more efficient. Finally we reach what Fitts and Posner called the autonomous phase, when we’re as good as we need to be at the task and we basically run on autopilot. Most of the time that’s a good thing. The less we have to focus on the repetitive tasks of everyday life, the more we can concentrate on the stuff that really matters. You can actually see this phase shift take place in f.M.R.I.’s of subjects as they learn new tasks: the parts of the brain involved in conscious reasoning become less active, and other parts of the brain take over. You could call it the O.K. plateau.

The skill of riding a bike fits perfectly into this scheme. It’s not easy to learn at first, but over time we get better at it, until we’re so good at it that we basically stop thinking about it, and stop trying to get any better than we are. I’m sure that a doctor like Groves has much better things to think about on his commute than his bicycling technique.

When I switched from a heavier bike to a lighter one, I felt as though I was going faster, but I have no idea whether that’s empirically true. Certainly the lighter bike is much more maneuverable, which is very handy on New York’s potholed streets. And it’s easier to get up hills, even if I’m not getting up them any faster.

As Kent Peterson notes, a lighter bike can make your journey more comfortable. That doesn’t mean it will make your journey more comfortable: ultra-light racing bikes in fact tend to be rather uncomfortable things. But when you’re riding up a hill at your normal speed, you’re generally happier when you weigh less. That’s why people buy lighter bikes: at the margin, they’re likely to make any given bike ride a little more pleasant. Which is not the same thing as saying it’ll be faster. Leave the racing to the racers: the rest of us are just happy being happy.

(Via Vanderbilt)

COMMENT

I had similar experience. I have a 1980′s Nishiki touring bike with a chromoly frame that is 30-plus pounds. The tires are 28′s. It’s a large bike (I’m told it’s too big for me by all the bike shops). I recently got a 56cm Cannondale CAAD8 and the tires are 25′s. This bike frame is aluminum and the bike weighs about 20 pounds. It’s no faster on most terrains and is slower on downhills. It does get up hills easier and perhaps a little faster. I love both bikes but was surprised that the Cannondale wasn’t quicker and faster (that’s what I bought it for). The chromoly frame feels more responsive and quicker than the aluminum. I couldn’t afford carbon.

Posted by TomBisson | Report as abusive

Bike slowly

Felix Salmon
Jul 28, 2011 18:57 UTC

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.

Unsurprisingly, then, I love Celeste LeCompte’s article about the Slow Bike Movement in the SF Chronicle. And she makes an important, oft-overlooked point:

Seeing slow-riding folks like Logan and Stockmann out on the road can be a refreshing encouragement to hop on two wheels for a daily commute or a quick trip to the farmers’ market.

As a general rule, the propensity of non-bicyclists to give biking a try is inversely proportional to the average velocity of the bikers they see on the street. If you live in a city where women in wedge heels are steering their old steel bikes around their daily errand route, there’s really nothing intimidating or scary about the prospect of getting on a bike yourself. If it’s all hipsters on fixies, by contrast, that just makes biking feel all the more alien and stupid.

So, next time you get on a bike, give yourself an extra five or ten minutes, and take your time. You’ll be much happier for doing so. And your happiness is likely to prove contagious.

COMMENT

Here is another bike that goes really fast but should be very careful. Please bike safely using these type of bikes http://www.bikesxpress.com/Prestigio-Fix ie-Bike-by-Micargi-RD-248-_p_87.html

Posted by bikesxpress | Report as abusive

How to create jobs: bike lanes

Felix Salmon
Jun 22, 2011 21:29 UTC

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:

Bicycling infrastructure creates the most jobs for a given level of spending: For each $1 million, the cycling projects in this study create a total of 11.4 jobs within the state where the project is located. Pedestrian-only projects create an average of about 10 jobs per $1 million and multi-use trails create nearly as many, at 9.6 jobs per $1 million. Infrastructure that combines road construction with pedestrian and bicycle facilities creates slightly fewer jobs for the same amount of spending, and road-only projects create the least, with a total of 7.8 jobs per $1 million.

This finding isn’t new, but it’s worth remembering as signs of detente start to appear in the war on bikes. It’s hot out there, people: no one wants or needs to ride fast. You get to a red light, stop at it. Take the opportunity to catch your breath and minimize your sweatiness upon arrival. And while you’re waiting, you can ponder the idea that every bike lane represents badly needed jobs in a recovery which is going much less well than expected.

COMMENT

nice post friend

Cycle saddle

Posted by maddy58 | Report as abusive
  •