Category Archives: Environment

Changing the mind-set in L.A.


This is another one of those who-woulda-thunk-it
stories.
The Los Angeles Times, the
nation’s second-largest newspaper in one of America’s most car-centric cities, has declared editorially that it is “pro-bike.”
The weekend editorial coincided with the newspaper’s launch of a specialized webpage called Roadshare, which will focus on “bicycling, bike culture, and the controversy over creating safe space on the street for all road users.”
One of the initial pieces on Roadshare asked whether L.A. could become a city for cyclists.
“Los Angeles, a city once in love with the internal combustion engine, has begun a romance with the bicycle,” the Roadshare article said. “Can it last? Should it?”
Los Angeles sealThe editorial that kicked off a “weeks-long exploration of changing transportation priorities” was unambiguous on where the newspaper’s editorial board stands on the issue.
“The Times’ editorial page is pro-bike,” said the editorial, posted on the Times website Friday evening.
“We have noted repeatedly and with approval that cycling reduces traffic, cuts fossil fuel use and pollution and improves the health of those who do it; in fact, it’s beneficial in so many ways that cities, especially those such as Los Angeles that are beset by automotive-related problems, should go to great lengths to encourage it.”
The editorial encouraged cyclists, drivers, pedestrians, taxpayers and others to take part in the conversation by logging in to Roadshare to read, comment and make their voices heard.
So Los Angeles, where automobiles, freeways, congestion and pollution have defined the city for decades, is embarking on a serious conversation about the bicycle as a means of transportation?
Who woulda thunk it?

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‘Mike bikes’ take to the streets


After five years of planning, hundreds of public meetings, a delay caused by Hurricane Sandy and a last-minute flurry of complaints about the size and location of the docking stations, New York City’s bike-sharing program began operation today.
citibikeMayor Michael Bloomberg and the city’s transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, launched the system Monday morning with a news conference beside a bike station near City Hall.
Roughly 6,000 bicycles are now available for public use at more than 300 bike docking stations in Manhattan south of Central Park and in some neighborhoods of Brooklyn. The system already has sold 13,000 annual memberships.
The installation of the bike docking stations over the past few weeks prompted a spate of complaints about their placement in historic neighborhoods and the amount of sidewalk space they occupy.

Photo by New York bicycling and photography friend Sean Park of a docking station near City Hall

Photo by New York bicycling and photography friend Sean Park of a docking station near City Hall

That followed early grumbling about the hundreds of miles of bike lanes — put in by the Bloomberg administration over the past five years — interfering with motor vehicles.
But Bloomberg has called the public meetings in advance of implementing the bike lanes and the bike-share program “the most extensive outreach effort ever done for a transportation project.”
If the bike-share program succeeds, some expect that the bicycles will be called “Mike bikes” or “Bloomberg bikes,” as bikes on the London bike-share system are called “Boris bikes” for London Mayor Boris Johnson.
Launch of New York’s bike-share system was expected to occur last summer, but it was delayed first by computer software problems and then on Oct. 30 by Hurricane Sandy, which flooded the facility at the Brooklyn Navy Yard where the bikes were being stored.
New Yorker cover on bike-share systemThe delays meant that my hometown, Fort Worth, was able to beat New York in starting a bike-share program. Fort Worth’s system was launched on April 22, Earth Day, with about 300 bikes and 28 docking stations.
By this summer, New York expects to have 10,000 bikes available for rental, which would make it the largest such program in the United States and one of the biggest in the world.
By then, the bike-share network is expected to cover the Upper East and Upper West Sides; Park Slope, Cobble Hill and Crown Heights in Brooklyn; and Long Island City and Sunnyside in Queens.

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Myths about biking


Now that Fort Worth and other cities around the country have implemented bike-sharing systems, many potential cyclists may be on the fence about whether to use the rental bikes or whether to buy a bike of their own.
Fort Worth Bike Sharing bikeThey probably have a raft of questions: Is this an expensive pastime or way to commute? What gear do I need? Do I have to be in really good shape? If I commute, what about getting all sweaty and my clothes getting wrinkled? How much stuff can a bike carry? How dangerous is it to ride on city streets?
I came across a very nice graphic that answers some of those questions. Also, I’ve added a photo of an information display at one of the Fort Worth bike-share docking stations, explaining how the system works.

Myths about biking

Fort Worth B Cycle info board

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Shameless self-promotion


If you’ve read the past several posts on this blog, you know by now that Fort Worth has launched the first bike-sharing system in North Texas.
Urban biking imageIt was an effort fueled largely by hundreds of volunteers, a city with the good sense to realize that bicycles can play a big role in its transportation plans, a bike-riding mayor who holds “rolling town halls” from the saddle of her bike, some very good local bike shops and an ever-increasing number of clubs for bike riders of all levels of skill and experience.
And now for a shameless bit of self-promotion.
At the launch ceremony on Monday, Earth Day, the master of ceremonies, Mike Brennan, paid tribute to all of those above. And then Mike, who is board chairman for Fort Worth Bike Sharing Inc., gave a nice shout-out to Jim’s Bike Blog and another blog, Fort Worthology, by friend Kevin Buchanan.
Below is a video of the launch ceremony. The nice words about Jim’s Bike Blog and Fort Worthology begin at about 7:05 minutes into the video.

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Fort Worth’s bike-share launch chronicled in photos


Steve Reisman, a cyclist and excellent photographer who has been chronicling Fort Worth’s emerging bicycling scene, was on hand with his cameras on Monday, Earth Day, to photograph the launch of the city’s bike-sharing system, the first in North Texas.
Three hundred volunteers delivered the 300 bike-share bicycles to 28 docking stations throughout the city.
Steve emailed to me 23 of his photos for use in Jim’s Bike Blog. Here is a gallery of the photos.

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Fort Worth launches bike-share system


Fort Worth Bike Sharing logoWhat a splendid way to celebrate Earth Day: helping to launch a bike-sharing system in Fort Worth!
As the sun crept over the eastern horizon, 300 volunteers began converging on a warehouse on the city’s near south side where 300 Trek bikes were lined up for delivery to 28 docking stations throughout the city.

Fort Worth Bike Sharing bikes awaiting delivery by volunteers

Fort Worth Bike Sharing bikes awaiting delivery by volunteers

I and a handful of hardy souls walked from our south side homes to the Chat Room, a pub that is the rendezvous point for the nocturnal excursions of the Fort Worth Night Riders.
Fueled up with coffee provided by a bicycling neighbor who roasts and grinds his own beans, we hiked to the warehouse where the bikes had been assembled and stored.
Once we had checked in and been assigned a bike, Mark Troxler, a founder of the Night Riders, was on hand with a crew of veteran urban cyclists to coordinate the delivery of the bikes.
Mark Troxler coordinating the delivery of the bike-share bikes

Mark Troxler coordinating the delivery of the bike-share bikes

We rolled out in small groups at regular intervals and rode downtown to Burnett Park for the official launch ceremony.
“All of you resonate the message that there is an acceptance of bicycles as an alternative,” Mike Brennan, a south side neighbor, bicyclist and chairman of the Fort Worth Bike Sharing board, told the assembled volunteers.
Added Fort Worth’s bicycling mayor, Betsy Price: “This is a great day for Fort Worth … And what a great day for a ride!”
Fort Worth's bicycling mayor, Betsy Price, addresses the assembled volunteers

Fort Worth’s bicycling mayor, Betsy Price, addresses the assembled volunteers

I and some south side friends were part of the group delivering bikes to docking stations on the near south side. Our ride was short — only to the south side of the T&P railway station on the southern edge of downtown.
But, as the mayor said, it was a great day for a ride. Balmy spring weather, camaraderie with 300 like-minded people and a couple of post-ride beers. I can’t think of a better way to have celebrated Earth Day.

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A pretty new link on the Trinity Trails


Boston architecht Miguel Rosales and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price cut a ribbon to officially open the Phyllis J. Tilley Memorial Bridge over the Clear Fork of the Trinity River.

An elegant little bridge, a new landmark for Fort Worth, opened over the weekend, and cyclists are hurrying to try it out.
A group of Night Rider friends and I rode our bikes on Saturday morning to the dedication of the Phyllis J. Tilley Memorial Bridge across the Clear Fork of the Trinity River.
The bridge, for cyclists, walkers and joggers, is a key new link in the Trinity Trails network. It connects to a new trail on the east side of the river and provides easy passage between downtown and the museums of the Cultural District.
I rode to the bridge again on Sunday morning with our neighborhood biking group. And the Night Riders, who ride on Wednesdays and Sundays, tried out the bridge on Sunday evening.
Already, it’s becoming a magnet for cyclists.
Mayor Betsy Price, an avid cyclist, City Councilman Joel Burns and other local dignitaries officially opened the 386-foot span on Saturday morning as spectators released dozens of green and blue balloons into a sky that threatened rain.

Cycling friend Paul Halicki (right) and I at the Phyllis J. Tilley Memorial Bridge. Photo by Scott Strom.

The gleaming white span, just south of the Lancaster Avenue bridge, is named for Phyllis J. Tilley, a founder of Streams and Valleys, a nonprofit organization “committed to saving, sharing and celebrating the Trinity River in Fort Worth.”

Robin Glaysher, owner of Fairmount Bike Taxi, carries dignitaries across the new Phillys J. Tilley Memorial Bridge in one of her pedicabs.

Streams and Valleys raised about $200,000 in private donations for the $3 million project. Funding also included federal grants administered by the Texas Department of Transportation and bond money from the city of Fort Worth.
The design of the arch-supported “stress ribbon” bridge, said to be the first of its kind in the United States, was a collaboration of Fort Worth engineering firm Freese and Nichols, transportation architects Rosales + Partners of Boston and the structural engineering firm Schlaich Bergermann & Partner of Stuttgart, Germany.

Some members of our neighborhood bike group on the Phyllis J. Tilley Memorial Bridge on Sunday morning.

Before the bridge opening, bicycle commuters on the west side the river could ride to the confluence of the Clear and West forks of the Trinity at the northern edge of downtown and climb a steep hill on North Taylor Street to reach most downtown workplaces. Or they could cross into downtown on the West Seventh Street bridge, a heavily trafficked thoroughfare for motor vehicles.
Now, commuters coming from the west side of the river can cross the Phyllis Tilley Bridge, take a left onto the new trail along Forest Park Boulevard and ride to West Fifth Street for safer and easier access into downtown.
Downtown Fort Worth, of course, is on high ground above the river. So there is still a climb up West Fifth Street from the river, but it’s much more gentle than the very steep climb up North Taylor.
So get out on your bike and try out the new bridge. It’s pleasing to the eye and a nice new way into downtown.

Night Rider friends Dave Hickey and Mark Troxler outside Stir-Crazy Baked Goods on the Near Southside where our group stopped for refreshments before riding to the dedication of the Phyllis J. Tilley Memorial Bridge.

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Fort Worth gets funds for bike-sharing


A bike-sharing program for Fort Worth, my hometown, took a big step toward reality today with the announcement that the U.S. Transportation Department will provide nearly $1 million to help fund it.
The federal money, $941,728 to be exact, will go to the Fort Worth Transportation Authority, called The T, to make bicycles available for anyone to rent at public racks placed around the city, said a story posted on the Fort Worth Star-Telegram website.
“The plan calls for about 300 bikes and 30 bike stations in locations like downtown, the hospital district and TCU on the south, to the Stockyards on the north, and the West Seventh Street corridor on the west to Texas Wesleyan University on the east,” said the Star-Telegram story.
Dick Ruddell, chief executive of The T, said the program would be in place by April.

City workers put down Fort Worth’s first green bike lane downtown at 12th and Commerce streets. Photo courtesy of Julia McCleeary, city of Fort Worth

“The heavy-duty three-speed bikes will come with locks, lights and baskets,” the Star-Telegram said. “Users will be able to use credit cards or program membership cards. Rental rates haven’t been determined.”
The T set aside $100,000 as a local match when it applied for the grant earlier this year, the paper reported. It has raised $260,000 in sponsorship.
San Antonio became the first Texas city to implement a modern bike-sharing program on March 26, 2011. Houston followed suit on May 2 of this year, and Austin is considering such a program.
In another step toward making Fort Worth more bicycle-friendly, the city launched a program today to put down bright-green-painted bike lanes at intersections, or other heavily trafficked areas where motorists cross bike lanes.

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Take that, Dallas!


I’ve written several posts about Fort Worth’s extensive and growing network of bicycle trails and designated lanes along city streets, as well as at least one about how that compares to Dallas.
The point is that Fort Worth has pressed ahead with making the nation’s 16th-largest city more bicycle-friendly while Dallas, Fort Worth’s bigger sister to the east, has dawdled and dithered.
Here’s more reinforcement for that view.
“Fort Worth is full speed ahead when it comes to bicycling as a culture and as a city recognizing it as a cheap, convenient, and serious form of transportation,” Patrick Kennedy wrote for Pegasus News, a Dallas-based hyperlocal website recently purchased by The Dallas Morning News.
“Every new bike lane Fort Worth adds is like a paper cut to Dallas’s right arm in the competition amongst cities. Unfortunately, every one Dallas doesn’t add, it’s administering paper cuts to its left. We might be worried about death by a thousand cuts if we didn’t enjoy it so much. Such masochists we must be.”
Ouch, Dallas!

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Baseball and bikes: A follow-up


The Fort Worth Cats baseball club is a business that could benefit from the patronage of cyclists – if the club makes an effort to accommodate them.

The Fort Worth skyline from the Trinity River Trails near LaGrave Field

LaGrave Field, home of the Cats, is on a spur of the Trinity Trails just north of downtown and offers spectacular views of the Forth Worth skyline from seats along the third-base line.
On Wednesday evening, Mayor Betsy Price led one of her “rolling town hall” bicycle rides, which started and ended at LaGrave Field. The 10-mile ride on trails along the Trinity River was timed to end before the 7:05 p.m. start of the Cats’ season-opener against Rio Grande Valley so that the mayor could throw out the first pitch.
The Cats’ management provided free parking for cyclists who drove to LaGrave Field for the ride, and there was talk before the ride of a bike corral, where cyclists who rode to the field could park their bikes if they wanted to stay for the game.
Unfortunately, there was no bike corral and security personnel seemed to know nothing about it. I had ridden from home on the Near South Side to take part in the mayor’s ride and had planned to stay for the game. But with no secure place to park my bike, I decided to skip the game and ride home.
I wondered if the Cats’ management realized that LaGrave Field could be a great summertime draw for cyclists who might ride together to the field, park their bikes in a secure spot, enjoy a game and a fireworks display and then ride home.
So I called the Cats and had a satisfying conversation with Nate Dwelle, the Cats’ spokesman.

A 1954 program for the Fort Worth Cats when they played in the Texas League

It turns out that the ball club does have plans to cater to cyclists, and Nate even threw out a tentative plan for a “Go Green” game on June 3, a Sunday, when environmentalism would be promoted and cyclists would be encouraged to come to the game on their bikes.
Nate apologized for the lack of a bike corral or racks on Wednesday evening. He said the mayor’s ride was arranged on short notice with little time to set up racks or a corral.
I pointed out to Nate that an increasing number of local businesses and events are catering to cyclists and cited as an example the bike corrals at the Main St. Arts Festival in downtown Fort Worth in April and at the Crowne Plaza Invitational golf tournament this weekend at Colonial Country Club.
I suggested that he get in touch with the local cycling clubs to spread the word that cyclists would be welcome at LaGrave Field and would be accommodated. We talked of the possibility of games offering discounted tickets to cyclists or maybe a free hotdog.
I suggested that a group I ride with, the Night Riders, might consider a Sunday night ride to LaGrave for a game.
Nate seemed very receptive to all of my suggestions and seemed eager to follow through on them.
The Cats, under new ownership this season, play in the South Division of the North American League, which is not affiliated with Major League Baseball. They have 56 home games scheduled this season, with the final game on Sept. 3.
So cyclists will have plenty of opportunities to take in a game and test out the promised amenities at LaGrave Field.
Here’s hoping that the Cats are one more local business that recognizes bicyclists as a growing segment of their customer base and that cyclists tend to patronize places where they are welcomed.

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