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Archive for the ‘Bicycle X-ing’ Category

Next summer, Columbus will see the launch of its first bike share network with over 300 bikes parked at 30 locations in Downtown and nearby neighborhoods. Users of the system will be able to visit any of the stations, borrow a bike to ride and return it to any of the stations.

“BikeShare is a low-cost, 24-hour transit system,” said Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman. “We’ve taken big steps toward making Columbus one of the best biking cities in the nation, and I’m excited to add bike sharing to the mix.”

Portland-based Alta Bicycle Share has been selected to bring the system to Columbus in June 2013. The system will utilize an automated swipe card system that will feature single-day uses, three-day passes and yearly memberships. The cards can be purchased at stations or online.

“This program is a fabulous addition for Downtown, and I have no doubt we will see a significant increase in bicycle traffic,” said Cleve Ricksecker, executive director of the Capital Crossroads and the Discovery Special Improvement Districts. “Columbus BikeShare will be a big amenity not only for visitors to Columbus, but for Downtown employees and residents. “

The 300 bikes that will be a part of the system are three-speed models designed for users over the age of 18. Bikes feature safety lights, a basket for hauling goods, and components to prevent theft. A maintenance team will repair broken bikes and redistribute them to stations throughout the city.

Alta Bicycle Share operates similar systems in Boston, Washington DC and Melbourne, with new systems also rolling out this coming spring in New York City and Portland.

Pricing structures have not yet been announced in Columbus, but the existing systems in Boston and DC charge $5-$7 per day, $12-$15 for a three-day pass, or $75-$85 for annual memberships. Once a pass has been purchased, the costs are then broken down based on time ridden. Any trip under 30 minutes from station to station is free, followed by charges broken down by half-hourly increments.

Columbus City Council is expected to approve legislation on Monday authorizing a one time expenditure of $2.2 million to purchase the bikes, stations and other equipment that will be operated by Alta.

Station locations will be decided this fall through resident and business input, while initial station locations will be centered near Downtown area attractions and employment centers. A map of proposed approximate locations can be found below.

To read more about the concept of bike share systems, click here: Big Ideas: Trending Cycles.

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Downtown is gaining approximately 325 new bike parking spaces Downtown as the installation of six bike shelters, bike lockers, indoor bike parking rooms and 70 bike racks is completed. The project was made possible through a federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant awarded to the city of Columbus through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The project is being executed through a partnership between the City of Columbus and Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District.

“Federal recovery funding has helped our city emerge from the recession and is now assisting our efforts to become one of the best bike cities in the nation,” said Mayor Michael B. Coleman. “These bike shelters and other bike parking encourage more people to ride bikes and make us a greener and healthier city.”

The six new bike shelters are located on the sidewalks near the following intersections:

  • East Long Street and North Front Street
  • North High Street and Hickory Street
  • East Broad Street and North 3rd Street
  • East Broad Street and 4th Street
  • South High Street and East State Street
  • West Mound Street and South Front Street

Each shelter can park 18 bikes covered by a “green roof” topped with drought-tolerant plants that absorb rainwater. The indoor bike rooms are located at the City of Columbus and Franklin County offices. Additional bike racks have been placed strategically throughout all of Downtown. The city of Columbus provided Capital Crossroads with $490,000 to manage the installation of the entire project.

“The bicycle facilities give downtown employees another amenity. We anticipate a large increase in bicycle commuting over the next several years,” said Cleve Ricksecker, Executive Director of Capital Crossroads. “Downtown’s central location and street grid allow it accommodate employers who want to give their employees travel options.”

More information about the Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District can be found online at DowntownColumbus.com.

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I was out getting some donuts on Sunday morning and saw this sidewalk connection from the shared use path on the west side of Sawmill Road to the front door of Tim Hortons.  It’s so rare that big box auto-oriented retail is well connected to the sidewalk, that I thought it merited a post.

The rare and elusive sidewalk

It even includes a stamped crosswalk. Fancy.

Looking at the aerial, you can see that the sidewalk connection I photographed isn’t the only one.  There are several that I’ve highlighted in red below.

Still sprawl, but with sidewalks

The land use still isn’t pedestrian friendly, and I’d rather see buildings constructed at the right-of-way, but at least the sidewalk connections keep it from being hostile to pedestrians.  Where buildings are set back from the right-of-way behind a parking lot, this is something basic that can be done to at least acknowledge that some people might want to get there without a car.  I’d like to see these kinds of sidewalk connections retrofitted into old developments and required by zoning codes for new developments.  Kudos to Dublin for doing this.

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My wife, son, and I recently took a vacation to Michigan.  We left from Chicago on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, turned the corner around Lake Michigan, and started heading north towards Mackinac Island.  We stayed along the Lake Michigan coast for the most part, stopping in many little tourist towns along the way.  I didn’t take pictures in all of them, but almost all were very charming, with what appear to be very healthy central business districts.  I know the tourist money helps with the business aspect, but there were some trends and commonalities that I think are worth noting:

  1. Traffic moves slow in the downtown areas.  There were very few multi-lane roads.
  2. There was lots of on-street parking.  Angled parking was especially common.  Drivers looking for parking is part of the reason traffic moves slowly.
  3. Street trees were usually abundant, large, and shady.
  4. Buildings on the main commercial streets were intact.  There were solid street walls of buildings, not the gap-toothed building-parking lot-building-parking lot pattern.
  5. Parking was on-street or behind buildings in public lots.
  6. There was good signage directing people to main attractions and maps of the business district in many towns.

Here are some photos:

South Haven, MISouth Haven, MI

Holland, MI

Traverse City, MI

Charlevoix, MI

Petoskey, MI

Mackinaw City, MI

Mackinac Island, MI

Full Album Here

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US Rep. Steve LaTourette

It’s great to have a politician Ohio can be proud of for a change.  Representative Steve LaTourette of Bainbridge Township (i.e., exurban Cleveland) has co-sponsored a national complete streets bill in the US House of Representatives.  It seems that Rep. LaTourette has come full circle after creating a bit of a controversy last year by questioning the value of bike lanes.  From Streetsblog:

Reps. Matsui, LaTourette Introduce Complete Streets Bill
by Tanya Snyder on May 5, 2011

A bill to provide Americans with more transportation choices than just driving is one step closer to becoming law. Reps. Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Steve LaTourette (R-OH) just introduced the Safe and Complete Streets Act of 2011 [PDF]. The bill doesn’t have a number yet.

…LaTourette’s support for complete streets came as a result of advocates flooding his office with complaints after he ridiculed bicycling as a mode of transportation and a jobs engine in a committee hearing last year. Perhaps if he’d never made those disparaging remarks he would never have discovered the groundswell of support for active transportation and wouldn’t be the complete streets champion he is today.

…The bill would require that states and metropolitan planning organizations craft and adhere to a complete streets policy, with guidance from the USDOT, that would apply to all federally funded projects. States or MPOs would need senior-level approval and documentation to get an exemption. It doesn’t apply to existing roads or new projects whose planning is already well underway.

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The bill is unlikely to pass as a stand-alone bill, but creates dialog about what should be in in the forthcoming transportation funding reauthorization bill. I think the important thing here though is to see that some politicians do respond to comments from constituents, even when it’s about active transportation.

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It’s nice to see funding to back up policy.  From the Mayor’s State of the City speech on Wednesday:

And today I am proud to announce that we will invest $30 million in resurfacing streets and alleys in Columbus. This represents the largest single-year investment in street and alley resurfacing in the history of our city. More than 225 lane miles and approximately 60 miles of alleys in neighborhoods all over the city.

I want to thank Councilwoman Priscilla Tyson for her leadership on these and other capital improvement investments.

We will also be investing another $4 million in accessible sidewalks so our kids don’t have to walk in the streets on their way to school. Since we started this effort a decade ago, we’ve built 63 miles of sidewalks, which if laid end-to-end would take us halfway to Cleveland.

Finally, we will be investing almost $3.5 million to build bikeways and bike paths so we can make Columbus “Bike City USA.” By our Bicentennial, Columbus will have more than 110 miles of bikeways and bike paths, which if laid end to end would take us three quarters of the way to Cleveland.

At this rate, if we keep building sidewalks and bike paths, we will be able to walk, or ride our bikes all the way to Cleveland—since we won’t be able to ride a train.

I want to recognize Councilman Hearcel Craig for his leadership on this effort.

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Also see envious praise from Cleveland on Green City Blue Lake.

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MORPC recently released their Bike Users Map for 2010, which only contains a few updates from last year. It provides an overlay of our road system that shows which roads are safer than others for bike commuters and provides a map of trails and bike paths as well.

You can view it here: http://www.morpc.org/bikemaps

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A candidate for Mayor in Toronto has released a proposal for a bicycle plan that relies heavily on a comprehensive network of bicycle boulevards.  In short,  I think this is exactly what Columbus needs.

Her plan builds on the bike plan’s signed routes by calling for bike boulevards criss-crossing the city on quieter streets. According to Wikipedia, a bike boulevard is “a shared roadway which has been optimized for bicycle traffic. In contrast with other shared roadways, bicycle boulevards discourage cut-through motor vehicle traffic, but typically allow local motor vehicle traffic.” Hopefully, that is what she means by bike boulevards.

We’ve talked about bike boulevards here in the past, particularly in reference to the Bicentennial Bikeways Master Plan.  Columbus even has one bike boulevard on Milton Avenue to connect two segments of the Olentangy Trail.  I don’t know that we’ve ever really fully described what one is, but it basically has the following characteristics:

  • Low traffic volumes – A bicycle boulevard needs to be rideable for everyone, including young children.  This means that residential streets are usually preferable.
  • Traffic control priority for cyclists – A bicycle boulevard should be like an on-street path.  It should be a quick through route that forms the backbone of the bicycle route network.  Cyclists shouldn’t have to stop at every intersection.  That means stop signs will need to be removed from the bike boulevard at many intersections.  Traffic signals will be needed to help cyclists cross busy arterials.
  • Traffic calming – To prevent motorists from taking advantage of the traffic control priority and turning the bike boulevard into a high-volume street, there needs to be traffic calming.  This could be as simple as speed humps, or more complicated devices like diverters or cul-de-sacs with gaps only wide enough to let bikes through.
  • Special signs and markings – Bike boulevards have large sharrows marked on the street, often with the word “BLVD” as well.  Berkeley in particular has developed a nice guide signage system for their bike boulevards.

If anyone wants to work on a map of proposed bike boulevards, maybe using Google Maps, I’d be happy put it into GIS as I have the time.  That would allow it to be exported as a detailed PDF.  Perhaps I’ll get something started and we can build on it from there.  General ideas for bike boulevards:

  • Connect off-street trails and existing bike lanes by using bike boulevards as “on-street trails.”
  • Provide alternates parallel to major streets.
  • Cross barriers (e.g., rivers, railroads, freeways) where possible.
  • Connect to universities.
  • Connect to downtown and other job centers.
  • Connect to high schools.

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In case you missed it, the Main Street Bridge opened last week.  It is a very pretty bridge (photos after the jump).

Main Street Bridge
Landmark opening

Saturday, July 31, 2010 02:52 AM
By Gina Potthoff
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Mayor Michael B. Coleman christened the new Main Street bridge yesterday morning by leading a group of bicyclists into Franklinton.

Coleman borrowed a bike and donned a helmet to ride across the Scioto River on the $60.1 million bridge that officially opened for traffic, although some pedestrians have used it for several days.

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(more…)

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Bexley City Council passes bicycle helmet ordinance
Wednesday, July 28, 2010 10:34 AM
By JEFF DONAHUE
Bexley Community Editor

Bexley City Council members voted 6-1 Tuesday night to approve an ordinance requiring all children 16 and younger to wear a protective helmet when bicycling in the city.

Only councilman Richard Sharp voted against the measure, stating his opposition was not to the use of bike helmets, which he supports, but the necessity of city council to legislate the issue.

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