Wednesday, July 30, 2008
 

Bicycling on CBS' Sunday Morning

One of my favorite programs on TV is Sunday Morning on CBS. It's basically a good news program with features on graphic arts, literature, music, and human interest stories. Charles Kuralt was the host for many years. Charles Osgood took over a few years back.

I had to work last Sunday so I wasn't able to watch the program. Thanks to EcoVelo for pointing out the feature from last week's show on the many people who have started bicycling for various reasons: environmental, economical, and health.

A child carrier bike at Clever Cycles of Portland was shown (as an aside, Clever Cycles is closed until August 11: "Why? Because we are sold out of nearly all our most popular products! (Bakfietsen? Xtracycles? Child seats? Certain Bromptons, Retrovelos etc…) It’s a combination of some of our suppliers being sold out themselves, and others being simply too far away for timely resupply. Sales have exceeded our most confident hopes; thank you!"). Portland is featured prominently, including their new bike boxes which allow cyclists to congregate in front of motorists at certain intersections.

The Bicycle Riding School in Somerville, Mass. is featured (see our previous post that included another clip on the school). Portland's first bike coordinator issued this challenge: "I'll just challenge your viewers to think about substituting one trip a week that they normally take by car, try it on a bike," Birk said. "Try a short trip that's 2 miles or less."

According to a recent federal study, that's 40% of all urban trips in America.

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Monday, July 28, 2008
 

Bike to Work Book

The Bike to Work Book should be a good resource for people who want to learn some tips for biking to work. Publication date is planned for mid-November and it will be available as a paperback from Amazon. The book is co-authored by Carlton Reid and Tim Grahl. Carlton is author of numerous cycling books. He also writes for The Guardian newspaper. Tim Grahl runs the Commute by Bike website.

Chapters include Why Cycle to Work, Busting the Myths about Cycling to Work, The Right Kind of Bike versus The Wrong Kind of Bike, Keeping Your Bike on the Road, Urban Cycle Training, Route Planning, Security, Pack it in, and keep it dry, and Bike Wear. If you can't wait for the book, check out FABB's bike commuting info on the Cyclist Resources page.

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Friday, July 25, 2008
 

Riding a bike in a crosswalk

On two occasions today I was told by motorists that riding a bike in a crosswalk is illegal. One of those people was a policeman, after a motorist failed to stop for me as I crossed Hunter Mill Road on the W&OD Trail. The policeman did say that he wasn't sure about the code. He was the second policeman with that misinformation.

The other person was a motorist in a big SUV who honked at me, and the motorist who stopped for me, in a crosswalk on the W&OD Trail at Wiehle Ave. The motorists said that it is illegal to ride a bike in a crosswalk and he was going to have me arrested.

Section 46.2-904 of Virginia code states: "A person riding a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, motorized skateboard or scooter, motor-driven cycle, or an electric power-assisted bicycle on a sidewalk, shared-use path, or across a roadway on a crosswalk, shall have all the rights and duties of a pedestrian under the same circumstances."

I get a little tired of being harassed by vigilante motorists, most of whom don't know what their talking about. It's even worse when the people who enforce Virginia's laws don't know the law. FABB hopes to meet with Fairfax County police in the near future to discuss bicyclist/police relations.

Along these same lines, see the recent post on The WashCycle entitled Myth of the Scofflaw Cyclist.
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Wednesday, July 23, 2008
 

W&OD cyclist looking for witnesses

A cyclist who was riding on the W&OD Trail on June 23 of this year was crossing Church St in Vienna and was struck by a motorist. The cyclist is now looking for witnesses to the crash. According to the cyclist:

"I saw traffic in both directions, so I stopped at the stop sign. The cars stopped on either side of the crosswalk, waving me through. (Car on the right was a Hyundai Santa Fe, and the one on the left was a white or light colored Corolla or similar car).

Both cars stopped and waved me through, so I proceeded forward. As I passed the 2nd car (the one on my right), a car sped through the crosswalk and struck me.

I'm looking for anyone who may have witnessed the accident - the driver moved his car before the police got there, and is planning on pleading not guilty to the citation.

Any help would be useful."

If you have useful information, please leave a comment here and we will pass it on.

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Saturday, July 19, 2008
 

Bicycle safety and education

Many more people are riding bikes in these days of $4+/gallon of gas. I see twice as many people riding on the roads in the areas where I ride. I think the increase is not only due to the price of gas, it's also due to concerns about air pollution and global climate change.

With more riders will come more conflicts between cars and cyclists. We all need to be careful when out on the roads. Motorists need to be aware of the presence of cyclists on the road and on sidewalks and trails. We at FABB feel strongly that riding on the road is generally more safe than on sidewalks or trails. When on the road we are part of traffic, and motorists are looking for other traffic and they are not always looking for bicyclists who may be riding counter to traffic on a sidepath.

This report on MSNBC entitled Deadly tension on the roads — cars vs. bikes: Accident toll rises as gas-shocked commuters opt for bicycles, discusses recent conflicts between cyclists and motorists: “I believe it’s definitely going to cause some problems, because people don’t know how to share the road with cyclists,” said Kirk Hendricks, director of advocacy for the group Idaho Cycling Enthusiasts. “[Drivers] need to know that we have as much right as an automobile even though we’re not as big.”

We can all share the roads, but we need the proper skills to do it safely. On the WABA website you can find listings for their Confident City Cycling classes as well as a number of classes taught by Allen Muchnick in Northern Virginia. There is a good video clip on the above mentioned MSNBC site, Back on the bike, learning to ride later in life and the recent surge in cyclists.
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Thursday, July 10, 2008
 

W&OD Trail safety improvements

Chairman Connolly's office sponsored a tour of the W&OD Trail from Gallows Road to Partlow's store at Ashburn Rd. The purpose of the tour was to evaluate some of the road crossings to determine needed safety and other enhancements. Jakob Helmboldt, the Virginia State Bicycle Coordinator and a member of his staff traveled from Richmond with their bikes to participate. Jakob works from VDOT in the Transportation Planning Division. Others who participated in the tour were members of Connolly's staff, the Fairfax County bike coordinator and a member of his staff, Northern Virginia Park Authority Staff, and FABB. No representatives from the VDOT Northern Virginia District Bicycle and Pedestrian Office were present (probably because most are not cyclists).

One of the issues discussed was the long traffic signal timing at Gallows Road, Maple Ave/Rt 123, and Van Buren Rd. In the first two instances cyclists are forced to wait 2.5 minutes to cross (or between .5 and 1 mile travel time depending on your speed). We discussed several options for reducing the wait times, especially if smart traffic sensors were used.

We also discussed locations where numerous bicycle/car crashes have occurred (Hunter Mill Rd, Sunset Hills Rd, Wiehle Ave). Jakob took several photos and made notes on possible safety enhancements.

Chairman Connolly's office has prepared a matrix of suggested improvements that were discussed in a meeting today. More details will follow.

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Cyclists gather to mourn Alice Swanson

WABA called a press conference yesterday at 6:30pm to call for a full investigation into the death of cyclist Alice Swanson. Alice was killed while riding her bike to work on Tuesday, July 8. A garbage truck turned right into her path, trapping her underneath. No charges have yet been filed against the motorist.

Hundreds of cyclists gathered at the corner of Connecticut and R streets where a white bike, also known as a ghost bike, was placed in honor of Alice. It was a sobering event, as Eric Gilliland of WABA said, a reminder of how vulnerable we are when riding our bikes.

This type of crash is known as the right hook, when a motorist turns right into a cyclist who is proceeding straight. As the Wash Cycle noted back in February of this year, "Seattle is looking at ways to make bike lanes safer, specifically how to avoid right hooks."

There are many blind spots on large vehicles and cyclists need to be careful when riding near them, especially on their right side. However, shouldn't a motorist always be aware of objects surrounding their vehicle? Does having a "blind spot" excuse the motorist from taking full responsibility for their actions? A similar crash occurred in Vienna in August of 2005 when David Marsden was killed by a large truck turning into his path as he crossed a side street in a crosswalk. No charges were filed because the motorist claimed he didn't see the bicyclist.

We hope the DC police spend the time necessary to find out the cause of the crash and file appropriate charges. There were several witnesses.
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Tuesday, July 8, 2008
 

What Works: Ride a bike and lengthen your life

Tonight's NBC News What Works segment, Ride a bike and lengthen your life, was a follow-up to yesterday's report on cities developing better bicycle facilites: Willy Adkins, an 82-year old Jacksonville resident, bikes 16 miles a day. "It's just healthy for you. You need exercise, I don't care how old you get." Cycling an hour a day can reduce your mortality risk by 35%. 30 minutes of daily cycling can cut the risk of heart disease and stroke by as much as 35%, and a 15 minute bike ride to and from work 5 times a week can burn off 11 pounds of fat a year.
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Monday, July 7, 2008
 

What Works: Bicycle Commuting

The What Works segment of NBC News tonight highlighted what some cities are doing to promote bicycle commuting, focusing on Portland's efforts. "Many cities in the U.S. could be and in some instances are following the example of Portland. Six percent of people who live in Portland commute by bike on 170 miles of bike lanes."

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Friday, July 4, 2008
 

Dulles Rail project construction hotline

Construction on the Dulles Rail project has also begun. The first phase of the project is relocation of utilities along Route 7. There is a service road along Route 7 between the Dulles Toll Road and Route 123 that cyclists use. There is also a sidewalk that is used by service workers and many office employees during the day. Due to the recent construction, both the service drive and the sidewalk on the south side are completely blocked. Would VDOT allow a major road to be closed with NO access for traffic? They would provide a detour. Why don't the same rules apply to non-motorized traffic.

Dulles Transit Partners, the primary project contractor, has set up a hotline to report problems associated with the construction: 877-585-6789. If you use the route above, or any other route that is blocked by project construction, you can call the above number to report the problem. I called about the lack of a detour on the Route 7 construction and was given a report number and I'll be checking in a week or so to see what is being done to allow cyclists and pedestrians to get around the construction.

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W&OD Trail bridge over the Beltway

Construction for the HOT lanes project has begun, and as the project progresses, more and more news articles are appearing, like this one in the Post about the loss of the tree buffer along the Beltway. We were asked recently if the W&OD Trail bridge over the Beltway will be closed when it is rebuilt as part of the project.

At the HOT lanes public hearings we asked VDOT and contractor staff that same questions. We were assured that the new trail bridge would be built before the old one is removed, and that there would be a very short period during which traffic from the old bridge would be switched to the new one. Since the new bridge will be offset from the old one, there will be a gradual curve approaching and existing the bridge from the trail. If you hear otherwise, please let us know. We will continue to monitor this and other bicycle access issues during the project.

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