March 10, 2010
Finally! Google Maps has just released bike-friendly directions, which will include trails and bike lanes. The feature will also help cyclists avoid congested streets, large hills, and other potential problems. To use the feature, go to Google Maps, click on ‘directions’, and select ‘bicycling’ from the pull down menu (the other options are by car, by public transit, and walking).
The bike maps are only available on the web right now, and are in beta. After playing with the option a bit this morning, I would say so far, so good. The coolest aspect, in my opinion, is that once Google maps a route for you, you can adjust the route by dragging across the map. This way, you can compare different options. We all have favorite routes around town, but it is always fun to go a new way.
This is a huge step for cycling, giving millions of people access to biking as transportation. It will make biking in new cities much easier, and hopefully will encourage more people to dust off their bike and ride it to work, if even just a couple days a week. Small changes yield great results. Thanks, Google!
February 20, 2010
There are many Nashvillians working diligently to make our city more bike friendly, and a city that we all should model in this quest is Portland, OR. Portland is already home to numerous bike shops (over 50 are listed on bikeportland.org) and other bike-related businesses, including some of the most respected names in frame building.
The culture of cycling in Portland has taken a lot of effort, and money. The city already boasts well designed bike lanes throughout town, and the city funds a program to get commuter bikes into the hands of underprivileged riders. The city was recently named the second most bike friendly city in the world. And now, Portland has announced a new bike initiative that will cost $613 million dollars. It is an exciting proposal that will propel this already innovative city into a new stratosphere of bike love! There is also talk of L.A. adopting a large bicycle initiative, which would include a bicycle freeway.
I recommend reading the article linked above, as well as a recent article on how to create bike friendly cities. Nashville has huge potential to become a bike friendly city, so educate yourself and get behind our city!
February 16, 2010
Calling all cyclists: there is current a bill in TN legislation that will directly effect the way we ride. The bill, HB3131 / SB3057, authorizes bicyclists, after coming to a full and complete stop and exercising due care as provided by law, to proceed with caution through traffic lights. This is due to the inability of many traffic signals to detect a waiting bicyclist. The law has long been available to motorcyclists, and this bill will provide similar treatment for bicyclists.
The legislation has several important votes this week, and bicyclists are encouraged to write their elected state official to express their support IMMEDIATELY in support of this bill. Instructions for finding your elected official are at the end of this message.
SAMPLE – WHAT TO SAY:
Dear <legislator name>,
As a citizen of Tennessee, I am writing to you to encourage a YES vote in support of HB3131 / SB3057 that seeks to make Tennessee a more bicycle-friendly state by allowing bicycles to legally pass through a red traffic light that is unequipped to detect bicycles. The alternative to correct this situation is to refit all traffic signals with detection devices designed to detect bicycles, which though desirable, is very costly and could take years.
I appreciate your continued support of bicycle and pedestrian friendly legislation in the future. In a state ranked 46th in health outcomes and suffering from a serious obesity problem, legislation to make Tennessee a more walking and bicycling friendly place is a good choice for the residents of our state.
FOR THOSE INCLINED TO WRITE YOUR OWN:
- Many traffic signals are unable to detect bicycles, leaving a bicyclist waiting for a long long time. Retrofitting detection devices, though highly desireable, is costly. This legislation is no-cost and has an immediate benefit.
- For years, motorcyclists have been allowed to proceed with caution through red lights after exercising due care as provided by law.
- Tennessee was ranked 49th in the USA for biking and walking in the latest Alliance for Biking and Walking report.
- Tennessee is ranked 46th in Health Outcomes. Exercise and active living (through walking and bicycling) will help improve this statistic.
WHO TO WRITE:
Find your Senator here
Find your House Representative Here
House Public Safety Committee
A simple email or phone call goes a long way.
February 15, 2010
If you haven’t ridden out Highway 100 near the Natchez Trace, you may not know about the new ‘rumble strips’ that the Tennessee Department of Transportation has installed. The shoulder on this section of road averages at 30″, and the new rumble strips take up 12″ of the shoulder. That leaves a meager 18″ for cyclists, forcing us to ride into the roadway (with cars going 50-60 mph), and putting us at danger if there is road debris or obstacles. Considering how many cyclists use Highway 100, it is quite a setback.
TDOT has already admitted that this was an oversight, and that they have designed new ‘cyclist friendly’ rumble strips for future projects. There was a story on WSMV about it, and Walk/Bike Nashville and Bike/Walk Tennessee are both working diligently to have the strips fixed. A link to the WSMV story.
February 5, 2010
Shangai's bike/pedestrian only highway
Have you ever said, “Nashville’s great, but our public transportation sucks” or “If only Nashville had more bike lanes” or “Why don’t Nashville’s greenways connect throughout the city?”
If so, please take a few minutes and complete this survey sponsored by the Nashville Metro Planning Organization (MPO). Our city is working hard to improve Nashville’s future in transportation, and it takes advice from people who use alternative transit (whether it be a bike, a bus, or your two feet) to ensure that our city’s transportation future is bright.
I mean, what if Nashville stood up as a truly progressive city and bankrolled innovative projects, like a bicycle highway? What if the greenways, which have improved the community greatly, connected throughout town, making bike travel safer and easier? It takes each of us as individuals to create a movement, and as my friend Brooke says, “Participation breeds revolution.”