The Invisible Bicycle Helmet

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Somerville to Fine Bike Lane Blockers $50

By Monica Jimenez
Wicked Local Somerville
October 18, 2013

untitledAre you one of those drivers who’ll park in the bike lane while picking up a  coffee from Dunkin Donuts or waiting for a friend to come downstairs?

Starting next month, you’ll be fined $50 and possibly towed.

A new amendment to city traffic laws, adding bike lanes to the list of  places where drivers may not leave their vehicles, goes into effect Oct. 31.  Other amendments to the General Towing Prohibitions and the Penalties sections  allow for a vehicle to be towed or a driver to be fined $50 in the event that  someone does park on a bike lane. Police say they’ll have no problem enforcing  the law, but are concerned with cyclists disobeying traffic requirements as  well.

Cyclist Lauren Clayton said the requirement was “vague” and asked to include  the clause, “subject to complaint by bicyclists,” which the Traffic Commission  approved, said Somerville Police traffic commander James Polito.

“We supported it. I hope it’s effective….we’ll see,” said Somerville  Bicycle Advisory Committee member Enid Kumin at a city Bicycle Committee meeting  this week. “I recognize that it’s rough in narrow streets to find somewhere to  park – hopefully the automobiles will uphold [the regulations] in good  faith.”

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Local Businesses Need Not Fear New Bike Lanes, Seattle Study Suggests

By Jeff Spross
August 15, 2013

CREDIT: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

CREDIT: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Businesses often fret that installing bike lanes on their streets will cut down customer traffic, but a new study published at Seattle Transit Blog found no evidence to back up that worry.

One way to fight climate change is by encouraging non-carbon-based modes of transportation — like building public spaces that are friendly to bike travel. But “merchants have a perception that customers primarily access their business by car,” as the study notes, and that removing car infrastructure will hurt their revenues. The conflict has played out over bike lane installations in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City— especially when the lanes involve removing street parking spaces.

So Kyle Rowe, the study’s author, looked at two case studies in Seattle. The first was the redesign of Greenwood Ave. in the fourth quarter of 2010. The road was changed from two lanes in each direction to one lane in each direction, plus a center turn lane and a bike lane. Rowe collected the taxable retail sales data for the six-block business district that lies at the southern stretch of the bike lane project. For control comparisons, he also collected data from a nearby business district that did not have a bike lane installed (the “Neighborhood Comparison”) and for Northwest Seattle as a whole (the “Neighborhood-Wide Comparison”). Finally, to make sure all three comparisons were apples-to-apples, Rowe used “sales indexing” — dividing the total number of sales from the studied district by the total number of businesses, with all three sharing the same starting value of 100 percent.

The result? The construction of the bike lanes had no discernible impact on the Greenwood Ave. district’s sales versus the other areas.

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Why Every Bike Needs a Bell

By Chris Tackett
August 9, 2013

bike-bell-silver-.jpg.662x0_q100_crop-scale… The need for a basket or panniers, a nicer seat, or even a helmet are, in my opinion, all up for debate on whether they are necessary, but I think there’s no debate that every cyclist needs a bell. Bells, along with lights, are not just for your own safety, but they make cycling safer for other cyclists, pedestrians and car drivers. And, I think, they can help make the flow of an urban transportation system work as well as it can.

How can a little bell do all of this? In my experience, a bell does a better job of communicating than I can vocally and when you’re riding on busy roads or crowded bike lanes where tenths of seconds and inches make the difference between a dangerous crash or a safe commute, there isn’t a lot of room for error.

The distinct, piercing tone of a bell can cut through the cacophony of urban noise better than a human voice can, on its own. This, I’ve found, can give people in your way a faster reaction time than if you were to yell ahead to them. Also, the “ding ding” + “on your left” announcement is, I think, a nicer, safer way to pass someone than simply yelling “on your left” out of the blue. Or worse still, not alerting them that you’re passing at all.

I’ve found a bell also does a better job of alerting drivers of my presence, so they don’t cut me off or open their doors. A strong bell sound seems to be better heard from inside a car than my voice is. And I can ring a bell in quick succession to alert them in an easier way than I could yell.

And on a system scale, I think using a bicycle bell in the right way makes cycling safer for other cyclists, as well, because by using your bell, you are training pedestrians and drivers to listen for the distinctive ding of a cyclist. If cyclists were all yelling in the same way that cab drivers yell here in New York when there’s someone in your way, there would just be more noise and confusion and potentially more accidents. This last bit is just my hunch, but it makes sense to me.

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Palestine’s First Bike Lane in Jericho Brings Oldest City Up to Speed

By Karin Kloosterman
Green Prophet
August 1, 2013

Biking enthusiasts in Palestine have welcomed the construction of the first cycle lane in the Palestinian territories on the main road leading from Jericho to Jerusalem.

The 1,200 two-way metre cycle lane on the west side of Jerusalem Street in Jericho was completed in July at a cost of 179,000 euros and will be formally opened after the end of Ramadan.

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Fatal Traverse City Hit-and-Run Crash Elevates Push to Make Road Safety Improvements

By Kyle Moroney
July 18, 2013

image01A push to make streets in Traverse City more pedestrian and cyclist friendly is getting more attention following the crash earlier this month that killed 29-year-old Kelly Hurlbert.

Since last July, Traverse City planning officials have been working on the city’s master plan in order to accommodate increasing pedestrian traffic and public transit, according to Planning Director Russ Soyring.

“We really pride ourselves on being a walking and biking community,” Soyring said. “This tragic event brings a heightened awareness and an importance for having safe access points and giving people safe transportation options.”

A subcommittee of the Traverse City Planning Commission met Tuesday to discuss the results of a recent survey that asked area residents about the modes of transportation they use to get around town.

The non-scientific survey found that out of about 325 people, nearly 160 said they bike or walk daily for fun and leisure, while 140 people bike and walk weekly for that same reason.

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$1.50 Paper Bike Helmet Concept Makes Bike Share Programs Safer

Posted by Jordan Carr
July 8, 2013

untitledWith bike share and rental programs taking off across the US, safety has become a huge concern for travelers looking to optimize city time via a bicycle. But lugging around a helmet can be a bit cumbersome and renting one can often be downright nasty. Enter the Paper Pulp Helmet. A 100% recycled and recyclable, simple, inexpensive option for riders looking to stay safe when having their personal helmet is not an option.

The Paper Pulp Helmet’s designers claim it “meets stringent European safety standards”, and that they’ll be able to sell the packing material’esque helmets for about $1.50 retail – making them cheap and much safer than riding without a helmet – the option that many, unfortunately, seem to choose when renting a bike.

Currently the Paper Pulp Helmet is still in its infancy stages, but the concept is a great solution to an inherent problem liability issue with the bike share programs worldwide.

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It’s the ‘Bicycle Spring’

By John Yemma
The Christian Science Monitor
July 1, 2013

Long shunted to the side of the road — and sometimes denied the road entirely — the humble, fragile, friendly bicycle is merging into mainstream traffic in unprecedented numbers around the globe. And it’s not always a smooth ride. 

BikePrimitive tribes that could barely feed themselves put enormous effort into grandeur – monuments, fortifications, catapults – the bigger the better to impress allies and intimidate enemies. Modern nations build aircraft carriers and skyscrapers for the same reason. Humans have a thing about scale. It’s hard to ignore a cathedral, superhighway, jumbo jet, or Cadillac Escalade.

So let’s talk about the opposite. This week’s cover story is about an almost two-century-old contraption that isn’t at all formidable. A bike is thin and frail and awkward looking, even with a Tour de France athlete aboard. It is quintessentially human in scale. It holds one person (two if you are romantic, though I’ve seen four or more riders in developing countries) and converts muscle into locomotion more efficiently than any other vehicle.

For a while in the late 19th century, bikes were the wonders of the age. Pre-automobile Henry Ford rode one. Pre-airplane Wright brothers built them. But for most of the 20th century two-wheelers retreated before the onslaught of increasingly impressive quadricycles. Bikes carved out a niche as kid’s toy, college necessity, and weekend amusement. Cars ruled.

During the mid-1970s, I experimented for a week with the bicycle-only life in Dallas. It was fun but also harrowing, sweaty, and lonely. I was the freak on the streets. Pickup trucks and muscle cars were the norm and didn’t mind letting me know it. By Week 2, sheet-metal armor seemed like a wise move.

That was then. Now riding to and from work has slipped over the line from colorful and a bit odd to normal and, in some workplaces, expected. Vulnerable lone cyclists have grown into solid ranks of riders. What’s behind that? Fresh air, exercise, and, most important, zero emissions. Bikes are greener than a Prius or Tesla. The International Bicycle Fund calculates that an average person on a bicycle can travel three miles on the caloric energy of one egg. A person walking the same distance requires three eggs. A fully loaded bus burns the equivalent of two dozen eggs per person. A train … well, we’re talking lots of eggs.

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Elevated Bicycle Lanes May Come to Hawaii

June 19, 2013

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Amtrak Bicycle Baggage Cars Could Boost Tourism, Lawmakers Say

Huffington Post
June 17, 2013

New York lawmakers want Amtrak to add baggage cars to its passenger trains that would be capable of carrying bicycles.

amtrak-medical-escortU.S. Sen. Charles Schumer and state Sens. Betty Little of Warren County and Brad Hoylman of Manhattan said Monday such a move would get more visitors and tourism dollars into New York state.

They discussed their plan at Amtrak’s Albany-Rensselaer station.

The lawmakers are asking Amtrak to add baggage cars that could carry bicycles on the Adirondack and Ethan Allen trains, which run from Penn Station in Manhattan to the Albany area, Saratoga and destinations in New York’s North Country and Vermont.

“Folks already come from all over New York and the East Coast to visit the miles of scenic bike trails along Lake Placid, Lake Champlain and throughout the Adirondacks and the North Country,” Schumer said. “Now we have the opportunity to boost bicycle tourism further by getting bikes in board our Amtrak trains.”

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