What I learned this week, May 23, 2014

Uptown Cyclovia

The crowd at Ciclovia Dallas on the Houston Street Viaduct with the Dallas downtown skyline

The crowd at Ciclovia Dallas on the Houston Street Viaduct with the Dallas downtown skyline

Uptown Ciclovia: An International Perspective

Have you ever dreamed of leisurely peddling on your bike without having to subconsciously worry about traffic? Ever wanted to walk down the middle lane of a typically busy street to get to Klyde Warren Park? Well, your dream will become a reality this Memorial Day!

Uptown Ciclovia (if you don’t know about it yet, Ciclo-what should catch you up to speed) is a car-free experience that will connect the Katy Trail to Klyde Warren Park via Cedar Springs Road on May 26th. By closing the street to automobiles, people may enjoy the street however they so choose- run, walk, bike, skip, hop, dance, roller-skate, etc. The best part? There will be no cars to get in your way. I repeat- there will be NO cars! Have you ever been on a Dallas street and without seeing cars? Exactly.

I am really looking forward to this.

The last Dallas Cyclovia was a couple of years ago on the causeway over the Trinity River. It was a lot of fun and this one looks even better. A Cyclovia in Uptown will be cool.

Music at Ciclovia Dallas

Music at Ciclovia Dallas

I’ve been to the Wyly theater more than a few times. I’ve written about it:
Sherlock Holmes, The Final Adventure
The Fortress of Solitude
Black Swallows the Red
As Flies to Wanton Boys
The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity
We Are Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made On

It is an amazing place.

Follow the rules, bikers

We need to rethink our urban areas. They need to be redesigned around a new set of values, one that doesn’t seek to accommodate bikers and pedestrians within an auto-dominated environment but instead does the opposite: accommodates automobiles in an environment dominated by people. It is people that create value. It is people that build wealth. It is in prioritizing their needs – whether on foot, on a bike or in a wheelchair – that we will begin to change the financial health of our cities and truly make them strong towns.

Rich college presidents linked to poorer teachers, students

A new report from the Institute for Policy Studies looks at the salaries of top administrators at many of the public universities around the country and draws some very interesting conclusions that any graduates of these schools with high debt loads will not be surprised to know. The most fundamental of these is that high pay of university presidents goes hand in hand with lower pay for faculty members and higher student debt on average.

Bike lane merging with right turn lane at Beltline road.

Bike lane merging with right turn lane at Beltline road.

Did Cooper Stock really have to die?

It is possible, even probable, experts say, because of the way Americans have designed their streets for hundreds of years — essentially viewing pedestrian fatalities as the cost of doing business, as the collateral damage of speed and progress.

“Traditionally we build assuming that drivers and pedestrians will do the right thing even though we know that humans are flawed,” says Claes Tingvall, the director of Traffic Safety for the Swedish Transport Administration, in an interview with Yahoo News. “You don’t design an elevator or an airplane or a nuclear power station on the assumption that everyone will do the right thing. You design it assuming they will make mistakes, and build in ways that withstand and minimize error.”

For nearly 20 years, Sweden has been building on that latter assumption, rethinking and revamping its transportation system, both the philosophy and the nuts and bolts. They call this 1997 legislation Vision Zero — meaning the goal is to reach zero pedestrian deaths in all of Sweden — and under the program people are valued over cars, safety over efficiency. Streets have been narrowed; speed limits have been lowered. Above all, the Swedes have declared an end to the argument over whether safety violations should be punished or prevented. Voting for problem solving over finger pointing, they view collisions as warnings that some fix — a differently timed light, a better lit intersection — is needed.

Reading about this terrible tragedy made me think of the near misses I’ve had lately. They all were in the same situation that killed that poor boy. Crossing in a crosswalk with a green light and the little walk light is a death trap for a pedestrian or a cyclist. The problem is that the left-turning cars are not looking in the crosswalk – they are looking at the oncoming traffic. They say to themselves, “I can make this turn if I hurry up!” – step on the accelerator and turn into people in the crosswalk.

One cause is the poor design of intersections. The root cause is people driving too fast. Both can be solved with better road design, but it takes a paridigm shift – one that I think can only occur in someone that is walking and/or biking a lot in the city.

Rail crossing on Arapaho road.

Rail crossing on Arapaho road.

New Report: Every Bicyclist Counts

A terrible string of fatal bike crashes in the Tampa area in late 2011 and early 2012 left the local bike community reeling.

As they shared each awful tragedy with us, we too felt frustrated and powerless. We also realized how little we really knew about the circumstances of serious crashes between bikes and cars, and how woefully inadequate (and late) the available data was at the national level.

For a 12-month period, we set about the grim task of tracking and documenting every fatal traffic crash involving a bicyclist captured by relevant internet search terms. We also wanted to offer a place to remember the victims and raise the hope that their deaths would at least inform efforts to prevent such tragedies in the future.

The result was the Every Bicyclist Counts initiative: everybicyclistcounts.org

Magazine Street, New Orleans

Magazine Street, New Orleans

Slow Ride: Biking Doesn’t Have to Be a Race

Believe it or not biking does not have to be a full-fledged cardio workout every time you go for a ride. In fact, a lot of countries seem to be on to something that many of us in the States have yet to fully embrace, the idea of a “slow ride.”

My whole idea of cycling is to ride as slowly as possible (and still get to where I need/want to be). Unfortunately, a lot of this is the fact that the engine on my bicycle is old and worn out. I like riding slowly, but I do miss having the options.

The rise of
 cycle cafes

The march of British cycle cafes seems irrepressible.

Unfortunately, for me, a bike ride from Texas to England for a cup of joe or a bite is a bit much.