Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Creating a bike-friendly Tysons Corner

That's the title of a letter we recently sent to the Post regarding the article Shuttles for Tysons Metro stations in Virginia need grants that appeared on Dec. 22. The article notes that a shuttle bus system will cost "$9 million to buy the new buses and $5.8 million annually to operate the service."

For Tysons to become a true mixed-use, livable place there need to be many transportation options. We pointed out that a bike sharing system would cost very little and could be in place in a matter of months. Bike-friendly streets, long- and short-term bike parking, and other infrastructure will allow new residents a low-cost, pollution free alternative to sitting in traffic jams at all hours of the day.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

NVTA bashes bikes

The Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance (not to be confused with the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority) is a transportation advocacy group that supports building more road capacity throughout the DC region. Development of their top priority projects would result in increased suburban sprawl and air pollution. It's no surprise that the group is supported by major developers and their representatives. Their idea of "transportation" does not include bicycles and rarely includes transit. These are their top priority projects:
  • I-66 to six lanes inside the Beltway.
  • Route 28 to eight lanes with limited access between Route 7 and I-66.
  • Right-of-way protection and construction of key segments of the Western Bypass.
  • An Eastern Bypass.
  • The Loudoun County and Tri-County Parkways
They have a history of bashing funding for bicycles. Their representative, Robert Chase, is a regular proponent of road projects at public hearings around the region. His latest tirade (Millions for Bathrooms and Bicycles and Escalators (Oh My!)) is directed at the Transportation Planning Board's decision to increase funding for bike sharing (p. 6) in the region. According to NVTA's Chase, "Proposals to Use Scarce Transportation Dollars for Trivial Purposes Fuel Voter Skepticism at a Time When Voter Support for New Revenue for Well-Documented Needs Is More Important Than Ever."

Bike sharing is one of the most promising transportation ideas being used throughout Europe and is taking hold in North America. It is very popular in Paris and is helping residents replace many short motorized trips with bike trips, reducing congestion and air pollution. In the U.S. half of all trips are a 20 minute or less bike ride and nearly all are currently taken by car.

We think NVTA should stop bashing bikes and consider advocating for the most efficient and least polluting transportation mode ever invented, bicycling.

Read more about TPB's bike sharing decision on The Bike-sharing Blog and at Greater Greater Washington.

[Update July 27] Link to Transportation Planning Board Project Components for TIGER grant application that contains info on the bike sharing application, including a map of proposed coverage.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Arlington County bike sharing for employees

Bikes are now available for Arlington County employees to use for short trips during the day. According to the Post article Eco-Agenda Goes the Next Mile on 3 Wheels, both upright bikes and trikes are available:
"I know it sounds nutty," said Mary Curtius, a county spokeswoman, but it's part of the eco-friendly county's efforts to lower health-care costs and help the environment. "Instead of jumping in a car and driving across town, people can bike. We're looking for every way we can think of to work on prevention and wellness."
Actually, it doesn't sound nutty to me, or to the millions of people around the world who use bikes for basic transportation. Why the county spokeswoman thinks it's nutty is surprising.

The Fairfax County bike coordinator tried to implement a similar bike sharing system at the county government center only to be told that there were too many liability issues. If Arlington has found a way to do it, so should we.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bike thefts plague Vélib

According to the BBC news article Thefts puncture Paris bike scheme, over half of the bikes used by the bike sharing system Vélib in Paris have been stolen. Most have been replaced, but the costs have escalated. "The company which runs the scheme, JCDecaux, says it can no longer afford to operate the city-wide network."

When I visited Paris recently I used Vélib extensively. I did notice that some of the bikes have been abused, so much so that one had to be careful ensuring that the bikes were in good order before checking them out. The system is relatively new and it will take a while to work out some of the problems. The bikes are very popular in Paris and we're quite sure that a solution will be found.

Update: Reports of Vélib's Demise Greatly Exaggerated from Streetsblog gives some perspective on the bike theft problem. JCDecaux, the advertising firm that runs Vélib, may be inflating the problem as they negotiate to renew their contract with the city of Paris. JCDecaux is still making a great deal of money from the advertising. Hat tip to Kottke.

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