TagBicycling

What is a utility bike

Well, if I had to choose, it’s the WorkCycles Fr8.

But if I had to define it, here goes:

  1. It can carry stuff so that I don’t have to carry it on my person, thus hurting my body. Carries in such a way so as to not negatively affect the handling and maneuverability of the bike.
  2. Has a design with devices, features, elements, materials that help prolong the life of the bicycle. This includes chain guard to prevent rust, fenders to prevent dirt, internal gearing to make that last longer, etc…
  3. Can be ridden by a variety of person sizes (I’m not sure if this represents utility, not 100% sure on this one).

Why does this matter?

Photo by Jonathan Maus of BikePortland. Read his reporting on the topic

Oregon Manifest judges chose the winning bike on Friday, September 24, 2011, and it’s far from being the ultimate utility bike.

Tony’s bike – centered around an electric pedaling assist — was specifically designed to get people out of cars, introducing amenities that drivers have grown accustomed to on the road;  stereo, locking storage, stable loading and a huge dose of Fun Factor.

And I wasn’t the only concerned observer. Travis Wittwer, a Portland resident, was present at the announcement and wrote on Bike Noun Verb, in a post titled The Cargo Bike Future Sucks:

There was a palatable pause as the first place winner for the Ultimate Utilitarian Bike was announced at the the 2011 Oregon Manifest awards. The pause was long enough to register as a pause. A stop. It was uncomfortable. Clearly people everywhere in the crowd were saying, “What the hell?” I looked around and saw other people looking around. There was some confusion.

It doesn’t meet my definition of utility bike above:

  1. The wide front rack is mounted to the steering and thus will make maneuverability difficult. The double-leg kickstand is not very wide.
  2. The drivetrain is exposed, it uses electrical parts that will fail or need maintenance that many people will not be able to provide.
  3. The high top tube may make it difficult for some to mount the bicycle.
I do love the locking storage, though!

Notable about Chicago transit: Bikes

I forgot where I heard this, but it’s from a guy named Adam (he might be from Ireland*):

Biking in Chicago is great… because you can give up and at any time… and put your bike on a bus.

He’s right – every single one of the Chicago Transit Authority’s 2,000+ buses have bike racks to hold two bicycles.

Photo by jochemberends. Visit the Bikes and Transit group on Flickr for more photos like this.

*My notes are vague.

Introduction to DIY bike ridership research

A lot of people ask me how many people are out there bicycling.

“Not a lot”, I tell them.

And I explain why: the primary source of data is the American Community Survey, which is a questionnaire that asks people questions about how they got to work in a specific week. (More details on how it does this below.) We don’t have data, except in rare “Household Travel Surveys”, about trips by bike to school, shopping, and social activities.

It’s comparable across the country – you can get this data for any city.

Here’s how:

  1. Visit the “legacy” American FactFinder and select American Community Survey, operated by the United States Census Bureau.
  2. Select 2005-2009 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates (or the latest 5-year estimate). This is the most accurate data.
  3. In the right-side menu that appears, click on “Enter a table number”.
  4. In the new window, input the table number ” S0801″ (“Commuting Characteristics by Sex”) and submit the form. The new window will close and the other window will go to that table.
  5. Now it’s time to select your geography. In the left-side menu, under “Change…” click on “geography (state, county, place…)”
  6. In the window to change your geography, select “Place” as your “Geographic Type”.
  7. Then select the state.
  8. Then select your city and click “Show Result”.
Notes:
  • This data shows all modes people take to work, who live in that city. It’s highly probable that people are leaving the city to their jobs on these modes. For example, someone who lives in Rogers Park may ride their bike to work in Evanston.
  • The URL is a permanent link to this dataset. Each city has a unique URL. You should save these as bookmarks so you can easily reference the data later.
  • The question on the survey doesn’t allow multiple choices: “People who used more than one means of transportation to get to work each day were asked to report the one used for the longest distance during the work trip”.

Policy insights for Moving Design

I’ve collected into a single website all seven of the policy insights I gave at Moving Design in July and August 2011 about bicycling and planning.

Policy Insights

If I had an actual photo of me giving a policy insight to 40+ designers, the facilitators, and Rick Valicenti, I would post it here. Instead, here’s what Rey Colón looks like talking about policy and planning and our Bike/Walk35 presentation, and me listening. 

Comment about traffic calming

“Speed bumps are never the answer when chicanes and choking a street to one lane briefly with curb extensions get the same job done more safely. There’s literally no application where speed bumps are more appropriate than a chicane or chokers in any location they’ve been used by PBOT [Portland Bureau of Transportation] so far.”

From Paul Johnson on BikePortland.org.

Photo of drivers straddling the streetcar tracks and impeding the bike lane, in Lovejoy Street in Portland, Oregon. 

Policy insight for Wednesday, August 3, 2011

WORD CHOICE

Biker versus bicyclist?
Person riding bike or bicyclist?
“Avid cyclist” or “bicycling enthusiast”? Are you really enthused about bicycling? How avid does one need to be so that others will consider him or her an “avid cyclist”?

Bicycling on Milwaukee Avenue

What about driver versus motorist? Motorist can imply that it’s a person who enjoys motoring.
Or, car versus motorist?
Did the car hit you, or did a person driving a car hit you?

“The car stopped and talked to the guy. The car left-hooked my friend.” Do cars talk? Do cars operate by themselves?

Crash versus accident? (don’t have time to talk about this)

When you describe a bicycling riding, and you say they had to “SWERVE out of the way,” do you think that some people may interpret that as the bicyclist doing something they shouldn’t be doing? Maybe they were just swerving to avoid a pothole and crashed, or they swerved to avoid getting hit by someone driving a car when the cyclist disobeyed a red signal. A more objective phrase would be, “the bicyclist maneuvered to avoid hitting the pothole.” In that sense, I’ve made it seem like the bicyclist was riding assertively and in their best interest. Notice earlier how I said “disobeyed a red signal” instead of “blew a red light”?

POINT
When we open our dialogue in order to understand others and to be understand ourselves, language and word choice matters. Be specific, but more importantly be descriptive so that you’re not misunderstood.

Some have called Mayor Rahm Emanuel an “avid cyclist.” Does this photo of him make you think of yourself as someone who bicycles, or your peers?

Cross posted to Moving DesignRead more policy insights from Steven Vance. 

Policy insight for Monday, August 1, 2011

This isn’t refined. These are just my notes that I speak from. I may not have spoke about everything written here and I may not have written here everything I spoke about. This is for Moving Design

There was report of cyclist crashing on the Tuff Curb at the on-street bike parking facility in Wicker Park.

Installing the Tuff Curb

experimental projects need reviews. I don’t mean projects that are considered experiments, I mean projects that are new to the people who designed it, and new to the people who will be using it.

we need good data collection.

Did the Kinzie bike lane cause congestion? So what if it did?
We would need data points that were collected using well-known methods, and probably at different times of the day and week. And we’d have to be sure to count cyclists, too.
Then 3, 6, or 12 months later, we’d have to do it again.

What was the change?
Is that a change that meets our goals?

Back to the cyclist crashing on tuff curb, what is the city’s plan to monitor the use (or disuse) of the facility? How will the city collect data on something like this?

Census – not gonna happen in 2020
American Community Survey – 5-year estimates (with data gathered annually) will replace decennial Census.

“Here are a few Streetsblog posts about Census and NYC DOT’s bike counts, and the problems with each. The first post has some stuff about what could be done to improve on them:” (Ben Fried, Editor in Chief, Streetsblog NYC)

http://www.streetsblog.org/2010/04/27/how-many-new-yorkers-bike-each-day/
http://www.streetsblog.org/2010/10/01/did-nyc-bike-commuting-decrease-in-2009-thats-what-the-census-says/
http://www.streetsblog.org/2011/04/13/actually-if-you-build-it-they-will-bike/

Read more policy insights from Steven Vance. 

Cap contest over – We have a winner

Jennifer Davis of Chicago won the cycling cap contest by coming up with a good slogan, making it into the top 10, and being randomly selected.

Her slogan: “See a whole new world everyday – go by bike.”

It reminds me of the signs in Portland, Oregon, that say “Go by train,” “Go by streetcar,” and “Go by cab.”

See the rest of the slogans.

Lawyer Jim’s bike light recommendation

At Monday’s Moving Design meeting, Lawyer Jim Freeman spoke about bicycling, bike crashes, and the law.

“Be conspicuous” is half his motto. (I forgot the other half.)

During Q&A, I asked Jim, “If I had $20 to buy a bike light, which one should I buy?”

Jim had no trouble answering that bicyclists should have something at least as capable as the Planet Bike Beamer 3. I agree. It has three LEDs, comes with batteries, has a flashing mode, is easy to mount on your handlebars, and really costs just $20. Ride legally at night in the State of Illinois with it!

I’m a huge fan of Planet Bike products, as you’ll see on my bicycle product reviews page.

More information

Park beauty

My friend and her son cross the lagoon on their bike in Humboldt Park, Chicago.

Other views of the park:

“Angry geese in Humboldt Park. They were really hissing.” Photo by Joshua Koonce.

“A lovely gravel path by a lagoon in Humboldt Park.” Photo by Eric Rogers.

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