TagJohn Pucher

Just bought some new books (bikes and urban planning stuff)

Two books: Buckminster Fuller’s Critical Path (haven’t finished) and Tom Vanderbilt’s Traffic (finished).

While I hurry and finish up this 900 page CIA spy novel (The Company by Robert Littell) that I bought for $1 in Richmond, VA, I bought a couple more books. I still have to finish Straphanger, too!

I ordered Genius of Common Sense: Jane Jacobs and the Story of The Death and Life of Great American Cities (book link) by Glenna Lang and Marjory Wunsch that I found on the blog Human Transit. I also ordered City Cycling by John Pucher and Ralph Buehler; this book won’t be available until October 19th. I applied for the Ph.D. program at the urban planning college at Rutgers University where both men teach. I was not accepted. Boo, hoo. But Pucher and Buehler are the foremost researchers on bicycling around the world (they mostly research bicycling in English-speaking countries and compare them to places in Europe).

Some more books that I want to read eventually:

1. Just Ride: A Radically Practical Guide to Riding Your Bike by Grant Peterson.

I flipped through this book at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum book store after viewing the Bikes! The Green Revolution exhibit on its last day. One of the features in the book was why you shouldn’t ride in a straight and predictable line in urban traffic (as the Chicago Bike Map and other resources articulate). Instead you should be controllably unpredictable, to demonstrate to drivers that you’re a little wobbly and they should give you more space. There’s also guidance on choosing and maintaining a bicycle. I’d like to know what Peterson has to say about that. This reminds me, I had a short discussion with a friend (who hasn’t biked in years) who’s reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. There’s a lot in there that’s not instructions on fixing a motorbike that I’d like to peruse.

2. Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities by Jeff Mapes.

I probably won’t read this book; I feel it’s one of those books that will be full of everything I already know. Or it will be preaching to the choir. Or it will help me feel great about myself and my choices and inspire me to do something right this moment but I won’t because I’m busy with other stuff. And then I’ll tell everyone else to read it. But really, I just want others to read it and others to see how I (think) I am changing (one) American city (which involves me pedaling a bicycle and constantly living to tell about it). It’s really hard to change cities alone or with just a small group of people. We need more people who are willing to get involved. Bring your own ideas, act on your own ideas, or come borrow mine (or some of the ideas in the myriad sustainable transportation groups and communities I’m involved in).

When I’m not reading, I’m making the Chicago Bike Map app. Please buy it. Support a starving college student. Oh, wait, that was never really my style. But I do want an iPad…

What books are you reading?

I updated some formatting of this post. It’s ugly to have all these links to books with long titles. 

Who bikes?

Who bikes? pie chart

From April 2011, via Sightlines Daily, using data from John Pucher and Ralph Buehler, who got it from the 2009 National Household Travel Survey.

Contrary to popular convention, the biggest share of bicyclists isn’t yuppies, it’s low income people. In fact, the lowest-earning quarter of Americans make nearly one-third of all bike trips. Among that group, I would expect to find at least some fraction of working poor, students, the unemployed, and retired people of modest means. No doubt there are almost as many reasons to bike as there are cyclists, but it’s clear that bikes are a favored choice among those on a budget.

The big takeaway for me, however, is looking beyond low-income riders. Bicycling is remarkably evenly distributed among the remaining three quartiles. With the exception of the over- represented bottom quartile, bike trips don’t appear to be the province of any one income class more than any other.

Bike To Work Days have a positive correlation with cycling rate

Today is Winter Bike To Work Day in Chicago at Federal Plaza. If the results below are true, we should hold this event weekly during the winter! Held on January 20th to celebrate the coldest temperature on record, in 1985.

I was looking for research on why more people don’t ride bikes, or why they don’t ride bikes more often. I started my search on Professor John Pucher’s website at Rutgers University and found this about Bike To Work Days and other promotional events.

There is some evidence that BWDs increase bicycling beyond the event. The number of “first time riders” has increased in many programs: in Seattle, from 845 new commuters in 2004 to 2474 in 2008; in Portland, from 433 in 2002 to 2869 in 2008 (LAB, 2008). In San Francisco in 2008, bicycle counts at a central point were 100% higher on BWD and 25.4% higher several weeks later; bicycle share was 48.3% before BWD, 64.1% on BWD, and 51.8% afterwards (LAB, 2008). In Victoria, Australia, 27% of first time riders on BWD were still bicycling to work 5 months later (Rose and Marfurt, 2007).

Read it on page 8 of this PDF. I thank John for distributing all of his work for free online so that those without expensive journal subscriptions (or those who lost it by graduating college) can read the latest in bicycle research.

Here’s me surveying an attendee at the 2009 Bike To Work Day Rally in Chicago’s Daley Plaza. The results of the surveys taken each year by the Chicago Department of Transportation are not published.

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