TagTucson

Trying out new GIS software

I want to draw 50 and 120 feet buffers around the points of store entrances to show where bike parking should and shouldn’t be installed. I want to follow this example:

walgreens with bike parking buffers

Aerial photo of a Tucson, Arizona, Walgreens showing the location of existing bike parking and two buffers (50 and 120 feet) where proposed city rules would allow bike parking. I advocate for ratifying the 50 feet rule, which I’ve discussed on this blog and elsewhere many times.

I want to do this easily and accurately, so I will use GIS software to create a “buffer.” I use QGIS occasionally, but I want to try out other Mac-friendly applications. I’m getting my orthoimagery (geometrically corrected aerial photography) from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) using a web protocol called Web Map Server. I’m trying:

  • Cartographica, $495, with free trial license.
  • uDig, completely free software. UPDATE: I have had NO success getting any data to load from a WMS connection into uDig. I would like to understand why. Cartographica can obtain some of the WMS-stored data I want, although it messes up often.

I’m having success with neither – both are having issues downloading or maintaining a connection to the USGS orthoimagery. In one case, Cartographica trims the Bing Maps imagery to match the extent of my other objects (the buffer). In another case, it won’t even download the USGS imagery (and gives no indication that anything is happening). uDig hasn’t been able to download anything so far – I hope it’s asking for the current extent, instead of all data because it’s taking a looong time to do anything (so long that I just quit in the  middle of it).

This screenshot shows how to add new WMS connections to Cartographica.

UPDATE: I did it! I successfully used Cartographica (and the integrated Bing Maps) to create this drawing that shows the current (abysmal) bike parking at a Chicago Home Depot outside the 50 feet line.

Bike parking distance being put to test in Tucson

Work is underway to implement strict (but appropriate) rules about where Tucson, Arizona, businesses must install bike racks. This news comes from Tucson Vélo. It first came to my attention in May when I was creating and expanding my definition of Bike Parking Phenomenon A, which I now call the “50 feet rule.”

3 of4 bikes are parked on hand rails within 20 feet of this Seattle Whole Foods entrance while one bike is parked more than 50 feet away at the City-owned bike rack.

I left this comment on yesterday’s article from Tucson Vélo:

“Distance is more key to bike parking usage than the quality of bike parking fixture. Bicyclists prefer to use an easily removable sign pole that is closer to final destination than lock to a permanent bike rack further away.”

Some businesses there are complaining that devoting room in front of their business to bike parking removes space available for selling goods. I encourage everyone to support rules requiring bike parking within 50 feet. If installed further away, it simply will go unused.

I’ve written about distance parking many times:

After new bike racks were installed within 10 feet of the Logan Square Chicago Transit Authority entrance, no one parks at the original spots. See how the foot makes a difference?

Tucson has every kind of bikeway

A bicyclist rides north on the “Highland Avenue” separated bike path on the University of Arizona campus in Tucson, Arizona.

(This is the second post about Tucson, and the fifth about my December 2009 trip to Arizona.)

I had heard that Tucson was a bicycle friendly town. I didn’t know just how friendly until my dad and I rode our bikes around town and  happened onto one of the many bike-only separated paths. You can see the campus bike map (PDF).

There are probably 10 different names for this kind of path. It’s not a separated path because there’s no adjacent roadway accessible to automobiles. You could call it a multi-use trail, but it’s not really a trail. The path is part of the city’s street grid; some streets “dead end” into the entrance so bicyclists don’t have to turn onto another street to go straight, they simply enter this bicycle only path. In some places, the path is grade separated and travels under a shared street.

I like this kind of bikeway a lot. I know they are standard fare in the Netherlands, and it’s nice to know they are standard fare somewhere in North America.

See the full photoset of bikeways in Tucson.

Riding under Speedway Boulevard on the “Warren Avenue” bike path.

Rialto Theater in downtown Tucson, Arizona

The Rialto Theater was built in 1919 and now sits on the National Register of Historic Places. As you can see from the photos and mural, some big bands play at what was originally a movie and Vaudeville theater. Read more at Wikipedia.

Upcoming shows at the Rialto Theater at the time I took this photo (December 26, 2009) included Clusterfck Dance Party and Sonic Youth. Clusterfck Dance Party is a dance party and “a post-modern mish mash of rock-n-roll subculture” (more information about that event).

Artist Joe Pagac (University of Arizona graduate) painted this mural to advertise the upcoming Sonic Youth show on January 4, 2010. The mural faces the theater parking lot, and busy Toole Avenue. According to Joe’s website, other clients include Trader Joe’s and the Tucson Jewish Community Center. He also traveled through India and Southeast Asia teaching art and English to children.

Tucson is a great city for bicycling. The City of Tucson provides on-street bike parking at several locations around town, including downtown in front of the Rialto Theater. There are even four parking spaces for motorcycles.

I’m still uploading photos from my day trip to Tucson, but the rest are on my Flickr. Check out the bike boulevard on University Boulevard at Stone Avenue.

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