Tag Archives: biking

The ‘dirty’ middle class

I propose a new way to think about the Great Recession in America. Instead of the middle class is dying, how about the dirty middle class is dying. The way of life where overconsumption and gas guzzling is more American than recycling or biking. If our energy supply can be both dirty and clean, why not our lifestyles?

Consider the average family spends 20% of their budget on transportation. That’s 10 weeks/year just to pay for car and gas. But what about the big gas guzzlers, the kind that cost $80 to fill-up. No one wants to pay $100 for gas but that is where we are headed. And yet there are plenty of them on the street. As those gas prices tick up I think they will slowly disappear and be replaced by bikes and EV’s.

Food is another area in slow decline. You might’ve heard that 69% of Americans are overweight or obese. That’s a lot of extra money spent on food, especially when times are tight. A new report shows our consumption of candy and processed foods has doubled in the last 30 years. What if a family were to save money by committing to healthy portion sizes, cutting out processed foods, and putting that savings towards college.

Last, think about the basic rule of disposable goods. They only work once and you have to buy more every week. Not only is this horrible for the environment but it costs a lot of money. Families could go broke following the jingles in commercials. And those who are pushing hard on – reduce, reuse, recycle – are again finding themselves with extra money to spend on family vacations.

After all, isn’t that what being in the middle class is about, family vacations? Being able to work, have fun, and save a little money for college or retirement. I thought so, but somehow that dream became owning an SUV, overeating, and buying something to throw out. But take solace in knowing that this dirty way of life is moving towards extinction. To be replaced by green families who ride bikes and have vegetable gardens.

It gives new meaning to the saying, there goes the neighborhood.

 

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How far are you willing to bike?

Recently, my girlfriend and I decided to go with one car. We both work from home and so it makes sense. We get to split costs and avoid paying for something that costs money just sitting there (not to mention depreciation). But, we also have to share time in the car.

This means we’ve both pioneered new modes of transportation, with biking the clear winner. Where we’ve discovered just what it means when you say “that is too far”.

At first, it was a couple of blocks. Anything beyond that seemed like a waste of time, compared to driving. As we got in the groove that expanded out several miles. We’re up to a 5-mile range now, and pretty surprised at how much fits within that range:

  • Local natural foods market – 2.2 miles
  • Starbucks #1 – 1.5 miles
  • Starbucks #2 - 2.5 miles
  • The Beach (Huntington Beach Pier) – 4 miles
  • Gym – 1.1 miles
  • Blockbuster Video - 2.5 miles
  • Shopping Center: Pizza, Comics, Bookstore, Chipotle, Pep Boys – 1.2 miles

One could nearly survive on all that. But, maybe we’re just lucky. We do live in a pretty dense area with a lot of local businesses. I wonder how your neighborhood works out. Have you measured up any of your local businesses?

As I’m getting more and more into this, I’ve started asking myself, “is driving really quicker?” After all, biking mostly avoids traffic, sometimes has quicker routes, and there are no parking problems. As an answer, I turned to Google Maps to compare the estimated times for driving vs. biking:

  • Local natural foods market – 6 mins driving  // 13 mins biking
  • Starbucks #1 – 5 mins  // 9 mins
  • Starbucks #2 - 7 mins // 15 mins
  • The Beach – 13 mins // 23 mins
  • Gym – 4 mins // 7 mins
  • Blockbuster Video – 7 mins // 15 mins
  • Shopping Center: Pizza, Comics, Bookstore, Chipotle, Pep Boys – 6 mins // 7 mins

That’s pretty amazing and I would consider it a wash. Biking only adds on a few minutes to most locations. With driving, you also have to take into account red lights, traffic, time for parking, and time to walk from the parking lot to the store. Each of which can add a few minutes to the journey.

There is the added benefit of a solid workout, but that can also be a problem. Sometimes I want to bike, but I’m too tired or hungry to do so. Although, I think it has improved my endurance going on a lot of  quick 1-2 mile jaunts. I’ve even looked at expanding my range to 7-10 miles. It was kinda fun looking-up what is within that perimeter: movie theater, more beaches, shopping mall, chocolate store (See’s Candy), Whole Foods, the library, etc.

I guess that’s how far I’m willing to bike…for now. Before we made this shift I never even considered biking to many of these places. Now, it seems ridiculous not to. I guess that how it happens when you’re trying something new, at first it seems out-of-reach and then after some time it becomes completely natural.

 

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Google Maps adds bike routes for Europe, Australia – take a trip through the Swedish countryside!

Back in 2010 we added biking directions for users of Google Maps in the US and Canada. Helping cyclists navigate the bike trails throughout those countries proved hugely popular, so we’re wheelie excited to announce that starting today, we’ve also added extensive biking data to Google Maps for Austria, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. In many of these countries we are also enabling biking directions in beta mode.

We know how popular cycling is in many parts of the world, so we wanted to include as much bike trail data as possible to provide efficient routes, allow riders to customize their trips, make use of bike lanes, calculate rider-friendly routes that avoid big hills and busy roads and to customize the look of the cycling map to encourage people to hop on their bikes. So that’s exactly what we’ve done.

If you’re keen to start riding into work, or maybe just do your bit for the environment by swapping your car for a bike a couple of days a week, biking directions can help you find a convenient route that makes use of dedicated bike lanes and avoids hills whenever possible.

 

Source: Google Lat Long Blog - Biking directions expands into Europe and Australia

Why Amsterdam, Copenhagen are bike friendly cities

“The bicycle was regarded, more than most places in the world — as ‘good for society,’” he writes in an email. “After the bicycle boom in the late 1800s, many cycling clubs merged and then many of them merged again, morphing into cyclist ‘unions’, with political goals. What happened in most countries in the early 20th century was that sports cycling organizations were formed to further cycling as sport…. Not so in Denmark and the Netherlands. The cyclist unions — meaning organizations for promoting cycling as transport, etc. — stayed strong and separate and they gained political influence.”

Still, that didn’t stop planners from ripping out cycle tracks and starting to design streets for cars as Europe modernized in the wake of World War II. By the early 1960s, much of the cycling infrastructure that had existed in the pre-war era was gone, and the percentage of the population using bicycles for transportation fell to an all-time low of 10 percent.

Then history intervened. “The energy crisis in 1973 hit Denmark hard. Very hard,” writes Colville-Andersen. “Car-free Sundays were introduced in order to save fuel. Every second streetlight was turned off in order to save energy. A groundswell of public discontent started to form. People wanted to be able to ride their bicycles again — safely. Protests took place…. The energy crisis faded, but then returned in 1979. More protests. One form of protest/awareness was painting white crosses on the asphalt where cyclists had been killed. This time, things happened. We started to rebuild our cycle track network in the early 1980s. Fatalities and injuries started falling. The network was expanded.

learn more about bikes in each city, and a video, atThe Atlantic Cities

 

// Photo – Moyan_brenn

Bike sharing comes to Los Angeles with Bike Nation

A couple of years ago bike sharing came to Washington D.C. when I was living there. At first the concept confused me until someone explained that it’s like a taxi, designed to get you from one point to another. With enough stations it can be a convenient, healthy, and cheaper method to get around town.

I ended up using them everyday for about a month and loving it. Now, that same service is coming to Los Angeles:

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will unveil a $16-million bike-share program Sunday that aims to put thousands of bicycles at hundreds of rental kiosks across the city.

Initial plans are to add 400 stations and 4,000 bicycles over the next 18 to 24 months in areas around downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, Playa del Rey, Westwood and Venice Beach.

The private investment from Bike Nation will not need any city money, according to the mayor’s office and the company. Bike Nation has agreed to a minimum contract of 10 years.

“This is exactly what L.A. needs,” CicLAvia organizer Aaron Paley said. “If you take the bus, or you take the train, or you’re walking out of your house and you need to get somewhere, how do you accomplish that short trip in between? Bike share is definitely the way to do it.”

more atLA Times Local

The service becomes one more crucial link for those living a car-free life.

The rates are much cheaper than a taxi at $1.50/hour or $6/day, with trips shorter than 30 minutes being free. But you can expect most folks to one-year pass for $75 (students/seniors, $60).

Bike Nation also has plans to create a smaller program in Anaheim in June.

You want lower gas prices – here is what it takes

The U.S. Navy is upgrading its defensive and offensive capabilities in the Persian Gulf to counter threats from Iran to seize the Strait of Hormuz and block the flow of oil, the chief of naval operations said Friday.

Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert told reporters in Washington that the Navy will add four more mine-sweeping ships and four more CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters with mine-detection capability. The Navy is also sending more underwater unmanned mine-neutralization units to the region.

Greenert said he plans to assign more  patrol craft to the gulf, possibly armed with Mark 38 Gatling guns.

The narrow Strait of Hormuz is a key transit way for oil tankers. Any closure of the strait could send oil prices skyrocketing, officials say.

via World Now – LA Times

 

Makes riding a bike for those “70 percent of Americans’ car trips are less than two miles long,” seem like a better idea.

Are you biking more because of the high gas prices?

I love this story because it backs up my own behavior. With gas prices skyrocketing I find myself biking for local errands, and I’ve begun to love it!

Nearly 70 percent of Americans’ car trips are less than two miles long. It’s a no-brainer that biking instead of driving to take care of these trips is a great way to get exercise while cutting air pollution.

Last week, the journal Environmental Health Perspectives published findings from a study by scientists at the University of Wisconsin on the economic and health benefits of switching from a car to a bike for trips shorter than five miles long in 11 metropolitan areas around the upper Midwest…they’d create a net societal health benefit of $3.5 billion per year from the increase in air quality and $3.8 billion in savings from smaller health care costs.

via Good - (thx to Amy Senger)

 

The full story via NPR’s Health Blog.

 

 

Health, Wealth and Community: DC's Deal on Wheels


If there are two things I love, it’s markets and technology and I’ve noticed both at work in the district when it comes to parking and driving enforcement. Ever since the housing and nightlife market exploded in DC, the city has been making a killing on parking and driving violations. In fiscal year 2009 alone, 2.4 million tickets were issued. To give perspective on the lucrativeness of this number, if all 2.4 million tickets issued were at the minimum fine of $15 and went uncontested and paid, the district had the potential to reap in $36 million dollars and since upping the fines in June 2010, the number is now much higher.

Much of DC’s enforcement boom has come in part of technology. Traffic cameras are recording those of us driving over the speed limit and running orange lights, parking meters now accept credit cards, and parking officials (25% more have been employed by the district this year) are armed with handheld systems with built-in cameras that record license tags and remember parking histories.

Which has happened to me on several occasions and is why I made the decision to temporarily give up my car. I got sick of spending time and money on having a car in the district and it’s is a perfect example of how markets are supposed to work. The demand for resources, in this case parking, goes up, so the price goes up. And then new markets emerge. In this case, biking. Kudos to former mayor Adrian Fenty for his efforts to promote and support this. But with Fenty gone, his initiatives like the Capital Bikeshare program and bike lane expansion pilot are a waste if not fully implemented. Any resources dedicated to biking without the infrastructure to support them are made in vain and the reality is biking lanes in the city are too sporadic to be impactful. It’s a shame because with over 30% of DC residents not owning a car, that leaves many opting for the bus or metro without gaining the health benefits of any physical exercise. Did I mention DC ranks #1 in the country for having the highest medical costs of obesity, per capita, in the country?

My experience of biking as my go-to transportation has been, in a word, awesome. I don’t have to wait to get on my bike (I can’t say the same for the metro, bus or cabs), I always find parking, literally steps away (or sometimes inside) of my destination, I never get ticketed, I have an easy excuse not to go to events not bikeable to me and I get places a lot faster than by cab, metro, car or walking. One of the best aspects of my pro-cycling life, however, has been the physical and mental benefits of getting a workout without thinking about it and not waiting in traffic or for an unpredictable metro car.

If DC truly wants to be a world leader, it will help move us off our addiction of cars, which are an archaic and inefficient technology and unilaterally decrease the value and experience of the city. Everyone can agree that DC already has a bad enough climate in the summer with its ungodly heat and humidity; the last thing it needs is a growing exhaust-producing automotive population adding to the agony.

The bottom line and what Fenty recognized is a bike-friendly culture improves the quality of life for inhabitants of all economics means, it encourages more people to spend their dollars here (both residents and tourists), and it fosters a sense of community that’s virtually impossible to achieve in an automobile-based society.

Until transporters become a reality, biking has my vote for the best way to get around the city. If you agree, you can let the district know by voting at the OneCity Forum (an innovative campaign by iStrategyLabs to enable collaborative approaches to addressing the city’s greatest challenges).

Health, Wealth and Community: DC’s Deal on Wheels


If there are two things I love, it’s markets and technology and I’ve noticed both at work in the district when it comes to parking and driving enforcement. Ever since the housing and nightlife market exploded in DC, the city has been making a killing on parking and driving violations. In fiscal year 2009 alone, 2.4 million tickets were issued. To give perspective on the lucrativeness of this number, if all 2.4 million tickets issued were at the minimum fine of $15 and went uncontested and paid, the district had the potential to reap in $36 million dollars and since upping the fines in June 2010, the number is now much higher.

Much of DC’s enforcement boom has come in part of technology. Traffic cameras are recording those of us driving over the speed limit and running orange lights, parking meters now accept credit cards, and parking officials (25% more have been employed by the district this year) are armed with handheld systems with built-in cameras that record license tags and remember parking histories.

Which has happened to me on several occasions and is why I made the decision to temporarily give up my car. I got sick of spending time and money on having a car in the district and it’s is a perfect example of how markets are supposed to work. The demand for resources, in this case parking, goes up, so the price goes up. And then new markets emerge. In this case, biking. Kudos to former mayor Adrian Fenty for his efforts to promote and support this. But with Fenty gone, his initiatives like the Capital Bikeshare program and bike lane expansion pilot are a waste if not fully implemented. Any resources dedicated to biking without the infrastructure to support them are made in vain and the reality is biking lanes in the city are too sporadic to be impactful. It’s a shame because with over 30% of DC residents not owning a car, that leaves many opting for the bus or metro without gaining the health benefits of any physical exercise. Did I mention DC ranks #1 in the country for having the highest medical costs of obesity, per capita, in the country?

My experience of biking as my go-to transportation has been, in a word, awesome. I don’t have to wait to get on my bike (I can’t say the same for the metro, bus or cabs), I always find parking, literally steps away (or sometimes inside) of my destination, I never get ticketed, I have an easy excuse not to go to events not bikeable to me and I get places a lot faster than by cab, metro, car or walking. One of the best aspects of my pro-cycling life, however, has been the physical and mental benefits of getting a workout without thinking about it and not waiting in traffic or for an unpredictable metro car.

If DC truly wants to be a world leader, it will help move us off our addiction of cars, which are an archaic and inefficient technology and unilaterally decrease the value and experience of the city. Everyone can agree that DC already has a bad enough climate in the summer with its ungodly heat and humidity; the last thing it needs is a growing exhaust-producing automotive population adding to the agony.

The bottom line and what Fenty recognized is a bike-friendly culture improves the quality of life for inhabitants of all economics means, it encourages more people to spend their dollars here (both residents and tourists), and it fosters a sense of community that’s virtually impossible to achieve in an automobile-based society.

Until transporters become a reality, biking has my vote for the best way to get around the city. If you agree, you can let the district know by voting at the OneCity Forum (an innovative campaign by iStrategyLabs to enable collaborative approaches to addressing the city’s greatest challenges).