Winter is coming. Even in the midst of escalating ocean warming and climate volatility, that means tough weather conditions for New Englanders. Night falls long before we head home from work. The snow gets pushed to the side of the road, narrowing lanes, with the daily melt-freeze cycle turning the remaining slush into an invisible black-ice slickness. Depressingly frequent MBTA breakdowns push people into rise share cars and on to our already over-crowded roads. Wet shoes numb our toes; cold wind hurts our ears. Driving is hard; walking and bicycling even harder. Even year-round cyclists take days off – I simply won’t bike when the temperature goes below 20.
Now, before the climate-changed storms arrive, is the time to prepare. We need to prepare ourselves and our bikes. But we also need to demand that the public agencies in charge of our sidewalks, roads, and paths prepare as well – upgrading both infrastructure and operations to ensure safety and mobility through the winter.
Here are some of my thoughts on winter comfort and safety. I’m sure I’ve missed some good ideas – what would you add?Read more
This, my last blog post before taking the summer off to work on my Advocacy book, includes a series of quick, mostly one-paragraph thoughts. (Who would have thought I could write something short!) -- The need to rethink our use of urban curb space to deal with the rise of shared cars, rapid home package delivery, bicycles, and an aging population. How to increase pedestrian walk time without changing nearly anything else. A suggestion about where to put parking meters on streets with “parking protected bike lanes.” Praise for Everette’s creative use of painted lanes for placing transit, parking, and bicycles in their appropriate spots. A plea for language clarity in descriptions of different bike lane configurations. Urging greater use of “contra-flow” bike lanes. Pleasure at the simple but wonderful idea of “Park and Pedal” locations. I hope you all have a great summer!Read more
This summer, the region’s first Electric-Bike-Sharing program will be launched by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission. Starting with 500 pedal-assist e-bikes and 50 stations (plus some “pop-up” sites for events) in Springfield, Holyoke, Northampton, Amherst, and South Hadley – with Chicopee, West Springfield, and Easthampton eager to join –the system will be operated under a five-year contract by Bewegan, a Canadian vendor formerly known as Bixi, which is also responsible for negotiating the needed business sponsorships. Recharging of the 70-pound e-bikes will occur at the stations and during redistribution, a task to be subcontracted out to Corps Logistics which hires veterans. The stations will require direct grid connections; the original plan was developed before solar-powered station recharging seemed feasible – and would still cost $7,000 to $10,000 more per station.
Nationwide, e-bikes – both individually owned and as part of bike-share programs – are a growing component of the bicycle world. And bicycle advocacy continues to be a key component of current transportation reform efforts, including demands for improvements to pedestrian facilities, bus and transit systems, and road safety. There is little doubt that the spread of e-bikes will significantly expand the range of people to get out of their cars, and allows them (and all cyclists) to go longer distances in less time – strengthening the “safety in numbers” dynamic and the advocates’ potential constituency. But the emergence of e-bikes also requires a re-examination of the four value-based rationales that underlie bicycle advocacy: improved public transportation and personal mobility, personal and public health, climate-environmental protection, and changing urban lifestyles.Read more