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
In a break from my usual essay-length postings, here is a series of short comments and questions addressing a variety of bike-related issues: the growing number of all-year cyclists and their need for more bike parking, the changing tone of driver-cyclist interaction in cities and suburbs, the problem of signaling “thanks” to nice drivers and ensuring eye contact through tinted windows, my annoyance at cyclists who hog the road, and thoughts about where bike boxes should be located.Read more
Every year I am part of a group that does a one-day ride from Boston to Provincetown, about 146 miles. We’ve done it in blazing heat and nor’easter rainstorms – that was the year we later realized that each of us was secretly hoping our bike would fail so we’d have an excuse to drop out and go home. But we support each other and always make it. Of course, we end up exhausted. But we’ve learned that stopping every 15 or so miles for a snack and rest allows everyone to pull through. It’s always a great adventure and earns us great story-telling rights for months afterwards.Read more
You might have the impression, as once did I, that the passage of a bill by the Legislature and it’s signing by the chief executive makes it a law. But trial lawyers know better. A law is just a bunch of words waiting for judicial interpretation.Read more
I love cities. They are the engines of our nation’s energy, diversity, cultural opportunities, social interaction, and entrepreneurial vibrancy. Cities are where most of our population lives and where most of our economic growth originates. Cities are the base from which we’ll create the future.Read more
As a regular back-packer, my original perception of cross country Mountain Bikers was of arrogant punks who wrecked both the silence and the trail. And the Down Hill bikers were even crazier – they get driven to the top and then fly down cliffs wearing bizarre armor. To me, they were in the same category as the hot-dog skiers who jump off cliffs — who strike me as slightly insane no matter how amazing the photography.
Yes, I’m a bicycling advocate and an avid cyclist. I restarted bicycling about 15 years ago as a form of exercise after my back and knees made running too problematic. And then I discovered the usefulness of bike commuting and the joy of multi-day touring. But it was all about the roads – and thin tires.Read more
How do we make cycling safer? It will never be perfectly safe – nothing is. And despite all the cultural anxiety about the riskiness of bicycling, there is a lot of evidence that it’s much less dangerous than people think. In any case, the overall health (and environmental) benefits of bicycling so totally outweigh the likely problems that it should be a no brainer choice. Still, safety is always job one. We need to do what we can to make bicycling as safe as reasonably possible. But it turns out that deciding what to do depends on knowing what we want to accomplish – and it turns out that there are several different kinds of safety. The first part of this post explores the different kinds of safety and the types of actions needed to address them. The second explores the open question of the relative safety of riding alone or in a group.Read more
Staying Together: Group Ride Etiquette, Conspicuous Bicycle Consumption, Institutional Memory of Small Groups
here may be snow on the ground, and the roads may still be narrow due to the plow-push along the sides, but there are still lots of people on bicycles commuting to work, doing errands, enjoying the sunshine even on days when the temperature is below freezing.
Times are truly changing. And here are three short posts – the first two about bicycle culture and the last about the need for small groups to find ways to remember their own history so that they can build on past efforts.
Group Ride Etiquette
Conspicuous Bicycling Consumption
Institutional Memory of Small Groups
I must be counting on the seasonal spirit of goodwill; but this week’s postings take on two of the more controversial issues in the bicycling community: the impact of bike lanes and cycle tracks (near-road but physically separated or buffered bikeways) and the value of requiring that all cyclists wear helmets.
The first item (see below) is titled “Bike Lanes, Cycle Tracks, and Being On the Road”, the second, “Helmet Laws – Safety, Freedom, and Public Health”
I will say that while I’m pretty confident of my opinions on the first issue, I’m still working my way through the maze of evidence about the second. So while I will not enter into a rant- or insult-exchange with people who want to vilify me for my positions, I’m eager to hear what other people think.
Happy Holidays!Read more
- BABY STROLLERS and BIKES on the T
The MBTA has come a long way in allowing bikes on the subway, commuter trains, and busses. But there are still limits, especially during rush hour. Which is why, when I got on the T the other day during commuting time, my attention was caught by the presence of several baby strollers.
These are no longer the compact, umbrella strollers they were when I was pushing infants around. Today, they are more like mini-SUVs with enough space to carry an entire closet worth of paraphernalia on top of wheels about as big as the one on my wheelbarrow. Some of them hold two or even three kids, often way past the toddler stage. In other words, they’re big. And there were three of them on the train. No one complained, in fact, people happily moved out of the way and did the typical smile-at-the-baby routine as they moved. I was particularly happy to see that it was mostly fathers who had picked up the kids at daycare and were taking them home.
But I couldn’t help wondering. What is the difference between one of these strollers and a bike with an attached child seat? And if it’s ok to bring these 5-foot-long-by-3-foot-wide devices on to the T without restrictions, why not bicycles? And would it make a difference if some of the cyclists were willing to say “goo, goo?”Read more