Category: Transportation

Bicycle Planning in Copenhagen

Andreas Rohl (Manager of Cycling – City of Copenhagen) recently spoke in San Francisco at a Bicycle Coalition event. He’s on a one-year sabbatical and spending his time working with various interested parties in Canada and the U.S.  The link to his engaging and entertaining one-hour talk, The Stick, The Carrot, and the Tambourines, is an event in the City of Penticton, British Columbia, about cycling, bike networks, and his experience not only from Copenhagen but around the world.

Andreas’ basic argument is that mainstreaming cycling to increase mode share from the typical 0-5% to Copenhagen’s 40% requires making it safe, convenient, and easy from origin to destination, and to not require a change of identity. Watch the YouTube video (below) and explore Copenhagen’s bicycle strategy (2011-2025) and planning.

Will Copenhagen achieve it’s goal to become  an eco-metropolis by 2015? In 2008, the City of Copenhagen politicians unanimously decided to work towards making Copenhagen a cleaner, healthier and more environmentally friendly city. The politicians set out four main objectives to be achieved by 2015. One of these objectives is that Copenhagen will become the “world’s best city for cyclists”. Read “Eco-Metropolis. Our Vision for Copenhagen 2015” (PDF).

NYC Bike Share Set for Aug. Launch

(BBC) Estimated to start in early August, New York City will unveil its first public bike scheme, Citi Bike, medalled as the largest in North America.

The initial rollout will consist of 7,000 bicycles and 420 stations, peppered throughout the lower half of Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn and Queens; the program will be expanded in the spring of 2013 to reach 10,000 bikes and 600 docking stations in total.

Interactive Workshop: Planning Sustainable Transportation Improvements Using STARS (Dec 8, 2pm)

STARS (Sustainable Transportation Analysis & Rating System) does more than simply “green up” our current transportation system.As a transportation planning professional, learn how to meaningfully improve the environmental, economic, and social performance of transportation projects and plans.Join this co-hosted workshop between APA California Northern Sustainability Committee and the North American Sustainable Transportation Council.

Go HERE for details.

Please join us for an informative and interactive session.

  • Date/Time:  Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011, 2 – 5 pm. Doors open/Check-in 1:30 pm.
  • Location/Directions:  ABAG Metro Auditorium (address/map/phone).
  • Cost:  $25.
  • Register (mandatory):   APA Northern Section Calendar (enter name and email, click button to regiester/pay for tickets).
  • Contact: scott-e@sustainability2030.com.
  • More information:  Portland Bureau of Transportation.
  • CM Credit (3):  pending.

Is Bicycling Sustainable?

It depends on whether you bicycle near and with a lot of fossil-fuel-burning automobile traffic. Accumulating research is confirming a common-sense notion — breathing tailpipe emissions cannot be that good for you. In fact, it is bad for you. One short-term effect is that it reduces your heart rate variability–it’s capacity to quickly change it’s rate and respond to stress. Read the article!

My roughly written comment on the article follows:

The simple and common sense solution is to choose less crowded streets. But there are larger implications for bike planning. Many cities’ as a matter of sustainable transportation policy plan to increase the mode-split (percent of trips) for bicycles. In addition to normal considerations of planning routes, addressing parking issues, etc., bike planners now need to consider the health effects of mixing bicycles in close proximity to tailpipe exhaust, or maybe any proximity(?).

Only the simplest implication and band-aid solution is to choose less crowded routes. But why should a bicyclist have to do that when it might mean choosing a non-bike route after the city has gone to so much trouble and investment to create formal and safe bike routes a la the SF Bike Plan?

The larger policy and planning issues arise in the arena of the health impacts of bike planning:

(1) increasing bike commuting as a mode-split policy goal of the city would mean what for increased air-pollution health effects;

(2) of formally designated bike routes in the bike plan–does the air pollution effect need to be considered in choosing/designating a route?;

(3) and more generally, the issue of combining or separating bikes and cars (instead of bikes sharing the gutter with cars, maybe we need to dedicate some streets entirely to bikes?), and ultimately,

(4) to fossil-based vehicle fuel (maybe one of the mitigations for increased bike mode split has to be decreased emissions or some type of tailpipe filter to reduce the worst effects of close-in inhaling of exhaust.

Given that the SF Bike Plan EIR did not even assess the air quality impacts on human (bicyclist) health, and the accumulating research of negative health effects, this issue seems ripe for some cross-department and citizen collaboration (Public Health-SFTA-MTA-Planning-Bike Coalition).

In addition, there seems to be an implication for CEQA here too. Any plan or policy that proposes an increase in bicycle trips would need to assess the health implications on bicycle riders and at least acknowledge, if not quantify, the increased incidence of various health effects, short-term and long term. But not only identify impacts, but drive the innovation required to mitigate the impact to net zero, even better, to eliminate the existing impact. Mitigations could go in the direction of tailpipe controls, but smarter innovations would be more whole system, and go to the source–(de)combining bicyclist with fossil-fuel-burning vehicles. The innovative options for solving this problem are multiple, many of which would be considered “infeasible” under CEQA because they would not be considered realistic. However, most sustainability “solutions” are “infeasible” and “unrealistic” within our current frame of reference, but sustainability success involves doing the impossible, changing the frame, etc., maybe not all at once, but developing a phased policy solution for instance. However, forcing the issue by focusing on eliminating impacts and considering all of the connected associated causes requiring change, is the most beneficial, productive, and innovative route.