House Transportation Bill Would Eliminate Dedicated Bike/Ped Funding

January 31, 2012 in Complete Streets by bikewalkadmin

Congressman John Mica (R-FL) photo: U.S. Government

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman John Mica (R-FL) announced the introduction of the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act that will eliminate dedicated funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects. The League of American Bicyclists has sent out an email asking supporters of bike/ped projects to contact their representatives:

The proposed bill eliminates dedicated funding for bicycling and walking as we feared, and it goes much further and systematically removes bicycling from the Federal transportation program. It basically eliminates our status and standing in the planning and design of our transportation system — a massive step backwards for individuals, communities and our nation. It’s a step back to a 1950s highway- and auto-only program that makes no sense in the 21st century.

The bill reverses 20 years of progress by:

  • destroying Transportation Enhancements by making it optional;
  • repealing the Safe Routes to School program, reversing years of progress in creating safe ways for kids to walk and ride bicycles to school;
  • allowing states to build bridges without safe access for pedestrians and bicycles;
  • eliminating bicycle and pedestrian coordinators in state DOTs; and
  • eliminating language that insures that rumble strips “do not adversely affect the safety or mobility of bicyclists, pedestrians or the disabled.”

On Thursday, the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee will mark-up the bill and Representatives Petri (R-WI) and Johnson (R-IL) will sponsor an amendment that restores dedicated funding for Transportation Enhancements and Safe Routes to School. Representatives Petri and Johnson can only be successful if everyone with a stake in safe sidewalks, crosswalks, and bikeways contacts their representative today.

 

Complete Streets Resolution Modifications Presented to City Council

January 31, 2012 in Complete Streets by bikewalkadmin

UPDATE: Bike Walk Tulsa has obtained the revised draft of the Complete Streets resolution discussed in today’s meeting:
Staff Revised RESOLUTION for Complete Streets
Transportation Advisory Board’s Original Complete Streets Resolution

TULSA – The City of Tulsa’s Engineering Department and Planning Department presented modifications to a proposed Complete Streets resolution to the City Council in Tuesday’s Public Works Committee meeting.

The modified resolution is scheduled to be read at Thursday’s City Council meeting. At that point, councilors can suggest changes to the language of the resolution.

The original Complete Streets resolution, submitted by the Transportation Advisory Board in December, directs the city to plan and design future street projects to accommodate “pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit riders of all ages and abilities, amongst vehicular traffic.”

Councilor G.T. Bynum questioned Planning Director, Dawn Warrick, and Engineering Services Director, Paul Zachary, about a number of paragraphs that were deleted from the original document.

“We went through and cut out what we believe is somewhat repetition. Some of the comments referenced what other people are doing, which didn’t really have anything to do with the subject of Complete Streets,” said Zachary.

“What we read when we saw the [Transportation Advisory Board's] version of it, it was a combination of a resolution and, I want to say, almost a white paper. It almost defined what Complete Streets were at some length.”

Zachary later went on to say, “we thought we were streamlining it without taking apart or diminishing the intent of the resolution.”

Warrick said implementation of Complete Streets would be a joint effort between engineering staff and planning staff. Short of explicitly naming specific departments, the names of which change under reorganizations, the resolution charges “city staff” with the responsibility for implementation.

Councilor Bynum, desiring clarification, requested an updated draft to indicate specifically who would be responsible for implementing the resolution.

Warrick proposed language such as “those staff responsible for implementation of [the comprehensive plan] and for design and implementation of street projects.”

Councilor Blake Ewing raised concerns over the language of the resolution that stated Complete Streets would be implemented “when possible.”

“What I don’t want to have happen is that we do this great plan, and then that one line becomes a vehicle at some point in the future for someone to say, ‘well, the resolution said only when possible,’” said Ewing.

Councilor Bynum suggested the planning department report back to the council quarterly with progress on implementation of the comprehensive plan.

“We don’t want this to be something that gets passed and then you never hear about again,” said Bynum.

Word on the Street: 1/31/12

January 31, 2012 in Word On The Street by bikewalkadmin

Word on the Street is a compilation of links to active transportation headlines from around the web:

  • One Way Traffic Changes at Tulsa’s Kendall-Whittier Elementary School
    The city of Tulsa has changed several streets near Kendall-Whittier Elementary School from two-way traffic to one-way traffic effective Monday. Officials say the reason is improved safety for students during school drop-off and pick-up periods.
  • What Pictures Can Teach Us About Walkability
    Is it safe, comfortable, and enjoyable to walk in? Does it have an abundance of places to walk to and from? Is it human-scaled? If the answer is yes, chances are that it also has many of the characteristics that smart growth and urbanist planners strive to achieve: density, mixed uses, connectivity, appropriate traffic management, street frontages, opportunity for physical activity, and so on.
  • Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Busts Myth That “Nobody Walks” in Rural America
    One reason why Congress may be so willing to eliminate dedicated funding for bicycle and pedestrian programs is the persistent notion that biking and walking are limited to cities, and therefore of no concern to rural legislators.
  • Highway Lobby Trying to Push Transpo Bill Thru Congress
    A letter from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce urges lawmakers to pass legislation heavy on highway and bridge projects. The Chamber has backed up the letter with a $500,000 publicity campaign, and it’s unlikely it would commit to such an investment if this legislative push was doomed from the outset.
  • Kickstarting “Narrow Streets” in Maine
    It’s one version of an urbanist’s dream: a 125-acre sanctuary where walking and biking are the primary mode of transportation; a community of narrow streets where cars don’t intrude.
  • Study: Bicyclist Safety on Bicycle Boulevards and Parallel Arterial Routes
    Bicycle boulevards—traffic-calmed side streets signed and improved for cyclist use—purport to offer cyclists a safer alternative to riding on arterials.
  • Why Do Some Cities Get Car Share And Others Don’t?
    Paula Rivera of Hertz On Demand says, “when entering new markets, Hertz on Demand likes to look at urban areas that have a well defined mass transit infrastructure.”
  • Urban Planning Student’s Lasting Impression of Walkable, Bikeable Communities
    At all times of day, people could be seen running “The Loop” along the Willamette River or through the downtown streets during a lunch break. Even more curious, almost every block has dedicated bike parking for the bike commuters, mostly from across the river, who wished to use their facilities.
  • Traffic Jam Economics
    Urban congestion exemplifies the larger problem of effectively coordinating individual decisions to use largely unpriced goods like roads.

Word on the Street: 1/30/12

January 30, 2012 in Word On The Street by bikewalkadmin

Word on the Street is a compilation of links to active transportation headlines from around the web:

  • New Bike Trail to Connect to Owasso
    The project will involve everything from paving a quarter-mile stretch of trail inside Mohawk Park to designating the two outside lanes of 76th Street in Owasso as bike-share lanes.
  • Street Cred Event to Revive Red Fork District
    Elly Blue’s Dinner & Bikes Tour is scheduled to stop in Tulsa as part of Tulsa Young Professinals’ Street Cred event. Learn more about Street Cred in this report from KJRH.
  • Fundraiser for Family of Pedestrian Killed in Hit-and-Run
    Darrell Abadie was killed by a hit-and-run-driver on January 15, 2012. His body was found in a ditch near 126th Street and Garnett.
  • House Transportation Bill “a March of Horribles”
    The American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act looks like a return to 1950s-style transportation policy. It is particularly unkind to transit and bike/ped programs, and to cities in general.
  • Senate Moves Toward Agreement on Transportation Bill
    As House Republicans prepared to release a spending proposal intended to overhaul the federal transportation system, Senate Democrats on Thursday rushed to complete a bipartisan effort to end a stalemate that has undermined transportation programs for almost three years.
  • Virtuous Cycle: 10 Lessons From the World’s Great Biking Cities
    In the Seattle suburb where Christine Grant grew up, the main transportation choice most residents face is what kind of car to buy. She moved to the city after college and, inspired by the “car-lite” lifestyles of several friends, decided to give cycling a try.
  • Anti-Sprawl Doctor to Host PBS Series on Urban Design and Public Health
    “We have built America in a way that is, I believe, is fundamentally unhealthy,” Dr. Jackson says. “It prevents us from walking. It inhibits us from socializing. It removes trees and the things that make our air quality better. We could not have designed an environment that is more difficult for people’s well being at this point.” The “Designing Healthy Communities” series has not yet been scheduled to air on Tulsa’s OETA.
  • Let the Robot Drive: The Autonomous Car of the Future is Here
    “This car can do 75 mph,” Urmson says. “It can track pedestrians and cyclists. It understands traffic lights. It can merge at highway speeds.” In short, after almost a hundred years in which driving has remained essentially unchanged, it has been completely transformed in just the past half decade.
  • 4,114 Stoplights in Los Angeles and the Intricate Network That Tries to Keep Traffic Moving
    Yu is a soft-spoken engineer with great power: He sets the timing for all of L.A.’s stoplights. His department has to take it all in: bikes, trains, big events and, of course, lots and lots of cars.
  • Strong Towns: Shared Space
    The concept of building shared space within the public realm is a radical one here in the United States, where automobiles are not only given priority, but completely dominate most public spaces. With the financial insolvency inherent in our current approach becoming more and more apparent each day, there is a need to study alternatives.

Word on the Street: 1/27/12

January 27, 2012 in Word On The Street by bikewalkadmin

Word on the Street is a compilation of links to active transportation headlines from around the web:

  • Creek Turnpike to Get New Entrance, Exit Ramps in Broken Arrow
    A new interchange on the Creek Turnpike is expected to be open within three months. The Liberty Trail that runs alongside the turnpike is closed a half mile east and west of Aspen Ave. until this construction is completed.
  • Drunk Driver Arrested After Involvement in Three Tulsa Crashes
    Tulsa Police arrest a drunk driver after his Dodge Durango hit two separate cars and a utility pole.
  • House Bill Threatens to Eliminate Bike/Ped Funding
    Next Thursday, the House Transportation Committee will vote (see timeline) on the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, a bill that eliminates crucial funds for biking and walking. Representatives on the Transportation Committee are key positions to save dedicated funding for biking and walking.
  • Should the Feds Fund City Transpo Projects?
    Blumenauer cited bicycle and pedestrian projects as accomplishing many worthy policy goals in transportation, environmental protection, and public health. But Shuster maintained that “when you start getting into the inner city, the federal government has less of a role to play. It’s up to the local community and state to decide [their transportation priorities].” This attitude is likely to pervade the House’s transportation bill, which is expected to eliminate all dedicated bike/ped funding and give traditionally highway-centric state DOTs more power over spending federal transportation money.
  • Bill for Drivers to Exercise Due Care Defeated in VA House Subcommittee
    The bill would have stated that  “every driver of a motor vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or the operator of a human-powered vehicle and shall give an audible signal when necessary. “
  • A Look at Los Angeles Before Stoplights, Crosswalks
    A 1910 photo shows what it’s like when streetcars, horses and carriages, cars, bicyclists and pedestrians had no stoplights or crosswalks at a downtown Los Angeles intersection.
  • A Moveable Chief: A Conversation With Chicago Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein
    “I think fundamentally what I brought to the table that was different was the ability to say “yes,” and to align people around a vision. There’s a whole lot of nay-saying in government, “it can’t be done, it can’t be done, you can’t do that, we’ve never seen that done before.””
  • On The Street: The DNA of Place and the ROI of Movement
    Despite the $200 billion per year the US spends in transportation infrastructure, the country has higher traffic fatality rates than any developed nation. Engineering has been focused on moving cars and trucks quickly, yet transportation delays per capita has more than doubled since 1982, and the US has the highest vehicle miles traveled per capita globally. Americans spend more time in their cars than anyone on earth.

Word on the Street: 1/26/12

January 26, 2012 in Word On The Street by bikewalkadmin

Word on the Street is a compilation of links to active transportation headlines from around the web:

  • Bicycle-, Pedestrian-Friendly Streets Discussed by Tulsa Councilors
    “Obviously, this makes up a huge part of the overall getting around in Tulsa,” Councilor Blake Ewing said. “I think in that last streets package the council had to address first our crumbling streets.”
  • Cities for Cycling Road Show Rocks Chicago
    “Cities for Cycling” is a project of the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) to document, promote and implement the world’s best bicycle transportation practices in American cities. As part of the Cities for Cycling program, bikeway design experts take their show on the road, using the streets of different U.S. cities as their classroom and the new NACTO design book as their guide.
  • Federal Transportation Bill Moving in House
    House Transportation Chair John Mica intends to release text of the “American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs” act perhaps as soon as Friday.  Action is tentatively scheduled for February 2.
  • New Urbanists Release Principles for Sustainable Streets Networks
    “If one person has to cross the street to get to work, and another drives 25 miles to work in the same building, the government is obsessed with helping the guy who drives, even though the guy who walks contributes more net value [by using fewer resources, spending less time in traffic, etc.], says Congress for New Urbanism president, John Norquist.
  • U.S. Cities and States Ranked for Biking and Walking Habits
    Alaska has the highest number of bicycle and pedestrian commuters and Alabama has the lowest, according to a new report on bicycling and walking in the U.S.
  • Creating “The Most Bicycle Friendly In America” … In Southern California
    There have been numerous studies that show how adding a new lane to a freeway or road has the opposite effect than what was intended. Rather than easing congestion (which it does only briefly), the new lane merely creates more room for more cars, and quickily induces even more congestion. This same principle applies to bicycle traffic, though in a slightly different way.
  • San Francisco Businesses Thrive Without Parking
    The San Francisco neighborhood of Chinatown temporarily removed parking from Stockton Street for a week during the busy Lunar New Year season.

Word on the Street: 1/25/12

January 25, 2012 in Word On The Street by bikewalkadmin

Word on the Street is a compilation of links to active transportation headlines from around the web:

Car Storage More Important Than People in Muskogee

January 23, 2012 in Complete Streets by bikewalkadmin


MUSKOGEE – A couple may be forced to move from their home to make way for a parking lot for a call center in Muskogee, NewsOn6 is reporting.

Orlin and Cathy Phillips have lived in their home for 20 years but may lose their home so employees of the Veterans Administration call center can let their cars sit unproductive for eight hours a day on the Phillips’s land.

The Veterans Administration says they’ve explored other options, but the nearby land of churches and retail establishments would be too expensive to buy. The option they haven’t considered is that you don’t need a car to get around. Well, maybe Muskogee hasn’t made it very easy for anyone to get around without a car.

Streetsblog has an article today called “How the ‘Right’ to Cheap Parking Makes Streets Less Equitable” that touches on the concept of “compulsory car” thinking.

Many people seem to assume that driving is the only (tolerable) way to move around or that most drivers have little or no choice. They assume that if you can’t afford to park in an area, then you can’t afford to go there. Many people seem to be thinking of parking and driving as a basic necessity, like water.

Free parking is a problem in Oklahoma. Not that you can’t find any. The problem is there’s too much of it. If the Veterans Administration or the City of Muskogee charged market-based prices for parking, they wouldn’t need to steal the Phillips’s home. Perhaps if the employees had to pay the true cost of parking, they would find another way to get to work.

You can watch the NewsOn6 report on the Phillips’s parking lot battle by clicking here.

Cycle Tracks Safety Neutral at Worst, Safer and Attract Bicyclists At Best

January 23, 2012 in Bicycling, Featured by bikewalkadmin

On the Right Track from Mayor Sam Adams on Vimeo.

TULSA – You can already ride your bike down Tulsa’s Cincinnati Avenue, Harvard Avenue, 11th Street (Route 66!), or even 71st Street near Memorial. It’s perfectly legal. But does it feel safe? Is it a pleasant experience? The answer for most people is likely no, which is why you rarely see anyone doing it.

In fact, according to a research study published in 2011 and conducted in part by the Harvard School of Public Health, the chief obstacle to bicycling, especially for women, children and seniors, is the perceived danger of vehicular traffic. We didn’t need a study to know why most people elect to travel busy Tulsa streets by motor vehicle instead of bicycle. It’s not rocket science, people are scared.

Imagine now if some of these busy Tulsa streets had cycle tracks or buffered bike lanes. Many more people would likely be willing to venture out on their bikes because cycle tracks and buffered bike lanes offer an environment more suited to bicyclists of all ages and abilities, especially the many bicyclists who aren’t comfortable riding in mixed traffic. The video above from Portland, OR explains the cycle track concept as well as buffered bike lanes.

Cycle tracks are basically bike lanes that swap spaces with the parallel parking lane. Instead of cars parking next to the curb, cars park a distance away from the curb, allowing a bike lane to be placed between the parked cars and the curb. The parked cars provide a physical buffer between bicyclists and passing motor vehicles that can improve bicyclists’ safety and level of comfort. A cycle track can also be created where there is no parallel parking by installing a physical barrier such as a curb or a narrow median between the cycle track and the travel lane.

Those who oppose cycle tracks often do so on the grounds of safety, making the claim that cycle tracks put bicyclists in more danger at intersections. To improve visibility at cross streets, parallel parking can be prohibited within a defined distance from a cross street so turning motor vehicles will have a clear line-of-sight that enables them to yield when a bicycle is approaching.

But is riding on a cycle track more dangerous than riding in the street? If a city installs a cycle track, are they really sending unsuspecting, untrained, newbie bicyclists into a bike lane instrument of death?

The aforementioned Harvard study sought to determine the risk of injury for bicycling on cycle tracks versus in the street. The study examined six North American cycle tracks located in Montreal and compared them to reference streets without cycle tracks.

Cycle tracks were found to have a relative risk of injury 28% less than bicycling in the street. Source: injuryprevention.bmj.com

Turns out, the overall relative risk of bicycling on a cycle track is 0.72, which means the rate of injury on cycle tracks was 28% less than the regular street. What’s incredible about this result is that all the cycle tracks examined in Montreal for the study were two-way cycle tracks, which are thought to be more dangerous than one-way cycle tracks. So you might expect the relative risk of bicycling on a one-way cycle track to be even better.

What’s more, 2.5 times more bicyclists used the cycle tracks than the regular street. The findings of the study showed that separated cycle tracks are safer at best and no more dangerous than bicycling in the street at worst.

The study also mentions that in The Netherlands, where cycle tracks are prevalent, 27% of Dutch trips are made by bike, 55% are women, and the bicyclist injury rate is 0.14 injured per million kilometers traveled. In the United States, however, only 0.5% of commuters bike, 24% of adult bicyclists are women, and the bicyclist injury rate is 26 times greater than in The Netherlands.

Earlier this month in a City Council Public Works Committee meeting, Planning Director, Dawn Warrick said, “The comprehensive plan, through the PlaniTulsa process, really did talk to the community about the concept of Complete Streets. It is prevalent throughout the document that there is a desire for us to fully utilize our infrastructure and provide choices for people when it comes to how they get around the community. So there is public support for this type of concept.”

Given the public support for Complete Streets and the results of this study showing that separated cycle tracks are, at worst, no more dangerous than bicycling in mixed traffic, what are we afraid of when it comes to cycle tracks and buffered bike lanes?

Word on the Street: 1/23/12

January 23, 2012 in Word On The Street by bikewalkadmin

Word on the Street is a compilation of links to active transportation headlines from around the web:

  • TGOV Programming Up for Debate
    Tulsa Mayor’s office is considering whether to allow the Transportation Advisory Board to conduct its meetings on the city’s government access television channel and website. Because there’s just not enough time to show those popular time and temperature PowerPoint slides.
  • Hit and Run: Cowardly Lions of the Roadway
    In Tulsa, 2,813 hit-and-run accidents were reported last year, about 200 fewer than the 3,024 recorded in 2007, the highest year in almost a decade. On Jan. 8, bicyclist Bobby Richardson was struck in East Tulsa by a hit-and-run driver and later died. Unless someone comes forward with information – the police’s best hope – the case will end up as far too many of these cases end up – unsolved.
  • Bicycle Commuting Catching On With Employers
    Calvert Investments, a financial firm based in Bethesda, is one such employer. The company offers employees a one-time $500 subsidy toward the cost of a bike. It’s part of the company’s mission of sustainability, a spokeswoman said.
  • Is Fort Worth’s Plan to Install Showers for City Workers All Wet?
    “Part of my support for this is we, as an employer, ask our employees to be healthy because we are self-insured. … It’s not an opulent health club. We’re just providing the means to clean up and have a professional appearance after heeding our request [to exercise] and help us reduce the city’s healthcare cost,” said Councilman Joel Burns.
  • Cold Climate Can’t Stop Minneapolis’s Surging Bike Rates
    The mayor is serious about cycling in Minneapolis, and he has plenty to brag about already, including the launch of the Nice Ride Minnesota bike-share system and the growth of the city’s bike network to 167 miles of on-street bikeways, a 75 percent increase from 2010 to 2011 alone.
  • Traffic Light Free Junctions: “Sharing” the Space
    Any drivers approaching one of Coventry’s busiest pedestrian crossing junctions may well find themselves confused about the lack of red and green lights telling them what to do.
  • People Who Live Near Shopping Streets Three Times More Likely to Walk
    The study found that residents of “traditionally designed” areas, with a downtown-style shopping district, were three times more likely to travel on foot than those who live in newer, suburban-style neighborhoods with shops located along car-centric roadways.
  • How Can Cities Make Life Easier for the Elderly?
    It’s a challenge the planners over in Aiken, South Carolina, know too well. About 10 years ago, Aiken was named one of the top ten retirement communities in the U.S. “That started the ball rolling,” says Glenn Parker, Director of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. “We became a destination.” Now, almost a quarter of the population is over 65.
  • Documenting the New Generation of Health Problems Caused by Sprawl
    A provocative new 4-hour series soon to air on public television, Designing Healthy Communities, examines the impact of our built environment on key public health indices, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, cancer and depression. The series documents the connection between bad community design and burgeoning health consequences, and discusses the remedies available to fix what has become an urgent crisis.