B-Cycle Ready To Go!

B-Cycle, the nations largest bicycle sharing program is getting ready to launch on Earth Day in our very own Denver!

Everywhere in the city, stations are being populated with bicycles.

B-Cycle @ 25th & Lawrence
B-Cycle at 25th St and Lawrence St

I will be volunteering at B-Cycle stations during the launch to tell you all you need to know. Find me on Friday, 4p-6p at the Cherry Creek Mall, and Saturday, 11a-2p at Denver Health.

Also, if you’re free Thursday morning (I’m trying to find a way to be free), join Mayor Hickenlooper at the B-Cycle Launch Event!

Let’s show the nation what Denver can do to be bike friendly!

Becoming Even More Bicycle Friendly

Was sitting on the bus today, watching a cyclist hug the curb of Wewatta St in Denver. Obviously, he was aware that the street was safer for him than the sidewalk, but he still wasn’t positioning himself in the safest position in the lane.

So, I ask the question many vehicular cyclists want to ignore. How do we get ordinary citizens on the road, cycling in a safe manner?

How can we make bicyclists feel comfortable riding on a big span of concrete and asphalt such as the picture below?

Wewatta and Park Ave
Stolen from Google Maps

The answer does not lie in vehicular cycling dogma. You can tell cyclists all you want that the safest position for them is in the center of the lane. You can even tell motorists the same. There will still be conflicts, there will still be cyclists who fear the street. Who can blame them? Roads like these were obviously designed for cars with any other users simply an afterthought.

Let’s turn to Copenhagen and Amsterdam and the other famous cycling friendly cities in Europe. They’re doing something right if 37% of commuters in Copenhagen ride bicycles.

Traffic Skills 101 Impressions

Over the last weekend, I took part in the LAB‘s Traffic Skills 101 course. The league describes the course as:

Gives cyclists the confidence they need to ride safely and legally in traffic or on the trail. The course covers bicycle safety checks, fixing a flat, on-bike skills and crash avoidance techniques and includes a student manual. Recommended for adults and children above age fourteen, this fast-paced, nine-hour course prepares cyclists for a full understanding of vehicular cycling.

I found the course quite interesting and useful. It is a rare situation when you get cyclists together from all walks of life. We had a man about my age there who didn’t even own his own bicycle – he borrowed his friend’s Huffy. We also had a few cyclists who had done some amazing road rides such as the Triple Bypass. We had a director from the local bike advocacy group there – as a participant! – as well as other people from various advocacy groups.

As for the actual course content, it was a mix of discussing the local traffic laws, bicycle maintenance and vehicular cycling. Despite the description above, there was very little trail discussion.

The “classroom” discussions were kinda dry and boring. Involved talking about local traffic laws (such as Colorado’s Three Feet law), types of crashes and how to avoid them, and the ever interesting discussion on bicycle clothing (*yawn*).

The fun came with the part where you actually sit on the saddle.  We started out in a parking lot where the instructors had placed halves of tennis balls in various configurations.

The first exercise was the quick stop maneuver. Easy enough, simple pull on the brakes, the front harder than the rear, and slide your ass back off the saddle as far as you can.

Second exercise was a quick turn. We approached the turn, and just right before the turn, flipped the handlebars to the left, then punched it to the right. This made for a very high speed right turn. Perfect for avoiding those right hooks.

Third exercise was a rock dodge. Simple, just flick the handlebars in either direction to avoid the rock and with some miracle of physics, the front wheel goes on one side of the rock and the rear goes on the other side.

The final exercise was the funnest. Involved going through a slalom at varying speeds and varying “tightness”. Helps you get a feel for how the bike handles with just leaning. The tough part was to make it through the slalom without turning the handlebars at all. Doable, but very difficult.

Then came the road course. We took off on a few (of like a billion) of Aurora’s high speed arterial roads. Even involved a bit of a six lane road with 45mph speed limit. Using proper Vehicular Cycling techniques, one can easily ride on these roads without too much headache. The one big advantage we had was being a group. Its hard to miss eight cyclists in one big long line.

We maybe spent a total of 15 minutes on a local bike path. This is understandable. IMO, a bike path is easy to ride. The biggest rules are keep it slow and yield to pedestrians. Its also nice if you keep right and announce your passes (please, please, please announce your passes).

Do I think TS101 is a necessary course? Oh god no. However, if you live in neighborhood where your local road opens up to a high speed arterial and you’ve had too many close calls on them sidewalks, you might wanna look into it. It may give you the confidence and necessary knowledge to handle it safely.

(Disclaimer: This does not mean I’ve become one of the John Forester, anti-bicycling facilities maniacs. I’m still all for well designed infrastructure for cyclists, including bike lanes, sharrows, bike paths, separated bike tracks, bike boulevards, etc)

Volunteering for Launch of Denver’s Bike Sharing!

I’m volunteering for the launch of Denver’s Bike Sharing program, B-Cycle.

If you’re free, come stop by and say hi to me:

  • Cherry Creek Mall from 4pm to 6pm on Friday 4/23
  • Denver Health from 11am to 2pm on Saturday 4/24

According to the map, the Cherry Creek mall station looks to be at 2800 E 1st Ave and the Denver Health station is at 777 Bannock St.

Come say hi!

Englewood’s Master Bicycle Plan

So who woulda thunk it? The City of Englewood, Colorado actually has a bicycle plan. You would never know it, because, well, they don’t mention it, ever. It at one point in time was on their website. It has since disappeared, and you’ll never find it.

I ended up e-mail’ing the city before I got a copy of it. The plan itself is full of awesome. A neat pie graph is in there that shows in 2003, 60% of Englewood Students rode their bicycle at least once a week.

The plan provides details of a bicycle grid route system, identifies missing links in the trail system, bike route signage and all sorts of other cool stuff.

I propose the the city of Englewood get off of their collectives asses, ride their bikes, and work to implement everything in the plan.

Checkout the plan: Master Bike Plan

A Few Words on Sharrows

Sharrows? What are those funny things?

If you’ve ever driven through Denver, you probably have seen these funny looking things but have no idea what they really mean. Denver has been using these things for years. They’re not something new.

According to the Wikipedia article on “Shared lane marking“, the term sharrow is a combination of SHared lane and ARROW.

Sharrow + Handlebar
Sharrows on a Denver Street

Now these are relatively recent markings in the history of pavement markings. Sharrows really only serve two purposes:

  • Assist bicyclists with lateral lane positioning
  • Alert other road users to potential bicyclists on the road

A proper sharrow is placed far enough away from the curb as to encourage cyclists to ride out of door zones and in a more visible location on the road.

Sharrows on Sherman
Sharrows down Sherman St in Denver

In a recent San Francisco study, sharrows have been shown to encourage cyclists to ride further out into the road and away from the “door zone” of parked cars. Cars have also been shown to give cyclists a wider birth when they pass in the presence of sharrows.

So now, when you see a sharrow lining the city streets, you have a better idea of what those funny looking things that aren’t quite bicycle lanes are.

Washington, DC is an Awesome City!

Its been a long while since I last wrote something on the blog. I hope the three people who read it weren’t waiting in anticipation for something huge!

I thought I’d let everyone know about a recent little adventure Niki and I had to the capitol of our country.

Beware, there be tons of pictures in the rest of this post!

Continue reading Washington, DC is an Awesome City!