Tag Archives: bikes

Love and bike lanes: how to turn bike lane haters & skeptics into lane lovers

One thing we really love here at ioby are BIKE LANES. Unfortunately, we understand that not everyone feels this way. But, Cupid knows, feelings can change!

That’s why we’re pleased to present the following list of of bike lane benefits, categorized to appeal to skeptics of every stripe. Even if your friend or neighbor thinks they feel meh about bike transportation, they’re sure to feel good about traffic safety, having fun, and saving money! So next time the topic comes up, try talking about bike lanes through one of the lenses below. We bet you’ll get them on board.

Continue reading Love and bike lanes: how to turn bike lane haters & skeptics into lane lovers

How can I slow down traffic on my street?

“Historically, streets were not just for traffic,” writes David Engwicht, the irreverent public space thought leader, in his book Street Reclaiming: Creating Livable Streets and Vibrant Communities. “They were the epicenter of community life – a place for socializing, children’s play, drama, education, celebrations, social events, and economic activity. These important functions have been slowly eroded as car traffic has exerted its dominance.”

A glut of vehicular traffic—particularly of the high-speed variety—can quickly make your neighborhood feel less like a safe haven and more like the Autobahn. Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to help calm your community’s streets.

Continue reading How can I slow down traffic on my street?

League of Awesome Bike Projects

As Einstein once said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. In order to keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

Well, the League of American Bicyclists – the nation’s oldest bicycle advocacy organization – sure lives by that advice. They never stop moving to get more Americans out on their own two wheels. This month, we’re thrilled to be along for the ride, partnering with The League to support a cohort of  awesome bike initiatives from across the nation.

It’s no secret that we’re a little bike-obsessed, here at ioby. Maybe you caught our presentation at The League’s 2015 National Summit in DC, back in March? Bikes give us hope. Roads that aren’t too scary to bike on give us hope. Neighborhoods that have bike co-ops and repair stations give us hope. It’s like the writer H.G. Wells said: “Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.”

So please allow us to introduce the leaders of three of the initiatives, below. And don’t forget to check out the League’s campaign   page, too.

 

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Rockville Bike Hub Mobile Shop

Steve Andruski, president of the board of the Rockville Bike Hub, wishes everyone would get around by bike, but he’s particularly interested in bringing more women and more minorities into the vibrant Rockville/Montgomery County cycling community. “I think cycling in general has tended to be male-dominated and white,” he says regretfully. For women, there are several limiting factors. “They’re put off by the attitude of some men that you’ve got to be constantly competing and pushing,” says Andruski. “There’s also the lower level of encouragement that girls get in doing mechanical things.” And for some minorities in Rockville, the limiting factor can be the cost of repair and maintenance.

These are the groups Andruski hopes to serve with Rockville Bike Hub’s new pop-up bike repair shop, which you’ll find at the Rockville farmers’ market, starting in May. The shop will use a sliding scale pay model, turning no one away, and bike diagrams will be done in multiple languages, including Spanish. Andruski also hopes to use the shop to gather momentum for a women-cyclists’ night, taught by women.

 

LeTS Roll! Traffic Stress Mapping with the Bike-Walk Alliance of New Hampshire 

Here’s a dismal fact: New Hampshire is the only state in New England that does not have a complete streets policy in place at the state level. That basically means that in designing and maintaining streets, New Hampshire thinks not like a pedestrian or a cyclist, but like a driver behind the wheel. In other words, cars still rule the road. Which leaves advocacy groups like the Bike-Walk Alliance to do much of the thinking on behalf of pedestrians and cyclists. So Tim Blagden of Bike-Walk is all over the problem of how to get would-be cyclists (about 60% of us, on average, would bike if we thought the roads were safe enough) in the saddle.

An important part of the solution, Blagden believes, is a technique called Level of Traffic Stress (LeTS) mapping. That’s where you go out and collect a bunch of data on street widths, speed limits, parking patterns and so on, in order to classify each of a town or city’s roads according to traffic stress, or foot-and-bike-friendliness. This way, cyclists can easily find routes that won’t be death traps, and can avoid high stress areas like highways or tricky intersections. LeTS mapping is a relatively new concept, introduced in 2012, and already it’s been used in San Jose, Fort Collins, Ottawa, Portland, San Francisco, and lots of others. It’s one of the fastest and cheapest ways to make cyclists safer on the roads.

“It generates pretty darn good results without too much effort,” explains Blagden. “You don’t have to poll people. You just look at how the roads are built. The research has basically been done that says ‘if the roads are built this way, here’s how people are going to react to it.’”

Right now, the Bike-Walk Alliance is raising the money it will need to hire a summer intern extraordinaire, who’ll collect the data for a LeTS map of the 19 towns that comprise Central New Hampshire. Visit their campaign page to learn more.

 

Ride On! A new bike co-op for vibrant Leimert Park, Los Angeles

Contrary to the L.A. stereotype, the city’s Leimert Park has a large cycling community. Thriving cycling advocacy groups, like Black Kids on Bikes, meet there for weekly rides, and lots of residents bike to run errands, to get to work. In fact, what’s missing isn’t cyclists – it’s affordable repair shops. The single bike repair stand installed in the park last year by the city has gotten so much use that the pump is already worn out.

“I was looking at a guy yesterday on a bike and both of his brakes were shot,” says Adé Neff, a martial arts teacher and cycling advocate with Black Kids on Bikes, “and I’m thinking, how does he ride a single block? People are riding bikes out of necessity, and they don’t have the knowledge or the resources to go to the bike shop and pay for someone to have it fixed.”

That’s why Neff and his partners are creating a repair co-op in the area, for anyone to join. “To have a co-op in this area would help people so much because then you could just come in and for a minimal fee, you have somebody show you how to fix your bike, so now you’re empowered to be able to do it yourself,” explains Neff. He’s already run successful pop-up repair shops in the park, but wants something more permanent for the community. Check out his campaign page to learn more, and to donate toward new bike stands, wrenches, chains, pumps, lube, brakes, cables, and a self-sufficient next generation of L.A. cyclists.

 

Awesome Project: Chain Reaction

Boston, 2050: Diverse, mixed-income neighborhoods are critical parts of a bicycle throughway that traverses the entire city, thriving bike shops are staples of every community, and bike racks are proudly featured outside of every business across the region.

Thanks to a group of high school students in Beantown, this future is not so far-fetched. Chain Reaction, an initiative of Bikes Not Bombs and one of ioby’s first projects outside of New York City, is grounded in the notion that the future of social justice in Boston lies in a comprehensive, citywide bicycle infrastructure.

Since 1984, Bikes Not Bombs has been training and employing local high school students to refurbish old bicycles and send them to high-need communities, both at home in Boston and abroad. The Jamaica Plain, or more commonly referred to as “J.P.,” neighborhood of Boston has long been the focal point of Bikes Not Bombs’ operations and public programs. With a bike shop that offers repairs and services, and educational programs for youth and other members of the community, the organization has become a fixture in the neighborhood.

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Bikes Not Bombs’ Youth Development Specialist and Grant Writer, Sarah Braunstein, chatted with ioby last week to discuss how Chain Reaction got its start. “We’re driven by youth,” said Braunstein. “They’re the ones who were motivated to say, ‘How can we take what we do in J.P. and take it out to more people?’”

Braunstein knew that scaling up community outreach programs in J.P. to include neighborhoods citywide would take resources beyond the relatively small reach of a single organization. She recalls wondering how to open up retail bike shops in high-need neighborhoods—low-income areas of Boston that lack adequate bicycle infrastructure—with the limited resources available to them as a nonprofit. In particular, Braunstein remembered asking the group, “How do we get space for free?”

Neil Leifer, who Braunstein lauds as an “almost full-time volunteer,” helped secure a partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Boston earlier this year. Thanks in part to his proactive outreach to Clubs across the city, Chain Reaction has been able to open up shop in neighborhoods far beyond the borders of Jamaica Plain. Since starting up the initiative in March, six clubs across the city have taken an interest in bringing Bikes Not Bombs’ youth employees into their communities.

For a few days each week, Braunstein and a team of youth employees—all in high school, all ages 16 and 17, and all alumni of other Bikes Not Bombs programs—come to a Boys and Girls Club and offer their bike repair services to members of the community. “They do all the work, all the mechanics, and all the exchanging of money,” said Braunstein. “I’m really just there to supervise or help out if they need me.” As they work, the team also teaches repair skills to local kids and residents.

Braunstein and her group have found that they have stumbled upon a demand for youth-driven bicycle infrastructure that is far beyond their wildest expectations. “We’re at our second club now,” Braunstein told ioby. In these neighborhoods, there are “basically no bike shops, so we’re totally bombarded with work. The first club we worked at already wants us to come back.”

She continued, “There are youth in these neighborhoods who haven’t been reached because there hasn’t been a program that has worked with their type of knowledge acquisition.” Braunstein added that the youth she has encountered at these clubs “are focused, excited, and reliable. We are offering an opportunity to work with their hands.”

Chain Reaction was born out of a simple hypothesis. Braunstein and her team of teenaged bicycle entrepreneurs believed that a common assumption—that people in lower-income neighborhoods don’t bike or don’t want to bike—is simply not true. Indeed, said Braunstein, Chain Reaction’s mission is predicated on a theory that the problem “is just that there’s a lack of access.”

“On its own,” continued Braunstein, “the bike is an affordable mode of transportation and it makes a lot of sense for these neighborhoods.” For families and individual who struggle to make ends meet, the bike is an inexpensive and low-maintenance transit alternative to driving, and even public transportation. The success of the initiative in the month or so since its launch indicates that Braunstein’s reasoning may in fact be justified.

“The communities’ responses have been amazing. Every possible reason for someone coming to us has happened,” she told us proudly. “This is the beginning of something bigger.”

Just one month into its life, Chain Reaction is already living up to its name. The project is pushing bicycle activism to the limit, showing us all that there is profound power in pairing wheels with pure, unadulterated passion.

You can give to Chain Reaction on ioby by clicking here: https://www.ioby.org/project/chain-reaction.