DC Trip-Day 2

My 2nd day in DC was even better than the first, since we got to drive around the city and see how the street network performs and the new innovative bike facilities. The city is currently adding to their network and pushing progressive facility initiatives. DC is about to start looking like Portland, from a cyclist's perspective.

• Transform the DC bike-share system into a substantive transit option with 100 stations and 1,000 bicycles.
• Set aside 5% of the capital budget each year as a core program for pedestrian and bicycle improvements.
• Quadruple the lane miles of separated cycle facilities.
• Formally adopt bike boxes for bicyclist safety at intersections into DC standards and implement them in at least 100 locations.
• Repurpose on-street parking spaces for bicycle parking in at least 25 locations.
• Add four more bike stations.
• Increase marketing and private sector promotion of non-motorized modes.
• Improve the District travel-demand model to capture non-motorized trips.
• Update and expand the Bicycle Master Plan for the next decade.
• Support non-vehicular travel and unique place-making in the public space.

More than double bicycle mode share by 2012 from levels in 2009 (2.3% to 5%). By 2012 they aspire to double bike lane mileage to 80 miles, have 0 bike fatalities and reduce crashes from 335 to 250.

Attached is a video that demonstrates DC's new contraflow lanes. All of this stuff is very exciting and shows that "if you build it, they will ride".

Free Bikes for Hotel Guests

I am in DC a few days for work, and I love it when I go to places that embrace cycling and push it to the forefront as an ideal mode of transportation. DC's transportation by car is atrocious and most people take the metro or resort to cycling to get around the city.

Our Marriott hotel is doing their part to help their guests get around easily, by giving you a bike to ride for free! Today was a rainy/dreary day, but I still saw cyclists out in the street and in the bike lanes. If I can get a break, I may have to see about taking one of these loaner bikes for a spin.

March Critical Mass

Last night's Critical Mass was another great success. There were over 250-300 cyclists participating, and with the time change a few weeks ago, we didn't have to worry about riders being in the dark without proper lights. We tried to not "cork" intersections as much, but with that many riders, it is very difficult to get everyone through the city without running a few lights and holding up traffic. I personally don't mind blocking traffic, since the purpose behind Critical Mass is to create a "bunch up" of traffic at the intersections and by the time the bikes all go through, the car traffic would have reached "critical mass". I treat it as my monthly protest to take back the the streets for bicycles.

Got Bikes?...Ride 'em! - Part 5

Well I missed my typical Lakemont ride, but it was for a great cause. Today was the 5th installment of the Got Bikes?...Ride 'em! program. We met at the Dr. James R. Smith Center, with Commissioner Samuel B. Ings, during the Kid's Health Fair & Field Day. There were a few hundred kids there to participate in multiple events and learn about proper exercise and diet. The day included an Easter Egg Hunt, live music, food, "bouncy houses", and then different "stations" for the events similar to ours.

Our program was set up differently today, in that we didn't have a PowerPoint presentation and held everything outside, and we let the kids actually ride bikes. We set up an obstacle course and let the children take turns putting on helmets properly, the ABCs of checking out their bikes, correct bike signals at stops and intersections, and finally riding the bikes we had brought. After they had completed the course, they were given a raffle ticket for one of the six bikes and helmets we gave away.

As usual, the children had fun winning the bikes, but today was also cool to see them ride bikes and learn about proper riding techniques. It makes it all worth while when you can see kids retain things that you are telling them, they look at the bikes for the giveaway and you know they don't have a bike of their own, and then their number gets called out at the end of the day and they explode with happiness in being one of the winners. It felt like Christmas, but on a bright spring day!

Got Bikes?...Ride 'em! - Part 4

This afternoon was our 4th installment of the Got Bikes?...Ride 'em! program. Today was exciting because we were in my district and I got to see several of the children from Ferncreek Elementary that are in my mentee's class. Today at the Colonialtown Neighborhood Center we had over 70 kids and gave away 4 bikes and helmets.

Commissioner Sheehan was also present and she informed me of her "Wheels for Kids" program where she gets 100 bicycles, helmets, and locks to 100 children on Christmas Day. Pretty amazing program and I will be keeping it in mind when she starts to gather bikes to donate again.

This Saturday we are joining the Kid's Health Fair and Field Day at Dr. James R. Smith Center on Brunton Blvd., from 10am-1pm. 

No Excuse Zone Orlando-Update

Yesterday my friends and I rode another installment of the No Excuse Zone-Orlando project. We rode toward College Park and were able to explore the College Park area, north of downtown Orlando.

We have become accustomed to the automobile traffic along these large roads, and it has become very interesting to see how they react to cyclists. We haven't had many issues with confrontations, and most people give us plenty of room when they pass us.

We are typically seeing a lack of bicycle facilities in Orlando, and in some cases are present on extremely wide/fast roads. It brings to question why many of these roadways are not re-striped to narrow the lane widths or even remove some of the unnecessary lanes. This would in turn slow the automobile traffic and also make them more safe for cyclists and pedestrians. It could also create more roadway space that is available for painting a minimum 5' bike lanes for cyclists, and give pedestrians on sidewalks a buffer from the speeding cars.

We are on track to complete the roadway survey portion of this project, in a week or two. Then we are on to more in-depth statistical analysis.

Florida Racing Magazine March Issue

Typical Saturday

The weather in Florida is in the 70s now, and is perfect riding conditions. Rode with the Lakemont group for the usual 50 miles of spandex clad fun.

We heard a grizzly story from last week's C group. With the temperatures starting out in the 50s when we get started, people are wearing base layers, arm warmers, etc. Apparently a guy was removing a jacket while riding at about 20mph and the wind caught it and sent it into his rear wheel. Needless to say it immediately wrapped into his spokes and chain and stopped the bike abruptly. This sent the rider head first over the bike and he struck his head hard enough that he was knocked out for a few seconds.

It was a good reminder that everyone needed to be careful when riding out there, and we needed to keep our eyes peeled for what the people around us may be trying to do. Just because people do it on the professional races, doesn't mean that we can do it too. Especially since that type of motion isn't something that we deal with on a ride to ride basis.

Ride on, and ride safe!

People For Bikes: Why Do You Ride

Check out this video and drop me a comment on why you ride?

Got Bikes?...Ride 'em! - Part 3

This afternoon was our 3rd installment of the Got Bikes?...Ride 'em! program. Today we were at the College Park Community Center and were visited by Commissioner Stewart. We had over 75 kids and gave away 5 bikes and helmets.

One of the main things that I come away from these events, is how attentive the kids are and how well run the after school programs are. The kids are excited about winning bikes, but they sit through an hour of presentations and demonstrations before they receive anything. When I was a kid, I don't think that my classmates and I would have been as attentive as I have seen so far. The staff in these centers are doing a great job of teaching discipline and keeping things under control.

Of course when it was time to give away stuff, the kids were racking up. Each child was getting a water bottle from David's World Cycle and a packet of bicycle safety information that included a flashing red bike light, mini bike license plate, and of course several pieces of safety literature. Orange Cycle was one of the bicycle sponsors today and donated a boy's BMX bike, so it was a battle between the College Park bike shops on who could give the most. I don't think that the kids minded!

As always, if you have a bike to donate or want to see how you can contribute to this program, contact me.

Big Cruiser

On my ride home tonight I passed by this old cruiser and had to stop and snap a photo of it. This bike isn't just cool because of its style and pristine condition, but because it is one of the few cruisers that I have seen that I could ride comfortably. It is hard to tell from the shot how large this bike is, but if you notice the U-lock and use it for scale, it was a large, cool bike.

No Excuse Zone Orlando-Update

A few weeks ago I announced my intentions to survey the streets of Orlando to find the most efficient routes to get to and from Orlando's downtown. My team of friends and I  have had several survey rides and have seen lots of interesting conditions, and I want to update you on our progress.

As I mentioned on my initial post, we are riding only in the road/bike lanes or on posted bike trails. We are also maintaining speeds of 13mph to keep all of the rides consistent. Our main focus is to strictly document how long it takes to go certain routes, and how far we can get in a particular amount of time.

The attached graphic shows the time zones that are emerging from the completed rides. We still have a few more rides on the east side of town to make all of the connections accurate, but it is pretty obvious that once you make it out of the downtown core, you can ride fairly easily and go almost 6 miles in 30 minutes, from any direction.
Our steps from here are to continue to fill out this "zone" map for the east side of the city and then head west. We then want to look at several of the influential factors in the areas that we ride (population density, points of interest, existing conditions, etc.) and try to determine if there can be some modifications or enhancement to the current routes to make them more connected and efficient. We will also be looking at some of the alternate routes that some areas may use as options for recreational routes, and not just merely for commuting and getting from point A to B as fast as possible.
We are still making modifications to this graphic and are working to make it as legible as possible. I will keep you posted as this project progresses.

Ride on, because there is No Excuse not to!

Spring Is Springing

After one of Florida's coldest winters in history, the temperatures are getting back up into the 70s and the sun is starting to shine! This is bringing the cyclists and runners out of their winter slumber and the roads are being repopulated by bikes. I am not sue if I am just seeing more because I am looking for them, or if there actually are more bikes on the street than last year.

I rode in yesterday's Lakemont ride and have convinced myself that I am addicted to speed. At 8 miles in we were riding 4 wide through UCF's campus and I thought to myself, "Man it feels like we are flying", but I was scared to look down for fear that something would happen around me and I would cause a pileup. I couldn't resist and caught a glimpse of the number 30 on my cyclometer and my assumption was confirmed. Yes we were flying.

The wind ended up helping/hurting yesterday's road ride. It helped by slowing the pace down on the final 15 miles of the ride. It hurt because when it was my turn to pull on the front it felt like you were being pulled from behind. Mind you, we were still going about 20mph, but that was in stretches where we were typically rolling 25-30. The wind just kept you alert about where you were in the pack and kept you away from the back and in the protected middle. With gusts of 20+ hitting you in the face, it wouldn't take much to blow you off the back and riding the rest of the ride alone.

Today is going to be another beautiful day. My volunteer team and I are heading back out for another leg of the No Excuse Zone Orlando project. Look for an update on the progress soon.

This afternoon there is a tour of local, independently-owned restaurant/bars that choose to carry American-owned craft beers. The Tour begins at 2 pm at The Virgin Olive (807 N. Orange Ave, just North of 50), continues on to Cavanaughs in College Park, then on to The Imperial at Washburn Imports, and then rolls on to Bikes, Beans, and Bordeaux which is celebrating their 2 year anniversary this week! The final stop will be Colonial Lanes, plenty of everything there for the finale . . . The tour is being called Beer Bomb Bike Tour, so check it out if you are looking for an excuse to get out and enjoy the beautiful Florida spring weather.

Google Maps For Biking!!!

Google has finally added bike trails/routes to their map interface. Please click here to check out the routes near you!

Sign the petition here to show the importance of cycling as a mode of transportation.

There are many reasons why this feature is a wonderful edition to Google Maps. Among them, some of the most influential would be to:
* Make bicycling safer for millions of bicyclists around the world.
* Empower world citizens to better adapt their lifestyles to face the challenges of global climate change.
* Help Google realize its core mission of 'organizing the world's information and making it universally accessible and useful.

"Tour de France" Practical Joke

This is pretty funny. I can only imagine what this rider must have thought when he rounded the bend to see the awaiting crowd.

Uploaded by nqtv. - Click for more funny videos.

Got Bikes?...Ride 'em! - Part 2

Tonight was the second community workshop for the Got Bikes?...Ride 'em! program. We were visiting the Dover Shores Community Center, in District 2, and we were joined by Commissioner Tony Ortiz.

Tonight's presentation was even better than the first, and it helped that we had over 125 children, about a dozen parents, and even a dozen more staff members from the community center. We went through the same presentation and safety demonstration and gave away 4 brand new bikes and helmets to 4 lucky winners of the raffle.

The most interesting part of the evening was the trip over to the community center. Geoff and I had to ride on Conway and Curry Ford and we encountered several motorists that weren't too friendly to cyclists. We had two cars that laid on their horns behind us, even though they had room in the left lane to pass us. Poor Geoff actually had a car pass us, yell at us, and then throw a can of "dip" tobacco at him and hit his arm while riding. It just showed us that there are plenty of uneducated, rude drivers out there. It probably would have helped if we had bike lanes to ride in, but either way the drivers didn't know the law and weren't willing to share the road!

We head to College Park for next week's workshop. I am waiting for some pictures from the City of Orlando, to update the posts and give you some images to go along with the stories. If you have any used bicycles or want to donate to the program, please let me know. Ride on!

No Excuse Zone Orlando-First Ride

The first stage ride of the No Excuse Zone-Orlando project was held this morning. After discussing the multiple route options with my team of volunteers, we felt that completing the north and south arteries would be a good step in seeing how the existing facilities worked in moving cyclists through the city.

We left Lake Eola and traveled east on Robinson and turned north on Mills, to ride up the main north-south connection between Winter Park and Downtown Orlando. Surprisingly we made it up to the intersection at Virginia in 10 minutes (2.1 miles), Fairbanks by 20 (3.85 miles), and finished up at Lake Avenue in 30 (5.85 miles). This was all done by riding in the travel lanes or bike lane when they were present. The automobile traffic was flowing at about 35mph+, but the traffic respected us as equals on the road and we had no issues with aggressive drivers.

The main issues with this route is that the bike lane did start and stop in several locations and this created confusions as a rider as to if the current "planned" bike route wanted you to divert off the main road or continue on. If there had been some wayfinding signage or better route designation, then this would have been a perfect ride to get to the Winter Park, Winter Park Village, and head toward Maitland. In our later analysis we will look at the improvement possibilities and potential recommendations.

On our return trip, we diverted over to Denning Drive and winded our way through some of the residential neighborhoods to get back to Lake Eola. None of the streets had any bicycle facilities, but their character was such that the traffic drove slower and cyclists of any riding level could feel comfortable riding there. The streets were shaded and the occasional view of lakes and parks were a pleasant transition after riding for 30 straight minutes in a sea of concrete and strip development.

This route took about 5 minutes longer to get us back downtown, but that is the whole reason behind the analysis. We can evaluate the different routes and determine the pros and cons and possible solutions to improving them. I am going to work on a graphic to add to this post to show where our ride took us and we plan on riding again next weekend.

After today's ride, I am even further convinced that there is No Excuse not to ride a bicycle in Orlando!

Got Bikes?...Ride Em! - Part 1

Yesterday afternoon, I got to volunteer in one of the City of Orlando's award winning bicycle programs. Cristina Cruz and Charles Brown developed an innovative approach to community education to attract children and new riders to bicycling through a power point presentation entitled, "Got Bikes..Ride 'em," which covered the history of bicycling, famous riders, safety and places to ride. The presentation will be offered in all six Orlando City Commission Districts during Florida Bike Month (March). Children, commissioners, citizens and communities will together benefit from this great program.

This first community workshop was held at the Citrus Center and we were joined by Commissioner Phil Diamond. I spoke about famous professional cyclists and will be helping in the future during the safety demonstrations. We had about 35-40 kids present and several parents were there to learn about bicycle safety and to enter to win free bikes and helmets. We distributed 5 donated bikes to the lucky winners and everyone was given free literature about safety and bicycle laws, water bottles, and red warning lights. 

We have another presentation on Tuesday night. If you are interested in donating a used bike, please let me know and we can get it in one of the giveaways.

Livin In The Bike Lane Is Catching On

I found out this week that several prominent blogs and websites have stumbled upon LivinInTheBikeLane, and are helping to spread the good word about what we are trying to do here in Orlando about cycling.

Of course CommuteOrlando picked me up a few weeks ago and I have been fortunate enough to share some of my blog posts with them. Check out Keri's latest post that contains a quick video that illustrates proper road riding in traffic. It is really compelling and shows how to not only be an assertive rider, but also demonstrates how traffic responds to cyclists and will give the rider their appropriate space on the road.

Since my blog about my No Excuse Zone-Orlando project, the Tulsa Alternative Transportation ExaminerBikingInLA, and Streetsblog all found the post and shared it with their followers. Check out the screen shots below to see the mentioning of the blog.

I am really excited about getting on the road this weekend and surveying some streets for this project. Look for an update on the progress of the No Excuse Zone-Orlando next week and I'll keep you posted as I hear of more sites sharing and spreading the love of LivinInTheBikeLane!


Last night I attended the Daily City Panel Series and last night's topic was biking in Orlando. The speakers were Mighk Wilson from Metroplan Orlando, Keri Caffrey from CommuteOrlando, and Angie Ross from 4onaquarter.com. One of the interesting topics that I had only heard of, but never researched was Ciclovia.

Ciclovia is government run closure of the streets in Bogata Columbia, every Sunday from 7am to 2pm, for 70 miles of roadway. In Bogata, over 2 million (30% of its citizens) enjoy Ciclovia each week. Participants include runners, skaters and bicyclists, and at the same time, stages are set up in city parks with aerobic instructors, yoga teachers, and musicians to lead people through various performances. Unlike Critical Mass which is more grass roots, Ciclovia is government sanctioned, and focuses on promoting physical fitness and health, social and cultural benefits, clean air, and safety.

Ciclovia has spread since its inception in 1976 to several other countries and even cities here in the United States. None of the other events are as large or occur as frequently as the one in Bogata, but are still very important to exhibit "car free" urban cycling.

Other cities should try this type of event to promote cycling and other types of active transportation. It only takes a governing body that is willing to share the road with all types of users. The only expense is in managing the closure of the routes and much of it can be done through volunteer staff. All events like Ciclovia will start out small, but there are plenty of case studies from other cities that show it can be a great success and is destined to be a positive influence on the community.