NYC Critical Mass Confrontation Officer Found Guilty

Here is some good news on Critical Mass Friday.

A former police officer was convicted on Thursday of lying about a collision with a bicyclist who was taking part in a Critical Mass ride in Times Square in 2008 — shown in the video below.

The jury found the officer, Patrick Pogan, 24, guilty of filing a criminal complaint that contained false statements concerning the cyclist, Christopher Long, including an assertion that Mr. Long knocked Mr. Pogan down by intentionally steering his bicycle into him. (The video showed that Mr. Pogan remained on his feet, while Mr. Long flew to the pavement.)

Mr. Pogan’s conviction carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison.

Mr. Pogan, who resigned from the Police Department after the episode, was also convicted of a misdemeanor for attesting to the complaint’s truthfulness, even though it contained a warning against making false statements.

But Mr. Pogan, who was in his 11th day on the force when the collision happened, was acquitted of a misdemeanor charge of reckless assault.

Bike Miami Days

This past Sunday was the return of Bike Miami Days with the permission of City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and the leadership of Bike Coordinator Collin Worth, and was the result of an amazing number of volunteer hours from the Miami Open Streets Team and others. Bike Miami Days is an event that mimics Bogota, Columbia's Cyclovia. Miami's event is held in Coconut Grove and closes the streets of downtown Coconut Grove from 9am to 2pm. Bike Miami Days consisted of a bike parade, yoga, raffles, an after party, and of course plenty of cycling, skating and walking around on the car free streets.

Despite a budget only a fraction of last year’s and a smaller route, Sunday’s event was an incredible success. Only weeks ago, rumors suggested the event could be canceled, until Mack Cycle and Fitness came in to cover over half the city’s costs for the event. Their huge contribution, combined with small donations from the public and the support of organizations like the Florida Bicycle Association, the Green Mobility Network, South Florida Bike Coalition, the Dutch Consulate, the Coconut Grove Business Improvement District and so very many others, saved Miami’s largest free and family-friendly street party.

Check out their website or blog to see when the next Bike Miami Day will occur, but hopefully with the proper support, it will become a regular event.

Photo credit goes out to my friend and fellow rider, Steve Rolles, who personally attended the event and reported its success.

National Network of Bike Trails!

As noted at FABB and BikeLeague, DDOT Director Gabe Klein and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood were on NPR'S All Things Considered to talk about making cycling as important as driving.

Klein referenced DDOT new plans and how Portland is the urban model of the future. He also talked about the 15th St NW road diet that allowed for the installation of a contraflow bike lane and retrofitting bike lanes into the city. "We want to build support amongst all people in the city, including drivers, for our bike and ped programs." He also said "we're going to have a very large bike sharing program" and he talked about plans to have separated lanes. And in response to criticism that we shouldn't invest in cycling when only 2-3% of people use bikes for transportation, he notes that where they've added bike facilities they've seen a sizable increase in cycling.

LaHood called bike trails "equal components" to other transportation elements. "We’ve put almost all of our resources into roads," LaHood says. "Our commitment at DOT is to create options." He talked about creating a national bike route system so that people can bike around the country, and about how there is space enough for both highways for trucks and routes for cyclists. He also talks about biking the C&O Canal with his wife on weekends.

New Facilities Catching On

As I plan on heading back up to DC this week, I am encouraged by new articles that I am seeing in conjunction with Earth Day and DOTs allocating funds for summer implementation of new facilities in many US cities. Denver opened 40 B-cycle stations that will provide 400 bicycles for the city's citizens and visitors to use. New York is pushing forward with adding new cycletracks and additional miles of bike lanes. Of course here in Orlando we are still required to ride on the road and contend with cars and hunt for safe routes on our own.

I am excited to see more of what DC is doing when I visit there this week and see how "a bucket of Portland is being spilled on the Capital". The cycletracks that are being constructed there are the main arteries that are going to feed the city with cyclists. Bicycle ridership generally increases 18-20% when cities add cycletracks, but only 5-7% for bike lanes. New York's cycletracks also reduced injuries by 56%, crashes by 48%, injuries to pedestrians by 29%, and injuries to cyclists by 57%. Pennsylvania Avenue is getting bi-directional cycletracks running down its median, 9th Street (a 1-way) is getting a new bike lane on the right side and a contraflow lane on the left, I and L Streets are getting buffered bike lanes, and many other streets are getting restriped with narrower travel lanes and new bike lanes.

I admit that not all of these facilities will be successful and I am sure that redesign will occur, but although they are not ideal, they are better than nothing and may be the best way to get cycletracks implemented on a broader scale. Cities that are implementing bike boxes, contraflow bike lanes, center bike lanes, turning lanes to the left or right of bike lanes, bicycle only lights, sharrows, chevrons, driveway markings and two-stage crosswalk cycle track turns, mixing zones... are going to be the cities that increase ridership and get the United States into the game of urban cycling. It will require some education to say the least, but good changes are on the horizon.

Another Piece of the Pie

Today was another beautiful day in the "Sunshine State". The morning Lakemont Ride was good and fast. The B group caught the A group at about mile 4, because they hit several lights that we missed. That just meant that our group grew to about 125-140 riders and then our average speed was increased to 23! The pack broke up into a few smaller groups, but I stayed with the lead pack and finished strong.

It was a good hard morning ride and after getting home and giving the old bike a much needed washing, we decided to head downtown for lunch and the Earth Day celebration at Lake Eola. It was really cool to see all of the eco-friendly products and services that were being advertised and sold. Rusted Chain was there to provide bike valet, so it was good that they were promoting their group and to see all of the bikes there.

When we left the park, we went to get some yogurt at Mochee, at The Plaza on Orange Avenue. We rolled around looking for bike racks for about 5 minutes, and finally got a security guard to point us to a rack down in the entrance to their parking garage. The little bike rack could only hold 4-5 bikes and was in an unlit corner, Needless to say we didn't park there and just rolled them inside the restaurant and leaned them against the wall.

I haven't ever paid much attention to the lack of bicycle racks in the downtown area, but it is really shameful. My office is on Orange Avenue, but we have 3 bike racks inside our office and a locker room with showers, and I know of a few other offices, apartments, and condos that have similar bike rooms or bike lockers. The Plaza is a huge condo building with a movie theater and several restaurants inside it, in addition to the other bars and restaurants that are in the immediate area, and yet they only accommodated 5 bikes! That is a big issue.

For a city to increase bike ridership, it has to not only provide comfortable routes, but also provide places to park bikes where they won't get stolen or damaged. Orlando has no problem building parking garages for automobiles, but until they put some more effort into creating places for bike parking, we will still have low ridership, no matter what other facilities or plans they implement.

Portland Cycle Tracks and Buffered Bike Lanes

The streets in most cities currently work fine for people who are comfortable riding bicycles in mixed traffic. However, my designs are intended to make bicycling more comfortable for the majority of cyclists who are not comfortable riding under such conditions. Analysis indicates that most cyclists/potential cyclists would use a bicycle much more often than they currently do if they didn’t have to mix so much with automobiles. A cycle track provides that opportunity and is one of the reasons that bicycling is so well-used in cities that have features such as these facilities.

On the Right Track from Mayor Sam Adams on Vimeo.

"Close Brush" Commute

Well I had my quarterly brush with an automobile on my commute home tonight. I was heading east on Livingston, coming up to the Mills intersection. The light was turning red and I stopped just before the cross walk, about 3' from the curb. As you can see from the photos, this stretch of road is interesting because the bike lane disappears and the cars freak out and typically don't know what to do around the bikes that get tossed out into their lanes.

Well, as I am sitting in the lane, a minivan behind me moves up and around my left side, and pulls in front of me to make a right turn. It happened so fast that all I could do is yell "Hey!" and give them a tap in their side window (yes that is how close they brushed along side me). The female driver actually stopped suddenly and rolled her window down and exclaimed that she didn't see me. I just said, "You had to pull around me to get to where you are." She replied, "I thought you were going to get on the sidewalk and not stay in the road." I told her that it was OK, and that she should watch out for bikes next time.Luckily all of this happened during the red light and we could talk it out.

My designer hat made me think of several solutions to this type of situation. Extending the bike lane to the intersection is one. The other is to add a bike box to the edge of the crosswalk (see graphic below), so that cyclists can queue up and the cars would be warned that bikes would be in front of them and right turns on red would be prohibited. Just a thought. Seems way too simple of a fix, but it works everywhere else that they implement it.

Cycling at Work? Excercise?

When I am on trips for work or for vacation, I always try to see what the local bike scene is like and what those cities and towns are doing to promote cycling. In Greenville SC I walked by a parking lot and saw this exercise bike locked to a tree.
I laughed and either thought it was a joke or was some type of installation art. It was only until I saw a large man coming over to us to see what we were doing, that I found out the whole story. This gentleman was a the parking lot attendant and during the day, he barely gets any activity (he was only busy during morning and afternoon rush hour). He was trying to lose weight, so he had picked up stationary biking as a way to do some cardio during his down time.

What is crazy is that I had seen this type of thing before. I had to do some digging through some old photos from France, but I remembered seeing this picture in a parking garage. I never found out the story for this one, but who knows, maybe it was just someone trying to burn a few extra pounds.

Cycling is great exercise and is low impact on joints, so if you are trying to get ready for summer at the beach, may I suggest that you get back on the old bike to get back your fitness.

Hitting the Road

This weekend's weather has been too beautiful to be sitting inside updating the blog. The Saturday morning Lakemont Ride had about 200 riders overall, and at least 100 alone in the B ride that I participate in. I felt better than ever in the saddle and had plenty of juice to keep up with the pack.

I do have 2 lessons learned from Saturday. The first one is something that most people know, but I have just now become a believer in. The Lakemont Ride is only 2 hours, so I haven't been taking any food/energy supplements, but I have been feeling drained on the past few weeks when we picked up the pace and felt that a few extra calories couldn't hurt. I packed a small peanut butter sandwich and it hit the spot. I could only eat a bite at a time, but that helped ration it out throughout the whole ride. My advice: If you are riding over an hour, pack a small snack or energy supplement. This will give you the boost you need to get you down the road.

The second lesson came from a friend of mine, but I have personal experience in this too. My friend got some new SPD pedals and even though she clipped in and out a few times on Friday night, during her ride in Clermont, she fell 2 times. She didn't fall because of the clips being too tight or not functioning properly, but because she didn't realize which foot she instinctively put down on the ground first. I had this same experience with my toe in clipless pedals, but I just fell over and hurt my pride. She actually received some nasty road burn and a few bruises. She is good now, but I recommend clipping in and out along a fence or wall for practice, and the support if you can't get out of your pedals.

Ride on and ride safe!

Got Bikes?...Ride 'em! - Part 6

This past week we had the final installment of the Got Bikes?...Ride 'em! This week we were at the Callahan Neighborhood Center on North Parramore. We were graced by Commissioner Daisy W. Lynum, and she stressed her strong belief in cycling as healthy transportation and encouraged safety while riding.

It was a great day with about 75 kids, and we gave away 6 new bikes and helmets to the lucky winners. It was sad that it was the last event for this calendar year, but it was great to think about the record number of kids that we got to address about bike safety and donate over 30 bikes.

Thanks has to go out to Charles Brown and Cristina Cruz from the City of Orlando's Transportation Department for the great events and for allowing me to help out.

Ray La Hood Spreads the Good Word

I posted about a La Hood interview a few weeks ago, but this video of him speaking at the League of American Bicyclists National Bike Summit. His words reign true for cyclists and pedestrians alike.

'50s Bicycle Safety Film

Not much has changed since this video. Nothing other than the invention of the helmet and lighter bikes. Enjoy!

Orlando Mountain Bike Park

It is always a big chore digging through emails after 2 weeks of out of town charrettes. I was uplifted when I stumbled upon this email from Malisa, from Orlando Parks & Rec. 

Greetings All,
I have fantastic news to share…
This morning we received final approval to move forward with the mountain bike park AND yesterday the Winter Park Health Foundation confirmed they will be funding the initial construction of the project with a grant of $25,000 to start and another $25,000 to match additional grant funding I am seeking. We hope to end up with a total $75,000 to create a useful park for the community.
We will be holding a public design meeting on May 1st, 2010 at Area “C” from 9am to 1pm to allow greatest participation in a casual format – you are welcome to come for the whole event or pieces.
9am to 11am project overview and design options set out at several stations for you to comment on and make suggestions.
11am to 12pm site tour to discuss the options and how the design will function.
12pm to 1pm we will circle back to narrow down the choices for a DRAFT plan.
Expect to construct in October 2010.
DIRECTIONS AND DETAILS WILL FOLLOW IN A FEW WEEKS ON FACEBOOK. If you have not already checked out the Facebook page, go to: “Orlando Mtn Bike Park“.
Please sign up as this will be THE means of communicating details about the park as we move forward.
We would like everyone to be a part of this community collaboration.
If you have comments or questions, I can be reached via email; however, we prefer you please use the Facebook page as we are trying to make this a community process with as much input as possible since the trails will be built and maintained by the community on vacant City park land.
Thanks for all your support and interest – we will be calling in all those offers of help to construct in October!!
Malisa Mccreedy, AICP MPA
Planning Manager
Families, Parks & Recreation
City of Orlando

Everyone that is interested should come to the design workshop on Saturday May 1, to help get some ideas on paper. This park has great potential to get more people interested in cycling and should increase connectivity opportunities in the neighborhood.

No Excuse Zone Orlando-Final Map

It has taken a while to get the final rides in for the No Excuse Zone, but we finally got them completed and mapped.

We are now going to take this map and perform some additional analysis within the 3 zones. We want to know what the population densities are, % of car traffic and ridership, points of interest, economic centers, neighborhoods, etc. After I get some of this GIS data, I will share the findings. We also want to look at more alternate routes on the ground.

Either way, this graphic demonstrates how efficient many of the arterial roads are to travel here in Orlando. This graphic does not necessarily demonstrate the best routes or the most comfortable routes to ride on. These were strictly the "fastest/direct" routes, and they were all ridden directly on the road or on bike facilities if they were available.

Even though we were able to cover reasonable distances, we could have potentially gone farther, and could have had safer/more comfortable rides if some extra attention had been put on the bicycle and pedestrian transportation and not strictly on automobiles. Hopefully by looking at the statistical data from the 3 zones, we can determine where more investment could potentially be applied, to affect the most people. Ridership will increase by impacting more people and making cycling more comfortable and convenient. Investing in better facilities and cycling/driver education programs are the best ways for Orlando to become more bike/ped friendly. 

Weekend Riding

Days like today proves that all of the cold weather training pays off. I rode in the Lakemont B group this morning and with the temperatures reaching into the mid to upper 70s, the races were feeling it. We had a great group of about 70 riders and with no wind to deal with, the pack held together fairly well. It seemed that every time I glanced down at my cyclometer, we were churning at least 25+ mph and several times were topping 30 on flat stretches. Great day to be on the road!

Tomorrow morning out at UCF, the Orange County Council of PTAs are inviting everyone to participate in a world record bicycle parade. Registration begins at 9:30am and staging begins at 10:30. The route is 2.5 miles and should be a free, fun, event with a purpose!

"YikeBike" Might Electrify Your Commute

This is a cool article about some of the cool "future" bikes that could be coming to a bike lane near you. This is an e-bike, but the design is interesting and unique and could be a window to the future of road cycling and commuting. Check out the videos at the bottom to see how this bike works.

Cool Bike

I have been in Alabama all week for work, and tonight we ate at a catfish restaurant that had antiques/collectibles decorating their dining room. The coolest thing was this old Schwinn tandem bike that they had on a divider wall, between booths. It wasn't in the best shape, but with a little work it could be beautifully restored.

Top 50 Cycling Cities In America

Well released its Top 50 Cycling Cities In America, and Orlando is nowhere to be seen. I was pleased to see that Gainesville made the list, and even the cities of Louisville and Lexington Kentucky, the state that I grew up in before moving to Florida.

One of my coworkers/riding friends asked me, "What do we need to do to get Orlando on this list?" My only response was to say "Do some of the things that the winning cities are apparently doing."

The article sums it up nicely as well. "There are many important things a city can do to gain our consideration for this list: segregated bike lanes, municipal bike racks and bike boulevards, to name a few. If you have those things in your town, cyclists probably have the ear of the local government, another key factor. To make our Top 50, a city must also support a vibrant and diverse bike culture, and it must have smart, savvy bike shops."

Maybe the best thing to take away from this for our city, or any other, is dissecting this explanation to determine where we fall short. The big red flag for Orlando is that we don't have many/any of the elaborate facilities, and since we don't, maybe we need to "get the ear of our local government".

Biking and Walking, "What Americans Want"

Check out this Q and A that The New York Times did with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. He proclaimed that bicycling and walking should be given the same consideration as motorized transport in state and local transit projects.

My favorite response is to the first question;
"Americans want alternatives. People are always going to drive cars. We’re always going to have highways. We’ve made a huge investment in our interstate highway system. We’ll always continue to make sure that those investments in the highways are maintained.

But, what Americans want is to get out of their cars, and get out of congestion, and have opportunities for more transit, more light rail, more buses, and some communities are going to street cars. But many communities want the opportunity on the weekends and during the week to have the chance to bike to work, to bike to the store, to spend time with their family on a bike.

So, this is not just Ray LaHood’s agenda, this is the American agenda that the American people want for alternatives to the automobile.

What’s happened around America is people are buying bikes and they’re using them for recreational purposes on the weekend and there’s no better family way for people to spend a weekend than riding their bikes on these biking trails.

This is what Americans want and we’re accommodating their needs to really find places to recreate. And what could be healthier than taking a 30-minute walk, which is recommended by every doctor in America, or hopping on your bike and riding four, five or six miles and enjoying the great outdoors?

Look, this is a win-win. This is a way for people to get out of their cars, a way for people to recreate, a way for people to get good exercise, and it’s what Americans want to do."

Check out the entire interview here.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

I spent this past weekend at St. Pete Beach and Ft. DeSoto Park. It was a beautiful place to visit and bike.

The Ft. DeSoto area not only had bike lanes along the roadway, but also had a wide trail that accommodated both cyclists and runners/walkers. The island had a bike rental area that provided bikes of all types and sizes.

The St. Pete area was your typical beach tourist area. It also had bike lanes, but they were <3' in width, and felt pretty dangerous with cars constantly making turns in and out of driveways. They also had several bike rental shops, but this just seemed to add to the safety issues on the road.

The tourists that rented bikes were not used to riding, much less riding on the road around cars. The majority of the riders that I saw just rode on the sidewalk. Some of the riders that did venture into the narrow bike lane, didn't know the rules of the road. I got to witness all of the typical novice rider mistakes; riding against the flow of traffic, on and off the sidewalk and the roadway, talking on the phone while riding, etc. The only riders that I saw wearing helmets were spandex clad riders out for group rides.

The area needs additional trails or wider bike lanes, to give people a comfortable ride on the road and off sidewalks. It would also help if rental companies could do a little more to teach road safety and riding techniques, before giving novice riders a bike and sending them out to fight the bumper to bumper tourist traffic.

If the tourist towns could get more people on bikes to make their short trips out for dinner or sunscreen, the bumper to bumper traffic could potentially become a more manageable flow.

More Bikes=Less Cars

Going from DC to Orlando, a few things were blatantly obvious. Both cities have major automobile traffic problems with major congestion, but one invests in bicycle facility improvements and the other doesn't.

I was sent this image by a fellow rider, and it sums up how cycling is one of the solutions to automobile congestion. The more people on bikes, means fewer people in cars. Our nation's capital is fighting the problem by increasing the miles of bike lanes, separated trails/cycle tracks, bike racks, lockers, etc.

With more voices raising up for increased investment in bike facilities, I think Orlando can become like several of America's great cities, that are embracing cycling and investing in ways to increase ridership. Cities are starting to realize that they cannot sit back and just hope that people want to get on a bike and fight off traffic, but by creating safe routes for all types of users, they can get more people in the saddle and on the road!