Sunday, February 26, 2017

Bike Battles: A History of Sharing the American Road (Book Review)

Bike Battles: A History of Sharing the American RoadBike Battles: A History of Sharing the American Road by James Longhurst

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This book describes the evolution of cyclist use of roads in America, which got its start before the appearance of automobiles. If today there is some recognition of the need for "complete streets," then this is something we have arrived at after considerable evolution, with highs and lows along the way.

If someone is interested in the history of recreational (rather than racing) cycling in America, this book provides an interesting perspective. If you are a regular bicycle commuter as I am, reading this certainly explains the history of how we got to where we are with some, but not (in my view) enough support for cyclists.

The title overemphasizes conflict in this history, as the author admits - "Bike Battles" sounds more interesting than "Selected Cycling Policy Debates." After working his way from the 1800s through to today, the author's advice to cyclist-policy advocates is to take a moderate approach, recognizing that roads are a shared resource, to be used by motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians.

Some of the information and detail was new to me. I had not known much about the "sidepath" movement, which sought to create dedicated bike paths suitable for cycling at a time when roads used by horse-drawn vehicles were often not suitable for bicycling. This movement never got very far and had various misadventures with how it sought public funding. It somewhat presaged the conflicts closer to the present day between those who favor "vehicular cycling," that is, riding in the road as a vehicle with no special infrastructure for cyclists and those who favor such special infrastructure.

The book includes interesting photographs, many from the National Archives, that I had not seen before to make various points. There are also different instructional videos mentioned, many of which can be found on YouTube with a little searching.

While presented as an academic work, with footnotes and a bibliography, the approach is engaging and readable. I was able to find this at my local public library.


A Victory Bicycle during World War II
World War II "Victory" bicycle, discussed in the book - a photograph much like this one is include


View all my reviews of cycling books.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Double-Decker Bike Parking for Commuters in USA

Bicycle shelter, National Cash Register [Company], Dayton, O[hio]
Employee parking in Dayton Ohio in 1902 - back to the future?

Bicycle shelter, National Cash Register [Company], Dayton, O[hio] - detail
Two parking levels of bikes visible in parking shed (or "shelter")

In the detail photograph, you can see clearly that the rider-commuter to the right has a clip (or something) to keep his trousers from getting caught in the front ring of the drive train as well as away from the chain. The fellow in the middle would occasionally work late, it seems, since his bike is outfitted with a headlight.
Bicycle shelter, National Cash Register [Company], Dayton, O[hio]
Contributor Names-Jackson, William Henry, 1843-1942, photographer
Detroit Publishing Co., Created / Published[1902?]
Source Collection-Detroit Publishing Company Photograph Collection
Repository-Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
www.loc.gov/resource/det.4a20572/

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Another Odd Parked Bike in Neighborhood

Trek 750 in neighborhood
Bicycle parked like this near my house for more than a week

This bike appeared in my neighborhood more than a week ago, locked up to a cable that runs from a phone pole. It isn't doing it much good, sitting out in the weather. It's a Trek 750 "MultiTrack" from around 1995 I would guess.

Bike in neighborhood
Dog checking it out - yes, it seems to be a bike

This bike is probably about 20 years old - I have a Trek mountain bike of similar vintage, which I like quite a bit. With a little effort a bike like this could be a really good commuter bike. Yet here it is, with its mirror that is falling off, rusting.

1995 Trek with Michelin Run'r tires installed
My 1995 Trek 930, which is sort of similar

Saturday, February 11, 2017

What One Sees While Commuting

Crew training on Four Mile Run
Unusually warm February day brings crew team to Four Mile Run for training

Not much room for crew on this stream, really
I guess they came up from the Potomac

Untitled
There were in fact two racing shell and a motorboat

Normally my commute is on the other side of Four Mile Run, where the Arlington water treatment plant is, but at the moment cyclists are supposed to use a detour while some work is done along the north bank.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Quick Fix from National Park Service

Mount Vernon Trail at rail bridge, near 14th St Bridge

Mount Vernon Trail at rail bridge, near 14th St Bridge -- large tree fell some time after my passing through early in morning rush hour, someone tweeted it was down and NPS must have sent crew to fix it before evening cycling "rush hour" - rush hour in quotes, because the weather was not conducive to much bicycle traffic today. Nice they made the effort to get this taken care of quickly!

Mount Vernon Trail under rail bridge, near 14th St Bridge




Saturday, January 21, 2017

To the Women's March on Washington by Bike

Bike Valet at Women's March on Washington
Bike valet parking at L'Enfant Plaza SW & Independence Avenue

It is about nine miles from my house to where the bike valet parking was set up for the Women's March on Washington - I decided to take my ancient 1973 three-speed Raleigh Sports bike that is indestructible and also not a bike that would be a loss if something bad did happen to it (like it disappeared).

According to the Women's March on Washington web site, there were 1,500 parking spots at this bike valet service for bicycles, which they seemed to suggest would not be enough, but alas the bike valet service was not much used. The above photo was taken at around 9:30, about 30 minutes before the rally started, and there were maybe a few dozen bikes parked total. Hmm. When I left the area around 2:15, heavy crowds extended down Independence Avenue further than this - far too crowded to try to walk a bicycle in that direction - I was able to leave the area by going south, away from Independence, crossing over the railroad tracks and SW freeway on L'Enfant Plaza, then down to Maine Ave and the usual bike route from the Jefferson Memorial area onward across the 14th St Bridge and into Arlington. So for me at least the bike valet parking was well situated.

Given the huge number of people who attended and the stories of how Metro was overwhelmed, it appears bicycle was a good solution, but apparently not an obvious one, although I understand many people came in groups and a group bike ride to something like this probably isn't the first idea one has. Still, the bike valet must have been one of the more over-provided (or under-utilized) resources connected with this event.

Both on the way to the March and on the ride home, I saw more attendees riding Capital Bikeshare bikes than their own bikes.

Women's March on Washington
Listening to speakers at the March

It was an uplifting experience in many ways, even if the historical fact that drove the organizers to create it isn't a positive one in my view. I was glad to be there. Who knows how many people were really there, but Lord that was a lot of people.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Bikeways : State of the Art, 1974 (Government Report)

Bikeways : state of the art, 1974 / Dan Smith, Jr., author ; prepared for Federal Highway Administration.
Main Author: Smith, Dan.
Language(s): English
Published: Springfield, Va. : distributed by National Technical Information Service, U.S. Dept. of Commerce, 1974.
Subjects: Cycling.
Cycling > United States.
Bicycle trails.
Note: DeLeuw, Cather and Company, performing organization.
Physical Description: v, 97 p. : ill. ; 28 cm.

Available as a public domain government funded document from HathiTrust - https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/007473274

It sounds to much like today . . .
With this growth in cycling popularity and utilization have come both a demand for good recreational and utility oriented facilities on which to ride and a concern for the increase in bike involved accidents. The concern for accidents appears well founded despite the fact that only the gross numbers of accidents occurring are known with a reasonable level of accuracy. Very little is known about accident rates associated with the gross numbers. Despite this lack of accident rate information, the following national statistics are significant. In l962, some 570 cyclists were killed and 30,000 injured in bicycle - motor vehicle accidents. By l968, the corresponding figures had grown to 800 killed and 38,000 injured. The National Safety Council's statistics for l972 show l00,000 bicycle - motor vehicle accidents and l,l00 fatalities.

As a result of the growing concern on the part of both the public and public officials at all levels, the past several years have been marked by a veritable blizzard of bicycle safety studies, studies for development of bikeway design and locational criteria, cyclist safety education programs, and provision of physical facilities for bicycles. But the sudden rise in activity and the demand for programs and facilities found planners and designers unprepared and uncertain as to means of responding to these demands. As a result, programs have been planned on the basis of intuitive judgment, what knowledge could be gleaned from European literature on the subject, and trial and error. The result of the past four or five years independent activities undertaken in state jurisdictions across the country has been a broad range of studies, plans, programs, design manuals and in-use facilities with substantial variance and even conflict in recommended practices. The results of initial use and experiences in various localities are now becoming available and it appears that differences in design practices have significant implication for utility and safety.