Minneapolis

Episode 42: Bike Winter

An informative panel discussion with four winter bicycling veterans in Minneapolis. We cover bike handling, what to wear and how to prepare your two-wheeled vehicle for our favorite season. Sneak away from the holiday dinner for this special episode and get ready to ride across a frozen lake, visit an ice shanty, ride a ski bike, go mountain biking, make your own DIY winter tire solution or just buy a fat bike and impress your friends.

Alternatively, you could stay inside and read Kat's excellent Grease Rag post on winter bike safety & handling, all about Ice Biking, what not to ride in the winter, and get your snowy terminology in order. Then go back listen to Episode 33 for Low's perspective on building community and supporting new and old bicyclists.

Guest appearance on the Streets.mn podcast

Oh look ... guess who's on the latest Streets.mn podcast? Yep, yours truly. We discuss the effects of last week's Minneapolis city election, politics and transportation. It's mostly with a local focus but most things also apply elsewhere. Go listen here. Remember you can also find my local transit writing on the same site. Hopefully the impending cold weather will mean more writing.

Episode 38: Americans for Transit & debunking the small/electric car delusion

Andrew Austin stops by from Americans for Transit (twitter: @A4Transit) to share some impacts of the government shutdown and how it fits in with the ongoing austerity culture. We learn about transit diversity, labor issues and the BART strike, and review why it's critical for transit agencies to support their employees and maintain a positive work environment. That means listening to employees and riders, such as by hosting town hall meetings on buses. Later, why smaller cars, electric cars, self-driving cars, personal rapid transit and other pretend solutions fail to move us forward. The real solution is to dismantle car culture but these things promote it and leave us further from the sustainable places we so desperately need.

Check out my latest Streets.mn article critiquing the backwards transit planning process that has led Minneapolis to consider building an expensive rail line in a low-density corridor instead of improving mobility where actual needs exist.

Moreover, what are we trying to accomplish here? That’s the first question a transit planner or advocate should be asking of any proposal. I’m afraid we’re doing it all backwards. ... From the very start we have asked not “How can we improve our transit network?” but “Where should we put our next rail line?”  That makes no sense.

See some facts on Metro Transit. I also mentioned two existing routes that are due for capacity upgrades: TranksLink 99 B Line bus rapid transit, Vancouver, BC. (episode 23 and/or capacity post); MBTA Green Line light rail, Boston

Why good health care depends on transit, courtesy of previous guest Scott Bogren (CTAA). Daniel shares his thoughts on a new bus route making its only stop at a major university in the largest North American city without any public transit.

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Episode 36: Open Streets Minneapolis

As cities respond to growing calls for safer streets and more open space, many have begun holding a series of Open Streets events where streets are closed to cars and opened to everyone else (people, bikes, skates and other non-motorized users). In most cases there is special programming including vendors, music, demonstrations and fun activities, but a few just put up some cones and let people have the street. And of course marathons, road races and charity walks are some examples of active use of streets and highways. For more info and a sampling of what different cities are doing, check out this Momentum Magazine article, the Wikipedia page and the Open Streets Project directory. Read all about the history of ciclovias (open streets) at Ciclovias Recreativas de las Américas. I took to Lyndale Avenue South on a beautiful Sunday in late June for Open Streets Minneapolis. This episode features "in the field" interviews with some of the organizations tabling as well as regular people trying out activities such and the pop-up cycle track and the slow race. Organizations represented are (in order): Metro Transit; Minneapolis Public Works Dept; Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition; Spokes community bike center; Bike Walk Twin Cities (Transit for Livable Communities, Non-motorized Transportation Pilot Program); Nice Ride bike sharing; Minneapolis Sculpture Garden; Hennepin County Medical Center; Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota.  The morning event I spoke about is the Brompton US Championship (photos).

Please send in your questions, comments and suggestions for future topics and guests to feedback@criticaltransit.com or via the contact page. Follow my work on Facebook and Twitter, and contact the people I interviewed for more information and inspiration.

Episode 33: Grease Rag Minneapolis bike collective

I'm back with a tour update and an inspiring interview with a member of Grease Rag, a Minneapolis bike group offering education and support to women/trans/femme cyclists. The growing collective hosts several monthly open shop nights around the Twin Cities as well as day and overnight rides, discussions and other events which build community and connect people with helpful resources in a positive environment.  Lowrah joins me to share her biking story and discuss approaches to supporting new and current cyclists. Learn how we can all be more welcoming, supportive and sensitive to the tension that various forms of privilege can create.  Find out how you can get involved at GreaseRag.org or on Facebook or Twitter.

Livable streets advocates always seem to think that for political reasons they need to make clear they're not anti-car. But I am. I hate cars with a passion. Cars are entirely responsible for the dismal state of our built environment and its negative effects on society. Sure, they can be useful for moving big stuff, but virtually all car trips are totally unnecessary and millions of us do just fine with bikes and buses. My case for why these dangerous steel boxes have to go, finely tuned while navigating around them on my peace-loving bicycle. Also see Right of Way and 50 Reasons Why Cars Suck.

Speaking of bicycles, I will be in Minneapolis next weekend for the Brompton US Championship, a folding bike ride and race that promises to be a fun time. It takes place June 22 and 23 at the Open Streets event in Uptown.

Gareth wrote in from Toronto about the latest mayoral scandal (background) and prospects for a sustainable transit funding plan.  Meanwhile the TTC wants to absorb and expand the city's Bixi bike sharing network but Mayor Ford is again being an obstacle.  In New York, residents and visitors (including me) are already enjoying North America's largest bike share system, CitiBike: blog, video, interviews with idiots.

Music comes from Rock The Bike's Pedal Powered Stage (video) at Sunday Streets, May 2011, San Francisco.

Send comments, questions, suggestions for topics and guests or anything else to feedback@criticaltransit.com or use the contact form above. Follow me on Facebook or Twitter for near-daily micro thoughts.

Episode 31: Nice Ride: Bike Sharing in the Twin Cities

Visiting the State Capitol

I stopped by the Nice Ride Minnesota offices near the Midtown Greenway in Minneapolis.  Nice Ride is a bike share system now in its fourth year of operation and its second year in St Paul.  Anthony Ongaro and Mitch Vars discuss the state of the system and how it is helping to make the Twin Cities a happier and healthier place. Later we dream about moving Nice Ride bikes by bike, and Executive Director Bill Dossett explains the evolution of the local bike network and shares his favorite places to ride.

Learn more about the show and my ongoing transit tour, send questions and stories, suggest destinations, topics or guests by emailing feedback@criticaltransit.com, and follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Episode 13: News, politics, upgrading busy routes, transport costs and mode choice

A summary of news items turns into a discussion of how cities can use rail to increase capacity while reducing operating costs on overcrowded high-frequency bus routes. Too many people want rail for the wrong reasons, but the most convincing argument for rail is when you can't run enough buses to deal with demand. At the same time, rail is not inherently better than buses, but most people think that is the case because we usually provide high quality rail service and low quality bus service. Hurricane Damage Cost New York City MTA $5 Billion; Nova Scotia intercity bus regulation change increased operator flexibility; transit users save $9,798 annually but only if you don't already own a car; parking makes cities less walkable and transit friendly; cities make people more liberal and open-minded; Vancouver to upgrade 99 B-Line bus to subway (as it should); Minneapolis has also been upgrading busy bus lines to light rail (construction updates); Ottawa is upgrading their model BRT system to light rail. Pittsburgh has three excellent busways.  Read more about bus rapid transit in other places like Bogota and Curitiba. And you can follow Toronto's mayoral saga or the more interesting transit expansion news and the new US House T&I Committee chairman.

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