advocacy

Episode 39: Safe bike driving with CyclingSavvy co-founder Keri Caffrey, and bikes in the news

Fear of cycling in traffic is the greatest barrier to bicycle transportation, but safe bicycling is possible when you take control of your space and drive defensively. Our guest today is cycling instructor Keri Caffrey, co-founder of CyclingSavvy and editor of Commute Orlando. She is working to increase confidence and prevent crashes by educating bicyclists on how to safely operate a slow, narrow vehicle on roads designed for fast, wide vehicles. Also check out this video in which Keri reviews the basics (and shows off her cargo bike). Later we share some interesting bike news (the good, the bad and the super cool), including: a New York Times op-ed on the near total lack of penalties for drivers killing cyclists, plus victim blaming, with a perfect response from the great Bike Snob NYC; a cyclist assaulted by an SUV passenger; a tool for finding apartments close to transit (may be helpful along with Walk Score); a kit for bicycling across water bodies (seriously!) and a DIY bicycle elevator.

We close with a listener email on highway bypass roads and other suburban wastefulness, including the difficulty of providing useful transit in such places. It reminds me of a recent experience in the suburbs of Denver.

Share your comments and suggestions for topics/guests by emailing feedback@criticaltransit.com, using the contact form or following my work on Facebook and Twitter.

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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 37: Community Transportation with CTAA, another BART strike, and the government shutdown.

Community_Transportation

Scott Bogren of the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) joins us to discuss their work supporting and advocating for the growing number of small urban, suburban and rural transportation services. He interviews transit operators on his own CT Podcast and spends a lot of time on Twitter.

The second transit strike in just a few months has halted Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) subway service in San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland, with no progress made since the last time. We hear what union members are asking for, and over the weekend a runaway BART maintenance train killed two employees.

Meanwhile the social service sector of the US government has reopened without an agreement (or apology from Republicans). As an added bonus we'll be right back in the same place in three months.

Share your comments, suggestions, ideas for show topics and/or guests by emailing feedback@criticaltransit.com or contact me this way.  Read my work on Streets.mn, follow the show on facebook and twitter, subscribe in iTunes (rss feed) and never miss a show. Tell your friends and colleagues, write reviews or make a donation of any amount to help support the show.  I have several interviews in the pipeline, an updated and redesigned web site, and lots of material from the places I visited on my big tour.

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 27: Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

On the last bitter cold morning of the year I stopped by the Milwaukee office of the Wisconsin Bike Federation to learn about their efforts to improve bicycling across the state. Their education programs are a model for bike advocacy organizations looking to teach safe cycling skills to new cyclists of all ages. They are working to bring complete street designs to Wisconsin cities and towns and foster an already impressive bike culture.  Thanks to Communications Director Dave Schlabowske; Education Director (and soon-to-be Milwaukee chapter leader) Jessica Binder; and Education Project Manager (and bike polo master) Jake Newborn, for sharing all this great info. Follow the blog and learn about how you can help, and attend their Lobby Day on Tuesday, April 9 to help restore bike funding and promote legal protections for vulnerable road users. And if you become a member you get the shiny new magazine you heard about in the interview.

Also check out the Urban Ecology Center right next door, and have a look around the City of Milwaukee bike pages.

Americans for Transit

Join me for a great discussion on transit funding and politics with Andrew Austin from the national advocacy group, Americans for Transit. It's a difficult time to be a transit advocate fighting federal neglect of sustainable transportation. Yet despite all the problems, it's increasingly clear that Americans want more (and better) transit, and pressure is increasing at the local level. Amir from Israel shares a few of the unique public transit challenges there related to religious tension and military transport.  Minku from the Vegan Pedicab Podcast sent in an article on mobile transit apps, prompting some grand thoughts on how to make mobile transit apps useful.

Follow Americans for Transit on Twitter @A4Transit and Facebook. Check out their Organizing Guide and Directory and other great resources for advocacy and activism. You can also read the article written earlier this year on Streetsblog, and remember that transit agencies are not allowed to advocate for us so we must do it ourselves.