Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Caption: Beauty and the Bike is a documentary and project that
introduces teenage English girls to cycling. Learn more here.
How do you know that your city has a great environment for biking? An article in the Scientific American argues that the presence of women cyclists is one of the most important indicators.
How to Get More Bicyclists on the Road reports that in some of the most bike-friendly cities in Europe women make up more than 50% of riders. The U.S. Census does not collect data for non-commuting riders but if you look at the number of women bike commuters (24%) you begin to wonder if there really is a correlation between the number of women biking and the degree to which a city is bike-friendly.
The correlation makes sense because we know that lack of real and perceived safety is one of the biggest barriers to cycling and, as the article points out, women are generally more risk averse than men. Therefore the presence of women cyclists should indicate a more bicycle-friendly environment.
But more than just an indicator, having more women cyclists has a lot of positive impacts. Women run the most errands, and mothers take the most trips, so getting them out of cars could have a positive impact on air quality and reducing congestion (STPP, 1999). We also know that about 48 percent of all trips are three miles or less--trips that could easily be done by bike (Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, 2008). If we build more bike-friendly cities it will be good for women, freeing up highly coveted time to spend on other aspects of their daily lives and it will also be good for everyone else.
1. United States Census Bureau. Sex of Workers by Means of Transportation to Work (American Community Survey 2006-2008).
2. Surface Transportation Policy Partnership. (1999). High Mileage Moms
3. Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. (2008). Active Transportation for America:A Case for Increased Federal Investment in Bicycling and Walking
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
As we work to encourage biking as a form of active living it is important that we build bicycle facilities that are effective and appropriate for those biking. So what are the best practices and design elements around the country for designing our streets for biking? The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) is very interested in this question and is publishing best practices fact sheets on their website.
Read NACTO's fact sheets of best practices
Visit the Bicycle and Pedestrian Information Center for more case studies
Posted by Trailnet at 12:49 PM
Friday, December 11, 2009
xThe holiday season often brings the precious gift of down-time. We have started to compile a list of books that we recommend you crack open by the fire side. Here we go:
The Death and Life of Great American Cities written by Jane Jacobs in 1964 to this day stands as the quintessential book on town planning. It's a critique of many of the prevailing trends in development/planning and vision for how and why we should think differently about the connection between the design of cities and the well-being of people who live in them.
The Great Neighborhood Book written by Jay Walljasper and published through the Project for Public Spaces is essentially a Do-It-Yourself guide book for improving your neighborhood. It's an unapologetic love story about the virtues of living in a strong community.
City Comforts written by David Sucher is a visual guide to the details, large and small, which make for livable neighborhood environments. The lessons to be learned from this book can be applied to all contexts: large cities and smaller towns alike.
Happy Reading! If you have suggestions of your, post a comment with your recommendations.
Posted by Trailnet at 8:32 AM
Thursday, December 3, 2009
"People are surprised to hear that transit is a priority for Chesterfield, but we have 26,000 jobs. Many depend on public transportation. Transit attracts jobs and investment. It's also good for the region — and what's good for the region is good for Chesterfield."
-John Nations, Mayor of Chesterfield, MO as quoted in the Post-Dispatch
Just over a year ago, St. Louis County voters narrowly defeated a ballot measure, Proposition M, that would have created a half-cent sales tax (nearly $80 million per year) to support public transit operations and maintenance. The ballot measure was necessary to keep MetroBus and MetroLink services running. As a result, when the measure was defeated, Metro was forced to significantly reduce service throughout its service area, including canceling bus routes and decreasing the frequency of buses and MetroLink. The St. Louis cutbacks were so significant that they made national headlines.
Thanks to bi-partisan support in Jefferson City, the MO legislature allocated $12 million of stimulus funds to temporarily restore some of the transit service that had been cut. However, that emergency allocation was just a short-term solution. In order to sustain Metro's operations in our region, St. Louis County voters need to approve a dedicated sales tax to ensure that MetroBus and MetroLink continue to be strong components of our regional multi-modal transportation system. St. Louis City voters approved a public transit tax in 1997, but it was contingent on the passage of a County tax. Since the County hasn't passed a tax, the City tax hasn't gone into effect.
For 22 years, Trailnet has been promoting biking and walking as important modes of transportation. In a large metro area, like St. Louis, you can't talk about walking and biking without talking about public transportation. Metro's bus and light rail services are the foundation that regional walkability and bikeability are built on.
Trailnet is proud to be a coalition member of The Greater St. Louis Transit Alliance. The Alliance is currently working to once again put Proposition M on the ballot for April, 2010, and we need your help! Come out Dec. 15 to the St. Louis County Council Meeting to support putting the initiative on the ballot on April 6. The meeting is held at 6pm at:
County Administration Building
41 S. Central Ave
Clayton, MO 63105
To learn more about the state and fate of St. Louis public transit, visit the Greater St. Louis Transit Alliance's website or the Post-Dispatch's editorial from last week.
Posted by Trailnet at 2:51 PM
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Volkswagen recently launched a new initiative and website called The Fun Theory that is "dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better. Be it for yourself, for the environment, or for something entirely different, the only thing that matters is that it’s change for the better."
Through this new website, Volkswagen is essentially hosting what we hope becomes a growing exchange of ideas about how to change people's behavior. In addition to the video above, there are two additional videos on the Fun Theory main page. All three of the concepts are, well, fun, funny, and engaging. And as the videos show, they were effective at changing people's behaviors. The question that we have after watching the videos is: Will the behavior changes last? Are people motivated to change their behaviors due to the novelty of the ideas (which will no doubt wear off) or will the changes last as long as the "fun" options exist?
To create long-term behavior changes, we need to address all the things that drive people's decisions, including cost, ease of access, knowledge, social pressures and social trends, and enjoyment. When it comes to promoting active lifestyles and healthy eating, the preferred options need to not only be fun, but just as accessible, cheap, and easy as the unhealthy options. The same should apply to Volkswagen's Fun Theory projects.
Posted by Trailnet at 9:31 PM