Hey bikers, sugar plum fairies dancing in your head? Are you dreaming of a Bicycle Friendly City? Join Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage on Sunday, December 27th 3-4:30pm at Middleway Café. We are going to be talking about the Anchorage Bicycle Plan and how we can all help promote its swift passage by the Anchorage Assembly.
Children walking and bicycling to school represent 11 percent of injuries and fatalities during the school commute but fewer than two percent of miles traveled. So it’s no wonder that parents are reluctant to let their kids walk or bike to school.
But a new report just issued by the Safe Routes to Schools Partnership, a coalition of organizations, government agencies, and professional groups working to implement effective Safe Routes to School programs, finds that Safe Routes to School initiatives are succeeding, without breaking the bank.
The goal of Safe Routes to School is to get more children walking and biking to schools. In 1969, approximately 50% of all children walked or bicycled to school, and 87% of children living within one mile of school did. Today, fewer than 15% of schoolchildren walk or bike to school. Today’s kids are less active, less independent, and less healthy.
Plus, as much as 20 to 30% of morning traffic is generated just by parents driving their children to schools, and traffic-related crashes are the top cause of death and major injury for children in the U.S. ages 1-17.
The new report, Safe Routes to School: Putting Traffic Safety First – How Safe Routes to School Initiatives Protect Children Walking and Bicycling, shows how Safe Routes to School programs can help keep children safe from traffic dangers while walking and bicycling to school. Continue reading »
The headlines ring out on the ADN – Snow Creates Traffic Nightmare, or Highways Hazardous as Storm Continues. On KSKA I awoke to the same message. Roads terrible. 43 accidents in one day. Police asking that folks drive slowly and give space between the car in front of you. I knew it was snowing and I knew the bike commute could be rough with the extra snow. But I had no interest in sharing the road with impatient drivers who think giving space means a few feet between cars. Add to that the holiday traffic and it wasnt even a question. I would walk my bike if the conditions were that bad. But thankfully the neighborhood streets were plowed from yesterday and the additional snow on top of a firm snowpack presented no problems. In fact, as I made my way to work this morning I was astounded at how effortlessly I was moving. And all the while I was able to travel on quiet streets from East Anchorage to downtown, not fretting about the traffic, accidents and whether I would make it to work and back home without a bumper to bumper event. If your not sure about the conditions, and drove to work, take extra time driving home to scout your route to see if the conditions are good enough to go by bike (the route should preferably take you through quiet neighborhoods). Its far more fun and a heck of a lot less stressful than being stuck in a metal box with hundreds of other impatient aggravated drivers. For tips on how to travel safely by bike in the winter check out our winter bicycling factsheet.
In the fall of 2008, a young man was traveling across C street at 40th Avenue in Midtown early in the morning. He was struck and killed by an SUV. At the time Anchorage Police Department said the bicyclist, Jonathon Johnson, was not wearing reflective clothing and that dark road conditions were a factor. While that may (or may not) be so, it clearly isn’t the whole story and highlights how bicyclists are quickly assumed to be in the wrong. The driver of the SUV was just indicted on charges of manslaughter and driving under the influence for striking and killing Jonathon Johnson. A recent study noted that motorists are responsible for 90% of bike-car collisions. Yet the initial headlines when Jonathon was killed immediately assumed the opposite. The tragedy that took the life of Jonathon Johnson could have been avoided. Surely more details of the incident will come to light (like the recently released news that Jonathan had the green light and the driver of the SUV ran the red). But it appears that an inattentive distracted driver, who allegedly was driving under the influence of narcotics, violated her legal and social responsibilities when she got behind the wheel and failed to pay due attention to her surroundings. While some may attribute this incident to someone under the influence it is worth highlighting that texting has been found to be more dangerous than driving drunk. Inattentive drivers pose a great peril to bicyclists and pedestrians. Hopefully this will highlight why it is so important to be attentive while driving. You can read the ADN story here.
Land Use and Transportation Issues in other Cities that may potentially be beneficial to Anchorage Presentation by Sam Seskin
Nationally recognized land use and transportation planning expert, Sam Seskin of CH2MHill, will be giving a presentation at Anchorage City Hall, 1st floor Assembly Conference Room next Wednesday, Dec. 16 from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM. He will be speaking on his work with land use and transportation issues in other cities, including Portland, OR, and applications (pedestrian amenities, transit service, parking pricing, urban design factors, etc.) that may potentially be beneficial for Anchorage. The focus will be on what strategies have worked well in other cities that Anchorage may wish to consider for its future.
Where: City Hall, 1st floor Assembly Conference Room, 632 West 6th Avenue
When: Wednesday December 16, 2009
Time: 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
For those that missed the Compass Piece from last week, It’s a brutal time for Anchorage pedestrians and bikers, I thought I would re-circulate it and see how bicyclists and pedestrians are faring (you can comment on this article and let us know how your commute has been). According to the Muni, cuts have not been made to the Maintenance Department this year. However, the Muni did note that when it snows less than 4 inches it would take up to 72 hours to clear all streets and sidewalks. When it snows more than 4 inches the Muni uses all of its resources to plow streets and sidewalks within 48 hours. As the compass piece notes, however, it took several days to clear the last snowfall. Some of those roads were ADOT roads and some were Muni roads.
MONDAY, 8:44 A.M. — I rode my bike to work this morning. Now I am enraged. Tudor Road — sidewalks not plowed. Lake Otis — sidewalks not plowed. A Street between Sullivan Arena and downtown — sidewalks not plowed. Thursday was the last major snow, four full days ago. Do these streets sound familiar? Of course they do. They are some of the biggest, busiest streets in Anchorage. As a matter of fact, the sidewalks are beyond “not plowed.” They are a heap of black, chunky snow, which was shoved there by road plows, businesses plowing their parking lots, etc.
The comments to this article seem to bring out the worst in people, exacerbating the car versus bike debate. It isn’t about cars versus bikes. Nor is it about bikes paying taxes (the predominant number of bicyclists own cars too). Its about creating a livable city that recognizes the value of multiple modes of transportation and a city that acknowledges the multiple benefits of encouraging active transportation. I hope the next snowfall wont leave our sidewalks unusable for days on end. If you have unplowed sidewalks on your way to work, let the Muni or ADOT know. You can find their contact information on our Maintenance page.
I was checking out some bike blogs this morning and came across the following post from a bike advocate and artist from Brazil. This poster and the description by the artist, Cabelo, seemed to strike a familiar tune,
To ride a bike in the middle of São Paulo’s traffic is to run a risk, I say this without any reluctance even though this might discourage some people. Our city has some of the most violent traffic in the world, there is no respect and drivers almost never follow the laws, because the agency responsible for traffic fines and education, the CET (Department of Transportation) prioritizes making the traffic flow, due to the constant bumper-to-bumper traffic that we live with. That is to say that drivers who commit serious infractions, like for example drunk driving, running red lights, and speeding in residential neighborhoods, are almost never penalized.
As the days continue to grow darker, and the holiday parties click in to full effect, be careful when bicycling. Now is the time to be extra-vigilant and ride defensively. And of course make sure you are highly visible.
You will have three opportunities to catch Carl Battreall’s film Fat Bike at the Anchorage International Film Fest.
Fat Bike is showing three times near the end of a group of other festival films:
Tuesday, December 8 – 5:45pm – Alaska Experience
Friday, December 11 – 2:30pm – Bear Tooth
Saturday, Dec 12 – 5:30pm – Out North
The Film Fest describes the film as
An unknown group of cyclists embrace the beauty and challenges of riding bikes during the long Alaskan winters. Not since the early days of mountain biking has there been a more innovative, resilient and committed band of bikers. Experience the Fat Bike revolution!
You can see a trailer of the film here. And if you do head out to the Film Fest go by bike!