Oct 31

BCA Supporters,

Your support so far has been incredible. Over 125 comments were submitted to AMATS in support of increased funding for implementation of the Bike Plan. Now we need you to do one more important thing.

Tomorrow,  the AMATS Technical Advisory Committee will decide whether or not to recommended BCA’s proposed change to the draft allocation. This is a question about how to spend our Federal Transportation funds! Questions for the TAC include whether we should spend 20+ million dollars on Dowling? That makes our request seem small – Do we add another $2 million to the funding for Bike Plan implementation for the years 2013-2014. Implementation of the Bike Plan in a piecemeal fashion will take years. This effort would allow the city to take significant steps forward to implement the core bike lane routes throughout the city. This would in turn lead to a significant increase in bicycle use. A variety of benefits stem from increased bicycle use including less traffic congestion, a more livable city, healthier lifestyles, less money spent on gas, and recent studies are confirming that bicycling is good for business too.

Come on out and let AMATS TAC know why bike plan implementation is important to you.

Where & When: Main Conference Room, Planning and Development Center, 4700 Elmore Road   

November 1, 2012 — 2:30 – 4:30 PM 

 

Have questions or need more info?  Contact BCA volunteer Todd Logan at tjloganak@gmail.com. And if you plan on coming out send Todd an email so we can have an idea of how many bicyclists will be there.

 

 

Oct 27

Last week BCA spent some time with the Muni’s traffic engineers discussing the new traffic pattern at Dowling and Old Seward. We were concerned about the new blinking left turn signal at the intersection. While both the old and new signals are “permissive”, we were concerned the new style of signaling could be confusing for drivers and lead to conflicts in the crosswalk with bikes / peds (the previous light pattern prevented motorist left turns while the crosswalk light was active).

Anchorage will be seeing more of these types of signals in the near future (there are 15 more in the works). The muni assured us this new signaling has been vetted in other communities, as the supporting data shows it is safer than the previous style of signal (solid green ball), but agreed that it represents a new behavior drivers will need to get used to. BCA asked the muni to consider updating the light pattern so that the left turn arrow becomes red when the crosswalk button has been activated, and the muni has agreed to consider this option if it turns out there is a compelling need to do so.

Oct 25

The Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage (BCA) applauds six Anchorage businesses and organizations recognized today by the League of American Bicyclists for creating bicycle-friendly workplaces for employees and customers.  71 new Bicycle Friendly Businesses (BFBs) were announced from across the country, including local awardees: CRW Engineering (Silver) and R&M Consultants, Inc. (Bronze). Honorable Mentions went to Restoration Science and Engineering, PDC, Inc. Engineering, Kittleson & Associates, Inc. and Bayshore Clubhouse.

Anchorage has received many benefits from local BFBs including assistance with the new  Anchorage Bike Map, instruction of Smart Cycling classes, and encouragement of cyclists with treats stations and events throughout the summer.  BFBs are also longstanding supporters and sponsors of charity rides that raise funds for medical and social services in Alaska.

 

“By encouraging and supporting a more bicycle-friendly atmosphere for employees and customers alike, Bicycle Friendly Businesses attract, reward and retain staff that are not only healthier and happier, but more productive, driven and passionate about the work they do. Bicycle Friendly Businesses are also good for business with bike racks bringing in more customers.” said Brian Litmans, President of Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage.
2009 saw the first Anchorage BFBs, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (Gold) and Green Star (Bronze) followed by Southcentral Foundation (Silver) and Providence Alaska Medical Center (Bronze) in 2010. In 2011 REI Anchorage (Bronze) joined the ranks with Alaska Pacific University (HM).

The League’s award is focused on employee behavior and the incentives offered to those who commute by bicycle.By encouraging cycling with convenient bike storage, shower areas and mentorship, businesses foster and retain healthier staff and move toward creating a bicycle friendly workplace.

 

The League of American Bicyclists provides a means of evaluation at http://www.bikeleague.org/programs/bicyclefriendlyamerica/businessscorecard/   The next deadline for BFB applications is January 11, 2013. BCA assists businesses interested in applying or improving their “bike-friendliness” so they can be eligible in the future. Contact us at info@bicycleanchorage.org for more information.

Oct 18

BCA ACTION ALERT UPDATE!

Visualize Anchorage and Eagle River with a network of 200 miles of painted and signed on-street bike lanes by late-summer 2014.

This can actually happen, but only with your help!

In 2010, we called out to you to support the Anchorage Bike Plan.  Your efforts led to the unanimous approval of the Bike Plan by the Anchorage Assembly.

Striping and signing of bike lanes on existing roads comprising our “core bicycle network” is a top priority in the plan, with an estimated cost of $3.1 million.  Now we must rally again to by ensuring AMATS includes funding for Bike Plan implementation.

On October 5 we posted an ACTION ALERT urging you to send an email to the AMATS Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) asking for a better allocation of 2013 and 2014 federal transportation dollars for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.  The draft allocation is horrible.  Within four days, the TAC had received 28 comments from BCA supporters – a rarity for the TAC.  Now we need you, our 1000+ supporters, to make your voice heard.

Help us make a difference by letting AMATS know that you support and want bicycle facility allocation that will make real strides towards implementing the 20 year Bike Plan.  The October 5 ACTION ALERT has all the details.

You must submit your comments by 5:00pm, Tuesday, October 23.

Your comments can be detailed, thoughtful, and even personal.  Or they can be as simple as “Please increase AMATS TE funding to at least $3.2 million for bicycle plan implementation in 2013 – 2014!”  The important thing is for you to let AMATS know that this funding is critical and necessary to make our streets safer for everyone.

 

Comments should be sent to Mr. Craig Lyon, AMATS Coordinator, at amatsinfo@muni.org.

Do it now!  And be sure to pass this Action Alert on to others!

 

PROCESS UPDATE

Want to know how the sausage is made?  Here’s the process and timeline as currently proposed:

Continue reading »

Oct 05

BCA ACTION ALERT!

 

Help Anchorage become a more walkable and bikeable city! We need YOU to ask the AMATS Technical Advisory Committee to raise funding levels for bicycle and pedestrian projects in 2013 and 2014!  Send your comments no later than October 10!

 

TAKE ACTION TODAY TO INCREASE FUNDING FOR BIKE AND PEDESTRIAN INFRASTRUCTURE:

 

  • Send your request for increased bike/pedestrian funding to AMATS coordinator Craig Lyon atamatsinfo@muni.org no later than October 10.  While the deadline for comments is officially October 23, you need to speak out early, as work will continue on the draft allocation throughout this period. Let AMATS know that you want more bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in Anchorage.

 

  • Mark your calendars, and if possible attend the AMATS Technical Advisory Committee Meeting on Thursday, October 11, at 2:30 pm.  This public meeting will be held in the Conference/Training room of the Anchorage Development Services Center, 4700 Elmore Road.  Despite the open comment period, at this meeting, the committee plans to “Finalize draft TIP – forward to Assembly for comments.”

 

We need to speak up now! If we don’t raise our voice and demand increased funding for bike/ped projects, our city will not become a safer and more practical place to bike and walk. 

 

If you want specific details on the AMATS process, read below:

 

Background:  Hundreds of people spent thousands of hours working with the municipality to develop the Anchorage Pedestrian Plan in 2007 and Anchorage Bicycle Plan in 2010.  These plans analyzed Anchorage’s existing pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure, identified new infrastructure needs, prioritized them, and estimated costs.  Our challenge now is get funding for implementation. Plans sitting on shelves will not make our city more bicycle and pedestrian friendly.

 

A major source of funding for pedestrian and bicycle projects comes via the distribution of federal transportation funding by the Anchorage Metropolitan Area Transportation Solutions (AMATS) committee.  Among other things, AMATS allocates the federal transportation funding that the municipality receives each year between “roadway improvements,” “pavement replacement,” and “transportation enhancements.”  Transportation Enhancement (TE) funding pays for bicycle, pedestrian, and landscaping projects.

 

While AMATS funding levels are significant (e.g. $37 million in 2011, $36 million in 2012), Anchorage’s list of transportation needs dwarf these numbers.  The annual allocation of funding between road and non-road projects is somewhat simplified by AMATS policy:  Non-road  (TE) projects should receive 10-15% of the total AMATS allocation when averaged over the four years.

 

Why the need for action?  AMATS has just released its draft “TIP Major Amendment #4” for public comment.  Due to the new Federal transportation bill (MAP-21) that took effect earlier this week, this TIP amendment has lowered the expected AMATS funding levels for 2013 and 2014 and recommended new allocations for road and non-road projects.  Here’s the numbers (in $ millions) and percentages:

 

  2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Total AMATS $ $29.3 $22.9 $21.0 $34.4 $37.5 $36.3 $25.0 $25.0
Bike/Ped (TE)$ $1.8 $3.3 $2.1 $3.5M $4.6M $6.4 $1.0 $1.5
Bike/Ped (TE)% 6.2% 14.5% 10.0% 10.2% 12.2% 17.6% 4.0% 6.0%

 

The AMATS committee does not have control over total funding levels.  Annual funding levels for all transportation projects in 2013 and 2014 is expected to be about $10 million less than the previous 3 years.  What the AMATS committee does have control over is the relative allocation between road and non-road projects.  The proposal on the table proposes not only the lowest funding level for bike and pedestrian projects since 2007, but also the lowest percentage of total funds to be allocated to pedestrian and bicycle projects since 2007.   We need to do better!

 

What we are seeking - In light of reduced Federal transportation funding and the relatively recent completion of Anchorage Pedestrian Plans, the percentage of funds dedicated to bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure (TE) should be significantly increased, not decreased, compared to previous years.   Biking and walking are real transportation alternatives.  Facilities needed to enhance walking and biking in Anchorage are modest in scope and cost when compared with those needed for cars. AMATS Transportation Enhancement funding should increased to at least $3 million in 2013 and 2014, which would represent 12.8% of total AMATS funding for those years.  This funding should be split between the high priority projects in the Pedestrian and Bicycle Plans.  Among other things, these funding levels would allow the completion of bike lane striping and signage on core routes of the Anchorage Bicycle Plan by the end of 2014.

 

 

Finally, it’s not all bad news.  A few things to note:

  • While we believe that the bike and pedestrian funding levels are too low in 2013 and 2014, they are earmarked for “Bike Plan Project Implementation” ($1M in 2013), “Pedestrian Plan Project Implementation”, ($1M in 2014), and “Area-wide Trails Rehabilitation” ($500K in 2014).  In many previous years, TE funding has often been consumed by one mega-project.   This targeted funding for plan implementation is a positive development.
  • Many “roadway improvement” projects include bicycle and pedestrian amenities as part of the roadway project.  These improvements are not charged against the dedicated bicycle/pedestrian (TE) funding.  Current examples of major bike/pedestrian amenities included in “roadway improvement” projects include the Seward Highway bridge replacement (which will also eliminate the final missing link on the Campbell Creek trail) and the construction of the Dowling Road connector between Old Seward and C streets (which will include bike lanes and a multi-use path). Thus, bike and pedestrian facilities are also being improved using “roadway improvement” funding.
  • The proposed allocation does comply with AMATS allocation policy.  The 4-year percentage (2011 – 2014) allocated to bike/pedestrian projects is 10.9% due to the better than average allocation levels in 2011 and 2012.  AMATS policy calls for 10% to 15% when averaged over 4 years.

 

Need more information?  Contact BCA volunteer Todd Logan at tjloganak@gmail.com.

Oct 02

With Fall and Winter in the air, it is time for another I Bike Anchorage by Tim Woody. We hope the latest installment inspires you to go by bike, even as the days grow darker and colder.

Jody Overstreet: The Accidental Commuter

Jody Overstreet grew up riding a bike to school, to after-school jobs and to friends’ houses in Juneau and later Anchorage, but her transition to full-time commuting started with a crash.

 

Really. A crash. As in having her car totaled by an unlicensed, uninsured driver in 2009.

 

“My insurance carrier paid for the loss of the car, but it was just enough to pay off the note,” Jody said. “I decided to commute for the summer to save money for another car, but when autumn came I still didn’t have enough funds, and found I really wanted to keep riding anyway.”

 

She kept riding her bike for the four-mile round-trip from the Fireweed/A Street area to her job on 4th Avenue, sometimes riding from downtown to the University of Alaska Anchorage for evening classes.

 

Later, she moved to Sand Lake and temporarily increased her daily distance to 14 miles until she bought a house less than a mile from where she works. Although she eventually bought a used Subaru for trips that aren’t practical by bicycle, she still walks or pedals to work, and she still rides her bike to shop and to visit friends, as well as for recreation such as bike touring both in the United States and abroad.

 

Her commuting bike is a Scott Aspect, using studded tires in winter and slicks during summer, and equipped with panniers for hauling groceries and other loads.

 

“I also have a Townie Euro that I only ride on spring or summer days, if I want to imagine I’m in Amsterdam,” she said. “I am very happy with my setup, except for when I have to ride in deep snow. I’d love to have a fat-tire bike, but can’t afford it. The best I can do for now is follow in the tracks set by those who can.”

 

Why not drive everywhere, like so many Americans?. For one thing, Jody said, riding a bike gives her peace of mind.

 

“It feels good. I love the exercise and fresh air. I love to experience the change of weather and seasons, not just see it happen through car windows. And I love that something so simple and good for me does not harm the world.”

 

And riding a bike exposes her to experiences she wouldn’t have driving a car on busy Anchorage streets.

 

“The simplest things can be the most sublime,” Jody said.”I was riding Chester Creek Trail on an autumn day when a puff of wind took the leaves from the top of the trees and tossed them in sunshine like golden confetti. I happened to be listening to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (one earplug, down low) at the time, and thought that the most skilled cinematographer couldn’t have achieved a more perfectly scripted moment.”

 

Like most year-round bike commuters, though, she encounters friends, co-workers and relatives who haven’t shared such experiences, and don’t understand her commitment to riding.

 

“A lot of them think I’m a little off kilter,” Jody said. “Most of them worry about my safety while on the trail. Many times though, I’ve had them tell me how impressed they are that I do this.”

 

Jody advises new bike commuters to “Dress for success. By that I mean consider the weather you’re riding in and dress appropriately, whether it’s a blazing hot summer day or blistering cold winter. Comfort is key to mindful riding. And, speaking of being mindful, it’s imperative to observe bike etiquette and safety. Be a good representative of the bike commuting community!”

 

But most important of all is to simply ride to work. Because if more people did, Jody said, “The world would be cleaner and quieter, and people would be happier.”

 

And who could argue with that?

This is the third in a series of I Bike Anchorage stories  about the city’s devoted bicycle commuters — riders who see bikes not as toys, but as a viable means of transportation for getting to work and school, shopping, and running errands. These profiles will appear quarterly and be written by Tim Woody, a year-round bike commuter and author of a blog called Bicycles & Icicles. If you would like to nominate a profile subject, drop Tim an email at icybikes@gmail.com. Tell him a little about the person’s commuting habits and why he/she has an interesting story to tell.

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