Where and Why Walking or Biking to Work Makes a Difference

It’s been more than seven years since Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett put his entire city on a diet and invested in wider sidewalks, better bike routes, and a larger park to encourage fitness. For politicians and urbanists alike, the connection between the shape of our cities and the shape of our bodies is clear. Those of us who live in sprawling suburbs and commute to work by car are less likely to be healthy, while those of us who live in dense urban neighborhoods end up healthier because we’re more likely to bike or walk to work.

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Unless, that is, people in compact urban areas don’t actually walk or bike to work a great deal more, even though it’s a readily available option.

A new study by Timothy Wojan and Karen Hamrick from the U.S. Department of Agriculture takes a close look at the connections between urban form—especially compact cities and metros—and the level at which people walk or bike to their jobs. To get at this, the researchers use detailed data from the American Time Use Survey that collects information on how Americans spend their time, including the kinds of activities in which people engage and what they eat.

Read full article here.

Creative Sector Is the Engine of Urban Economic Development.

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Designers, musicians, actors, artists and other creative professionals are a catalyst for growth – creating new businesses, enhancing existing ones and attracting new residents with their performances, designs, murals and other contributions to urban vibrancy. An investment in a city’s creative economy is an investment in its long-term growth and vitality.

New York City is a testament to this virtuous cycle. Recent employment growth has been driven by creative industries, including a 53 percent jump in film & television, 33 percent in architecture, 26 percent in the performing arts, 24 percent in advertising and 24 percent in visual arts. A recent report by the Center for an Urban Future found that employment in New York’s creative economy – consisting of ten industries (advertising, film and television, broadcasting, publishing, architecture, design, music, visual arts, performing arts and independent artists, writers and performers) and 25 occupations – grew by 13 percent over the last decade, from 260,770 to 295,755. Over this period, New York’s share of national creative sector jobs grew from 7.1 percent to 8.6 percent.

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Moreover, the city’s creative sector has propelled its recent tech boom, with New York ad-, media-, art-, fashion-, design- and music-tech companies all achieving considerable success over the last decade. From Doubleclick and AppNexus to Buzzfeed and Gawker, from Artsy and Electric Objects to Gilt and Warby Parker, from Etsy and MakerBot to Next Big Sound and Genius—in nearly every creative field, the leaders in e-commerce, data analytics, social media and other tech enabled innovations have launched their companies in New York. These companies have leveraged New York’s pipeline of creative talent to build global enterprises.

Too often, however, the creative sector is a victim of its own success. Gravitating to affordable neighborhoods, creative professionals have become an emblem of gentrification, attracting interest in a new area while ultimately pricing themselves out. From SoHo to Chelsea, the East Village to Williamsburg, in cities like New York this is a recurring theme.

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Study Show’s that Nearby Bike share Stations Boost a Home’s Value

Like proximity to good schools or metro stations, proximity to bike share stations increase a home’s resale price, a new study says.

140710_ao74g_bixi-mtl1_sn1250A team of researchers at McGill University looked at thousands of homes sold in Montreal before and after bike sharing was introduced.

Even accounting for inflation and other factors that could affect the sale price, the team found that proximity to a Bixi Montreal location increased sale prices on average 2.7 per cent.

“It is that much,” says Ahmed El-Geneidy, an associate professor at McGill’s School of Urban Planning and the study’s lead author.

Transportation has long been a known factor affecting home prices, El-Geneidy says. Nearby bus stops, subway stations or easy access to freeways is a key factor in home purchases.

“Areas around public transportation, the land values are much higher,” he tells Yahoo Canada News. “We’re finding this impact with the bicycle sharing system.”
El-Geneidy, along with urban planning student Dea van Lierop and Rania Wasfi, a doctoral student in the school of geography, looked at tens of thousands of MLS sales in Montreal between 1996 and 2012.

Read full article here.

The World’s Best Cities for Bikes

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What’s the world’s best city for cyclists?

Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen.

That’s according to the urban design consulting firm Copenhagenize Design Co., based in Copenhagen, Brussels, Amsterdam and Zurich.

The multinational company releases its Copenhagenize Index every two years to rank the most bike-friendly cities around the world.

For 2015, 122 cities were listed based on 13 categories—advocacy, bicycle culture, bicycle facilities, infrastructure, bike share programs, gender split, modal share for bicycles, modal share increase since 2006, safety, politics, social acceptance, urban planning and traffic.

The top 20 are:

Copenhagen, Denmark
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Utrecht, Netherlands
Strasbourg, France
Eindhoven, Netherlands
Malmo, Sweden
Nantes, France
Bordeaux, France
Antwerp, Belguim
Seville, Spain
Barcelona, Spain (Catalonia)
Berlin, Germany
Ljubljana, Slovenia
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Dublin, Ireland
Vienna, Austria
Paris, France
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Hamburg, Germany
Montreal, Quebec
What does it take to get a top spot?

“You need serious advocacy, bike facilities, social acceptance, and a general perception that cycling is safe,” wrote Copenhagenize CEO Mikael Colville-Anderson in a Wired piece unveiling the list. “You get extra points for a higher modal percentage—the share of residents who get around by bike as opposed to car or public transit—and for a 50-50 gender split among cyclists. Of course, infrastructure is key.”

Copenhagen topped Amsterdam which had been the best city in the world in 2011 and 2013. Dublin and Montreal both fell in the standings while Minneapolis was the lone U.S. city named. New York, Portland and San Francisco had been on the Top 20 list previously.

According to the firm, the Danish capital remains impressively consistent in its investment in cycling as transport and in making efforts to push it to the next level. With regards to a uniform network of urban design for bicycles, Copenhagen is unrivaled in the world.

“A respectable bike share system is helping to cement the bicycle on the transport foundation of the city. Seeds have been planted and a garden is growing. America —often content with baby steps—is in desperate need of leadership cities and Minneapolis has emerged as a contender,” the report shared.

The U.S. does have promise. The Big Apple, Portland, San Francisco, Austin, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Chicago are in the Top 40.

Read full story here.

Give Me BikeShare Reciprocity or Give Me Bike Racks

The more cities that adopt bike-share systems, the plainer the need for coordination between them.

Amtrak’s California Zephyr line sounds like a fantastic way to see the nation. Picture a Amtrak bike parkingbucolic ride through diverse landscapes connecting some of America’s best cities. Now, if I wanted to travel around by bicycle at either of those lovely destinations (or at stops along the way), I’d have some decisions to make. Do I go with Divvy, Chicago’s bikesharing program, which after a year of service now boasts 300 stations? Or with Bay Area Bike Share, a smaller service, but one with stations in San Francisco, Redwood City, Palo Alto, Mountain View, and San Jose?

The good, Amtrak announced that all its long-distance trains will feature baggage cars, which feature luggage racks that double as bike racks. By the end of the year, all 15 long-distance routes, including the Northeast Corridor, may have these cars. Which means no more messing with bike boxes.

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Read full article here.

 

In Praise Of The Upright Bike: The City Bikes

NBIKEorth American bike culture is changing. Fast. And a big part of that shift is in the type of bicycles people are choosing to ride. Traditional upright city bikes have seen an explosion in popularity in recent years, with real implications to the way we design and experience cities.

While this trend may have started with images of stylish cycling Scandinavians circulating on blogs and social media, it is becoming increasingly clear these machines aren’t just a style or passing fad. Urban bikes interact with the city environment in a notably different manner, broadening the way we provide citizens of all ages with healthier, happier, more social, and less expensive means of mobility.

First and foremost, it’s important to clarify what we mean by upright city bikes, and how they differentiate from other styles you may see. With their high, sweeping handlebars and sometimes step-through frames (which are not suggested to be gender-specific anywhere but in North America — just practical, comfortable design), they are designed for a different posture: riding in an upright position — rather than hunching over — taking all strain off your back, shoulders, forearms, wrists, and hands.

Not only are they designed for comfort, they’re sturdier and safer, making them ideal for cruising at slower speeds, providing opportunities for an intimate, unfiltered awareness and experience of the people and places around you. They’re not meant for long distances or off-roading, but are the perfect means for a short, slow, non-sweaty jaunt around your neighborhood.

The most important thing about the growth of sit-up cycling is that it facilitates getting more people on two wheels, changing our perception of how we can move around our cities, making cycling more appealing to demographics that were traditionally left on the sidelines. These bikes help take cycling beyond speed and sport, making it a much broader, inviting, inclusive activity.

Read full article by Brent Toderian and Chris Bruntlett here.

 

Red Bike Program Kicks Off In Cincinnati

Red bikeSo what is Red Bike? It’s a bike sharing program and they can be found at one of the 30 or so stations in downtown, Over-The-Rhine and uptown Cincinnati.

The program has been successful in other cities as a way for people to make short, point-to-point trips without using their car and searching for a place to park.

The bikes are meant to be shared not rented so people can use them for 60 minutes at a time before they have to dock them at another station. That’s so they will be available for other riders. If people use them for more than an hour at a time, there is a $4 fee for every half hour.

There’s an app people can download to their phone that lets them know where bikes are currently available. If a person doesn’t bring the bike back, there will be a $1200 fee on their credit card.

Read More here.

App That Informs Drivers When Cyclists Are Close

Bike Shield AppIn most accidents between a car and a bike, drivers tend to say the same thing: “They just didn’t see the cyclist until it was too late.”

A new app aims to help by automatically warning drivers several seconds before a bike is visible. Using the ubiquity of smartphones, the app creates a vehicle-to-vehicle communication network between cars, bicycles, and motorcycles on the road.

The designers also plan to work with car insurance companies to integrate the technology into their own apps, and ultimately hopes to build it into cars–either through technology like Apple’s new CarPlay, or by working directly with manufacturers. They also hope to integrate the function into navigation apps like Waze and Google Maps, so drivers will have it without downloading anything new.Bike Shield App

 

You can read the full story at CoExist.