Thursday, February 26, 2009

Changing How Parking Enoforcement Is Done

I was down in Orlando yesterday and while I was wandering around downtown I came across the above image. I talked with one of parking enforcement officers who told me the city of Orlando made the switch from cars to bikes 10 years ago. He told me how upset he was when they took his car away and gave him a bike. But he says now that he "would quit the job if they tried and force me back into a car." "Using the bike for this type of work makes the job so much easier", he told me. He also told how he no longer has to find parking, block streets or driveways taking up valuable space in the course of doing his job.

Knowing how strapped jacksonville is for cash these days. I wonder how much money is spent yearly on the fleet of cars, trucks and vans used by our parking enforcement department? I wonder how many bikes could be purchased and parking officers outfitted for just the fuel and maintenance costs that the current parking enforcement fleet uses.

Wouldn't it make perfect sense for parking enforcement to replace their cars with bikes at least for the urban core neighborhoods of Downtown, Riverside and Springfield? With Orlando implementing this program 10 years ago and Jacksonville being a firm practitioner of the *Post20 Plan. Will we have to wait another 10 years before seeing highly intelligent and effective transitions in local government transportation uses like this?

*Post20 Plan: A local or state government will not make any progressive move to enhance the livability of said city or state until 20 years after all other cities or states.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

High Speed Rail For Jax?

I know this is a little off topic for Bike Jax. But who doesn't enjoy a little train porn once in awhile? High Speed Rail into and out of Jax would be awesome.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Running Errands On The Quad

After starting out the day at the Southbank Sunrise followed by a delicious breakfast at The Fox. Shek and I headed over to the westside of town to take a couple pics for an up coming post. While we were driving down Roosevelt Blvd. We both spotted something you don't normally see taking up a parking space at area strip malls.

How could we not stop and check this four wheeled oddity?

It's a Rhodes Car GoBoy with 6 speed front cog and another 6 in the rear. It rides on 20" wheels and is stopped with a single disc-brake. It can be ordered in a wide variety of configurations that make it one amazing little vehicle.

We had only taken a couple of pictures when the owner, Rodney Starke Returned.
He told us he has been using it for the last three years to run his errands and do his shopping from his Ortega home. Rodney said that he made the decision to purchase the Rhodes Car after he got tired of pulling a trailer behind his mountain bike. And with a cargo capacity of 450 pounds there isn't much he can't haul on it. After a nice chat and Shek taking a couple of rides around the parking lot we bid farewell to Rodney and let him get about his day.

Just another example of what can be done with a simple cog, crank and chain. And the desire to get places under your own power.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Tale of Two Bus Signs

Take a good look at the two very differing bus signs above. Both are espousing the same message about Florida's 3 foot passing law.

The first photo is from last years campaign here in Jacksonville. What you'll most likely notice right away are that the image graphics are presented in mirror image. I have no idea what the thought process was in displaying a scene you'll only witness if you were looking in a rearview mirror. But there it is.

The next thing that jumps out to me is the very bold "it's the law." Knowing the Jacksonville populous as well as I do, I realize that you must hit them in the face to get them to pay attention. But this signs scream is so loud and angry that it really should read, "it's the law, you bastards."

The third, and probably the thing that bothers me the most is the image showing the cyclist riding right on the white line on the road edge. Why do I find this bothersome?

Well, let's a take look at the second bus sign. It's from a recent safety campaign in the Orlando area.

Looking at the two, notice how the second pictures subject is much cleaner looking while portraying a scene you are likely to come across during your daily travels.

Also notice how much more friendly and inviting the wording and chosen fonts are. Big difference from the Jax sign.

Now for the thing thats stands out most for me on the Orlando bus sign and bothers me so much in the Jacksonville sign. Look at the cyclist road position in both. See how the Orlando sign shows how the cyclist is clearly controlling the lane by being positioned where a cars right wheels would normally be? That is where you should ride on just about every road in Jacksonville. It not is it only the safest place for you. But also your given right according to Florida state law.

Florida 316.2065 (5)(a)3
"When reasonably necessary to avoid any condition, including, but not limited to, a fixed or moving object, parked or moving vehicle, bicycle, pedestrian, animal, surface hazard, or substandard-width lane, that makes it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge. For the purposes of this subsection, a "substandard-width lane" is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and another vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane."

Why am I making such big deal about the differences in these two safety campaigns? I have written before that in order for cycling to be taken seriously as an alternative source of transportation. It must be presented, marketed and sold to the non-cycling public as such. I stated and stand by that in order to shake 60+ years of bicycles as toys and recreation marketing. We have to take every opportunity to show real people doing everyday things in everyday situations. And the Orlando bus accomplishes this. The more drivers see cyclists riding in the road and not along the edge of it. The sooner drivers will start to not only look for us there but more importantly, to accept that we have a right to be there.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Critical Mass In Jax?

Would you like to see and support a Critical Mass (CM) type of event in Jacksonville?

From the first day Bike Jax went live a year ago. I have been constantly asked, "when are you going to start a critical mass?"

I have a few reasons why Bike Jax has not openly started or endorsed CM. First let me answer that question that I am so very tried of hearing. CM is set up so there is no organizer. It is an event or happening with no leaders. The intention of this informal organization is so that authorities can't point a finger at any individual or group and hold them responsible for any of the actions of the group before, during or after a ride.

Second is I am torn on the whole ideal of CM. Having taken part in several CM's across the country and throughly enjoying each and everyone of them. I have also seen the dirty side of the event. I've seen the riders that harass drivers, pedestrians and even other CM's and the problems that arise because of that harassment.

I know no one is setting out to cause any problems during such an event. But it only takes that one asshole to light the fuse. And in a city where local law enforcement live by the credo of "Taze them all and let god sort'em out" you need to think about how they are going to react to a couple of hundred loud and happy cyclists taking over the streets running red lights and stop signs on a monthly basis.

I also question how effective can a CM be for cyclists rights when those very same cyclist are breaking just about every rule on the books.

I do however like the idea of a Critical Manners type of event. The idea of the manners type of ride is that, riders stay in their lane of travel. If on a multi-lane road, the riders only take one lane leaving the others open. They also stop for signals and signs.

While the above sounds nice and friendly. In practicality it is not very likely just because of the very nature what happens when you reach Critical Mass. When you reach critical mass of anything it is going to spill out. And in this type of environment in order to keep the group or mass together, you're naturally going to be spilling into and across intersections.

So, here I sit typing still very torn on the whole topic. I hear on the old grape vine that come this spring with the time change for more evening light and more stable weather we are very likely to start seeing CM hit the streets of Jacksonville.

What are your thoughts? Join/start the conversation and take the poll in Bike Jax Forums.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Bike Jax Forums Open

Everybody has 3 places. Home, work and Starbucks. Let Bike Jax Forums become your third place.

OK, enough parody of First Baptist. In the hopes of providing more service to North Florida area cyclists. Bike Jax is happy to announce the addition of a dedicated place to discuss any and all topics that affect local cyclists.

We have forums for every style of riding. Commuters, road and mountain all have a place to kick it and find other like minded folks.

Bike Jax wouldn't dare leave the ladies out and created a special place so the gals can hang out and talk about the issues that affect them in the Woman's Lounge.

The Forums include a place to list bikes for sale and a place for the unfortunate to list their stolen bikes.

You'll also find a new calendar for posting your group rides and events.

Head over check it out with the link in the top banner.

Stimulus Roadblock? on PBS NOW

Everyone in Jax should take the time to view this recent airing on NOW and see just how much difference rail makes in a local economy.

Pay particular attention to the segments concerning Charlotte. It is amazing what true leadership can accomplish in a short amount of time.

Do we really have to wait until 2011 before we can get rid of the concrete pouring, petrol pumping boy prince?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Bike Jax Turns One

How appropriate that the first anniversary of Bike Jax falls on Friday the 13th. Just like your typical screaming infant at the Golden Corral. Bike Jax managed to get on some peoples nerves this past year. We have been accused of, "being unruly", "being too hard and opinionated concerning local politicians", "creating dissent among the cycling community", and of "not playing by the rules." And those were just some of the nicer emails I received. We must be doing something right.

The Senate cut the stimulus for Jax area bikes blogs, so we'll have to put the party on hold. Instead I thought It would be nice to just enjoy this little montage of the things we covered, places we went and people we met along the way.

Thank you all for a great year. Now get out and ride.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Kernan Blvd. Bikeway. The Beginning?

For that last few months I had been hearing rumors about a new bike path that runs along Kernan Blvd. It was described to me by more than one individual as this "small little path of no consequence." After hearing such varied and derogatory descriptions of the path, who could blame me for not being in any hurry to check it out.

A couple of weekends ago I finally took the time to head over and see this "little path of no consequence" for myself. I hooked up with Shek once again since this path was in his neck of the woods and we biked our way from Southside Blvd. through the Town Center and then cutting through UNF and finally out onto Kernan Blvd.

Once we hit Kernan Blvd. we turned north and headed toward the construction in search of the "little path of no consequence." It wasn't but just a couple minutes of pedaling when we started seeing signs of future bikeway being built alongside the new road construction.

I was instantly impressed with how wide the unfinished path was. We continued to ride past about a half mile of the bikeway in various stages of construction before running into the completed section about half of a mile from the Beach Blvd. intersection.

Once on the path, Shek and I were as giddy as a couple of school girls. The second we were on the path the pressure we had experienced from riding in the the very narrow traffic lanes was instantly gone. We were now able to sit back and slow down our pace and actually enjoy the ride.

That is until we rounded a bend and ran into the van below parked across the path just south of the Beach Blvd. intersection.

Shek and I went in the pizza joint and asked (very politely) the owner if he would move the van. When we rode back an hour later the van was still firmly in place. Please feel free to give the owner a call if you feel the need.

After we left the pizza joint we continued to Beach Blvd. where we both figured the path would end since we had been told multiple times how small it is. Well, imagine our shock when we looked across Beach only see the path continuing.

Despite the visual intimidation that crossing the eight lanes of Beach Blvd. presents. It is rather easy once you have the green. There are however two points of contention that you must be vary aware of while crossing.

The first is with cars turning east onto Beach Blvd off of Kernan. They have a dedicated turn lane with a yield sign for traffic control that you must cross to an island before proceeding across the intersection. And of course drivers don't feel that yielding applies to cyclists or pedestrians.

The second is a mirror image of what is described above with autos turning north onto Kernan off of Beach. This is were I ran into trouble with a minivan in which the driver looked me dead in the eyes as they continued their slow roll right towards me forcing me to leave the line that I was traveling and jump the curb to get across the traffic lane.

After leaving the minivan driver with some well deserved glares and gestures we continued on our way.

Despite a completely raw day weather wise we still ran into a surprising amount of people out on the path.

This is a perfect corridor for kids that attend Kernan Middle School to walk or ride. The bike path ties into the sidewalk leading to the school providing what should be a poster child for Safe Route to Schools for the rest of jacksonville.

Reaching the pathway end at Atlantic Blvd. was a little surreal. It was odd seeing this nice wide boulevard funnel into a three foot sidewalk.

My overall impressions of the Kernan Blvd. Multi-use trail are that this trail is exactly what is so desperately needed in Jacksonville and should be applauded. Unlike the S-Line Urban Greenway this path gives people an option for the way they travel from home, work and school.

The path is currently in phase 4 of construction and will be just under 4 miles at 3.9 when finished with this phase. There are two more phases (5 & 6) of construction that will lengthen the trail. But according to Anita Warming of River City Management Group who are overseeing the construction. The final two phases are on hold due to lack of funding within the Better Jacksonville Plan.

In the title of this post I wrote "The beginning" with a question mark. I wrote this because as I was researching this trail I learned that the trail is just the beginning of what Councilman Art Graham envisions as a massive transportation trail.

I will be sitting down with Councilmen Graham soon and let him tell you more about his vision. It is not often our city gets something right, so please take a moment and call his office (904-630-1397) or drop him an email ([email protected]) with a note of thanks.

Zombie Wednesday Workshop & Movie

It that time again for the Wednesday Zombie Bikes Co-Op Workshop & Movie.

Workshop is 5:30 to 7:30 pm and this weeks movie Breaking Away starts at 8:30. Come learn something new and hang with some nice folks.

Zombie is at:
1520 N. Main St. 32206

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"The days where we're just building sprawl forever, those days are over."

The title of this post came by way of a quote from President Obama's answer to a Bonita Spring's Council Woman's about transportation issues while in Ft Myers today. You can listen to the audio of the entire question and answer below.

Truly amazing to see and hear that not only does our President get it, but also a city council person. Now if we could just pound some of that good bike and train juju into our local leaders.

See the hour long town meeting in Ft. Myers video here.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Why You Should Know Bike Laws

I was recently reading the comments on Commuter Orlando concerning the topic of Urban Bike Myths when I came upon a post from fred_dot_u which linked to a video of him being pulled over by a FDOT officer for "impeding traffic". Give it a watch and enjoy a good laugh.

Fred writes: "This is two minutes leading up to being stopped by a law enforcement officer for operating my bicycle in the traffic lane. During the stop, we discussed the finer points of the FL statutes that allow for a bicycle to occupy the lane when the lane is of sub-standard width. He brought out his big book of FL Statutes and I helped him find the applicable entry. It's in black and white in the big book, so he changed his reference point.

He called his supervisor and asked if traveling 17 mph (headwind) on a 45 mph was considered impeding traffic. He did not reference the vehicles being impeded. Note in the video that there were NO vehicles impeded.

He also found the appropriate statute for impeding traffic. First he confirmed that a bicycle is a vehicle under FL law and I agreed. He then read to me the statute: 316.183

(5) No person shall drive a motor vehicle at such a slow speed as to impede or block the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, except when reduced speed is necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law.

The interesting part of this particular statute is that it specifically excludes bicycles by using the term "motor vehicle".

We had a mostly cordial discussion and he told me to drive safely and I departed. There was a lot of interaction involving his lack of understanding of the laws regarding safe passing of bicycles: 316.083"

Like Fred I have also been pulled over by officers that don't quite have a full grasp of bicycle laws. In each case I was able to pull out my handy-dandy little book of Florida Bike Laws from the Florida Bike Association. And to the credit of each officer I have dealt with, they have been very open and willing to go over the statues with me. I'm happy to say that because I've taken the time to read over this great little book and get familiar Florida's bike laws, I have never been ticketed. And that I also left each situation with the feeling that I helped give that officer a better understanding of bicycles as a legitimate form of transportation while hopefully making life a little easier for next cyclist that officer encounters.

Having a copy of the of Florida Bike Laws with you on your bike is as important as a spare tube or patch kit. Your not going to need either very often. But you'll sure be glad you have it when you do need it.

If you would like to get your own copy just click on the picture of the bike law book in the right hand column and email for a book or download it in a PDF.

Bikes Are The News & Bikes In The news

“Some news is so big it needs its own page.” So it says on the new Huffington Post Bike Culture page.

Chicago: The Kinky Llama Delivers

"We figured you can get pizza any time of night," "Why can't you get [sex] toys?" asks the creator and owner of Chicago's Kinky Llama. Who promises delivery of the adult goods of choice by bike in an hour " and despite the recession, he's busier than ever."

Full Story

The Plight Of The North American Biped

Sunday, February 1, 2009

NY Times Courier Tested Lights

If you want the down and gritty truth about which popular light set works best. Give them to a guy that makes his living on the back of back bike. If you truly want to know exactly what someone thinks about anything, you'll get no more honest answer than asking a New Yorker. So, who did the NY Times turn to find out which bike light set perform the best on the mean streets. New York bike messenger, Hugo Giron that's who.