Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bike Valet is Dropoff Point for Jax REcycle

One of the many projects we at Bike Jax have taken on is working with April Patterson of Jax REcycle. April takes old non-working bikes rehabs them and then provides those bicycles to community members needing a reliable form of transportation. Several times a year she sends out the call for bikes and organizes a great group of volunteers to bust out the elbow grease and get discarded and donated bikes back into working shape. The refurbished bikes are then given to residents of Community Connections and Sulzbacher Center.

It's that time year and this Saturday, The Bike Valet at The Riverside Arts Market will be a collection point for any bike in any condition your would like to donate.

You can also get involved. When you bring in that old bike learn how you can help out. You don't have to have any bike maintenance skills either. Here are just some of ways you can help out:

  • Work on bikes to repair bent or broken parts, restore the working mechanisms with new axel grease and cleaning, and replace worn out parts and tires.
  • Help transport bicycles to the recipient organizations within a day or two of the bicycle work night event.
  • Look for bicycles at garage sales, on the internet, trash pickups, and from donors.
  • Staff or host bicycle drives.
  • Work on stencils for painted frames and for event graphics.
  • Research programs in other communities.

If your time is limited or you don't have bike to give. These items are also greatly needed:

  • Helmets
  • Locks and chains (together or separate)
  • Spray Paint (bright colors)
  • Parts
  • Tires
  • Tubes
  • Storage Space

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

FDOT Changes Mandate for Bike Lanes

Bike Jax has just recently learned that the Florida Department of Transportation has changed its directive to include bike lanes in all projects.

The FDOT directive formally read the planners and engineers "must consider" bike lanes in the planning process. The new directive enacted within the last couple of months now states that plans "must include" bike lanes.

So we should expect to see bike lanes popping up all over Florida, right? I'm sad to say, not anytime soon. Road project normally take 3-5 years to break ground. Every project that has already planned and budgeted for next 3-5 years is under the "must consider" clause. So don't expect to any big changes in the way roads are built for the next 5 years.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

What 10 Questions Would You Ask?

With the giant game of musical chairs that appears to be going on for local, state and federal seats. It looks like we here in Jacksonville are going to have quite a few old and new political participants in upcoming elections.

Bike Jax thought it would nice to learn more about where these candidates stand and what their thoughts are when it comes to transportation. We are compiling what we think are the 10 most important questions on the current and future state of transportation for these candidates and thought we should gather your input also.

Once we have the 10 questions, we will supply all candidates with the same 10 and post their responses here.

So, let's hear it. What are the questions you want answered that pertain to bicycling, pedestrian and masstransit.

Email your questions to [email protected].

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

MC Spandex - Hipster Vs Road Cyclist Rap

Thought I would help get you though this hump-day with this hilarious video.

Also, make sure you check out A Girl's Bike. A photographic documentary of women and their bicycles in New York City.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Style Starts At An Early Age

We get to meet a wide and varied cross section of the Jacksonville populous because of the Bike Valet at the Riverside Arts Market. All of which are unique in their own way and we are happy to see each and everyone every Saturday.

But none of them puts a smile on my soul the way this young lady does every time she rolls up to park her bike. I suck for not knowing her name, but that doesn't take away from the fact that this young lady thrives off the independence and individuality that riding a bike provides her.

You are never to young to learn style over speed.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Using Bikes to Balance the Budget

This post has been rewritten several times over the past month, each time taking on a different tone and feel with every draft. What started out as a not very polite or friendly post about ours Mayor's effort to raise the millage rate on home owners who are still feeling the very recent rectal pains of being bent over the preverbal rain barrel. And has morphed into what I hope is a post that will read as a more positive, helpful post to maybe solve some of our city's budget woes.

Now that the millage battle is over, and the Mayor's wishes have been denied by the City Council. The City of Jacksonville finds itself a bit short on the upcoming budget and has set up an email account to seek suggestions on how to shave 50 million dollars off the budget.

It just so happens I have a couple ideas that may just make the city a little more green a couple of ways.

You may remember this post I did a couple of months ago about the City of Orlando using bikes for parking enforcement and suggesting the City of Jacksonville follow their lead.

When this budget idea came about I flashed back to this suggestion and I called the City of Orlando Division of Parking (COODOP) to find more information bout their program. I told the person who answered the phone who I was and what I was doing and was connected right away with someone that cheerfully answered all my questions.

BJ: How long has COODOP been using bikes for parking enforcement?

COODOP: Just over 10 years now.

BJ: How many bikes are out daily and how big of an area do they cover?

COODOP: We have 8 officers that cover Downtown and adjoining areas.

BJ: How has the community responded to the officers on bikes? Has reports of conflicts fallen since the implantation of parking enforcement on bikes?

COODOP: It's been nothing but positive for us. The officers are way more approachable on the bikes. Area business and venders get to know the officers as the people they are.

Officers have far fewer problems with vehicle owners that are ticketed because the officers are no longer seen as this menace that just drives around and whips out a ticket book.

BJ: Can you give me an idea of the fiscal savings the City of Orlando has seen by using bikes instead of cars?

COODOP: (Short Pause) You know, I don't think there has ever been a fiscal survey or report done on that.

BJ: So what was it that made you guys make the switch from cars to bikes?

COODOP: It just made sense.

How about that! A local government doing something based on commonsense. Orlando, I take back every negative thing I've ever said about you. You ain't so mickey-mouse after all.

Let's go back to earlier that same day. I call City of Jacksonville Division of Parking. Tell them who I am and what I'm doing. I'm told that the supervisors have left for the day (it's 2PM on a Friday) and I would have to call back. No offer to be put through to anyones voice mail, just a click as they hang up.

Let's now go to 3 weeks later.

  • 27 total calls to City of Jacksonville Division of Parking.
  • 15 times hung up on "during transfer." Each call required at least 3 transfers as each person connected to was not the correct one to respond to my questions.
  • 12 unreturned voice mails.

Let's recap. 1 call to City of Orlando. All questions answered. Happily. 27 calls to COJ. All questions still unanswered. COJ=mickey-mouse.

How much could the city save be using bikes in Downtown, Riverside, Southbank and Springfield? Since I couldn't find out how many vehicles our city uses within the Urban Core. Let's base our numbers on Orlando's Number of 8.

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics the average annual cost owning and operating a motor vehicle is $8095.00.

If we multiply that times 8 we get, $64,760. Which doesn't sound like much in the big picture of cutting $50 million. But keep in mind that these figures are for an average vehicle and do not include the initial cost of purchase for a fleet. They also don't reflect the costs of an automobile that is constant use 11 hours of the day. I would assume that the maintenance, fuel and insurance costs would be considerably higher on these vehicles.

Other facts it would also be nice to know are how much money is lost from the metered spaces these cars are parking in throughout the day. How many sick days would be saved due to a much healthier parking officer on a bike?

While this suggestion puts little dent into our city's massive budget short fall. It goes a long way in making the City of Jacksonville more green and bike friendly. But most importantly this suggestion will generate enough additional income to keep at least one more teacher in the classroom or fireman on the truck, or even one more police officer on the streets where they are so desperately needed.

Think about Jacksonville.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Commuter Profile - Rebekah Wallis

Bikejax met Rebekah as a volunteer during the Jazz Festival. She was assigned to the valet station at The Landing. The soggy weekend that deterred most commuters from riding bikes to the Jazz Festival was no issue for Rebekah who rode eight miles to The Landing and back. Rebekah rides to UNF regularly. She has added a rear rack with integrated basket for cargo. Her infectious optimism even inspires a stubborn soul like me. Intro via Abhishek

What do you use your bike for?

I use my bicycle as my primary method of transportation, so pretty much everything. I ride to school, events, meetings, church, to run errands, to hang out with friends, and to go to babysitting or tutoring jobs.

How often do you ride?

I ride almost every day.

How long have you been commuting by bicycle?

I’ve been commuting by bicycle on and off for several years, but consistently since May.

What would you say to convince someone who is considering commuting by bicycle to go for it?

Bike commuting is not as hard as many seem to assume. Riding my bicycle is so much more fun than driving a car; often it is one of the most enjoyable parts of my day! There are the obvious benefits of commuting by bicycle, such as improving your health, reducing your carbon footprint, and saving money. I really like the feeling of community that I experience when riding my bike; I enjoy interacting with the people who I pass by. I feel like it is really easy to become isolated from the rest of the world when driving a car. Another huge reason that I commute by bicycle is that I am appalled by the effect that the oil trade has on the rest of the world; I do not have any desire to support corporations who value profits over human lives by being a consumer of gasoline.

What could the city do to make biking better?

The city could make roads safer by creating more bike lanes, safer roads, and by educating the general population about the rights of bicyclists. There are many roads in Jacksonville that are scary to ride on. Almost every day people speed precariously close to me or yell not-so-friendly things out their windows.

What reaction do you get from co-workers?

I get mixed reactions. Some of my peers think it’s cool; others raise an eyebrow and warn me to be careful. The other day, an acquaintance told me that I was really brave. Last fall, when I was commuting to a tutoring job, my six-year-old student thanked me for helping the earth.

What’s the best thing about commuting by bicycle?

There is nothing quite like the feeling of the wind against my face and I love being able to appreciate my surroundings as I ride my bike. It feels very freeing to fly around on my bicycle; I like to ride fast. I also enjoy not having to worry about going to the gym or finding time to exercise, and I can eat dessert almost every day because I burn it all off. Another great thing about commuting by bicycle is that I do not have to pay or search for parking spots.

Can you give a brief description of your route?

When I ride to UNF, I take Belfort Road to Gate Parkway to Town Center Boulevard. Gate Parkway is really nice until I cross Southside, where the bike lane ends. My usual route is approximately 15 miles round trip. I try to stay away from major roads at all costs, but sometimes they are unavoidable.

Where are your favorite places to bike in Jacksonville? Least favorite?

I really love riding around Riverside and Downtown. However, I usually don’t leave the Southside area because I’m pretty busy with school. AC Skinner is a nice road to ride on. My least favorite places to bike are any places where there are busy roads without bike lanes, like Beach Blvd, Southside Blvd, or parts of Baymeadows. Touchton is probably my least favorite road because it is so narrow and I’ve had several negative experiences with impatient drivers.

What do you like about biking in Jacksonville? And dislike?

Parts of Jacksonville are really pretty, and biking enables me to appreciate the city’s beauty. I do not like having to deal with the ignorance of many Jacksonville drivers.

Do you commute in cycling or street clothing?

And if cycling clothing, how to handle the change to street/work clothing?

I commute in street clothes, but I almost always bring an extra shirt with me. I like to wear comfortable clothes for my commute; I usually wear shorts or a skirt (with bike shorts or leggings underneath).

Any bike gadget/gear cyclists should not go out without?

I installed a rear rack on my bike that really helps me carry things that I need, like books or food. I always bring lights with me just in case it starts raining, or in case I’m out longer than anticipated. I also bring a towel or two, extra tube(s), patch kit, mini air pump, and some Dr. Bronner’s soap.

Favorite or Funny bike stories?

I was waiting at a red light once, and a minivan pulled up next to me. The driver, an older woman of African-American descent, rolled down her window and said, “Baby, you look like you’ve been working hard!” I replied in the affirmative. She then proceeded to offer me cold water and told me to ride safely and to have a great day. I declined the water, but that encounter brightened my morning.

Scary bike stories?

A couple weeks ago, I was riding home from school, going down Town Center Pkwy. A company van purposefully swerved into the bike lane, causing me to veer into a right-turn only lane. The driver of the van slowed down, looked at me and laughed, like she thought it was funny that she could have seriously hurt me.

Anything else you would like to add?

I really appreciate this opportunity to share; I would love to see more people, especially girls, use their bicycles for transportation! Thank you Matt for everything that you do!