With Citizens’ Help, Cities Can Build A Better Bike Lane — And More

With Citizens’ Help, Cities Can Build A Better Bike Lane — And More

As Burlington and other cities adopt the scrappy tactics of their citizens, they’ll need to show that they can make good on tactical urbanism’s original principles — to move faster, try new things, and not be afraid to fail.

Tactical urbanism. So it has a name.

From Laurel Wamsley/NPR.

Bike Taxes: The Debate

Should bicyclists pay taxes on their bikes to help pay for bicycle-specific infrastructure?

Chicago is by no means the only place across the U.S. tempted to see bicyclists as a possible new source of revenue, only to run into questions of fairness and enforceability. That is testing the vision of city leaders who are transforming urban expanses with bike lanes and other amenities in a quest for relevance, vitality and livability — with never enough funds.

I think it’s only fair. Plus a $25 annual cycling tax is reasonable compared to what motorists pay. Besides, it would also help end the debate. Though once a tax is in place, it would be probably be easier to raise it then end it.

[photo via Payton Chung/flickr]

Bike Valet: For Elegant Indoor Bicycle Storage

Bike Valet - Grey

If you need something to help store your bicycle inside your apartment/other cramped room/space, consider the Bike Valet for its simplicity and elegance. It also comes in six colors: black (coming soon), navy, red, white, green, and grey.

It’s somewhat pricey at $160, but its handmade from Reclamation Art + Furniture. The price might go drop in the future if designer Steven Tiller decides to scale production of the bicycle rack further. Hint: that might mean mass production (i.e., not artisan) and not made in the United States.

See Bike Valet for more photos.

[photo via Stephanie Birch/Bike Valet]

Microsoft Tries To Be Too Innovative With Its “Pedestrian Route Production” Patent

Microsoft was recently issued a patent for Pedestrian Route Production, which sought to create a “route [that] can be developed for a person taking into account factors that specifically affect a pedestrian.”

Microsoft aimed to take route generation a step further for pedestrians beyond the simple estimated time it took to walk to your destination. However, you might be surprised to know what variables and information sources that Microsoft used for its algorithm: security information (i.e., crime reports), weather information, terrain information, or a combination of all three.

Only terrain information would be the most useful for such routing because we all know walking uphill takes longer than walking downhill. The other two variables are too subjective and help persuade people to refrain from using common sense. I know few people who don’t check weather forecasts regularly. While others have talked about Microsoft’s so-called “avoid ghetto” feature, I will instead discuss the Microsoft obvious omissions.

Among them is sidewalk information.

gonzales rd no sidewalks

If you look at pedestrian accidents and deaths, many of them occur on streets that lack sidewalks or other pedestrian safety features. Anyone who has walked on city streets know that there are more hazards to pedestrians than crime. There are more variables that influence whether any particular area makes pedestrians feel unsafe, such as vehicle speed limits and street buffers (i.e., on-street parking, sidewalk plants or street trees). Are these variables included in Microsoft’s analysis? Nope. Street tree information would have also aided Microsoft’s desire to protect pedestrians from “harsh temperatures” as anyone who has walked outside when it’s hot knows to purposefully walk under trees or other shadows to avoid any direct sun exposure.

Microsoft tried to be innovative with its mapping technology, but I think engineers tried to be too innovative and forgot to design the features from the user’s perspective. I suggest that Microsoft research Safe Routes to School Programs to get a better understanding of the fundamental physical challenges that pedestrians must deal with in order to perfect its new pedestrian mapping tool.

[image via jimbobtheboss | photo via Luton]