Tomorrow, Topeka Metro is offering free rides on all its fixed routes in the city, in recognition of the 60th Anniversary of Rosa Parks’ bus protest.
Have you ever wanted to try out the bus? Tomorrow would be a great day for that! Check out the system map and find the route that suits you best – either one that goes close to home or close to work. Metro uses a hub-and-spoke system, so if you need two routes to get to your destination, that might mean transferring at Quincy Street Station downtown.
If you live in city limits, chances are good that you live near a bus route. Almost 75% of Topekans are within a 1/4-mile of a bus route – that’s just a 10-minute walk!
Bicycling, whether you ride or not, benefits you. Bicyclists make your commute safer, easier, healthier, and cheaper.
Safer: Cities with high rates of cycling see fewer traffic injuries and fatalities, and in some cases cut these risks in half (PDF).
Easier: When bicycle infrastructure exists, traffic flows more smoothly. For drivers, that means less time spent in traffic, and less money spent on gas.
Healthier: Every person who bikes to work saves a half gallon of gas, and prevents 10 pounds of carbon dioxide from being added to the air every day. That can add up to almost two tons of CO2 and 200 gallons of gas – per person, per year.
Cheaper: Finally, bicycling is good for the economy. The return on investment for cycling infrastructure is in some cases 12 to 1. Missouri’s Katy Trail brings total economic effects of more than $18 million every year. The city of Seville, Spain, decided bicycling was valuable and important enough to spend $43 million on a world-class network. And one of the more dramatic examples – Iowa gives bicycling credit for $1 million per day (PDF).
If you’re starting to think favorably about bicycling, it’s time to get involved.
Bikeshare: an inexpensive way to start
Next to walking – bicycling is just about the cheapest way to travel. But buying, storing, and maintaining a good bike can add up over the course of a year. So the absolute cheapest way to commute by bike is by using bikeshare. In Topeka in the spring of 2015, you’ll be able to get a year-long membership to Topeka Metro Bikes for $25. That will let you check out a bike for two hours, every day for a year, for free. You could ride 6,000 miles in that time! What’s more – you’ll never have to fix a flat tire, lug a bike up to your balcony, or hang it on your car. When you’re done with a ride, just lock the bike up at a good bike rack, and forget about it. (Shameless plug)
Bike-friendly tips for retail & small business
Good news for business owners – bicyclists spend more money than motorists. A recent study (PDF) found that cyclists may not spend as much per visit as motorists, but they make more visits to retail businesses than motorists, and are likely to spend more in a month. That’s all the more reason to make minimal effort to accommodate bicyclists.
What are some ways to do that? The first one is really, really simple. Put a picture of a bike on the front of your store. Just a smaller sticker by the door will do. This is totally serious – but it also carries a commitment with it: You have to promise not to grimace when cyclists waddle in, carrying helmets, and wearing skin-tight lycra. You don’t have to talk about bikes, or physical activity at all – a simple comment on the weather will do just fine.
Next, consider installing a bike rack near your front door for visitors – or somewhere secure and tucked away for employees. You have car-parking, don’t you? And sidewalks? Don’t forget about bikes! But please, if you’re thinking about getting a bike rack – don’t just go out and buy the first one you find. The kinds of racks that support wheels, but not bike frames, can actually damage bicycles, and they’re not very secure. The Topeka Community Cycle Project has you covered – they can help you get a great bike rack, in almost any color.
How to get involved in Topeka
Sign up for a bikeshare membership! Topeka is launching the state’s first bikeshare system, and it’s only a pilot phase. If it’s not successful, it may not last. (Shameless plug)
Employers – offer the bike commuter tax benefit to your employees who ride often. Healthy employees are happier, take fewer sick days, and are more productive.
Set up a placed-based promotion with the local bikeshare system – encourage bikeshare users to visit you.
Read Bikenomics by Elly Blue. This is the be-all, end-all compendium of practical bicycling economics. Her series at Grist makes a nice introduction.
Visit the Topeka Community Cycle Project to meet bike commuters, and learn to work on your own bike, or visit Capp’s Bike Shop or Jerry’s Bike Shop to meet expert mechanics and pick up useful gear – or a new bike!
Show up for Bike Month events in May 2015 – starting with Dinner & Bikes!
CDOT just adopted what is basically Complete Streets policy. How relevant, considering they’re our neighbor, and that a Complete Streets Resolution is set for tomorrow night’s City Council agenda. If Complete Streets are important to you in Topeka, please call the city clerk’s office 368-3940 by 5 p.m. Tuesday, November 24 to sign up to speak for item 7B. Then, ride your bike to the city council meeting, and carry your helmet in with you.
(Courtesy Alliance for Biking and Walking) – October 30, 2009
After more than two years of meetings and drafting language, Bicycle Colorado announced that the Colorado Department of Transportation’s (CDOT) Transportation Commission has adopted a groundbreaking statewide Bicycle and Pedestrian Policy.
According to Bicycle Colorado, “The new policy directs that, ‘…the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians shall be included in the planning, design, and operation of transportation facilities, as a matter of routine…’
Division of Transportation Development Director Jennifer Finch stated, ‘This is a change in philosophy for the Department [of Transportation].’
The policy was moved by Commissioner George Krawzoff and seconded by Commissioner Steve Parker, leading to unanimous votes of support from all 11 commissioners.
Praise for CDOT’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator Betsy Jacobson’s diligent work on the policy was heard from Bicycle Colorado, Ms. Finch, and the Commissioners. Bicycle Colorado’s Executive Director Dan Grunig said, ‘We have passed positive bicycle legislation and overturned bike bans, but passing this policy may be the biggest step we’ve taken towards bicyclists being treated as legitimate road users.’
TWO YEAR PROCESS
Bicycle Colorado worked with CDOT for a number of years encouraging a formal bicycle and pedestrian policy. The Commission instructed CDOT staff in 2007 to begin evaluating its bicycle and pedestrian policies and practices. They convened a series of stakeholder meetings to determine areas to be addressed in policy and procedures. The resulting policy is a product of the input of all the stakeholders representing other state departments, local governments, and user groups. CDOT staff did a thorough job, gathering input from all their internal departments and divisions throughout the process.
Adoption of this policy is a big step but there is still work to do. Implementation is the key to the policy’s success. Executive Director Russ George and the Executive Management Team will issue a Procedural Directive in the next couple of months detailing implementation plans.
The Directive will guide CDOT departments on how to incorporate bicyclist and pedestrian needs into road design, maintenance, transportation planning, education, etc. It will also detail the circumstances when projects may opt out of the policy and how that decision will be made available to the public. Bicycle Colorado will continue to participate in the process to ensure positive results for bicyclists.
Read the story on the Alliance for Biking and Walking website here.
Yesterday I came home from work and had to turn around and go to our church’s music practice and my wife said, “Hey aren’t you going to change into some shorts?” I said, “No, actually it worked great riding in these jeans today!” Famous last words. At about 37th and Gage I discovered why the Mormon missionary I saw on his bike the other day had the right leg of his long pants tucked into his sock. So anyway, jeans and bikes without the chain guard can make for an interesting fashion statement. (That’s how I played it off at church last night; they weren’t buying it.)
He’s also looking up the actual rules and regulations on cycling in this city – which is turning out to be a fascinating resource for me!
My wife had to make a rescue run Thursday night. I rode from my house to Fairlawn Heights Wesleyan Church (http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=2969038) for worship team practice at 7:00 P.M, and as practice started to go a little long I would check out the window periodically and see it just get darker and darker. At 8:30 I thought I could make it. At 8:45, I still had hope. But at 9:15 I had to call for help. “Laura, can you drive the truck here and pick me up?” This got me to thinking about doing a little night riding. What kinds of gear would I need for my bike? What do the laws say about riding a bike at night? Is riding at night even crazier than riding on a busy street in Topeka during rush hour? Well, I did come across some laws for what you need for riding at night. Here they are:
Chapter 8.–AUTOMOBILES AND OTHER VEHICLES Article 15.–UNIFORM ACT REGULATING TRAFFIC; RULES OF THE ROAD 8-1592…..