Google Maps Bike There…for a safer, healthier, happier world. :-)


Archive for August, 2008

Neal Peirce,, and Market-rate Parking

August 29, 2008 By: Peter Smith Category: Advocacy

Neal Peirce writes about city stuff; he does it well, and he’s been doing it for a long time. From a speaking event he did about five months ago in Portland, we get this description of Peirce:

Neal Peirce is a foremost writer, among American journalists, on metropolitan regions—their political and economic dynamics, their emerging national and global roles. Known widely as a lecturer on regional, urban, federal system and community development issues, Peirce has been a familiar figure before civic, business, academic, and professional groups nationally. He has appeared on Meet the Press, The Today Show, National Public Radio, and local media across the country.

Peirce wrote an article this past March that was very popular in the bike blogosphere—”Year of the Bicycle?.” Now, Peirce and his colleagues have launched a new website and column at A blurb on the home page offers this greeting and description:

Welcome to! We promised to focus on a new American narrative in these dispatches, and this week’s columns match. My Citistates colleague Scott Polikov, president of the Fort Worth-based Gateway Planning Group, describes exciting new development economics that match the today’s sustainability imperatives. My regular column focuses on pathbreaking barriers to the automobile’s total dominance of our local communities.” — Neal Peirce

I’ve only read a couple of articles so far, but I really like what I’ve seen; it might be something you want to check out, too.

Peirce’s latest column touches on a bunch of subjects, an especially-important one being market-rate parking:

A few cities are starting to charge true market costs for parking on public streets. Example: fees of up to $40 for four hours near the new baseball stadium in Washington, D.C.

I think market-rate parking could have a huge impact on downtowns, so much so that we should have included it in our “Big Initiatives” post (along with a few other great ideas). San Francisco is about to launch its trial of this market-based parking, and I can’t wait to see what happens. Donald Shoup is just the latest example of why paying attention to research is so important.

Of course, Streetsblog has a couple of excellent video interviews with “The Parking Professor,” Donald Shoup, here and here (in chronological order). Shoup is a professor of urban planning at UCLA, and has written a book that becomes more important every day in our congested downtowns, The High Cost of Free Parking. If you weren’t already aware of this market-rate parking concept, when you get done watching these videos, you’ll think, “Wow. We need to do this in our city right now.”

How To Calculate the Speed of a Commuting Bicyclist

August 25, 2008 By: Peter Smith Category: Bicycle Maps

That’s not something I’ve thought too much about, but we know that BBBike does it, so presumably, if Google Maps were to provide a “Bike There” feature, they would want to provide a travel-time estimate, so they would need to be able to estimate the speed of the average bicycle commuter. Fortunately for us, Joel Fajans, a physics professor at UC-Berkeley, has done the research. He introduces his work with physics and bicycles this way:

Combining my work and hobby, I’ve spent some time investigating the physics of bicycling. Did you know that to turn a bike to the right, you actually push the handlebars to the left? And contrary to the beliefs of most physicists, the stability of a bicycle has little to do with the angular momentum in the wheels. I’ve written a nontechnical summary, and a technical tutorial paper on the bicycle steering. The calculations in the paper were done in MathCad, and can be downloaded.

A PDF version of the article is here.

We’re big on research, so it’s great to find another great source of good information.

Can’t say the “push the handlebars to the left” makes sense to me, but what do I know? I guess you push on the left side of your handlebars and pull on the right side.

From this page, we read that Melanie Curry is the managing editor of ACCESS, a transportation journal published quarterly by the University of California Transportation Center at Berkeley.

I stumbled onto the work of Fajans when doing some quick research for a post about stop sign laws.

A cycling professor, huh? Hmm. Remind you of anyone?

Summer Streets in NYC

August 11, 2008 By: Peter Smith Category: Advocacy

The first news reports of New York’s experiment with a ciclovia, Summer Streets, are starting to trickle in. Gothamist has a quick rundown:

The first Summer Streets Saturday, where the city closed 7 miles of Manhattan streets (between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m.) to create a vehicle-free boulevard for people to stroll, bicycle, and and just enjoy, seems to be a big hit. Of course there were complaints from drivers trying to make their way around.

We listed ciclovias as one of our recommended Big Initiatives. (For those that don’t know, ciclovia is a Spanish word that means “bike path.” The term is used in Latin America to refer either to a permanent bike path or an event where streets are temporarily closed to automobiles so that other forms of transportation may have primary use. See this Wikipedia entry for more information.)

Portland was the first big city in the U.S. to get on the board, and now we have New York City. The New York City—the most populous city in America.

This is absolutely tremendous. If we all collectively decide that New York’s Summer Streets program was a full-on success, then there’s no way that opposition to these programs will stand a chance. Whatever complaint gets raised, we’ll have a ready reply: “Then what about New York?” Nonetheless, let’s hope that business opposition is not too strong.

And now is probably a good time to start thinking about how we need to educate the public at large on the benefits of a bicycling/walking culture. We suggested a coordinated campaign in the Big Initiatives list, and John Pucher, the Bicycle Scholar, has said that this education component is important if we want to be successful like our European brothers and sisters.

If we can make it in New York, we can make it anywhere. :)

[Photo by themikebot]

Postscript: Awesome! Clarence just posted his video of NYC Summer Streets. That was some quick turnaround time. Get some sleep, dude! You rock!

GMBT in the San Francisco Cycling Examiner

August 02, 2008 By: Peter Smith Category: Advocacy

The San Francisco Examiner is a U.S. daily newspaper (wiki). The San Francisco Cycling Examiner appears to be a bike blog that runs on the Examiner website. It’s authored by Ben Marks, an avid bicyclist and senior editor at Sunset Books.

Yesterday, he gave our petition a bit more publicity:

If you’ve ever taken the back way to get to the Century Cinemas on Shoreline Boulevard in Mountain View, you probably noticed all those baby-blue bicycles parked in front of the numerous office buildings that make up Google’s growing campus. According to, bicycles are the main way Google employees get from building to building for lunch, meetings, or whatever. I’ve even seen Google bicycles parked at the cinema itself.

Be sure to check out the rest of his post and subscribe to his RSS feed if you’re into that sort of thing.

I would love to see a bicycle blog in every major daily in every newspaper around the country and around the world.

40,000 Signatures!

August 02, 2008 By: Peter Smith Category: Advocacy

That’s what I’m talking about!

40,000 is getting to be a very respectable number. A good while ago, I was thinking we should be able to get to 50,000 signatures without too much of a problem, but I didn’t want to jinx our efforts by saying so.

Let’s see who number 40,000 is and what they had to say:

40000. Camren
Von Davis
Boulder, CO
United States
As someone who doesn’t own a car and uses a bike to commute, I would definitely appreciate a “bike there” function. That would be wonderful and wonderfully helpful for me and a lot of my peers here in Boulder.

Couldn’t have said it better. Sometimes it feels like I could use a Google Maps “Bike There” feature nearly every single day of the week.

Way to represent Boulder, Camren. We hear it’s a good biking town, and it’s bound to get even better, I’m sure.

Bikers, Pedestrians Seeking Better Web Maps

August 02, 2008 By: Peter Smith Category: Advocacy

So says the Baltimore Sun newspaper in a reprinting of an Associated Press article:

“They haven’t yet reached the Holy Grail of ‘I want to go from here to there, show me my options,’” said Bryce Nesbitt, a walking and biking advocate in the San Francisco area.

The first challenge: how to account for factors that make bicycle and walking routes different from driving paths.

Pedestrians need sidewalks, but don’t have to abide by one-way streets. Walkers and bikers can cut through paths or trails not meant for cars, but they must avoid highways. Bikers, unlike walkers, need to think about whether a road is paved, and are prohibited from sidewalks in some cities.

I usually try to track down everyone mentioned in the article, including the author of the article, just to let them know about our efforts, but I’m a bit on the busy side at the moment. I figure I’ll try to ping Bryce Nesbitt since he’s in San Francisco, my new locale. If anyone wants to let the good folks in Philly and Broward and other areas know about our efforts, that’d be awesome.

Google’s implementation of walking directions was definitely a very positive step for all of us.