Archive | August, 2013

Bicycle Film Festival (and more) Next Week

31 Aug


In case you haven’t heard yet, the 2013 Bicycle Film Festival is coming to Richmond next weekend.  The event Facebook page is here.  Check out trailers for the films here.

It’s kind of a big deal that the festival is coming here.  It travels around the world and is coming to only a few cities in the U.S.

Along with the actual films on Sunday 9/8 at the Byrd, there are a couple of fun events leading up to the actual films:

Friday, 9/6
BFF Opening Party @ Bunnyhop Bike Shop
349 South Laurel Street
8pm -10pm
FREE. Come by. Say hi. Get stoked.

Saturday, 9/7
BFF Pizza Crawl @ Carytown Bicycle Company
3112 West Cary Street
4pm Registration
5pm Ride
$10 for pizza & crawl
$20 includes t-shirt

Sunday, 9/8
BFF Film Programs @ The Byrd Theater
2908 West Cary Street
Different film programs @ 3pm, 5pm, and 7pm
$10 per program
$15 for all-day pass


Addition to Free Movie Today

25 Aug

As an additional treat at today’s free movie “Where the Trail Ends” (see previous post), a video documenting the recent trip of Richmond area officials and advocates to Arlington and DC will also be screened!

Free Movie Tomorrow (8/25)

24 Aug

Richmond MORE is screening “Where the Trail Ends” at 1:30 tomorrow at the Byrd for free.  The film follows a group of super mountain-bikers around the world as they ride (and sometimes crash) down beautiful, remote, and incredibly steep mountains.  They have to get to some of these places by helicopter.  My reaction to the trailer was: “Wow, these guys are nuts.  I want to see this.”

Click here for the event Facebook page.

Voice Your Views on Broad Street

23 Aug
Concept drawing for BRT on Rt. 29 in Charlottesville.  Image from

Concept drawing for BRT on Rt. 29 in Charlottesville. Image from

Tuesday, August 27 there will be a public meeting at the DMV (2300 W. Broad) from 6-8 p.m. on the future of Broad Street, specifically about Bus Rapid Transit  between Rocketts Landing and Willow Lawn.

So why am I posting this on a bike blog?  Well, there are at least two reasons.  One is that bicycling is one part of a more comprehensive, multi-modal transportation system, and BRT will make it easier to use a bike to get around the city.

The second is that, as the image above makes clear, BRT will involve major changes to Broad Street.  Is it possible, as some advocates I know have asked recently, that reworking Broad Street  might also include creating something like Indianapolis’ Cultural Trail?  As I mentioned in a previous post, the Cultural Trail is an innovate, attractive bicycle and pedestrian trail right through the heart of downtown Indianapolis.  It’s part of a broader effort by the city’s mayor to make the city bike- and pedestrian friendly and thereby attract new residents and businesses.

Indianapolis Cultural Trail.  From

Indianapolis Cultural Trail. From

Since Broad is at the center of the city’s Arts and Cultural District and was well as the VCU’s Monroe Park campus (including the future Institute for Contemporary Art at Broad and Belvidere), it would be perfect for this kind of trail.  It would contribute further to the revitalization of Broad Street, in part by making it less of an urban highway and more inviting to non-motorized users.

So, now is a good time to start asking questions — before plans get too far along.  Hope to see you Tuesday at the DMV.

Bike Master Plan Needs Your Input

14 Aug


From Richmond Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Trails Coordinator Jake Helmboldt:

In July we officially kicked off the Bike Master Plan process as a follow-on to the City’s Strategic Multimodal Transportation Plan. The intent of the plan is to develop specific infrastructure improvements, identifying the streets and types of infrastructure needed along each corridor. We want this to be a process that engages the public and provides us with input on the “what and where” of needed improvements. An online survey has been developed to allow us to begin gathering that feedback. Please take the brief survey and encourage others to do so as well so that we can obtain a broad perspective across the Richmond community.

The survey can be accessed via the City’s pedestrian and bike webpage.

It takes less than 10 minutes.  And after you take the survey yourself, please consider forwarding the link — not only to people you know who use a bicycle for transportation, but also — especially — people you know who you think might do so if there were better infrastructure.  We need their input too!

Moonlight Ride this Saturday

13 Aug

moonlight ride logo-2C

The Sportsbackers/Anthem Moonlight Ride is coming up this Saturday.  In addition to being a lot of fun to take low key evening ride with hundreds of others, many in crazy costumes, an event like this can remind people how great it is to be on a bike — and that could translate into using one to get around.  It also serves as a display of enthusiasm for cycling in Richmond.

Richmond’s Bike and Pedestrian Coordinator Jake Helmboldt, BikeWalk RVA, and other groups will be on hand with information on developments around biking in Richmond, including the development of a Bicycle Master Plan.

You can pre-register online through 8/14.  On site registration is available as well, but more expensive.  Check out the Sportsbackers event page for more details.

Comfort Level

11 Aug

American cities have finally caught on, and in a big way: the number of bikeways separated from car traffic is exploding, relatively speaking.  According to a recent piece in Momentum Mag (via Sports Backers’ email newsletter Pulse), the number of protected lanes or “cycle tracks” in the U.S. nearly doubled last year, from 62 to 102.  More than 32 cities now have at least one.

Cycle track in Barcelona with "zebras" separating cyclists from cars.  From

Cycle track in Barcelona with “zebras” separating cyclists from cars. From

The reason is simple: separated lanes on busy streets give a lot of people the comfort level they need to bike in traffic.  It seems that every cycle track installed brings at least 50 percent more bicycles than before, and in some cases, such as Pennsylvania Avenue in D.C., it increased the number of people on bicycles by 200 percent.  Cities like Indianapolis and Chicago are now touting their protected lanes to attract young talent and businesses — and even trying to outdo one another.  Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel went so far as to say recently that he would use bicycle infrastructure to lure people and businesses from Seattle!

How Did We Get Here?

The Momentum article is  comprehensive, and that includes an enlightening section explaining how U.S. cities came out of the oil crisis of the 1970s with almost no bike lanes, while many cities in other countries started doing then what we’re just now getting around to.  The reasons are many, but a crucial piece of the puzzle is “vehicular cycling.”  Bicycle advocacy in the U.S. at that time was dominated by the idea that the best approach is to treat bicycles as vehicles on the road.  So most American advocates focused a lot on educating cyclists to ride confidently and safely with car traffic, not much on getting bike lanes installed.

Knowing how to ride in traffic is important, and the vehicular cycling approach does work well — for those willing to ride in traffic.  But the number of people using bicycles to get around in the U.S. reveals the problem: the percentage of trips taken by bicycle has remained stubbornly around 1 percent in most places.  Even in cities where cycling has “exploded” in recent years, the percentage of trips taken by bicycle has not yet reached 10 percent.

A Different Approach

The oil crisis in the 70s prompted cities like Copenhagen, in contrast, to start building bicycle infrastructure, and the results are well known.  (See the recent Grist series on cycling in Copenhagen for more).  It’s worth highlighting here that Copenhagen was not always so bike friendly: bicycles were a primary form of transportation through 1950 or so, but by the mid 70s the use of bicycles had plummeted in favor of cars.  Despite its status as a premiere cycling city, Copenhagen has yet to match its pre 60s levels.  But it is trying: the current goal is to have 50 percent of all trips by bicycle by 2015 (it’s now about 37%).  Part of the strategy is — you guessed it — more infrastructure, including bicycle “freeways” to make it easy for suburbanites to bike into the city.

It’s possible to go on too much about Copenhagen and similar cities.  American society and cities are different; but not so much so that looking to a place like Copenhagen can’t inspire and give us some clues of what our future might hold if we get engaged and push our leaders in the right direction.