Archive | commuting

The growth of bike sharing schemes across globe

At last years United States Conference of Mayors, the forum concluded:

“communities that have invested in pedestrian and bicycle projects have benefited from improved quality of life, healthier population, greater local real-estate values, more local travel choices, and reduced air pollution.” (Economist)

Can the country of Henry Ford and eight lane highways really be on the verge of embracing the bicycle? Well words are one thing, action on the ground is another. But, in the past few decades, there has been a remarkable growth in the number of bike sharing schemes across the world.

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Photo: Adam Fagen Flickr – Madison – US

Generally bike sharing schemes didn’t get off to the best start. Cities like Amsterdam and Cambridge which offered free bikes, typically saw the noble endeavour of offering 500 free bikes taken up mainly by bike thieves who promptly stole the bikes, leaving only good intentions and critics claiming vindication bike sharing could never work.

However, since then there has been a steady evolution of bike sharing schemes. With better technology and good administration enabling bike sharing schemes to have varying degrees of success. It is no longer a fringe idea of cycling nuts. American mayors are looking to embrace these eye-catching (and possibly vote winning) schemes. Cities with bike sharing schemes have not exactly gone Dutch, there is no cycling nirvana; but t in cities which have really embraced the bike sharing idea, there is a noticeable shift in cycling rates.

The growth of bicycle sharing schemes

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Source: Earth Policy

One of the first bike sharing schemes was tried by Amsterdam in 1965, 500 free white bikes left around the city. But, this was not the most auspicious start. Bikes tended to soon disappear, and the scheme was later abandoned. Though, it is worth noting that this was a period where Amsterdam and the Netherlands saw a resurgence in cycling rates. Continue Reading →

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Rusty bike art

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“You are probably thinking that I’m just a rusty old bicycle. But look again and observe carefully I’ve actually been purposely made to look like a rusty bike – a work of art”

– I never thought much to modern art. -It has no soul – just trying to be clever, but actually failing.

My favourite bit on modern art is when some no hoper who knew nothing about art had to pretend that a random rubbish bin was his work of modern art.

It is annoying the number of abandoned rusty bikes in Oxford. It means I can never find a parking space because the bike racks are fully of rusty old bikes which have been there for over a year.

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On the plus side it’s made it to the Oxford deceased bicycles pool

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Is it ok to undertake buses at traffic lights?

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Cycle lanes known as ‘feeder lanes’ encourage you to go down the inside of traffic. In theory, you can move into the ‘advanced stop box for cyclists’. This gives cyclists a way to beat traffic jams and hopefully puts them in a visible position when the lights change. However, in practise when you get there, invariably you find a vehicle has stopped either totally or partially in the box. Also, the lights may change before you even get there, leaving you in a difficult position as heavy buses move off with you on the inside.

I was interested to read the case of a cyclist recently fined for running a red light, when in fact all he had done was get to the advanced stop box to find a car in it. Because it was an awkward position he came to a stop in front of the white line.

The police gave a ticket because technically he was running a red light – he stopped in front of the white line.

However, the Cyclists defence fund is supporting his appeal. They argue that some discretion needs to be used. When you go down the inside of traffic but find cyclist box covered, it makes practical sense to stop in front of the white line rather than risk getting squashed on the inside. It is something I have done. I never thought I was running a red light – just getting into a better position to help both me and the general traffic flow. See: Cyclists defense fund

I hope he wins his case because it’s something I’ve done myself.

It raises a difficult question of whether it is ever good to go down the inside of stationary traffic at traffic lights?

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Cyclist squeezing down the inside of double decker buses on Oxford High Street. There is a brief cycle ‘lane’ near the traffic lights, encouraging this behaviour.

Some points

  • When you cycle down the inside of large vehicles, you are entering their blind spot. It is easy for drivers not to see you. If a vehicle is turning left, you are at high risk of serious accident. Left turning vehicles into path of cyclists is a significant cause of fatalities.
  • I always feel if you go down the inside, you have to be fully aware of the risk. If I’m confident of getting to the front of the queue before traffic starts to move, I may take it.
  • Sometimes I see cyclists go down the inside even when buses have started to move, this makes me feel very queasy as it is so tight and dangerous. The fact there may be a cycle lane painted on to the road is no guarantee.

How cycle feeder lanes and advanced stop signs can work in practise

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a rare example of vehicles respecting all the cycle lanes and advanced stop signs. From this angle, you can see the potential of cyclists getting to the front of the queue. Continue Reading →

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