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On-air discussion about commuting by bike

by Noah

I was invited to sit down as a participant on a panel of bicycle commuting “experts” in Kansas City today. I was joined by KCMO’s Bicycle/Pedestrian Coordinator, a Bike Patrol police officer for one of the local suburbs and another man who’s been commuting by bike for over a decade.  Between comments on the radio station’s websites being proxied to the panel and local callers, we covered a lot of good points.  The diversity of opinions among those on the panel also shone through.

You can listen to the podcast recording here, and I may be able to upload it to a more permanent spot if it goes away.  It’s also worth mentioning that one of the people who called in is a riding buddy of mine who didn’t even know I was on the panel.  I kept quiet on the air, though.

Transit use is on the rise in Kansas City, and so is multi-mode commuting using bicycles combined with transit.  While $4 or $5 per gallon may not get the wealthy motorists off and their single-occupant three ton vehicles off the road, it is getting more cyclists on the road where they can be seen.  In my opinion, the more bicycles a motorist sees in a day, the more aware they’ll tend to remain.

Is commuting by bike making waves in other cities’ local media.  It seems to be a popular discussion topic around Kansas City lately.

 
 
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7 Responses to “On-air discussion about commuting by bike”

  1. Jarod says:

    Noah,

    My wife and I were listening to the show today and really enjoyed it! We have both just recently (past couple of months) gotten into bike commuting and are finding the conversation about it here in KC as being pretty wonderful.

    Blogs like yours are encouraging and motivating to us so keep up the good work!!

    peace
    jarod

  2. kaz kougar says:

    Here in Eugene/Springfield, OR it seems as if bike commuting has always been a little more popular than most places but as of late it has began to grow and does tend to get quite a bit of attention. Local bike shops tend to do well here, I recently heard buzz of one shop having a record year. With bike commuting being as big as it is here and the US Olympic Track & Field Team trials beginning in Eugene tomorrow you have to figure that bike commuting ought to have a good amount of exposures to visitors. Hopefully we can make some sort of an impact outside of our local area.

  3. Fritz says:

    Going for platinum status without separated bike lanes–that woman must be crazy. You can’t add miles of white stripes next to car doors (see NYC) and expect to be bike friendly. Her dismissive tone towards the question doesn’t seem to bode well for KCMo.

    Great job on posting this, btw. I thought it was a pretty mediocre conversation (so many uncovered issues) but it’s nice to hear what’s going on around the country.

  4. Noah says:

    Well, the MAYOR is going for platinum status, which is funny, because I think this guy is a one-termer. He’s rocking the boat in a bad way politically on several issues.

    Deb’s a good lady, but after Funkhouser made the announcement that we’d shoot for Platinum status, she’s been assaulted relentlessly with questions like “Can I see the Gantt chart for that?” and comments plenty more dismissive than her own. The truth is that she doesn’t know how we’ll get there yet, and that the mayor likes making big promises.

    I wish the conversation could have been a bit more rapid fire. To me, it didn’t seem like an hour long show (or even a half-hour long show) because we really didn’t get through a lot. Listening to it again last night (right after having posted this) without having to be a speaker on the panel, it became obvious that we covered the kind of stuff you could cover in a three-paragraph article in the newspaper.

    This is one of the more popular midmorning radio shows in KC, though. It’s on public radio. I was surprised to come back to my cubicle (from a private office I reserved over my lunch break to call into the show) to find two people looking for me that had heard me. When I logged in, several people at work had been messaging me while I was on the air over our internal messaging system at work.

    Overall, I’m more pleased with the fact that commuting by bike is finally getting some attention. That, to me, is worth way more than the contents of the conversation yesterday.

  5. ethan says:

    I appreciated that you didn’t spend too much time talking about getting hit by cars. The last thing we need to do is scare people.

    Also, there was a bit about drivers on cellphones and banning cellphone use while driving. I’m from Upstate NY. It’s illegal to use your cellphone while driving a car here. It doesn’t stop anyone.

  6. Eric Rogers says:

    Fritz, those barrier-separated bike lanes that NYC are putting in are quiet controversial, especially among professional bicycle planners and engineers. It is quite unfair to slam a city for not using a treatment that many professionals disagree with. To the best of my knowledge, Portland achieved Platinum without using any of the separated bike lanes that you point out in NYC.

    There is a big fear that they will function like side path trails, which are generally much more dangerous than on-street facilities. You have to be *very* careful about how these things interact with driveways, cross streets, turning traffic, etc. Otherwise, they are no better than riding on sidewalks. That is why I doubt you will find many other American city using them at this time.

    They may have a place in certain locations in some American cities, but the jury is still out on the appropriate usage of this facility. For now, the physically separated bike lane is more of a statement than a solution.

    Eric Rogers
    Legislative Chair
    Missouri Bicycle Federation

  7. Fritz says:

    Thanks Eric,

    Want to link me to any information, interviews, etc. about separated bike lanes or relevant topics? I haven’t seen much criticism aside from turning.

    Of course, separated bikes lanes are only for some areas. I thought they seemed like a great idea in NYC because traffic calming which seems to be more standard Portland practice just doesn’t seem likely/practical in NYC. I was just riding in Philly today (which is more like NYC than Portland, I think) and riding on the right of a lane fearing for doors is not something I like too much. What does Missouri Bicycle Federation support? If not separated at least buffers away from both traffic and car doors? My exposure on these subjects has mostly been through Transportation Alternative studies and Street Film, Bike Portland and their associated networks. I’m very curious to read up on the debates because I want safer streets for bikes and am very open to suggestions.

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