Walking, biking

A few posts made to Sightline, first on Alan Durning’s post about “bicycle shame” (and counterpart “bicycle respect“) debunking notions that bicycling isn’t to be taken “seriously” by government — notably about biking’s split social-class personality.

Thanks for the statistics on commuters’ earnings [bicycle commuters have middling incomes]. While biking to work today, a driver who “didn’t see” me yelled some “cheap-[obscenity]” insult — and it honestly puzzled me, since his used car and ragged T-shirt fairly screamed “proletarian.”

That said, I know that I spend well over 10c a mile on bicycling — tooling around town on a shiny steed doesn’t rack up that many miles, but costs a good many shiny pennies. All told, my “extravagant” non-car lifestyle amounts to getting around town on <$150/mo., including transit, sturdy walking shoes, and flashy bike gear.

@Arie: Sadly, the really big money’s still on driving. Just GM’s advertising budget is bigger than the entire American bicycling industry! That said, I read a business-mag article about how Shimano (one of bicycling’s biggest companies) did thorough market research into promoting bicycling in general in creating the Coasting marketing campaign. And smart but slick (and maybe cheap) ad campaigns actually attract city-dwellers’ attention better than carmakers’ airwave saturation strategy.

Durning writes that “a Bicycle-Respecting community is more equitable than a Bicycle Neglecting one… Like such democratizing social guarantees as public schools and unemployment insurance, Social Security and national parks, safe, separate, continuous facilities for cycling and walking put a common foundation under us. Such guarantees bind us together as one people, among whom—while many things are distributed by the competitive logic of the marketplace—certain necessities are available to all. We provide these things because we are not simply a collection of consumers who share a currency and a string of freeway exits. We are a community.” (emphasis added) Another response:

We, as a community, also provide public space within our cities for enjoyment and for circulation. “Sweet modes” (as the French say) like walking, cycling, and transit are incredibly space efficient: we could shrink our roads 80%+ overnight if everyone used them. It’s cars and trucks, those space hogs, who demand not only giant public expenditures but also the lion’s share of the public-space commons.

Since urban space is by definition an expensive and scarce resource, it makes perfect sense to charge those who waste (and lay waste to) it, while granting free access to those who use it wisely and graciously.

We already ration, price, and regulate urban transportation’s use of public space via like parking meters, residential parking permits, drivers’ licenses, and now congestion pricing — but we usually don’t think of it that way. Instead, we’ve been trained by decades of car-think to see “roads” as conveyances [or storage facilities] for private vehicles, rather than as shared community assets.

and on WalkScore.com:

89 at home in Wicker Park, Chicago; 98 at work in the Loop. (I’ve plugged a few Manhattan addresses in, and they max out at 98 as well.) My first upgrade would be to consider the street network. If my circa-2000 PalmPilot’s Vindigo software could calculate walking distances over the grid, then it shouldn’t be that hard to program.

A good bikeability map is a bit more complicated, since it involves adding data layers that aren’t already in GMaps. The routes I bike, even more so than the routes I walk, are often indirect and subject to more “quality of movement” factors. GoBikeBoulder includes off-street paths, signed on-street routes, and elevation in its calculations.

One of CNU’s members, Eliot Allen from Criterion Planners in Portland, has developed some really fantastically complex software that models and analyzes walkability, bikeability, transit, and driving in the context of land use and urban design conditions, like street network, use balance, and intersection safety. I still don’t quite understand everything about it, but J,M,& M might want to give it a look.

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One thought on “Walking, biking

  1. The biggest shortcoming of Walk Scoring is that it only considers one of the four “D”s that establish walkability.
    Diversity: different uses close by
    Density: many things close by
    Design: spaces that are pleasant to walk through
    Destinations: easy access to regional attractions

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