Archive for February, 2008

Local to Global

This weekend, TBAG is putting on a Bicycling 101 Clinic at the 7th Annual Local to Global Justice Teach-in at ASU. Our workshop will be held from 9:45-10:45 this Saturday (3/1) in Payne 101-k on the ASU campus. The workshop will cover the following topics:

     

  • Tips for safe cycling: We’ll cover the 10 most common accidents and talk about how to prevent them. We’ll also participants’ additional safety concerns.
  • Tips for route finding: We will provide cycling maps of Tempe and the surrounding region and work with participants to identify safe routes to get to their workplace, school, etc.
  • Legal rights as cyclists: We will give a quick summary of cyclists’ legal rights in Arizona.
  • Local bicycle advocacy efforts: We’ll talk briefly about how to get involved with bicycle planning and advocacy both via local nonprofits and the City of Tempe.

Please join us on Saturday! For more information on the conference, visit: www.localtoglobal.org.

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Last week, I interviewed Eric Iwersen, a Transportation Planner for the City of Tempe. He’s one of the employees who addresses a lot of bicycle-related concerns. Here’s what he had to say about his experiences with bicycling in Tempe and working for the City:

How did you get involved in bicycling?
I grew up in Boulder, Colorado, where biking is how a lot of people get around, so that’s what I did growing up.

So how was it when you started to bike in Tempe?
Well, I’d never been here before. I was basically dropped off with a bike and a skateboard and a class schedule, and then went from there. When I first started bicycling around Tempe, it felt really unsafe. There were very few bike lanes anywhere. It was really different from Boulder, where biking is a regular part of the culture. At that time, I stayed pretty local and took buses a lot, and did most of my hanging out around Mill and the downtown Tempe area.

I hear there’s an interesting story to how you got your job with the City. What happened?
Well, when I was a senior at ASU, I started to organize Critical Mass rides—I think I organized four rides in total during the spring of ’04 (January through April). At the first ride about 25 people showed up, but by the last ride, over 300 people showed up. As a result, I got on the news and was interviewed and in the paper. At that point, I went to the City and talked to different staff members and the Transportation Commission and introduced myself. I didn’t want there to be any animosity between my group and the City—I was trying to do good things for the community. I had a couple of specific goals at that time, mostly to get bike lanes put in on University, Apache, and Mill. I made some people angry but then the City turned around and ended up offering me a position.

So what kinds of things do you do for your job?
As a planner for the City, I work on long-range planning policies (like developing standard details for bicycle racks for businesses), for projects to be implemented over the next 20-30 years. These policies address things like how wide we want our streets to be, as well as how we want our land use to support transportation.

I am also involved in short-range project management—that includes projects at the funded, buildable stage, like the Rio Salado bike path, which I’ve been involved in getting funded and built.

How quickly do such transportation projects get built?
At the very fastest, two years. But usually, from the concept to the construction, the process takes around ten years.

So let’s say someone has a particular question or a brilliant idea about transportation infrastructure, what’s the best way for him or her to work with the City to make things happen?
Well, the quickest and best way is to get political. Talk to your elected officials about the idea. If you’ve got an idea, call the Mayor and ask, why don’t we do this? The Mayor might then suggest talking to the transportation staff. But the real benefit of going political is that even if a staff person ends up handling the response, the Mayor and City Council have an awareness for a citizen’s desire for some kind of change. Elected officials have the most control over what happens with the City, and they need to know what Tempe residents want and what their vision is.

On top of that, you can always volunteer for positions, go to City Council meetings, go to Transportation Commission meetings, and do things yourself. So there are a lot of ways to get involved.

Thanks, Eric. Lastly, how about a fun question: What’s your biggest biking pet peeve?
Uncomfortable government clothing. Someone should really do something about that. I wish we could wear shorts.


Got a suggestion on something we should find out more about? Leave it in the Comments!

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Thanks to everyone who made our first movie screening a success! We had approximately 35 people at our February 13th screening of Breaking Away, and we had a great time. Boulders on Broadway (530 West Broadway Road) seems like a good spot and the owners and managers are incredibly bike-friendly. We’re going to make this a regular event, so help us out by giving us feedback so that we can improve the experience in the future.

Items where we’d like feedback:

Food: We can get pretty good deals on all-you-can-eat pizza or pasta. If people are interested, we can have everyone who’s eating pay a flat fee (somewhere in neighborhood of $7 or $8) and the wait staff would keep the food flowing all night. Unfortunately there’s no chance of a similar deal for alcohol, but their happy hour is pretty nice.

Movies: If we’re going to make this a regular event, we need to generate a list of appropriate movies. Help us brainstorm the best bike-themed movies. We’re open to everything – documentaries, cartoons, adrenaline flics are all fair game.

Leave any suggestions about movie nights in the comments section. Thanks!

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Thanks to everyone who weighed in with route ideas for getting from Tempe to downtown Phoenix. Clearly there’s a wide variety of ways to get from here to there, with varying degrees of adventure and distance involved. On a recent trip in early February, I have noted that it’s possible to travel west along Washington to 24th Street before construction starts to make things a bit crazy (rough road, no bike lane, no shoulder). I can’t wait until the whole thing’s finished! In the meantime, you’ve come up with some good alternative ideas.

Your responses got me wondering about something else: as I ride around, I often take mental note of particular areas that are challenging or annoying to navigate by bicycle, which I’ll refer to as Bicycling Bermuda Triangles (BBTs). One of my criteria for a nice bike route is that it should not require riding on sidewalks at all, so for me one BBT is reaching the Tempe Public Library (southwestern corner of Rural and Southern): I can take College Ave. most of the way there, and then turn left on Malibu Dr. (just south of Southern), but that spits me back out on Rural or Southern before I reach the library, so I end up on the sidewalk for at least a short stretch because traffic travels too quickly on both Rural and Southern for me to feel safe on the road by myself at night. I’ve often wondered if there’s a sneaky back entrance among the houses behind the Tempe Library complex, but if there is I’ve never found it.

Another spot is the corner of Rural and Broadway, where it’s possible to get almost to the intersection on the frontage road on the north side of Broadway, but then at the last moment things get dangerous due to a bus stop and a parking lot exit where drivers generally don’t watch for bicycles traveling against traffic (and I can’t say I blame them).

So my question for you is, have you encountered other BBTs of your own? How have you learned to deal with them? Are you happy just “making do” with what’s there, or can you envision some kind of reasonable potential change to make things better? (I must admit that I have dreams of bike lanes along Broadway, Rural, and Southern, or at least dreams of slower speed limits so I’m not worried about being killed by cars)

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Join TBAG for a screening of the classic 1979 biking film BREAKING AWAY!

If you have never seen this film (or haven’t seen it in the past year) it is your moral obligation as a cyclist to join us. You won’t regret it.

When: Wednesday, February 13th. We will begin gathering at around 6pm, and the movie will start promptly at 7pm.

Where: Boulders on Broadway (530 WEST BROADWAY ROAD)- we have the upstairs room reserved and we’ll arrange it for comfortable movie viewing. The managers have generously offered to extend the happy hour beer prices for us all night long (and they have a fantastic beer list) and we get 10% off on pizzas. TBAG will buy a round of food to get us started.

Everyone is welcome- the bar area is closed to minors after 10pm, but everyone is welcome in the movie area all night long.

Breaking away flier

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Thanks again to everyone for weighing in on TBAG activities through the survey. Now that we’ve posted the survey results, we thought we’d let you know what plans TBAG has for the near future.

Through an arrangement with the City of Tempe, TBAG will now be getting all of the abandoned bikes left on buses, bike racks and the street. What are we planning on doing with all those bikes? Well, we’ll be taking the bikes in the best shape, outfitting them with helmets, lights and locks, and giving them to some local people in need (likely newly arrived refugees). More details on that later. Bikes in need of a bit of fixing up will be going to our friends at Bicycle Saviours. And we have something very exciting in store for the truly trashed bikes. Stay tuned for more details on that!

In the next couple of months, we’ll be helping to organize “Bikeapalooza” – the City of Tempe’s spring bike festival that occurs during Bike Month. If all goes well, we’ll also be putting on our first Bicycling 101 workshop in March.

Now that we’re getting all of this great stuff going, WE NEED HELP!!

We’ll be planning a volunteer meeting/party in late Feb/early March to assemble some volunteer committees (see below). We’ll post and email about that meeting soon. If you responded to the survey saying you were interested in volunteering, you’ll be hearing from us individually in the next few weeks. We’ll be looking for volunteers to run programs, as well as to generally help out within each committee.

If anyone’s antsy to help out in the meantime, please contact the appropriate person, below. We’re also looking for some catchy names for these committees and for programs – post any ideas in the comments.

Volunteer Committees:
1) City Coordination: Work with the City of Tempe on events, bicycle-friendly business designation, bicycling award, etc. (chris at biketempe dot org)
2) Social: Coordinate and host social events including Handlebar Happy Hour, movies, barbeques, etc. (mark at biketempe dot org)
3) Routes, Rides and Clinics: Set up recreational and casual rides, hold clinics (trailer building, bike commuting, etc.) and facilitate bike tours. (kate at biketempe dot org)
4) Giveaways: Develop bike and bike light giveaway programs (stan at biketempe dot org)
5) Bicycle Film Festival: Put on annual bicycle film festival event (TBD)

Stay tuned for lots of details on all of these things!

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