WBEZ | bicycles http://www.wbez.org/tags/bicycles Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Is biking in Chicago a risky proposition? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/biking-chicago-risky-proposition-108762 <p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-73d020ab-55e7-a788-5dcc-18e53bee6a37"><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F112494856" width="100%"></iframe>Motti Pikelny would fall in the group of people who are maybe less averse to risk than others. He used to pilot glider planes in competitions. Yet, the Oak Park resident won&rsquo;t commute to work by bicycle because he </span><em>thinks</em> it&rsquo;s too risky.</p><p>So, Pikelny turned to Curious City with this question:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>How dangerous is it to bicycle commute in the city?</em></p><p>Pikelny would like to commute by bike for economical and environmental reasons. In fact, he has competed in century rides &mdash; 100-mile bike races &mdash; when he lived in Oregon. But the safety factor stops him from pedaling to work.</p><p>He wanted us to approach the question from a statistical viewpoint. He wanted to know the dangers of biking in Chicago as compared to other modes of transportation (i.e., motorcycles) or recreational activities (i.e., skydiving).</p><p>We talked to a lot of experts, all of whom said the same thing: This question is impossible to answer, but they all gave different reasons for why. Some say there&rsquo;s not enough data. Others argue quantifying danger is subjective. Along the way, we learned how the decision to bike or not bike can be a heavy one &mdash; with or without key stats to help.</p><p><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-73d020ab-55e7-a788-5dcc-18e53bee6a37">There are data, but are they the </span><em>right</em> data?</strong></p><p>Many municipalities, including Chicago, as well as the state of Illinois, record bike injuries and deaths involving crashes with motor vehicles. In April 2010, the city of Chicago began tracking &ldquo;dooring&rdquo; incidents (fatal and non-fatal), as well. That&rsquo;s when a driver or passenger opens a car door in the pathway of a biker and a crash occurs.</p><p>Here&rsquo;s some recent data from the Illinois Department of Transportation regarding bike injuries and deaths involving crashes with cars in Chicago.</p><ul dir="ltr"><li>2011: 1,302 bike injuries and seven deaths</li><li>2010: 1,583 bike injuries and five deaths</li><li><span id="docs-internal-guid-73d020ab-55e7-a788-5dcc-18e53bee6a37">2009: 1,402 bike injuries and six deaths.</span></li></ul><p>In 2011, there were 336 dooring crashes in Chicago.</p><p>This kind of data is important but it doesn&rsquo;t go far enough, said Jen Duthie, a researcher at the University of Texas Center for Transportation Research. Duthie is a bike commuter and gathers bike data.</p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-73d020ab-55e7-a788-5dcc-18e53bee6a37">What&rsquo;s unknown is the number of bikers on the road and how far they travel, said Steven Vance, author of </span><a href="http://chi.streetsblog.org/">Chicago Streetsblog</a>, a bike advocate and local data wizard.</p><p>Also, no data are collected on pedestrian-versus-bike crashes in Chicago or incidents where bikers collide with other cyclists.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m more scared of hitting a pedestrian on the phone than getting doored,&rdquo; said Thea Lux, a Groupon employee who commutes daily during the summer months.</p><p>Often, Lux said, people are talking on a cell phone and not paying attention as they walk into intersections.</p><p>Researchers and policy makers can make generalizations about biking danger on a per capita basis by looking at the number of crashes that occur and Chicago&rsquo;s population. But it&rsquo;s not an accurate reflection of bike safety here. Vance said it&rsquo;s impossible to say how likely a person is to crash on their bike.</p><p>Plus, Duthie added, near misses are not recorded, even though avoided crashes shape opinions on whether biking in Chicago is safe.</p><p><strong>When data don&rsquo;t help</strong></p><p>&ldquo;In my personal experience, it&rsquo;s slightly dangerous but mostly harrowing mentally,&rdquo; Vance said of biking in Chicago. &ldquo;The likelihood that you&rsquo;ll get into a crash, I believe, is quite low but I don&rsquo;t have data to prove that.&rdquo;</p><p>Harrowing, that is, because of all the near misses that scare bikers.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/TouringCyclist.jpg" style="float: right; height: 324px; width: 370px;" title="Bike infrastructure may be placed in areas that are most convenient instead of areas that are most dangerous to bikers, suspects Steven Vance. (Flickr/TouringCyclist)" /></p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-73d020ab-55e7-a788-5dcc-18e53bee6a37">Vance launched a blog in May called </span>Close Calls, which allows Chicagoans to record their near-crash biking experiences.</p><p>But Vance, ultimately, doesn&rsquo;t care how dangerous it is to bike in Chicago. Unlike Pikelny, he&rsquo;s already decided to commute by bike. That&rsquo;s not a question, in his mind, at least. What&rsquo;s more important to Vance is identifying specific intersections or stretches of roads that are the most dangerous &nbsp;&mdash; and fixing them.</p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-73d020ab-55e7-a788-5dcc-18e53bee6a37">His other outlet, </span>Chicago Streets Blog, pre-ordered a counter to track the number of cars and bikes passing through certain intersections. The city tracks that information in some cases, but he says his blog purchased the counter because the city wasn&rsquo;t getting him the data when he asked for it.</p><p>Vance wants to make the data available to the public, with the ultimate goal being to identify the most dangerous intersections and stretches of road in Chicago. He finds that bike infrastructure is often constructed in areas that are convenient, but not necessarily areas that bikers consider the most dangerous.</p><p>But even with all the bike data in the world, determining danger &mdash; or in this case, risk &mdash; is still impossible.</p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-73d020ab-55e7-a788-5dcc-18e53bee6a37">David Ropeik, instructor at Harvard and author of </span>How Risky Is It Really: Why Our Fears Don&rsquo;t Always Match Our Facts, says risk is subjective.</p><p>&ldquo;We delude ourselves about some risk that is higher than they actually feel by saying, well, my general feeling about this from my experience, from what I&#39;ve heard and read is that this won&#39;t happen to me,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>What that means is that biking in Chicago may seem dangerous to one person but may seem less to another.</p><p>And sometimes impressions change.</p><p><strong>What once seemed safe</strong></p><p>Catherine Bullard never thought that biking in Chicago could be fatal.</p><p>That was before Bullard, a biker, received an urgent Facebook message late one night from her boyfriend&rsquo;s roommate. It said please call when you can.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2953269838_fc23f067a8_z.jpg" style="float: left; height: 241px; width: 360px;" title="This is an example of a ghost bike, which memorializes bikers who have died on the road. (Flickr/rocketlass)" />&ldquo;Without even thinking about it I knew that Bobby had been in a cycling accident, but I didn&rsquo;t think for a second that he was dead,&rdquo; said Bullard, who recounted her story to us while standing near the intersection of Larrabee Street and Clybourn Avenue &mdash; the same spot where her boyfriend, Bobby Cann, died biking home from Groupon where he worked. Cann, Bullard said, was an avid, safe cyclist.</p><p>Cann was struck around 6:30 p.m. by a driver who was allegedly drunk at the wheel. Cann was wearing a helmet.</p><p>&ldquo;He was so, so safe,&rdquo; Bullard said. &ldquo;He knew hand signals I didn&rsquo;t even know.&rdquo;</p><p>Bullard hasn&rsquo;t biked to work since Cann&rsquo;s death. She&rsquo;s conflicted about biking now. She never used to worry about getting hurt on a bike.</p><p>Now she wonders: How is it that something that once seemed safe &mdash; especially for those who followed all the rules &mdash; now doesn&rsquo;t?</p><p>She wants to get back on the road. And she will. She&rsquo;s determined. Except, for now, biking just seems too risky.</p><p>&ldquo;Part of it is being afraid of what might happen, which I hate,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I hate that that is an impulse of mine and he would hate it, too.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Perspective from a biking community</strong></p><p>Again, the hard comparative data that our questioner Motti Pikelny wanted isn&rsquo;t available, so we reached out to riders to get qualitative perspectives. The goal was to get some perspective from bikers on the ground. What do they see? What do they experience? Riders we spoke with agree that Chicago is becoming more bike-friendly in the sense that biking is gaining a higher profile and the city&rsquo;s adding new bike lanes.</p><p>We found one particularly interesting set of riders at the Chicago headquarters of Groupon, the daily deals service. The office, located on the near North Side, has a robust biking community; among other things, it&rsquo;s a regular participant in the annual Bike To Work week. According to the &nbsp;Active Transportation Alliance, the event last year had 7,000 participants citywide.</p><p>As Groupon editor Sandy Kofler told us, just several years ago she was nervous about riding her bike on some downtown streets &mdash; enough that she would put her bike on the train, ride one stop, and then get off and resume her ride.</p><p>The addition of bike lanes since then has helped a lot, she said.</p><p>Today Kofler bikes to work, taking one of two routes to work from her home in Humboldt Park; the one she frequently rides has fewer bike lanes than the other, but at least she can avoid having to make two scary left turns.</p><p>When it comes to biking in Chicago, she said, &ldquo;The safe ways are safe but they take longer.&rdquo;</p><p>To get even more perspective, we recently solicited volunteers from Groupon to&nbsp;<a href="#GrouponLogs">log their bike routes</a> for three days. Consider these logs as anecdotes of what its like to pedal in the bike lane &hellip; or in some cases, the shoulder of the road.</p><p><strong>The takeaway</strong></p><p>I reported my findings &mdash; the limited data, the wealth of anecdotes &mdash; back to Pikelny, who wasn&#39;t that surprised that there&rsquo;s no answer to his question. It is, after all, what he suspected after he finished his own surface research.</p><p>That being said, though, he hopes for better data collection in the future. That would be good, he said, for him as well as others who are contemplating whether to bike commute at all. And that would be helpful, too, for people like Bullard, who could at least lean on firm data to help decide whether to put her feet back on the pedals.</p><p><em>Chelsi Moy is a Curious City intern. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/chelsimoy" target="_blank">@chelsimoy</a>.</em></p><p><a name="bike logs"></a><a name="GrouponLogs"></a><font color="#04B4A"><strong>*Click on a person to view his/her bike log.</strong></font></p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="1300" scrolling="no" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/INTERACTIVE+DATA+PUBLISHING/2013+Projects/September/Bike+Safety/BIKE+CODE+4.html" width="620"></iframe></p><p><em>Correction: A caption misspelled the name of a Chicago blogger and developer. The correct spelling is Steven Vance.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Wed, 25 Sep 2013 11:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/biking-chicago-risky-proposition-108762 Divvy blues: Bike-share program leaves some behind http://www.wbez.org/news/divvy-blues-bike-share-program-leaves-some-behind-107893 <p><p>Chicago on Friday morning launched a new component of its storied transit system. <a href="http://divvybikes.com/" target="_blank">Divvy</a>, the city&rsquo;s first bike-share program, kicked off with 65 solar-powered docking stations. The plan is to add hundreds more by next spring. With a fleet of 700 powder-blue bikes, the system will be one of the largest bike-sharing operations in the world.</p><p>But most of the stations will stand within a couple miles of the lakefront, clustered mainly in the Loop and densely populated neighborhoods along transit lines. This in a city that has a checkered history of providing low-income residents equal access to public infrastructure. It begs the question: Who gets to share the benefits of Chicago&rsquo;s new bike share?</p><h2 class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bikes_1.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Divvy’s first fleet of bikes, set up at the station at Daley Plaza. (WBEZ/Robin Amer)" /><strong>Bike share basics</strong></h2><p>The Divvy bikes themselves are heavy-duty commuter bikes with fenders, chain guards, built-in-lights and a small front basket, big enough for a purse or briefcase &mdash; but not a load of groceries. The bikes are painted the same sky blue as the stripes on the Chicago flag.</p><p>Users will be able to pick up a bike at any of 400 docking stations the city plans to install by next spring. After a ride, users will be able to return the bike to any other station.</p><p>Divvy&rsquo;s startup financing include $22 million in federal funds and $5.5 million in local funds.</p><p>The day-to-day operations will be up to Portland-based <a href="http://www.altabicycleshare.com/" target="_blank">Alta Bicycle Share</a>, which also runs bike-share programs in Boston, New York and Washington, D.C. Chicago Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein once consulted for Alta and received criticism when Chicago chose the company for the city&rsquo;s program. Klein said he recused himself from the selection process.</p><h2><strong>Who is Divvy for?</strong></h2><p>Divvy&rsquo;s Web site describes the program&rsquo;s participants as &ldquo;everyone 16 years and older with a credit or debit card.&rdquo;</p><p>But that doesn&rsquo;t take into account the proximity of stations or some residents&rsquo; limited access to bank cards (more on that below). Divvy is designed for short trips under 30 minutes. After that, <a href="http://divvybikes.com/pricing" target="_blank">late fees kick in</a>.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bikes_2.jpg" style="float: left; height: 200px; width: 300px;" title="Divvy’s first station appears at the corner of Dearborn and Washington streets in the Loop. Stations will be clustered in high density areas, leaving parts of the city unserved. (WBEZ/Robin Amer)" />Planners say that the system was primarily designed to address what they call the &ldquo;last two miles&rdquo; problem of commuting. Namely, how to get people to work or home after they&rsquo;ve stepped off the train or bus. Divvy is not optimized for recreational riding or long treks across town.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">The stations are concentrated in high-density parts of town &mdash; in and near the Loop and along some major transit lines. The further from the city&rsquo;s center, the fewer stations there are.</div><p>This program stems partly from the city&rsquo;s desire to spur economic development. Mayor Rahm Emanuel often touts the connection between building better bike infrastructure and attracting high tech companies to Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s part of my effort to recruit entrepreneurs and start-up businesses because a lot of those employees like to bike to work,&rdquo; he <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/16810704-418/mayor-defends-protected-bike-lanes-along-dearborn.html" target="_blank">told the <em>Chicago Sun-Times</em> </a>last December. &ldquo;It is not an accident that, where we put our first protected bike lane is also where we have the most concentration of digital companies and digital employees. Every time you speak to entrepreneurs and people in the start-up economy and high-tech industry, one of the key things they talk about in recruiting workers is, can they have more bike lanes.&rdquo;</p><h2 class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/BIKE_1_Bell.JPG" style="float: right; height: 450px; width: 300px;" title="Cynthia Bell of the Active Transportation Alliance says the city could do a lot for West Side cycling apart from bike sharing. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" /><strong>Few stations on West Side, far South Side</strong></h2><p>But this strategy, putting the first stations where the demand is already highest, means that from the outset, some of Chicago&rsquo;s poorest neighborhoods have been left behind.</p><p>There are no stations south of 63rd Street or west of Central Park Avenue. Altogether, black West Side neighborhoods like North Lawndale, East and West Garfield Park, Austin, and West Humboldt Park will have just two of the 400 planned bike-sharing stations.</p><p>The Chicago Department of Transportation said that one-third of its planned bike-sharing stations will be in census tracts below the city&rsquo;s median income. That proportion is higher than comparable systems in either Boston or Washington, D.C.</p><p>The city set up <a href="http://share.chicagobikes.org/" target="_blank">a Web portal for suggestions</a> about where to put the stations. The city received about 1,000 suggestions and another 10,000 &ldquo;likes&rdquo; on those suggestions. But suggested station locations for the West Side were few and far in between.</p><p>The city also held five community-input meetings last fall. Three were downtown, one was at a library in Roscoe Village, and just one was in a neighborhood with a high minority population. That was in Bronzeville, which is getting a handful of stations.</p><p>&ldquo;The location of the public meetings is in large part driven by our initial service area,&rdquo; says Scott Kubly, Chicago&rsquo;s deputy transportation commissioner. Kubly says CDOT has applied for additional grants that would be used to build stations beyond the 400 already planned. If and when that money comes through, Kubly said Divvy would go through a another public planning process to site those new stations.</p><p>But some West Side residents aren&rsquo;t content to wait.</p><p>Tiffany Childress Price lives in North Lawndale and teaches high school there. She bikes to work, as does her husband, who takes Ogden everyday to get to his job as a barber in River North.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s easy for the city to say, &lsquo;A community like North Lawndale is not interested in biking.&rsquo; It doesn&rsquo;t surprise me,&rdquo; Childress Prices said. &ldquo;Neighborhoods like this are often overlooked and, when asked why, it&rsquo;s that we&rsquo;re just not interested.&rdquo;</p><p>But Childress Price says people like her and her husband prove otherwise. The problem isn&rsquo;t a lack of interest but, rather, a lack of education and infrastructure, she said.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s going to take city attention, maybe city investment &mdash; time and resources into education,&rdquo; she said.</p><h2 class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/BIKE_2_Hawkins%20%281%29.JPG" style="float: left; height: 450px; width: 300px;" title="As Chicago’s West Side awaits more Divvy stations, resident Eboni Hawkins says the city ought to encourage bike-related businesses, from repair shops to bike-driven food carts. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" /></h2><h2><strong>More Black and Latino cyclists on the road</strong></h2><p>As it turns out, though, the number of black and Latino cyclists has increased dramatically in recent years. In May, <a href="http://www.sierraclub.org/" target="_blank">the Sierra Club</a> and the <a href="http://www.bikeleague.org/" target="_blank">League of American Bicyclists</a> released <a href="http://www.bikeleague.org/content/report-new-majority-pedaling-toward-equity" target="_blank">a study</a> that showed rates of minority ridership up all over the country.</p><p>Planners often measure cycling by the number of trips made by bike. While non-white riders still account for only 23 percent of trips made by bike, according to the Sierra Club study, between 2001 and 2009, the number of trips African Americans made by bike increased by 100 percent. Those made by Latinos increased by 50 percent.</p><p>In addition, 60 percent of people of color surveyed said &ldquo;more bike facilities&rdquo; would encourage them to ride, and there&rsquo;s a lot at stake. According to the study, crash fatality rates are 30 percent higher for African Americans and 23 percent higher for Hispanics than they are for white riders.</p><p>&ldquo;For too long, many of these diverse populations have been overlooked by traditional organizations and transportation planners,&rdquo; the study authors write. &ldquo;In too many instances, people of color have been largely left out of transportation decision making processes that have dramatically impacted their neighborhoods.&rdquo;</p><p>CDOT, meanwhile, has asked the city to be patient when it comes to expanding Divvy into more minority neighborhoods.</p><p>Gabe Klein, Chicago&rsquo;s transportation commissioner, acknowledged the dearth of stations on Chicago&rsquo;s black West Side and far South Side, but emphasized the need to concentrate stations in areas with more commerce and residents.</p><p>&ldquo;People ask you a lot, &lsquo;How do you make sure you have access for everybody?&rsquo; It&rsquo;s always a challenge, because they are nodal systems,&rdquo; Klein said. &ldquo;You can&rsquo;t really put a station out by Midway Airport and not have [another station] two blocks away or doesn&rsquo;t work as a network.&rdquo;</p><p>Klein compared the nascent bike-share program to the early years of the &ldquo;L&rdquo; system before it radiated miles out from the city center.</p><p>&ldquo;Imagine when CTA started 100 years ago,&rdquo; Klein said, describing a system with few stations but plans for growth. &ldquo;Now look at the CTA. It&rsquo;s ubiquitous, it&rsquo;s everywhere.&rdquo;</p><p>Whether the CTA is truly &ldquo;everywhere&rdquo; is a matter of debate, but for now CDOT is holding off on the placement of 20 stations until after next spring. Officials want to assess unanticipated demand, and make some data-driven decisions about where to expand.</p><p>&ldquo;It could very well be there,&rdquo; Klein said, pointing to the West Side on a city map. &ldquo;And 20 stations is a lot of stations.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><h2><strong>Access to biking harder for the poor and unbanked</strong></h2><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/bikes3.jpg" style="height: 451px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="A prospective Divvy member tries out one of the new bikes. Some black Chicagoans want more more stations on the South and West sides. (WBEZ/Robin Amer)" />Even if the city expanded Divvy&rsquo;s bike stations and led a huge public-education campaign, there are still other potential barriers to entry.</div><p>First, there&rsquo;s the cost of membership.</p><p>CDOT officials claim the program&rsquo;s membership cost as a success. &ldquo;This will be the lowest cost form of transit available &mdash; probably less expensive than walking,&rdquo; Klein said. &ldquo;If you walked everywhere you&rsquo;d probably have to buy a couple pairs of shoes per year.&rdquo;</p><p>And while $75 a year is far cheaper than the cost of an annual CTA pass, the up-front cost could be prohibitive for some low-income users. The bike-share system in Washington, D.C., offers an $84 annual membership that can be paid for in monthly installments of $7.</p><p><a href="http://www.thehubway.com/" target="_blank">Boston&rsquo;s Hubway bikeshare</a>, meanwhile, offers steeply discounted $5 annual memberships to anyone on public assistance living within 400 percent of the poverty line. They&rsquo;ve funded this through the <a href="http://www.bphc.org/Pages/Home.aspx" target="_blank">Boston Public Health Commission</a>. So far, the Hubway has sold 650 such discounted memberships in a system of 14,000 members.</p><p>Boston&rsquo;s bike share grew out of multiple initiatives from the mayor&rsquo;s office &mdash; one focused on health and obesity, another focused on the environment and sustainability and another on economic development.</p><p>&ldquo;In many ways, biking is really at the nexus of all three of those,&rdquo; said Nicole Freedman, director of bicycle programs for Boston. She said that subsidized memberships were &ldquo;a very targeted effort to reach residents that tend to have more health and obesity issues.&rdquo;</p><p>While CDOT officials said they were excited about the public-health benefits of cycling, Chicago won&rsquo;t be offering either discounted memberships or the option of a monthly payment program to low-income residents here.&nbsp;</p><p>Equally complicated is the issue of liability.</p><p>With a few exceptions, in Chicago, you will need a credit or debit card to join Divvy or to rent a bike for the day. The system won&rsquo;t accept cash. This is about protecting the bikes, CDOT says. If you lose or steal one, Divvy will charge you $1,200 to replace it.</p><p>If you don&rsquo;t have a bank account or credit card, if you&rsquo;re living paycheck-to-paycheck or stuffing your savings under your mattress, you&rsquo;re what experts call &ldquo;unbanked.&rdquo; And if you&rsquo;re unbanked, you can&rsquo;t be charged for a replacement bike as easily.</p><p>Chris Holben, program manager of <a href="http://www.capitalbikeshare.com/" target="_blank">Capital Bikeshare</a> in Washington, D.C., said his program had faced that issue. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ll be tabling at an event,&rdquo; Holben said, &ldquo;and people will say to us, &lsquo;I don&rsquo;t have a credit card but I really want to join.&rsquo; &rdquo;</p><p>Sometimes, the hurdles to bike sharing go far beyond banking. &ldquo;Perhaps these people don&rsquo;t have access to the Internet or, if they do, they have to go to the library. Or the banks, there are a number of locations, but maybe not where they live,&rdquo; Holben said. &ldquo;If they&rsquo;re unbanked already they&rsquo;re already struggling to have access to some of the things that would make it easier.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Divvy%20map%202.jpg" style="float: left; height: 338px; width: 300px;" title="A map of Divvy’s proposed stations. The initial crop of stations won’t extend past 63rd Street on the South Side, or past Central Park Avenue on the West Side. (Courtesy of Divvy)" />So what are the unbanked to do?&nbsp;</p><p>Divvy and CDOT are planning a unique approach, one that takes banking out of the equation. They plan to partner with community groups including churches and job-training programs.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;The community-based organizations [will set] up the rules that work for their members, in terms of how many hours or time they&rsquo;ll allow members, or how they want to handle the rules around usage,&rdquo; Kubly said.</p><p>Then, the $1,200 liability will be shared between the community organization, the city and Divvy &mdash; not the user.</p><p>&ldquo;And, hopefully, when you get all those things pulled together,&rdquo; Kubly said, &ldquo;it actually takes the banking question out of it for those folks, and lets anybody have access.&rdquo;</p><p>But the city isn&rsquo;t specifying a date when it will launch the community partnership program.</p><h2><strong>Beyond bike sharing: Thinking in terms of infrastructure</strong></h2><p>Cynthia Bell, a lifelong West Sider who works for the Active Transportation Alliance, says the city could do more to encourage low-income biking, with or without Divvy.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of our people now are going to Walmart or Target, buying those bikes, which are low quality,&rdquo; Bell said. &ldquo;They break down within five months and, before you know it, people haven&rsquo;t been on their bike all summer just because of a flat. A flat kept them from riding their bike the whole summer.&rdquo;<br /><br />Bell says the city could do more to help set up bike-repair shops and safe places to park.</p><p>Tiffany Childress Price, a North Lawndale teacher and avid biker, says the reasons for bringing bike-sharing to low-income neighborhoods go beyond economic development and convenience.</p><p>&ldquo;We have the highest childhood obesity rates in the city so it seems like we&rsquo;d want to promote biking&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Chicago has made progress in laying down more bike lanes on the West Side. When it comes to the bike-share system, though, officials say most low-income neighborhoods will have to wait.</p><p><em>Robin Amer is a reporter/producer on WBEZ&rsquo;s digital team. Follow her on Twitter <a href="http://twitter.com/rsamer" target="_blank">@rsamer</a>.</em></p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 28 Jun 2013 07:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/divvy-blues-bike-share-program-leaves-some-behind-107893 What I See: Bike a Bee http://www.wbez.org/what-i-see-bike-bee-107686 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/bikeabee hive.png" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="620" scrolling="no" src="http://storywheel.cc/reallylikeit-1/a-day-in-the-life-of-bike-a" width="620"></iframe></p><p>Jana Kinsman is the&nbsp;creator of Bike a Bee, an urban beekeeping project that places beehives with community gardens all over Chicago and tends to them by bicycle. Here, she documents a day in her life.&nbsp;More info at <a href="http://bikeabee.com">bikeabee.com</a>.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 13 Jun 2013 16:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/what-i-see-bike-bee-107686 Bike infrastructure hits Congressional speed bumps http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-09-22/bike-infrastructure-hits-congressional-speed-bumps-92345 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/npr_story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-22/120246089.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The corner of 15th and K streets in Washington, D.C., is busy. Buses, trucks, cars and taxis zip by. There are pedestrians and, increasingly, bikes.</p><p>Some 57 million adults ride bicycles in the U.S., whether for commuting or exercise or fun. Cities are adding bike lanes with the help of a federal program that gets its money from the highway bill. Some Senate Republicans tried — and ultimately failed — to block funding for that program, which also pays for sidewalks and other pedestrian improvements.</p><p>Andy Clarke, president of the League of American Bicyclists, bikes up 15th Street in Washington in bike lanes sectioned off from the other traffic.</p><p>"If we were in Portland or Amsterdam ... we'd have our own set of traffic signals, and there'd be a little more space here," he says, "but, you know, these are early days, and we're not Amsterdam yet. We don't have quite that many cyclists, but it's certainly noticeable the increase in the last year or two as the infrastructure has gone in."</p><p>Clarke says the move by Congress was hard to take because cities nationwide are spending local, state and federal funds on these kinds of projects.</p><p>"It seems just bizarre to be stopping it and discouraging it when it's got so many benefits," he says.</p><p>Washington is hardly alone in marking off bike lanes in its streets; New York has done it, as have Seattle and Minneapolis and any number of cities across the country.</p><p>It's been slow to catch on in other places, most notably in Congress, where some lawmakers feel these and other "transportation enhancements," as the government calls them, are not an appropriate use of federal dollars.</p><p>Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma tried to strip the program from a temporary highway bill last week. His GOP colleague, Rand Paul of Kentucky, joined him in speaking out against bike trails.</p><p>"Look, I'm a bicyclist, and I like bike paths as much as anybody," Paul said, "but when bridges are falling into the river, when a major metropolitan area like Louisville, Ky., has one-third of their bridge capacity closed down because the bridge is dangerous to travel on, these are emergency problems."</p><p>A deal in the longer-term highway bill convinced Coburn not to block the bill last Thursday.</p><p>Backers of the infrastructure point out that the amount of spending on bike paths and pedestrian improvements amounts to about 1.5 percent of transportation spending — a tiny fraction of what's needed to pay for bridge repairs, and not what's keeping those bridges from getting fixed.</p><p>David Goldberg of the advocacy group Transportation for America calls this is a "watershed moment," as communities revert to an earlier time when roads weren't owned by cars.</p><p>"We stripped [roads] down to be essentially sewers for cars, and for years we thought the throughput of vehicles was the be-all and end-all," he says. "There's been a significant change in recent years where cities, towns, large and small, are taking a very different approach, and they're going back and reclaiming a little bit of that landscape."</p><p>It's not just bike lanes that are funded by the transportation enhancements program. Pedestrian improvements such as sidewalks and better-marked crosswalks are also funded. In part, Goldberg says, the money is being spent to reduce pedestrian deaths, most of which occur on roads built to earlier federal guidelines without proper crosswalks, for example, that are unsafe for pedestrians and other users.</p><p>"This is a national issue of having created safety problems in community after community, where we need to go back and give people safe ways to get out there, to be active, to get where they need to go," he says, "and this is not a frill, this is a very critical piece of our infrastructure."</p><p>It's not clear what lies ahead for the transportation enhancements program in the long term. Republicans in Congress want to give states the flexibility to opt out of it, and that worries safety advocates who say that without prodding from Washington, some states will focus only on cars to the detriment of everyone else on the road.</p><div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio.</div></p> Thu, 22 Sep 2011 12:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-09-22/bike-infrastructure-hits-congressional-speed-bumps-92345