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Riding Stylishly

November 20, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Economy, Jay Walljasper

Do Bike Lanes Promote Gentrification?

by Jay Walljasper

While African-Americans comprise the fastest growing demographic of bicyclists, doubling from 2001 and 2009 according to U.S. Department of Transportation data, bike lanes proposed for African-American neighborhoods in several cities have drawn controversy.

There are widespread feelings in some African-American communities that bike lanes are the opening act of gentrification, says Adrian Lipscomb, a bicycle project coordinator for the city of Austin, Texas who is writing a Ph.D. dissertation on African-Americans and biking. One woman in the historically African-American neighborhood of East Austin told Lipscomb: “When the bikes came in, the blacks went out.” However, Census data shows the percentage of the population that was white in the neighborhood increased only one percentage point between 2000 and 2009, while the percentage that was Latino climbed eight. (The numbers of Latinos biking in the United States rose nearly 50 percent between 2000 and 2009, compared to 22 percent for whites. Whites and Latinos now bike at the same level.) (more…)

Bike Lanes to Somewhere

October 24, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Jay Walljasper

On Race, Health, and Equity

by Jay Walljasper

Rev. Kenneth Gunn’s ministry at Chicago’s Bread of Life Church encompasses both the Bible and bicycles. He organized a bike club that regularly rides from the South Side church to Lake Michigan and along the Lakefront Trail. In his spare time, Gunn repairs donated bikes that he gives to kids in the predominantly African-American neighborhood.

Rev. Gunn believes biking offers great benefits to the community. “Besides good recreation, biking is economical,” the 70-year-old minister explains, especially in a city where many people don’t own cars and transit fares are rising. “But health is the number one reason to ride a bike. It’s good for your coronary, your respiratory and your blood pressure. And I find it’s good for my arthritis.”

Gunn welcomes the new protected bike lanes popping up across Chicago’s South Side as a way to encourage more African-Americans to bike. “The city is becoming more and more bike friendly. The new lanes on 55th Street are super-safe and I love it.” (more…)

Ending Bikelash

June 25, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Ecology, Economy, Jay Walljasper

Support for Bicycling Surges Nationwide

by Jay Walljasper

Former New York mayor Ed Koch envisioned bicycles as vehicles for the future. In 1980, he created experimental bike lanes on 6th Green lane picand 7th avenues in Manhattan where riders were protected from speeding traffic by asphalt barriers. It was unlike anything most Americans had ever seen, and some people roared their disapproval. Within weeks, the bike lanes were gone.

Twenty-seven years later, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and his transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan saw the growing ranks of bicyclists on the streets as a key component of 21st-century transportation, and began building protected bike lanes in Manhattan and Brooklyn. They had studied the success of similar projects in Copenhagen and the Netherlands, noting how to make projects more efficient and aesthetically pleasing. (more…)

Vicious Cycles

June 07, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

A Broken Justice System Perpetuates Itself…

by Robert C. Koehler

“Wheel about and turn about and do just so. Every time I turn about I jump Jim Crow.” — chorus of an 1828 minstrel song

“We have not ended racial caste in America, we have merely redesigned it.” — Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow

Yeah, it’s called mass incarceration. Our jails are filled with black and brown men and women. The number of inmates, primarily people of color, has soared sevenfold in the last three decades, according to Alexander, from 300,000 to more than 2 million, the largest number, by far, in the developed world. Many millions more are on probation or parole. And no matter what their crime, the inmates never get their citizenship back. The stigma of being an ex-felon brands someone for life as a second-class human being. (more…)

Bike Commuting

April 11, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Jay Walljasper

One of the Best Ways to Stay Healthy…

by Jay Walljasper

It’s always a pleasure when scientific studies confirm your own long-held opinions, especially when what you think flies in the face of all conventional wisdom.

For instance, who knew that chocolate éclairs and triple fudge caramel brownies actually contain fewer calories than a 12-ounce glass of skim milk? Or that every $1,000 you spend on lavish vacations before the age of 65 will, over the long run, provide you with more retirement income than if you’d stashed that same $1,000 in a 401k?

Well, to be honest, I made up the fact about the éclairs. And the one about vacations, too.

But here’s bona fide scholarly research that excites me in the same way: Biking for transportation appears more helpful in losing weight and promoting health than working out at the gym. (more…)

Bicycling Means Business

November 13, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Economy, Jay Walljasper

Cities Discover Good Biking Attracts Jobs and Talent

by Jay Walljasper

“Biking is definitely part of our strategy to attract and retain businesses in order to compete in a mobile world,” says Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak as we pedal across the Mississippi river on a bike-and-pedestrian bridge. “We want young talent to come here and stay. And good biking is one of the least expensive ways to send that message.”

“I was having dinner with a creative director that a local firm was eager to hire for a key post,” Rybak adds.  “He was an American living in Europe, and we spent most of the evening talking about the importance of biking and walking to the life of a city. He took the job.”

Minneapolis has invested heavily in biking — creating a network of off-street trails criss-crossing the city, adding 180 miles of bike lanes to city streets, launching one of the country’s first bikeshare programs, and creating protected lanes to separate people on bikes from motor traffic — which is why it lands near the top of lists ranking America’s best bike cities.

“We moved from the suburbs to downtown Minneapolis to allow our employees to take advantage of the area’s many trails and to put the office in a more convenient location for commuting by pedal or foot,” explained Christine Fruechte, CEO of large advertising firm Colle + McVoy, in a newspaper op-ed. “Our employees are healthier, happier and more productive. We are attracting some of the best talents in the industry.” (more…)

Bicycle Brilliance

June 06, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Ecology, Jay Walljasper

Greening Our Streets and Bringing Bicycling into the 21st Century

by Jay Walljasper

You can glimpse the future right now in forward-looking American cities — a few blocks here, a mile there where people riding bicycles are protected from rushing cars and trucks.

Chicago’s Kinzie Street, just north of downtown, offers a good picture of this transportation transformation.  New bike lanes are marked with bright green paint and separated from motor traffic by a series of plastic posts.  This means bicyclists glide through the busy area in the safety of their own space on the road.  Pedestrians are thankful that bikes no longer seek refuge on the sidewalks, and many drivers appreciate the clear, orderly delineation about where bikes and cars belong.

“Most of all this is a safety project,” notes Chicago’s Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein. “We saw bikes go up from a 22 percent share of traffic to 52 percent of traffic on the street with only a negligible change in motorists’ time, but a drop in their speeds. That makes everyone safer.”

Klein heralds this new style of bike lane as one way to improve urban mobility in an era of budget shortfalls. “They’re dirt cheap to build compared to road projects.” (more…)