Thursday, October 12, 2017

Bicycle Barometers help cyclists feel validated

The Eco-Totem Counter along Remington Greenway in
Fort Collins. Image Credit: NFRMPO Staff
When a commuter on a bike rolls by the Fort Collins Eco-Totem on the Remington Greenway, they are immediately counted and added to the daily tally that displays digitally to all passers-by. There is also an annual tally that creeps up with each bicyclist. The counter was installed in December 2017 to help the City of Fort Collins understand travel patterns following the bicycle-friendly improvements along the Remington Corridor, and to give instant and continuous feedback to those using the infrastructure. Many cities across the U.S. have installed permanent counters to better understand how and where cyclists are using the road and trail network. San Francisco, for instance, has 75 counters throughout the city, some with displays and some without. The NFRMPO region is home to 18 permanent counters with a handful to be installed in late 2017 or early 2018. There are also several mobile counters that can be installed temporarily on trails and bike lanes across the region. To learn more about non-motorized planning efforts in the NFRMPO region, check out the 2016 Non-Motorized Plan

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Are cities ready for dockless bike share? Keep an eye on D.C.

A LimeBike dockless bike parked along the National Mall
in Washington D.C. Image credit: Flickr 
Traditional bike share systems have been characterized by a designated location to park the bike. For Northern Coloradoans, think Fort Collins Bike Share, powered by Zagster. There are 20 stations across the city to pick-up or drop off a bike. With dockless bike share systems, riders can leave the bikes nearly anywhere that is convenient, checking them in or out with a mobile device. Since the summer, these systems have arrived in cities like Dallas, Seattle, and most notably Washington D.C., where four dockless companies have set up shop in recent weeks with another on the way. D.C. officials are allowing the companies to operate on a six month trial basis in order to gather information on necessary regulations. Many are concerned that dockless bikes parked along city streets will cause issues on already crowded sidewalks. The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) has also warned that “rogue” bike share companies launching services without consulting city officials may be using unsafe equipment and providing services in inadequate locations.

Companies operating in D.C. will be supplying the city with data on who is using the bikes, when, and why to better understand underserved and overserved areas. Because they require no infrastructure, the dockless bikes have the potential to provide more complete coverage across cities. However, the location of the nearest bike will be unpredictable, leaving many questions as to the reliability of such a system. Many cities across the U.S. will be keeping an eye on Washington D.C. in order to plan for dockless bike share systems.

For more on the topic, visit Governing.

Driverless freight train completes first test run in Australia

Image credit: Flickr

Automated technology continues to be tested around the world; most recently, a freight train company in Australia operated a pilot service between Wombat Junction and Paraburdoo, a distance of 100 kilometers. According to Rio Tinto, around half of its collective fleet kilometers are operated in autonomous mode with drivers on board. The company's goal is to have its AutoHaul system operational by the end of the year, assuming it receives the proper governmental approval.

More information is available by reading the article on Global Rail News.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Right Kind of Transit for 'In-Between' Cities

Link Light Rail. Image credit: Flickr

Many regions across the country have urbanized quickly in the past few decades, but transit has not necessarily grown with the population increases. When people think of transit, they may think of bigger cities like New York City, Boston, or Washington, D.C. Medium-size cities like Seattle have seen transit rates increase, due to investments in the system, relaxed zoning laws leading to a denser city, and private rideshare. This has led to a region where 70 percent of commuters living in downtown Seattle commute by transit and ridership on the countywide bus system has increased quicker than population.

Discussion about transit in medium -size cities is available by reading the Governing article.

Building Safe Bikeway Infrastructure for Less

Example of a Neighborhood Bikeway crossing. Image Credit: StreetsBlog USA

With the help of Alta Planning + Design, Fort Collins is turning towards a new method of creating safe spaces for bicyclists to ride; one that is both fast and affordable. “Neighborhood Bikeways” use low-density, low-traffic local streets as the base of the network. Infrastructure interventions, like protected bikeways, are rarely required on these streets because auto traffic is already minimal. At major intersections that lack traffic signals, cities can install biker-activated signals that only give arterial streets a red light when bikers press the crossing button.

These projects are typically only 60 to 70 percent of the cost of a full signalized intersection. Furthermore, unlike a regular traffic signal, they don’t attract more traffic, which would run counter to the goal of a low-traffic bike corridor. For a fraction of the cost, neighborhood bikeways provide bikers of all ages and abilities with a safe, low-stress option for getting where they need to go, or just for enjoying a little time outside!

For more information, check out Michael Andersen's article in StreetsBlog USA.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

What Do Those Flashing Left-Turn Arrows Mean, Anyway?

Image Credit: The Coloradoan
Flashing yellow arrows above left turn signals warn drivers to yield to oncoming traffic. These signals may be safer than the solid green circle alone, because some drivers interpret the green as permission to turn without checking for oncoming traffic. Flashing yellow lights seek to reduce the number of severe injury or fatalities caused by crashes involving left turns, sometimes referred to as approach-turn crashes. They also provide traffic engineers more flexibility to respond to different volumes of traffic. 

For more information check out Alicia Stice’s article in the Coloradoan. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Big Thompson Canyon residents prepare for another lengthy US 34 closure

Image Credit: CDOT

Beginning October 2, 18 miles of US 34 will close for construction in Big Thompson Canyon. The construction will be completed in sections, with some opening by January and others opening in late May. Residents who live along US 34 between Mall Road and along CR 43 up to the Dam Store in Glen Haven will receive permits to travel US 34 during specific times. Non-canyon residents will detour on US 36 between Longmont and Estes Park during the closure.

US 34 closed last winter for permanent repairs in Big Thompson Canyon. The construction was expected to continue through 2020 with single lane closures, but instead CDOT is following an accelerated plan with another permitted closure this winter to finish construction in December 2018.

To learn more, read the article in the Reporter-Herald.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Status of State Safety Oversight Program Certification

Image credit: RTD Denver

Colorado is one of 30 states with a rail transit system. As a result, it is necessary to establish an FTA-certified State Safety Oversight (SS) Program by April 15, 2019. If the state does not obtain certification by the deadline, FTA is not allowed to obligate any federal public transportation funds to any public transportation agencies throughout the State. There are four stages in the program, and Colorado is currently on Stage 2. Colorado is expected to receive $122M in FTA funds in FY2019, the year the certification must be received. So far, only one state has received certification.

Test ride e-bikes at Ride Into the Future

Image credit: Alliance for Sustainable Colorado
The Alliance for Sustainable Colorado is hosting a “Ride Into the Future” Electric Vehicle (EV) Showcase next Wednesday, September 20 from 11AM-2PM at the Alliance Center (1536 Wynkoop St) in Denver. The showcase will include information and test rides of electric bicycles (e-bikes). You may also test drive EVs from Tesla, Chevrolet, Nissan, and BMW. Participants will learn about car shares, e-bikes, rebates, knowledge, and other tools that fit your commute and lifestyle. Learn more and RSVP here.

Chinese cities putting the brakes on shared bikes

Image credit: Flickr
Some of China’s largest cities such as Shanghai, Beijing and Chengdu are discouraging the expansion of the bike-sharing industry. Nationwide there are 70 bike-sharing brands, 16 million bicycles, and 130 million users, according to China's Ministry of Transport (MOT). City officials have expressed issues with haphazard parking of the bikes obstructing crowded areas and disrupting traffic, as well as the sheer amount of bikes creating safety concerns as the the large mass of new users interacts with motorized vehicles. Cities are now regulating the number of bikes on their streets and tightening the contractual obligations of shared bike operators. In hopes of finding a long-term solution, Chengdu will experiment with electronic fences, multi-story bike parking, and reallocation of bike fleets based on observed demand.

Learn more from Global Times and China Daily