Today’s guest blogger is Noah Bers, Velocipede member and very knowledgeable guy on all things biking in Baltimore. Along with Lars & Boson, Noah is always giving me great ideas to improve cycling conditions in B’more.
This past week, members of Velocipede Bicycle Project, Boson Au, Lars Peterson, and myself, Noah Bers attended the 2010 annual international Bike!Bike! Conference, hosted by the Bike Pirates in Toronto, Canada. Bike!Bike! is an international conference for people involved with community bike projects and other not-for-profit bike projects. This year’s 7th annual conference was notable because it was the first time that it was held outside of the United States.
On a sunny afternoon two weeks ago, the three of us with passports in hand, our bicycles and gear, all packed into Lupe, my little Honda, and set off for the great land of Canada. Now, I had never visited Canada so I was uncertain of what to expect. I imagined a land where people rode around on mastodons, but certainly not bicycles. I was way off.
Instead, we were greeted by a city teeming with cyclists and comprehensive on-street bicycle facilities, and not nearly as many automobiles as one would expect in a city of 2.5 million people, which is not all that surprising given the 100 cents per liter average fuel cost and the dearth of free on-street parking. More surprising, cyclists seemed to obey traffic signals not because the law dictates so, but because it’s a necessity with so many fellow bikers. And waiting at a traffic signal with ten other cyclists happened enough to times to almost seem normal. It turns out that Toronto is quite the cyclist’s paradise, making it the perfect back drop for this year’s conference.
Over the four day conference, there were 36 different workshops, including those on subjects like the consensus process, rebuilding three-speed hubs, sexism in the shop, and youth bicycle programming. Workshops were led by people from different projects. Each workshop was an opportunity to learn, share, and improve skills in an informal discussion format. Our projects often face similar challenges so it’s extremely helpful to learn about solutions that have worked for others and also rewarding to share answers we’ve found.
The Volunteer Orientation workshop led by a fellow named Jimmy Hallyburton, the Executive Director of the Boise Bike Project, definitely takes the prize for best workshop. While some workshops were led by more of a discussion facilitator than an authority, Jimmy brought with him a well organized curriculum and hands on approach to the pedagogy of introducing folks with no bicycle experience to a shop environment. This was the only workshop that the three of us attended together, and definitely opened our eyes to major flaws in the way we go about orienting those new to Velocipede. Stay tuned for big changes!
And then there was the Critical Mass to celebrate the great blackout of 2003. Along with a few hundred well-behaved cyclists, we took to the streets wishing good cheer to everyone we passed. The destination of the mass was a party under an overpass and then in a construction site, complete with a Gypsy band, fire throwers, and sparklers provided by yours truly. Here is a video of this event that someone posted to YouTube. I think this will be remembered as one of the more memorable events of each of our lives.
The truth is, running a community non-profit bike shop is exceptionally draining and sometimes feels fairly thankless. Each year toward the end of our busy summer season, when we can almost take no more, we head off to the Bike!Bike! conference where over four days, we meet, learn from, and yes, party with new and old friends from across the globe. It’s educational, it’s an adventure, and it is restorative. And each year, without fail, we return home with a new found focus and love for The Velocipede Bike Project. In the words of Boson, “This year’s bike!bike! was nothing short of amazing. I feel really energized and jazzed.”
If you have any questions about Bike!Bike! or Velocipede or just want to talk bicycles, you can email me at noahbers [at] gmail [dot] com or Velocipede at info [at] velocipedebikeproject [dot] org.
One of the first blog posts I did on Bike Baltimore was to cover the beginning of Bike Free. Paul Lebelle & Adam Burkowske embarked on a cross country bike trip to raise funds and awareness to get more kids of servicemen & women on bikes! 3500 miles and a West Coast later, Paul & Adam are in Portland, Oregon where Paul’s bike was stolen! Portland media & churches have come to their assistance, but the completion of their journey is on hold for now.
Follow Bike Free here!
Here’s a follow-up on The Bike Tube Blow Out that took place at the new Performance Bicycle store in Columbia. After all was said and done, 500 lbs. of tubes were collected to be recycled and put back into good use. That’s a quarter of a ton; not too shabby!
With so much turnout for these events, the wheels are in motion to make each store a collection point for used bike tubes. But until then, Performance will have these Blow Outs. Stay tuned for the next time one rolls into the Baltimore area.
Thanks to Josh Gilbert for the Performance update!
The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) “Cities for Cycling” Road Show comes to Baltimore Thursday, September 30th and Friday, October 1st. This 2 day visit is 3rd in a series of emerging cycling cities following Boston & Philadelphia. NACTO brings the experience of the bicycle planners & engineers from across the country to help Baltimore advance its cycling infrastructure and programming.
On Thursday evening , September 30th, “Cities for Cycling” partners with One Less Carand University of Baltimore to host a free 2 hour interactive forum, open to the public. It will include an array of bicycle infrastructure, advocacy initiatives and programs that have been successful in other cities with a Q&A session at the end. The “Road Show” combines with One Less Car’s “Fall Forum” at University of Baltimore’s Langsdale Auditorium at 7pm.
On Friday, October 1st, NACTO officials will meet with local decision makers, planners & engineers on how we can become even more bike-friendly and feature a bike tour of Baltimore’s bike infrastructure and problem areas.
NACTO is also developing an Urban Bikeways Design Guide as a best practices manual for bicycle infrastructure. The online & printed guides will highlight engineering techniques being deployed by NACTO members to make bicycling safer, more comfortable and more convenient. The dissemination and fine-tuning of these designs will prove to be key elements in unleashing the potential of American cities to achieve world-class levels of bicycling.
The 6th annual Charm City Cross will mark the first year as a UCI sanctioned race. This is a Category 2 UCI and USAC cyclo-cross event. The event will be held under UCI regulations and USAC Permit. UCI scale of penalties and USAC penalties will apply.
Register at www.bikereg.com
Reg. Fees: $30 for UCI Elite events, $10 for U19 events, $25 for all other events. Lil’ Belgians Free
Online registration closes on Thursday, September 16th at 7:00pm
On Site Late Registration is available, however online registration is encouraged to avoid the additional $10 same day registration fee.
Registration booth will open by 8:00 a.m.
For more information, visit Twenty20 Cycling
Tour du Port, Baltimore’s largest bike ride, is on October 3rd! Over 2000 people attended from over 8 states last year so sign up now and be part of the fun! The bike routes (12-63 miles) travel through Baltimore’s historic neighborhoods, waterfront areas and scenic parks. This fully supported bike tour includes rest stops with refreshments, maps, SAG support and a post-ride celebration with lunch supplied by Whole Foods Market and live music!
One Less Car promotes bike safety, infrastructure, & education along with pedestrian initiatives which produce a better community where you can safely live , work & play! Register for the ride and you will be supporting bike and walker safety, sidewalks, bike lanes, carpooling, teleworking and more! Tour mechandise is also available from One Less Car!
This is the newly installed ZELT loop detector by Eco-Counter. The counter uses different parameters like speed, weight, and wheel base distance to distinguish bike traffic from vehicular traffic helping DOT accurately count bike traffic along Fallsway. The in-ground detector is the first of its kind in Baltimore.
DOT’s first automated bicycle & pedestrian counter has been in use on the Pratt St bike lane since March 2009. Here the pyro sensor detector tracks everything that crosses the counter’s beam whether bicycles, pedestrians, delivery trucks, taxis etc. (Yes, I account for a margin of error here.)
Next week, local bicycle traffic verifiers will be tracking bikes “the old-fashioned way” – just by counting them. I appreciate all the volunteers that are taking time out of their schedule to contribute to this effort. If you’re riding by Falls & Maryland, Aliceanna & Boston, Guilford & Mt. Royal or Frederick & the Gwynns Falls Trail, be sure to thank them as well.
Through automoted counters & volunteers, the data collected will be used to gauge the increase in bicycle traffic and help give numbers to support inclusion of bicycle infrastructure in future roadway projects. These numbers are specifically important this year as Maryland Avenue is due for resurfacing next year. If we have the traffic numbers and public support, DOT may consider a “cycletrack” here.
We’re making bikes count by counting bikes!