Archive for Cycling

Transportation Equity Podcast

Just imagine what 58 transportation-oriented private and governmental groups could think of and accomplish together. Don’t imagine. Go to Transportation for Massachusetts ( and see. Start with the last year’s legislative recap here.

Josh Ostroff, interim director, spoke today on the aims and needs. We are two transit geeks, who love everything from trains to bikes (and tolerate cars as needed). Among our fast-talking topics were:

  • transportation equity, getting everyone including the poor from where they live to where they work or want to play quickly, safely and affordably
  • maintaining roads, bridges and rails
  • planning, building and repairing for multi-modal transit
  • transit for the “unrich’ who don’t have choices for work, education, and just getting around

Regular readers and listeners know I’m big on transit. I expect more shows with principals of T4MA. Meanwhile, look through the site for what fits your interest. Consider the T4MA half day conference Fast Forward to saturate yourself in the subject.

icon for podpress  T4MA Transit Equity [30:14m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Bikes v. Cars Podcast

A pedals-on scholar of transportation and cycling, Steven Miller, joined us to talk cyclists versus drivers, past, present and future. Among his many related credentials (check the link for a sketch) he founded Hub on Wheels, sits on the MBTA and Cambridge bicycle advisory boards, and is on the board of Livable Streets, where he also writes the related blog.

We spoke of the in-progress transformation of Boston from a bike-hostile city toward a friendlier, safer, quieter, healthier one. On the way has been considerable culture shock. Despite the history of bikes being on the streets before cars, cyclists are seen as the interlopers.

Listen in as Miller suggests who is really bike hostile. He also addresses such changes as decreases in miles driven annually, in age at first acquiring a car, as well as increases in number of cyclists. He’s been involved in and observed the myriad changes in the Boston area.

He discusses the E’s that will make travel more pleasant and safer for everyone — Encouraging more cycling (health, noise, pollution, congestion benefits), Engineering (bike lanes, cycle tracks and more), Enforcement (of traffic rules for everyone), Education (down to public schools), and Equity (making sure low-income areas also have affordable access to cycles and cycling). Click below to hear the details.

Miller believes as did the Boston and Cambridge cycling program managers of Boston and Cambridge that the more cyclists on the road the better and safer conditions will be. Drivers will be aware of sharing the road, at a minimum.

To the question of whether cyclists tend to be renegades and crazy folk, Miller, a cyclist as well as driver, says they tend not to be any better or worse than motorists. He says it’s always easier to blame other people, so drivers do that as well.

Listen in as we talk futures, including possible legislation to speed traffic while keeping cyclists safe and maybe even requirements that all cyclists use flashing front and back lights as well as side-view mirrors.

icon for podpress  Cyclists v. Drivers [32:49m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


What Is It About Drivers v. Cyclists?

Want conflict? Just mention urban cyclists! Liveable Street’s blogger Steve Miller joins us to talk safety, the likelihood of jolly coexistence and more. He works for the Harvard School of Public Health and is known in transit as the founder of Hub on Wheels as well as on Boston and Cambridge’s bike advisory boards.

Fair warning: Mike is a cyclist, who often walks and occasional drives, but a cyclist first.

Miller has considerable knowledge in this area. He’ll talk about the turmoil and outlook.

If you can catch the show live, do it Tuesday, October 2nd at 2:30 PM here. Afterward, you can listen to or download the whole show back here, at the show URL or on our iTunes page.


Pres. Ross on Bikes, Boston, Budgets

Michael RossJoin us Tuesday, August 3rd to hear Boston City Council President Michael Ross. He’s driven, bright and candid.

We chatted him up at the opening of the new bike lanes on Commonwealth Avenue…talking cycling. He’s a regular rider and big on Boston as a biking center, along with Mayor Tom Menino. Sure, we’ll talk cycling, present and future.

We expect to get into the busy and bruising year in City Hall as well. The tight economy and disappearing stimulus money had everyone from district Councilors to teachers to firefighters scrambling to get or keep theirs.

We have one Councilor under federal indictment. More important certainly are the shifts in the body’s membership in the last election and with a recent resignation of a key player.

So far, Ross has held it all together. Listen live on Tuesday, August 3rd at 2:30 p.m. here for what’s next. If you can’t catch the stream, get it on demand later there, here at Left Ahead or on iTunes.


Boston Cycling on the Brink Podcast

Pete Stidman, co-founder of the Boston Cyclists Union, spoke about his group’s aims, and the delights and perils of two-wheeling Beantown. While we are well on the way to the mayor’s vision of being a prime cycling city, we have quite a ways to go.

Disclaimer: Mike is a BCU member and will be volunteering for them.

Pete differentiated his group from the more formal lobbying organization, MassBike, as well as from recreational bike clubs.  BCU will work with them, as well as Livable Streets Alliance, when goals overlap. Listen in as he describes some of BCU’s goals, including:

  • Cycletracks around town
  • Bike lanes the length of Mass Avenue
  • Improved and expanded police crash data collection and procedures
  • Upgraded training for MBTA bus drivers

We spoke of the animosity and misunderstandings among cyclists, motorists and pedestrians. Stidman addressed the most common dangers in cycling and the outlook for getting more commuters and recreational bikers on the streets. Right now, Boston lags cycling centers such as Portland Oregon, Minneapolis, and San Francisco in both percentage of citizens who bike and number of full-time cycling staff per capita.

Seasonal note: Over the summer, BCU promotes both cycling and itself with a long list of free tuneups and farmers’ markets. The BCU offers memberships there, but its website does not yet have online enrollment (coming soon). You can get the newsletter for free here.

As a bonus, we had a caller from Mesa, Arizona, who compared and contrasted the cycling experiences there.

icon for podpress  Boston Cycling on the Brink [51:41m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Stidman on Cyclists This Tuesday

The co-founder of the Boston Cyclists Union joins us Tuesday. Pete Stidman talks bike safety, trends in Boston and elsewhere, and what his group will be up to this year and beyond.

Listen live Tuesday, 7/27 at 2:30 p.m. Eastern if you can by going here. Afterward, you can listen on demand there, here at Left Ahead! or on iTunes.

For background and a preview, check Chris Lovett’s interview with Stidman on bike safety. Click below.

Bike Safety Priorities in Boston from Chris Lovett on Vimeo.


Better Boston Biking Podcast

Boston’s cycling czarina (in reality Bicycle Coordinator) Nicole Freedman is in the vanguard of city cycling change. She inherited paper and little else a little over a year ago, but has a lot to show for work since.

She talked to us about the low-hanging fruit, as well as the harder tasks of turning around Boston’s reputation as a terrible town for biking.  Freedman used the master bike plan she found and as she put it plagiarized and stole from local and distant cities for the best ideas and methods.

Across the Charles River, Cambridge has a long lead and a bike-friendly reputation. Freedman’s counterpart there, Cara Seiderman, was on with us in July.  Catch her podcast here.

Freedman found that many things to advance Boston are relatively easy. Perhaps first, she has strong support from Mayor Tom Menino, who has gone from cycle antagonist to bike hero in the past few years. Other projects partially completed and in the works include:

  • Adding bike lanes to major streets as they come up for re-striping or repaving.
  • Identifying where present and prospective cyclists would need to park their bikes for commuting, shopping or visiting — and then putting enough, sturdy racks or cages there.
  • Educating citizens, police and companies on accommodating biking on the roads, in buildings and with other forms of transportation.
  • Holding and coordinating citywide and region-wide bike events and days.
  • Working with mass-transit agencies to ensure on-bus bike racks, access to subways, and other accommodation.

We have a mayor who bikes and a city that’s learning how to do the same. More bikes and fewer cars are in the works. Freedman talks about what it will take and how long.

icon for podpress  Boston Biking [45:46m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Who Ya Callin’ Bike Unfriendly?!

Nicole FreedmanThe days when the Charles River separated good-for-cyclist from bad-for-cyclists are nearly gone. Boston has long had the earned rep for discouraging biking — bad roads, hostile drivers, no bike lanes, no racks,no bus/train accommodation.

The city’s cycling czar, a.k.a. Bike Coordinator Nicole Freedman, has been doing stuff you’ve seen and stuff you have no idea about…yet.

Even though we share a college culture with Cambridge, she’s playing catch-up to Cara Seiderman across the Charles.  Former champion cyclist Freedman remains competitive here too. At the recent Moving Together 2008, both of them spoke about their accomplishments and challenges in their towns. Freedman laughed that she freely stole Seiderman’s good ideas and was able to avoid her mistakes, the two sides of starting late.

She’s whittling away at her master plan.  The streets, parking, education, some fun special programs, bikes on and mass transit, and even some enforcement are in the mix.

We bring on Freedman Wednesday, December 17th. That’s the usual time on an unusual day of the week for us. Hear her stream live on BlogTalkRadio or check back here for the podcast.


Wheels Round and Round the Podcast

We hear on today’s LeftAhead all about biking, foot-pushing-pedal variety. Guests Ken Fields and Cara Seiderman, the Czar and Czarina of biking in Cambridge, come on for some real expert discussion on promoting bikes in Massachusetts, especially inside Greater Boston. Ken leads the citizen-driven Cambridge biking committee, while Cara leads policy from the governmental side. The community-government partnership on biking in Cambridge easily points to why the city is one of the most successful in Massachusetts in terms of getting people to bike.

Biking being an extremely important and viable commuter alternative, the five of us (a LeftAhead Record) spent time on talking about why biking is important and how to get more people to do it. Biking’s not just for the bike nuts, all decked out in spandex (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but the people who just are sick of traffic and high gas prices and now find themselves biking a few days a week. With record gas prices and public transportation use, biking is finally gaining steam throughout this country.

According to Ken and Cara, the most important transformations to get biking viable in every city in this state is often times some of the easiest. For example, it’s as easy as a new paint job – some lines on the street indicating a bike lane is a good way to help drivers watch out for bikers, while promoting bikers to obey common traffic law.

We also discussed why biking is more successful internationally, from France to Montreal. All of these places have spent years promoting bikes for commuters and fostering good bike policy. Cities like Cambridge and even Boston are helping close that gap, but there’s still a long ways to go. In Europe, bikes and public transportation enjoy great synergy – bike racks on the busses allow people to seamlessly go from bike to bus to bike again to get around, making biking as quick as riding a car, without the hassle of finding a parking space or getting stuck in traffic. The MBTA is falling suit, with bike racks on many lines throughout the city, but there’s more work to be done before everyone can and will take advantage of such programs.

However, in the grand scheme of things, biking becoming one of the most common ways of community seems inevitable. Of course, biking is one of the few means of travel that does no harm to the atmosphere – so there’s a real good people can do by pedaling their feet rather than putting their feet to the pedal. And, given that most people only commute within a few miles of home most of the time, it’s often the perfect option, especially when combined with public transportation. In those cases, not only is biking as nearly as quick as driving (and parking), but it’s also a good opportunity to fit that exercise in your busy schedule, doing two things at once. Furthermore, the more people who bike, the better and safer the road is for everyone, says Ken and Cara.

Ken’s committee does a lot of work to promote biking, from billboards to free bike tours around Cambridge. Clearly, his city is clearly cutting edge on biking in America, which is something the city hopes to replicate throughout the area and beyond. People don’t have to do it every day, or in the snow, or when there’s bundles, but riding a bike when possible is a good way to stay fit, do your part for the environment, make the roads safer and save a lot of money all at the same time. The more people who do it, the more politicians will pay attention – meaning better biking policy, which will in turn lead to more bikers, leading to even better policy and so on.

icon for podpress  Wheels Round and Round [61:52m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download