Gettin' the wheels turning.
July 19, 2011 9:51 PM   Subscribe

What are the neatest projects related to bicycles happening right now?

I am a part of a 6 week long initiative to re-imagine how cars, bicycles, and pedestrians can live in a symbiotic, positive, and safe relationship in my neighborhood in Chicago.

We are communications designers, urban planners, artists, educators, policymakers.

I am looking for examples of some of the neatest bike, pedestrian, and urban transportation projects that people are working on today (or in the past).

This can be from urban bike infrastructure side , art side, bicycle maintenance and/or building, campaigns to create dialogue between cyclists and drivers and pedestrians etc— really any neat project that people are doing on and around bicycles and urban transportation, let's hear about them! We are at the beginning, the reason this is a bit wide open.

I'm looking to get the group's......wheels turning.
posted by Sreiny to Travel & Transportation (31 answers total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
Bike Long Beach.
They actually took over a lane of two one-way (previously three-lane) downtown streets, built a median, and made them bike-only lanes, Dutch-style -- the only such bike lanes in Southern California. They're planning a whole lot more, as well.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 10:14 PM on July 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Pairs Vélib' system is pretty remarkable. Even Brad Pitt thinks so.
posted by humboldt32 at 10:27 PM on July 19, 2011

Bike-sharing has a lot of potential, but I think it will take off faster in a smaller community with more cycling infrastructure, like Madison, than in Chicago. B-Cycles is in both places.

You probably have these in your rolodex already, but you should be talking to:

Active Transit Alliance

West Town Bikes
Working Bikes
The Recyclery
Blackstone Bicycle Works

Also, for sheer awesomeness, Kidical Mass! is where a lot of bicycle-minded people hang out and would be a good place to ask this question again or publicize your efforts. If you have a press release, try to put it in the hands of John Greenfield. Nearly every good article I read about biking in Chicago is written by him.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:38 PM on July 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Not sure how you could apply this to your project specifically, but someone I know worked on this project that was pretty cool and bike-related: the Copenhagen Wheel Project
posted by estherbester at 10:41 PM on July 19, 2011

Vancouver BC is doing some neat stuff re: public spaces, including bikes.
For example:

VIVA Vancouver
Livable Laneways
posted by wowbobwow at 11:07 PM on July 19, 2011

FietsForce in Amsterdam offers on-the-spot bike repair and teaches people to become bike mechanics. Information in English here.
posted by neushoorn at 11:18 PM on July 19, 2011

Bar on a bike: Amsterdam, Oregon.
posted by rube goldberg at 11:19 PM on July 19, 2011

CicLAvia, and Ciclovia.
posted by carsonb at 11:20 PM on July 19, 2011

Really super cool bike lights.
posted by banished at 11:39 PM on July 19, 2011

Simple idea for a busy road: Bike Train. This goes up and down a main road between the centre of Brighton (UK) and the university campus on the edge of town--a busy road which has no cycling provision, but is hard to avoid if you need to cycle between the two places: there are no alternative routes, partly because the route goes up a valley.

If it creates dialogue between drivers and cyclists, mind you, it tends to be in the form of angry drivers shouting. So I'm told, anyway.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 12:07 AM on July 20, 2011

city of lights targets working class latino immigrants (who are often left out of the usual bike culture stuff)
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 1:18 AM on July 20, 2011

Montréal's BIXI system has been exported to London, Melbourne, Washinton DC, Minneapolis, Toronto and Ottawa.
posted by StoneSpace at 1:33 AM on July 20, 2011

Hans Monderman's Shared Space / Shared Streets. Though Tom Vanderbilt wrote in his book Traffic this approach might only work in the Netherlands, because everyone is disciplined enough not to grab all the space, once the normal rules are abandoned.

posted by ijsbrand at 2:00 AM on July 20, 2011

The Velib system has copies all over Europe, including Lyon, Barcelona, Rennes, and Brussels. This NYTimes article covers some of the history, details and pros and cons.
posted by whatzit at 2:59 AM on July 20, 2011

Nothing breathtaking, but I was recently in Copenhagen and was really impressed by their bike-parking, especially the multi-story bike racks. Quick google turned up this video.
posted by tempythethird at 3:21 AM on July 20, 2011

David Hembrow is an English cyclist who moved to the Netherlands. He documents all the neat (to non-Dutch)/normal (to Dutch) things that he sees in A view from the cycle path. The scale and quality of the public works is astonishing.
posted by scruss at 4:53 AM on July 20, 2011

LightLane's Instant Bike Lane.
posted by Think_Long at 5:52 AM on July 20, 2011

You probably know them, but Streetfilms and Streetsblog have many examples of exciting bike projects (though in S'blog these a lot of those are actually in...Chicago.)
posted by mlle valentine at 6:25 AM on July 20, 2011

I may be biased because my fiance works for them, but the Congress for the New Urbanism's work to tear down urban highways is one of the most sensible, yet seemingly radical ideas I've heard in a while.
posted by hydrophonic at 7:52 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Bike centers that have showers, secure storage, and a shop don't seem to be getting as much attention as other initiatives, but they are really an awesome resource.
posted by advicepig at 8:50 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

I live in Austin, which is home to the famous Yellow Bike Project and the offshoot for university students that I personally use, Orange Bike Project. Orange Bike is the best thing ever because it got me comfortable working on my own bike in a shop with all the tools I need, where I can take my time and ask a volunteer a question or just get a second pair of hands to help remove a sticky freewheel.

NPR ran a story recently about how developers here are putting more showers in buildings both because there are incentives and demand from clients to do so. Bike commuters want showers at their office and they seem to be getting them in the newer buildings, even some that aren't downtown. It's very encouraging to hear people at least thinking about bikes and bike commutes in the suburbs, because one of the biggest obstacles in Texas is sprawl.
posted by slow graffiti at 9:32 AM on July 20, 2011

It's not an organized program or project, but one seemingly-minor thing that I as a bike rider find immensely helpful and useful is roll-in, in-store or in-restaurant bike parking. Having to lock up and take the easily-stealable components off the bike is enough of a low-level inconvenience that I often put off doing minor errands — unless it's an establishment where I can roll my bike in, put it on a wall hook or in the indoor rack, and toss my u-lock half-assedly around the wheel and rack and then do my shopping (or coffee-drinking, or whatever) while knowing that nobody is stealing my water bottle or seat bag or anything.

Oddly enough, upon reflection I realize I seem to be willing to ride a couple of miles out of my way to get to my favorite establishments with indoor bike parking, whether it's for coffee and/or beer (current favorite: Actual Cafe in Oakland) or bike-related stuff (TipTop Bike Shop has in-store parking, which makes it easy to go in for something like a replacement tube and then realize, oh, I need one of these and one of those too, and let me buy this as long as I'm here). I think riding doesn't feel like an inconvenience, but dealing with locks and cables and accessories does.
posted by Lexica at 9:47 AM on July 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

EMBARQ has put out a series of videos about what cities around the world are doing to integrating bikes and other forms of non-automobile transportation into their transit plans.
posted by chrisulonic at 10:10 AM on July 20, 2011

to Lexica's point, secure bike parking / storage is a lot more important than most of these projects tend to consider. It can be a huge barrier to participation, particularly downtown and around college campuses where theft rates can be stratospheric.

I don't mind leaving my bike locked up outside (I usually use my fixie or beater singlespeed for errands mind you, and I have 7 bikes) but I do vastly prefer to frequent stores, restaurants and businesses in Boulder and Denver which have bike racks clearly placed right outside the shop, with a view from inside. I can imagine for those city / college residents who have one bike that is their main source of transportation, it's an even bigger deal.

Teaching people how to properly secure a bike in a high-theft area does help: you need 2 locks, basically; one ulock, one 6' coated cable, thread the cable round the wheels, frame, saddle rails and thru your helmet straps or vents, then secure it to the shackle of the ulock, and secure the ulock to a secure rack or post via the bike frame. However, the issue with this is that locking up this way can be a pretty big pain in the ass especially when it's raining, snowing, in a crowded area, etc. Which is where the indoor storage Lexica referenced comes into play. Many of the nicer clubs and hotels in this region have taken to providing a secured bike "corral" in their valet drop or underground parking facility during events; this works just like a coat check basically, and encourages patrons to ride downtown rather than drive.

Boulder and Denver recently incorporated Bcycle and it's been slowly taking off.
posted by lonefrontranger at 10:37 AM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Boston is launching bike sharing this month too -- I have the idea it's related to Montreal's Bixi, but I'm not seeing it on the site.

I thought this feature was very cool: a google map where residents can vote for five places they want stations.
posted by jhc at 12:58 PM on July 20, 2011

I am certain Boston is using the Public Bike System that Montreal uses (as well as my lovely home Minneapolis). Besides actually being in the know, they have a very distinctive front rack and they use the SpotCycle iPhone app.
posted by advicepig at 1:17 PM on July 20, 2011

The Velib system has copies all over Europe, including Lyon, Barcelona, Rennes, and Brussels. This NYTimes article covers some of the history, details and pros and cons.

Huh--let's not get too metrocentric here. Lyon: 2005. Paris: 2007. (And there'd been smaller trial runs elsewhere before they gave it a full-scale test in Lyon.)

Sorry, that must be a provincial chip on my shoulder!
posted by lapsangsouchong at 1:49 PM on July 20, 2011

Bike Blenders
posted by LC at 4:14 PM on July 20, 2011

Malmö, Sweden has a campaign called "No Ridiculous Car Trips", as so many car trips are easily-bikeable distances.

Trondheim, Norway has a bicycle lift / escalator to get cyclists up a hill.

These aren't projects as such, but here is an article and a video on modern approaches to making cycling-friendly cities.

Cycling-oriented pub in Portland.

Some neat bike shops that are very different from the standard recreational / sport focus: Adeline Adeline, Dutch Bike Co, Rolling Orange.

Build-your-own bikes by Republic Bike.

Beater Bikes - a project to get low-cost and low-maintenance city bikes out on the streets of Toronto and elsewhere.

Portland replaces on-street car parking with bike parking, for which there is high business demand.
posted by parudox at 7:45 PM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Social Bicycles is an interesting low-infrastructure approach to bike-sharing that's being developed in New York.
posted by parudox at 9:56 PM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by agregoli at 6:30 AM on July 22, 2011

« Older How do I get an apartment without a local job or...   |   CRM for an Advertising business, with some... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.