Bike aggregator 3-13-2010

For all you Middle Earth fans, the Discovering Urbanism blog has this interesting discussion of why JRR Tolkien lived car free (makes you want to go out and buy something from the elves at  Rivendell).

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The Washington Post announces dedicated bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue.  The Post says, “The center of Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House to the Capitol soon may be reserved for just two things: the president’s inauguration and people riding bicycles.”

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Back home, the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) bike plan was approved by the Knoxville-Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC).  The bike plan was on the consent agenda, so there was no controversy, but also no discussion and no press.

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As everyone probably knows by now, Google maps has launched a bike option for route finding.  Reviews are mixed, with some reporting that Google generates routes that agree with routes they have developed through hard experience, and sometimes even provides new and better routes.  Others report problems, such as Google routes on narrow, busy streets when more pleasant alternatives were available, or directing them to bridges where bikes were prohibited.  My experience with Google was only fair; for Knoxville and environs, the TPO maps provide much more information.  In addition, different individuals have very different ideas about what constitutes a good route, which is hard to capture with a single methodology. 

However, it is great to see Google make this effort, which contributes to legitimizing and promoting bike transportation.  Google reputedly accepts input, so the most egregious errors should be corrected quickly.  And Google generates intercity routes that are worth considering, even if you don’t like the intracity routes.

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Michael Musto, Village Voice columnist and cable commentator, is featured in this Streetfilms bike commuting video.  I guess it’s nice to see celebrities celebrated for living car free, but I gotta say, don’t ride like Musto.  He rides too close to parked cars and between lines of moving motor vehicles.  He’s gonna get doored  or worse.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a report on road motor vehicle fatalities for 2009.  It is odd that we can celebrate a decrease to “only” 34,000 deaths in one year (over ten times 9/11), but we have become inured to this carnage as the price we pay for automotive convenience.  This is  the lowest total since 1954, and the fatalities per million mile rate is steadily declining. 

It doesn’t look so good around the world.  NGH posted this summary of a World Health Organization report on world road safety.  According to NGH, “Around the world, approximately 1.3 million people die each year on the roads and between 20 and 30 million sustain non-fatal injuries …”; “If trends continue unabated deaths will rise to an estimated 2.4 million a year by 2030.”  This is another reason that car-dependent development is a very poor model for the developing world to emulate.

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