Traffic signals in Austin, Texas, are to respond to approaching cyclists by staying green for longer.
An innovation being piloted by the city will encourage cyclists to use a dedicated smartphone app which reports their position to city networks. If the rider is approaching a traffic signal that’s about to turn red, the lights will stay green for a few seconds longer to let them across safely.
Technology has long been used to give ambulances and other emergency vehicles free passage across cities, but these are generally sensor-based rather than GPS. Austin’s initiative is also believed to be the first time that such technology has been used to encourage motorists out of their cars.
Teri Pennington, city CIO, explained the concept to Government Technology magazine:
“Our system pulls that GPS data, and if the light is close to turning red, it may hold a few more seconds. The app's GPS then tells the system it is past the light, and the system starts to watch the next light in your path.”
The app will use a speed filter to determine whether you’re travelling by bike, car or on foot. The system will also be used to smooth traffic flows after major events, such as football games, and to speed buses through the city.
Researcher Alexandros Nikitas, from the University of Huddersfield, makes a convincing case for the growth of urban bike hire schemes across the world – saying “they are seen to complement the city’s public transport services, and give the city a more human-friendly feel”. His research also suggests that such schemes are effective in promoting cycling to motorists.
Cycling forums are forever full of “what bike should I choose for my epic trip?” questions. It’s a fair bet that no-one has ever answered “a New York hire Citibike”. But that’s what Jeffrey Tanenhaus chose for his trans-American. Yes, he could have got a better bike for the $1,200 fine levied for late return. That’s kinda not the point…
The John Wayne Pioneer Trail, the longest rail-trail in the US at 300 miles, has escaped closure at the hands of hostile Washington state lawmakers.
Two Republican members of the Washington House of Representatives, Mary Dye and Joe Schmick, had proposed to close 130 miles of the state-owned trail, and give the land to adjacent landowners. They claimed the trail was under-maintained – an assertion which most cyclists agree with – but that the best way to deal with the problems was simply to get rid of it. Unsurprisingly, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy disagreed, saying:
“Time and time again, we’ve seen trails around the country provide jobs, support small businesses, and reinvigorate local communities. Rather than close the trail, a smart investment in maintenance and improvements for the John Wayne Pioneer Trail could provide big wins for Washington’s economy.”
Now, RTC says that Schmick has agreed to withdraw his closure request, and will instead abide by whatever the State Parks Advisory Committee decides. No fewer than 14 cities en route signed resolutions asking the trail to be improved, not closed. The result – at least for now – is a reprieve for this epic wild trail.
The John Wayne Pioneer Trail is among the most rugged of America’s rail-trails, and a ‘fat bike’ is almost de rigeur. It crosses two-thirds of Washington, from the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains to the Idaho border. Traillink.com says “much of it is so remote and desolate that weeks will pass in some sections where the only visitors are coyotes, black-tailed jackrabbits, or gopher snakes”.
The rough, little-maintained surface, and a couple of gaps in the route – most notoriously the closed Beverly Bridge over the Columbia River – have conspired to limit its appeal. But trail supporters believe that the route could have a much better future if maintenance was improved, and the requirement for a trail-riding permit removed.
Here’s a lovely little idea: a free-for-all bike repair station and information centre in Bellingham, WA. It’s been erected by a local building company on a busy street simply because “we want to support bike riders and pedestrians”. More please!