November 22, 2013

Bicycling as school curriculum

One Minneapolis elementary school has done it:

Wish we had this back when I was in grade school.  I took it upon my self to start biking to school once I hit junior high.

November 21, 2013

A letter to Alexandria

There's been much in the news lately about a proposal to add bike lanes to a portion of King St west of Old Town, from Russell Rd up to Janney's Ln.  This segment of King St is pretty narrow and is on a fairly long incline.  The existing road has 2 lanes plus a parking lane...the original proposal was to take the parking lane, restripe the road, and add bike lanes on each side of the street, making it much safer for cyclists.  It would also tie into the bike lanes on Janney's Ln.

This being Alexandria, of course, there is some small but extremely vocal opposition to removing the parking.  Enough to where the city has both toned down the original proposal to include sharrows in some locations, but also conducted a study to see how utilized the existing parking was.  They concluded that an average of 3 cars a day were parking on King Street.  Meanwhile, a recent Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee bike count noted 8 bicyclists on King St during a 2-hour period, suggesting that there are more than 8 a day.

(Apologies that I don't have sources for those counts...the parking count happened while I was still at sea.  If you know of sources I can link to, please let me know!)

Below is the letter I sent to the city, utilizing a webform offered by the Coalition for Smarter Growth, but modifying the language that CSG suggested:


I support full, dedicated bike lanes on King Street between Russell Road and Janney's Lane.  These lanes will connect the bike lanes on Janney's to the Metro and Old Town, making it easier for Alexandrians to commute by bike and Metro, and are much safer for bicyclists, drivers and pedestrians than the sharrows option currently under consideration by city staff.

Furthermore, let's look at this by the numbers.  According to city counts, an average of 3 vehicles per day park on the on street parking.  Per bike counts done by the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee, 8 bicycles were counted in a 2-hour period, suggesting that there are more than 8 bikes a day.  Simple math logic notes that 8 > 3.

I support the compromise proposed by the Alexandria BPAC and supported by the Coalition for Smarter Growth, that keeps the original plan for full bike lanes extending to Janneys Lane, while providing a significantly wider, five-foot bike lane on the north side of King St. The wider north-side lane balances the residents' interest in having a safe buffer to pull in and out of their driveways with the need to improve bicyclist and pedestrian safety.

I appreciate what the city is doing with regards to promoting bicycling as an alternative means of transportation in order to reduce congestion and pollution.  But if the city bows down on this project or cancels it outright, it will prove that city leaders aren't even providing lip service to better bicycling, but are backtracking on their own policies and transportation plans.  That is an inconsistency the city can ill afford.

Thank you,

October 08, 2013

Catching up on Tales from the Sea

When I made my last post over a year ago, I didn't realize I'd take so long to get back to blogging.  Call it preoccupation.  Call it getting burned out from being at sea.  Call it life.  But since I'm about to return home from a SECOND deployment, I figured it was about time to get back into the groove so I can bore you all with cool and snazzy transportation tidbits and maps.

But first, a quick recap of the past year:  that Klakring trip was rough.  After Seychelles, we did another month of watching (but not busting) pirates, then hit Mauritius for a few days (another new country under the belt), then back to more pirate-watching, then a long trip home (almost a month!) broken up only by a couple of short ports.

And then Meaghan had to go and buy a house while I was gone.  So the $15K I saved on deployment?  "Gone in 60 seconds".  But one could argue it was for "a good cause"....having a roof over my head when I retire from the Navy would be a good thing.

No sooner was I back in Norfolk (and invading #fridaycoffeeclub a couple of times) than I get tossed onto a watch rotation.  Well, not really a watch rotation...I was always on it.  Playing dayworker (and occasional babysitter...don't ask) on our METOC watch floor.  That didn't last long, as an expected June deployment got changed into an unexpected April deployment (funny how they always creep up on you).

So the past 5.5 months have been sent sailing the Mediterranean blue...certainly more port visits than last year on the Klakring, but many to the same place (I mean, how many times do I REALLY need to buy olive oil or rakomelo in Souda Bay?).  That said, it wasn't all that bad.  Got to tour Pompeii.  Saw a tram (European for Light Rail Transit) and rode an incline railway in Naples.  Saw another tram (but didn't get to ride it) in Rome.  Toured the Vatican and the Coliseum in Rome.  Got to ride on new roads (in a bus).  And now, as I type this from Augusta Bay, Sicily (though from the pier...haven't gotten to do much in this port), we're a couple weeks from getting back stateside.  Will be good to be back on dry land..."permanently".  As I retire in the spring, this is likely my last at-sea trip and definitely my last Navy deployment.

So here's to a good 2 week finish to #LifeAtSea...