Posts Tagged ‘bicycle commuting’
Wednesday, March 6th, 2013
The following is a post written by Hilary Reeves, communications director, Transit for Livable Communities, that originally ran in the Downtown Journal.
Further study reconfirmed recently what makes sense intuitively: moving your body as part of your commute or running errands is healthy. The “transit walk” is the focus of a new study in the March, 2013, Journal of Public Health, which found that people who live in cities with public transit systems that include rail tend to walk 30 minutes more than those without a rail system.
“Transit walkers in large urban areas with a rail system were 72% more likely to transit walk 30 minutes or more per day than were those without a rail system.” Nationally, the number of “transit walkers” (I am loving that term) rose by 28% between 2001 and 2009, while the number of people getting at least 30 minutes of “transit-associated walking time” rose 31%. Transit walking, the study concludes, “contributes to meeting physical activity recommendations.”
There you have it! Feeling in need of some exercise? Getting the signals that some activity would be good for you? Hit the rails, ride the bus! Happily our regional transit system qualifies (barely). We have one light rail line, with another almost open, and others in planning stages, not to mention connecting bus service. (Places like Denver, Salt Lake, Dallas, and Seattle have some really healthy people, judging by their rail lines.)
But what about upper body workouts? If the train or bus is the new gym, how’s a person to buff the biceps, trim the triceps? I recommend the bike lift, though I don’t have any studies to back me up.
I get at least two daily reps of the bike lift on my way to work. During winter, I often also get a round of evening reps, putting my bike on the bus to reach the bicycle paths along the Mississippi River (thereby giving myself a break from cold weather and sometimes snowy streets). I’m not sure how much my bike weighs, but let’s just say the beater bike I purchased for winter commuting is not carbon-intensive in more ways than one.
So, what are the basic steps to the bike lift? Here’s a brief guide to putting your bike on the bus—for those days when you are not getting in your transit walk.
Step 1: waiting for the bus. Ride your bicycle to the bus stop, arriving a few minutes before it is scheduled to arrive. Tip: if your route tends to have a lot of bicycle commuters, try riding to an earlier stop on the route to see if you can beat the competition. If that fails, you can ask the bus driver if you can bring your bicycle on the bus, but it is totally up to the driver. Sometimes the driver will instruct you to get on and off via the back door. Sometimes the answer will be no, in which case, you have to wait for the next bus or lock your bicycle at the stop and return to it later via bus.
Step 2: position your bike for the lift. When the bus arrives, roll your bicycle in front of the bus so it’s parallel to the front of the bus. Stand back about three feet. If the rack is closed, position your bike so that your front wheel faces left as you face the bus. To release the bike rack, reach up and squeeze the bar in the top center of the rack. It will open towards you. If the rack is open with a bicycle on it, position your front wheel facing to the right. This left/closed, right/open positioning is important for the lift to come.
Step 3: lift and place the bike. Facing the bike, I grab the front stem and the seat post to lift it up, then place the wheels in the tracks or slots on the rack. That’s the lift! It gets easier over time. And, it’s always good to use the power in your legs to assist with the lift.
Step 4: secure your bicycle. There is a metal arm by the front wheel that pulls out horizontally (if it’s stiff, yank it) and then raises up to clamp over the top of the wheel near the brakes. Once this is in place, check to make sure any packs or other gear on your bike is secure as well and board the bus.
Step 5: don’t forget your bike. When your stop comes, get off via the front door and let the driver know that you will be taking your bike off the rack. (You wouldn’t believe how many people get off by the back door and watch their bicycle depart with the bus.)
Step 6: The down lift. If two bicycles are on the rack and yours is behind, lower the metal arm and roll the bike toward you as you stand near the curb (the arms are positioned to keep you out of traffic when you unload the bike). If yours is the only bike on the rack, take it off and return the rack to the closed position by squeezing the bar in the front center of the rack and lifting it up. It sometimes takes a push to get it to click into the locked position. Take your bicycle onto the curb to wait till it’s safe to enter the street or bicycle path for your ride.
Note: The Commuter Connection in downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul Smart-Trips in downtown St. Paul have practice bike-bus racks. After doing this once or twice, it’s much easier than it sounds!
Tuesday, July 24th, 2012
The following post was written by Hilary Reeves, communications director, Bike Walk Twin Cities, for the Southwest Journal.
When you hear the word “bicycling,” do you think of a weekend ride around the lakes or about grabbing your bike to go meet friends for breakfast or to make a run for a few things at the store? An increasing number of local residents are using their bikes for getting around, a.k.a., transportation, but for some, it’s still a leap to think of the bike you ride on weekends as the bike you could ride more often: to work, running errands or simply to get from point A to B.
Around the nation, there are more people using their bikes to commute. A 2011 survey of 55 major U.S. cities found that on average, the number of regular bicycle commuters increased by 70 percent between 2000 and 2009, according to The Atlantic Cites, a blog that explores ideas and issues facing cities and neighborhoods. The survey, which was based on data from the 2000 U.S. Census and the 2005-2009 American Community Survey, found that bike commuting in Minneapolis increased by 58 percent during this time period.
Even with this increase, the city of Minneapolis would like to see more people choosing to bike to work. Minneapolis leads all Midwestern cities in bike commuting, and is among the top U.S. cities for bike commuting, but is still well under Portland’s nation-leading 6 percent. The city has set a goal of 7 percent of all commuters biking to work by 2014, which is double the current estimate of 3.5 percent bike commuters in the city.
Minneapolis’ infrastructure is prepared to handle more bike commuters, thanks to an infusion of new bike routes that have opened in the last few years. If you’re wondering where this surge came from, a lot is due to $25 million of federal transportation funds. Minneapolis and three other communities (Sheboygan, Wis., Columbia, Mo., and Marin County, Calif.) received these funds to see how far they could encourage bicycling and walking as ways of getting around.
According to the city’s annual report on bicycling, there are now 167 miles of bikeways on Minneapolis streets – a 75 percent increase just from 2010. The city now has its first Bicycle Master Plan, and a full-time bicycle and pedestrian coordinator to lead its efforts.
But the commute trip is only one kind of journey that could be made by bike. While the average work commute (13 miles one-way in the 7-county metro) is too far for some people to bike, about 40 percent of all the trips people make are within 3 miles. Bicycling 3 miles takes about 15 minutes and often can be quicker than going by car, and is frequently loads more fun.
Minneapolis residents such as Masami Kawazato and Aaron Merrill, who live in south Minneapolis, use their bikes to get to work downtown and to run errands. They have not owned a car since 2003. Bicycling has become ingrained into their lives.
“Part of my motivation to bike is my background,” Kawazato explains. “I’m originally from Japan and lived there from birth through 6 years old and then again during high school. There, it’s common to bike commute and run errands like grocery shopping.”
The couple regularly encourages others to try bike commuting, as they do. “Try it at least once,” Kawazato says. “It doesn’t have to be every day right away. You could take the bike every Thursday to start or get a Nice Ride bike when it’s a nice day. For any women interested in biking but concerned about wardrobe, I’ve found that you can bike in just about any kind of clothing.”
If you’re interested in starting to use your bike for commuting or running errands, here are six tips to keep in mind:
1-Make bike commuting a routine. As Kawazato suggests, start by bike commuting once a week, on a specific day. Once you get accustomed to it, you can try adding additional days to your routine.
2-Add variety to your routes. Although Minneapolis has many miles of well-marked bikeways, don’t feel confined to taking the same route each day. Mix it up a bit, explore new routes, and learn new things about the city.
3. Be safe. Without question, always wear a helmet, and be sure you have at least a working white light on the front of your light and a reflector or blinking red light (better) on the back of your bike. Be predictable in traffic, obey traffic laws, and always signal your turns. By doing so, you aid not only yourself, but also all other bicyclists.
4. Security. Invest in a high-quality U-shaped lock to secure your bike to a bike rack, or sign post, and definitely not to fences, parking meters, street signals, or trees..
5. Attire. Wear comfortable clothing while bicycling, and invest in quality raingear if you bike commute regularly. If your job requires more formal attire, take it with you for changing, or keep a set of work clothing at work.
6. Seek companions. Bike commuting is safer and more fun when you can ride with others. Encourage friends or co-workers to regularly ride with you. Knowing you are riding with others will also be an incentive to stick with your commuting.
If you would like to be part of a national effort that encourages people to bike for transportation and recreation, go to www.nationalbikechallenge.org. It runs through Aug. 31.
Monday, September 19th, 2011
With no cars, this South Minneapolis couple makes it to and from work and everywhere else on their used bikes. In their own words, they share what it’s like to see the city by bike every day.
Occupation: Development associate at the Walker Art Center; board member of Soo Visual Arts Center, Fulton Farmers Market, and Kingfield Farmers Market, and one of the organizers of the FEASTMpls events
How long has each of you been biking to work in downtown Minneapolis? Why did you start?
Masami: We started about 5 years ago when we moved to South Minneapolis. Before that, we lived downtown and walked everywhere; we haven’t had a car since 2003. When we moved farther away, we figured why not bike?
Aaron: It was part of our moving plan. We’ll move to South, ride the bus and get bicycles.
Masami: Part of my motivation to bike is my background. I’m originally from Japan and lived there from birth through 6 years old and then again during high school. There, it’s common to bike commute (even if it’s just riding your bike to the train station) and run errands like grocery shopping. So for me that kind of biking was something I grew up with and a nice “return to my roots” kind of thing.
Do you bike commute together? Why or why not?
Masami: We don’t commute to work together because our hours don’t match up. But we do stuff like go to the farmers market and basically any restaurant together on our bikes.
Aaron: We bike together more on the weekends. It’s good that we do bike, because with our hours during the week, we’d really need two cars otherwise.
Masami: I almost always use Bryant Avenue. It’s almost a straight shot to the Walker. If I’m running errands downtown after work I take Wakefield home.
Aaron: I used to take Bryant every day when I worked in Northeast. Now I’ve started taking First Avenue when I go into work. It takes me pretty much straight there. I started riding on First, and then two weeks later they painted a bike lane on it. I thought, this is awesome. Every Friday it’s my turn to open the restaurant, so I leave at six in the morning and bike in with a friend who also works downtown.
What’s been the biggest benefit of bike commuting?
Masami: Definitely the savings involved for us in not having a car. And you get to be outside; you’re guaranteed to be doing something active every day.
Aaron: I definitely agree with Masami. The savings from not having a car allows us to enjoy more things in our community and our lives and even eat better food. I see and enjoy a lot more in my neighborhood just by going up and down every street on my bike. I get to see what’s new, what smells good, what people are doing. For me, especially having grown up in a rural area where you have to drive to get anywhere, it’s great.
Do you bike year-round? Why or why not?
Masami: We don’t. We’re fair-weather bicyclists. We try to go as long as we can if conditions are dry. I’m not comfortable with the snow and the ice.
Aaron: We purposely live on a bus route just for that reason. I leave work sometimes at 11, midnight, and it’s just too cold in the winter. I don’t like biking with 40 pounds of cold-weather gear on me.
Masami: We really respect the people who do bike year-round. But it’s not for us.
What keeps you motivated when the elements are less than ideal?
Masami: I have gotten stuck in the rain. It’s not my favorite. In terms of getting colder, you just need to put on a couple more layers. I don’t really mind it until it really starts to get bad.
Aaron: I didn’t like biking in the rain until this summer when I just got used to it more. I thought, you know, this really isn’t that bad. Downpours are bad, though. Going into the winter, I don’t put on crazy layers, I just put on a couple more layers and long underwear. When it starts getting too cold and I feel like I might get sick that’s when I say, okay, time to ride the bus.
Masami: For me there’s always a day when it’s cold enough in the air that your eyes just start to burn a lot just from the wind, and that’s usually my breaking point. Our main concern and reason for not riding in the winter is the snow and ice. The snow banks make the streets so narrow.
Masami: I go to my acupuncturist, the hair salon, the gym, yoga, grocery shopping, Target, downtown, the library, the post office. I have a rear basket on my bike that can fit a bag of groceries or my handbag.
Aaron: Any errands where I don’t have to carry heavy things. I purposely don’t buy a lot of heavy stuff so that’s been a good thing about having a bike. If I’m buying groceries I only buy what I can fit into my backpack. I also go to friends’ houses, the farmers market, anywhere. If I wanted to go to Saint Paul and go to a Macalester soccer game, I could ride my bike to that. We’ve biked to Vikings games, Twins games. It’s always fun to go tailgating on your bike, and you don’t have to pay to park.
What advice do you have for people who are thinking about starting to bike more?
Masami: Try it at least once. It doesn’t have to be every day right away. You could take the bike every Thursday to start or get a Nice Ride bike when it’s a nice day. For any women interested in biking but concerned about wardrobe, I’ve found that you can bike in just about any kind of clothing. I’ve ridden around in work clothes but also cocktail attire when I have to attend work-related functions outside of the normal workday.
Aaron: I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t do it, honestly. Downtown will be even more congested with traffic soon. And there’s all kind of ways to get involved in the bike community. There are groups that are always looking for volunteers. The sky’s the limit.
The following is a post written by Hilary Reeves, communications director, Bike Walk Twin Cities, that originally ran in the Downtown Journal. Now that Nice Ride bikes are tucked away for the winter, consider using the bus for your quick trips to lunch, meetings, doctor’s appointments, or shopping. Using Metro Transit is an ideal way
The following is a post written by Bri Whitcraft, Special Projects Coordinator, Bike Walk Twin Cities. It all started with a video as inspiration and a Tweet as declaration. (My mom thought it was a joke.) Map & Route From my home in South Minneapolis, I biked to St. Paul to borrow the trailer from
The following is a post written by Hilary Reeves, communications director, Bike Walk Twin Cities, that originally ran in the Southwest Journal. Practical, affordable and surprisingly rewarding, winter bicycling has become increasingly popular in Minneapolis, recently named one of the top five cities in the nation for winter bicycle commuting by MetaEfficient. That’s amazing when