Friday, October 28, 2011

Getting Kids to Bike to School

A very interesting post appeared on the Freakonomics blog a couple days ago about how to get kids to walk or bike to school. They discussed the findings of an academic paper that studied the effects of a program that gave students the chance to win a prize (an incentive, or bribe, if you will) for riding their bike to school.
A new working paper examines a program in Boulder, Colorado that attempted to incentivize kids to bike or walk to school over a span of several years. The program began with a $10 cash prize for the first two years, but then switched over to a $10 bike store coupon thereafter. One lucky student who rode and walked to school every day during a “prize period” won the coupon.
...biking and walking to school increased 16 percent during the prize period. 
In the Boulder experiment, children who won the lottery were excluded from winning future lotteries, but remained actively commuting to school for the next two weeks. After this, however, they went back to normal. Problematically, the 16 percent increase in walking and biking did not exist during non-prize-periods.  
It's an area ripe for research and greater understanding, especially since, as they point out, "[f]rom 1969 to 2001, the percentage of self-commuters [to school, i.e., walkers and bikers] dropped from 41 percent to 13 percent."
There are a lot of factors at play in the decline, I'm guessing. Among them are the intensification of the suburban sprawl problem, the shift of populations to those sprawling suburbs. Why is that a problem? Greater distances between school and home, a confusing street system of cul-de-sacs lacking the connectivity of the more traditional urban grid pattern, and an over-reliance on major, high-speed arterial roads unfriendly to cycling (even by adults).

There is also irrational fear on the part of many parents, cycling-unfriendly local law enforcement and school administrators.

In any event, the research findings were interesting. They show that incentives helped to induce the desired behavior. This is far from surprising, but it begs the question, what else can be done to incentivize cycling behavior? Providing the infrastructure for it to happen safely is one way. Changing attitudes and behavior is another, through efforts like Michelle Obama's Let's Move program.

Short of cycling and walking, I'm gonna put on my old (OK, 30-something) geezer hat and wax poetic about how things were "in my day", when you rode the bus to school if you were too far away to walk or bike. I don't understand what happened in the last twenty years to make schools look like this...

...but it's gotta change.

...and we're back! (fun Metro video)

Been quite a while since I've posted. You can thank my apartment's property manager for the hiatus. Yesterday was the first I've been able to physically access my computer for all intents and purposes for weeks, thanks to massive delays in making repairs that should have been made two months ago.

But I digress...

I'll try to do some catching up.

The first item I want to share isn't bike-related, but as it falls under the category or public transportation/transit, I'll throw it under my urban planning heading.

There's been much discussion at Metro about establishing rules for station names and renaming stations to make them comply with whatever rules they come up with. The latest update I've read was here at Greater Greater Washington.

As part of that post, they include a an embedded version of 
"The Metro Song." It parodies Johnny Cash's "I've been everywhere" to name 46 of the stations in the Metro system:

I really got a kick out of it, so I thought I'd share it here, too. Enjoy!

P.S.-School work abounds, but I hope to get a few meaningful posts up on the blog in the coming days, so keep your eyes peeled for more.

I rea

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

More on Capital Bikeshare

As I mentioned last night, a longer article on Capital Bikeshare in Alexandria has gone up on Greater Greater Washington. Check out the details here:


Among the things I hope never happen to me while on a bicycle!!!

The Double Decker Saga Part II: No Response

A couple weeks ago, I posted about a close call I had with a double decker DC tour bus. I e-mailed the company through their website to complain about the driver's lack of regard for the rules of the road and for the resulting threat to my safety. Perhaps not surprisingly, I have yet to receive any sort of response, not even a confirmation my e-mail was received. 

I may not be shocked by the lack of response from the company, but I am a little angry about it. I plan on following up with a snail mail letter this week. I want them to at least acknowledge that something happened and hopefully to take steps to rectify the situation, especially by reminding their drivers about how to drive safely around bicyclists and to reinforce to them that cyclists have a right to be on the road, too.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

CaBi for Alexandria Approved by City Council

Great news! Capital Bikeshare one step closer to coming to Alexandria!!! As reported in an e-mail from the president of the Alexandria BPAC (Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee), the Alexandria City Council voted in favor of expanding the Capital Bikeshare network to Alexandria. AS he wrote:
I want to thank everyone who sent an email to city council as they said they were overwhelmed with emails of support.
Mine was one of those e-mails. In one of those cases where you realize you can influence local government so much more than state or federal, my e-mail, submitted earlier in the day to the mayor, the vice mayor and all council members through the city website, actually received a fairly rapid response, from the vice mayor no less:
It has my support.
Kerry J. Donley
Vice Mayor
Sent from my iPad
According to Froggie, the first six stations are to go in spring or summer 2012. They're almost all in Old Town, mostly along King Street, but it looks like they're planning a bike share station at my Braddock Road metro as well. Froggie's going to have a followup piece on Greater Greater Washington tomorrow, which I assume will be cross-posted on his own blog as well.

Yay for the coming arrival of CaBi in Alexandria!!!