Category Archives: transporation concerns

Honorable Mention from the League of American Bicyclists

7PM, May 21, 2012 at Ritter Park. There were bikes everywhere, all over town.

In February I had a determination to apply for a Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) status with the League of American Bicyclists (LAB). I contacted the Huntington city planning office, inquiring if they had already applied, and if they might be interested. With their approval, and a great deal of informational support, I was able to complete the application in three days.

The process of gathering the data and answering the questions from LAB was very insightful.  For instance, I learned we have preschools with tricycle tracks and bicycle safety days, something rare in our country. A representative in the LAB had not considered preschools as a part of their elementary education questions before my call.

I amassed a list of action steps to pursue in order to assist Huntington in improving its bicycling shares and engaging community awareness. It was very clear right away, we needed an bicycle advisory board (this week the city agrees and we are moving forward to create this).

When I began looking at all the pieces that makeup a BFC, it was uplifting to see where we are headed. Huntington has a lot going for it already. 100% of our buses have bicycle racks on the front, something Pittsburgh fought for years to make happen.  I hoped to highlight in our application all the success our town of 40,000+ were able to celebrate.

Spring 2012 Application for a Bicycle Friendly Community

The LAB agreed. Huntington is doing a great job, but we have a lot of work to do. Here is their feedback package for anyone and everyone to gander. I want to share with this town how much I appreciate the little things (all libraries have bicycle parking), and how much help we need to raise our status in the future. It’s about more than a place in the LAB rankings, it’s about you too.

Feedback on our Application

If you know of something that is not in the application, please let us know. I made as many phone calls as I could, and pulled from news archives and my own memory. I certainly do not know it all (despite what my children may think).

For more in depth reading, check out this 2040 plan from KYOVA.

Feasibility Study from KYOVA

All of this is coming together to Create Huntington. Thank you all!

 

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Mount Yuba

It was hot today. Our thermometer read 91, but weather.com weighed in at 81F. Either way, we were sweating, before we even left the house. London was an absolute grump about riding her bike to a birthday party at the art museum (because she was missing another party). She’s made the trip before, but today she was sulking. Elliot was looking forward to it on his single speed, but we made a compromise and called a friend who was driving by our way going to the party as well.

Cara offered to take the three youngest up, and proposed we strap a bike to her newly acquired bike rack. Brilliant. The children get to avoid the climb, but London would still get some time in the saddle on the way home. We decided to carry the three boys down on the Yuba.

This video is the portion after the difficult part and before the museum. It’s six minutes of pedaling with a nodded off toddler. Not much to see, but the homes and hillsides in some of the shots are lovely.

Initially, I was going to have Brent ride the Yuba up with two boys. With Cara taking 50lbs of child in her car, I decided to give the cargo bike a try. It was slow and steady, with three breaks on the first steep portion, then a very rhythmic climb there after. I was even able to bump it up a gear or two toward the last 1/3 of the trip. My legs, heart and lungs didn’t enjoy the ride up initially. Then about half way  I realized my muscles had found a groove and were working hard, but not aching. Wow, what a wonderful feeling. Everything seemed to be smooth and consistent, attainable.

I wore a dress, this time with shorts underneath, just in case, but I didn’t need them, and they just made me more hot. Since I still haven’t been in a shoe store to go through the dreaded process of being disappointed, I wore my running shoes (running! that’s laughable), which were more breathable than my leather topped everyday shoes. I packed the flip flops for the party.

Brent’s speedometer had us going up at about 5mph, and down at about 19mph with a lot of braking. He noticed the rear brake wasn’t stopping the bike, just slowing it down as we descended. This has me concerned. The front brake was working fine. He theorized it was the heat from riding the brake on the downside, but I need those discs to be able to handle this weight and heat. Any other ideas?

If you haven’t ridden up this hill on a bike, but have driven it, it’s very intimidating. There is no passing room, no berm, and tight blind turns. We use our sense of hearing the most and thus far, we have been able to navigate the street with pleasant, cautious drivers. Both times I have ridden up, there has been another cyclist climbing as we are going down.

Miles Walked: 0 Biked: 5.5 Bused: 0 Drove: 0 Carpool: 0 This week
134.6 2213 1176.6 3691.8 287.2 Since August 14, 2011

WV Statewide Bicycle Study Step 5

My activity levels have picked up significantly this week! I thought I would be sleeping better, but I have actually been too excited to sleep. Some of the fitful rest was thanks to being in a room full of people who understand what the vision for bicycling in West Virginia should look like. Perry Keller with the Department of Transportation presented to stakeholders, the vision and goals of the statewide connectivity study. This meeting was one of 8 being held around the state, and the first of two such public meetings to gather the input of those who are riding these Appalachian hills.

If you were unable to attend the meeting, please visit their webpage. There are resources for existing bike trails (many that I had never known) and plans for the future. The DOT wants your feedback. Without it, things remain as they are and they won’t know what we want and need. Make the time to email perry.j.keller@wv.gov with your recommendations and desires for West Virginia.

Mr. Keller had a very comprehensive grasp on the situation. I was impressed and eager to know more. I was able to inquire about the Complete Streets bill that I heard mention of a few months back and haven’t heard follow up on, as well as find out about the processes for ensuring there are safe routes to schools built into plans for new construction (such as our newest middle school preparing to break ground, or the recently completed South Side).

People representing RTI, PATH, Edward Tucker Architects, KYOVA, the City of Huntington, Cycle-Recycle, Etromay, Putnam County Parks and Recreation, and a few from the general citizen ship were also in attendance. It was also a pleasure to see the Herald Dispatch and a local news channel reporting on the meeting.

The bike rack upon arrive to the bicycling meeting at the TTA as the bells tolled.
The bicycle parking upon leaving the meeting two hours later. I do know of one other who rode his bike (thank you Larry).

 

Planning a Trip with Four Transportation Options


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My husband Brent thinks I am never happy. He’s probably right. I have a soul that yearns to travel and children who would rather stay home. I am hindered by time, money and my own desire to do things with a husband who has a job to tend. So I fill my wanderlust vicariously and creating fictional trips I hope to take, but then soon realize all those reality factors haven’t magically slipped away in my dreams.

In a recent planning scenario I was looking for somewhere to go, with my entire family, for our 10 year anniversary that passed in mid April. I wanted it to be a two night excursion, given our first night away from home is usually wrought with sleeplessness and cranky children. There was the school/work factor, so we needed to keep it to a weekend getaway.

I came up with the possibility of going to Charlottesville, VA. 300 miles from our house. Here’s how it might look:

Drive the van round trip ($140):

  • 11 hours in the car
  • 2 tanks of gas at about $140

Ride the train round trip ($500*):

  • 15 hours, if it’s running on time
  •  $500 for six tickets

Hypothetically someone buys our van before we go and we rent a van ($440):

  • 11 hours in the car
  • $300 for a rental van
  • $140 for gas

Greyhound bus for comparison ($500+):

  • 23 hours on a bus
  • $500 for five tickets (the most I could buy at one time and thus not getting that extra discount on ticket six)

Thus, I theorize gas is not yet expensive enough to use mass transit, when you have a car in your drive way that’s paid for, and six people to transport. Should the car go, it’s still less expensive to rent a vehicle and it would take less time.

Not all travels are determined by money and time. The quality of the journey has weight, as does the means by which we will explore our destination (driving around, walking about, cycling all over?).

Drive

  • Could drive, walk or bring our bikes

Train Ride

  • Would walk or find public transit

Rental Van

  • Could drive or walk, no hitch for the bikes

Bus Trip

  • Walk about or find public transit.

Still appears that driving our own vehicles gives us the best variety of options once we arrive in Charlottesville. Yet, the journey over and back would be more exciting and restful for us all, we should hope, if we were to take the train. What would you do, hypothetically of course?

 

 

*When I did my research we had two weeks till our fairytale departure so the prices reflect short notice. With more time to plan the prices did drop to $360 for Amtrack for six tickets (2adult, 4 children).

Same Destination,Three Ways

This town isn’t very large, making it a great one for walking and biking. Our common destinations are the grocery (5 miles roundtrip most directly), the school (4m r/t), Marshall University (3m r/t), downtown (5m r/t). The interesting thing about all of these are the routes you take depending on the mode of transportation. It would be rather convenient to be able to walk the same path we bike, or bike the same path we drive, but we can’t/don’t/won’t.

As an example, because it was brought to mind today, our travels to downtown. When we drive to Heritage Station, we would typical use this route (2 miles one way):


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It’s quick and direct. It’s not ideal for bikes because of the heavier volume of faster auto traffic and not a great one to walk because the sidewalks are not buffered from the street.

If we were on bikes, we choose this one (2.25 miles one way):


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We are able to avoid the traffic areas mostly and some tricky blind intersections for turning onto more favorable and direct streets. The road condition isn’t great, but we have learned to work with it by going slow and knowing where there are bumps.

When I went to walk to retrieve my bike today, I began following my bike route, and soon realized it wasn’t fit for walking, so we went this way (2.25 miles one way):


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This walking route was still not the best way to go. We came across a lot of missing, broken or narrow sidewalk. Most of the intersections are being replaced with ramps, but not all. I knew it would be as such, so I had Oliver in the backpack, not a stroller. There were roads without sidewalks I had forgotten about, but didn’t care to turn around to find one that had them. Little legs can only tolerate so much walking. Fortunately we were able to walk through lawns and on the street without too much incident with the cars, as there were few.

See the album of our walk/bike adventure HERE.

Should we be talking about complete streets? Oh we should? Good, because WV is getting on board with the program.  It’s never too late, we just all know it’s going to be slow.

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