Tag Archives: biking

Completing Streets, Giving Choices

Transportation choices: it’s the slogan of the Green Transportation campaign but it’s also at the heart of what we do. Complete Streets give choices: the roads and streets safely serve the needs of all users–cars (of course), but also cyclists, pedestrians of all ages, and transit users.

Common ways of completing streets are adding crosswalks, improving sidewalks, providing bus shelters, and narrowing traffic lanes to make room for bike lanes on the road. Simple, often inexpensive interventions can make an incredible difference.

Our Transportation Associate, Kari Banta, moderated a panel on Complete Streets at the SXSW Eco conference on October 3. Joshua Houdek of the North Star Chapter and David Jurca from the Kent State Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative to talk about Complete Streets– how they work, making them happen, and testing them out with  a “pop up” temporary demonstration project.

The Sierra Club North Star Chapter helped get complete streets legislation adopted in Minnesota–a tremendous accomplishment–so now activists can direct attention toward getting them implemented. Minneapolis is truly transforming the way people think about getting around, as you can see in this presentation.

Making a complete street depends on who is using it. A rural highway might not need sidewalks or bus shelters, for example. The community needs to be involved in the planning process to decide what they need from their streets, working with the city planners and engineers to phase the improvements into the regular maintenance schedule. If the changes are low cost, there’s a possibility they could be done much sooner. As with many things the Sierra Club does, it takes volunteers working together to get people together and keep pushing the project forward.

Part of getting people comfortable with Complete Streets is giving them a chance to try it out for themselves. David Jurca explained Pop Up Rockwell, the project he did with graduate students to convert four blocks of Rockwall Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio to a pedestrian and biking oasis. Using paint, temporary planters, outdoor furniture, and some very clever inflatable art pieces he turned a disused and barren street into a real place.

Here’s the film they produced to explain the project–please set aside nine minutes to see how an amazing transformation is possible!

Pop Up Rockwell from KSU CUDC on Vimeo.

You can listen to the full SXSW Eco presentation, titled Life in the Streets: Reclaiming Public Space, here.


Kari Banta
Transportation Associate

May is Bike Month!

Has it been so long since you’ve used your bike that it’s part of the fence? Don’t worry, the Sierra Club has teamed up with the League of American Bicyclists to make riding safe and easy.

May is National Bike Month

During May, try to ride your bike to work, school, or for running errands.

All you need to start are a bike, a helmet, and some patience. Set yourself up to succeed! The National League of Bicyclists has Five Steps to Riding Better that will make you feel more confident and safe on the road.

There are a number of events throughout the month to encourage you to give it a try. This link shows everything in Texas (Austin, San Antonio and Odessa have events so far).

This link shows all of the bike shops, bike clubs and riding instructors in the state.  If you still have questions, this link has lots of answers.

Still don’t think you can do it? Here are nine reasons you shouldn’t ride to work (good points with a heap of sarcasm).

Sometimes Good Transportation Means Not Moving

Here’s a little Friday fun: Imagine a bridge over a river. What comes to mind? Guard rails, lanes for cars. Maybe a walkway for pedestrians and a bike lane if you’re lucky. Anything else?

Did you imagine a bridge as a place to play chess or enjoy a cup of coffee or just watch traffic go by. No?

The bridge on Cedar Crest Boulevard over the Trinity River in Dallas has the potential to be this place. In fact, for one day, it actually was. On October 22, 2011, the bridge was converted to two lanes from four. Planters divided the car lanes from two bike lanes and a pedestrian esplanade complete with tables, chairs, and chess boards.

What difference does a day make? Plenty, as it turns out. This coordinated effort by Team Better Block and the City of Dallas was a proof of concept for Option D of the renovation plan under consideration by the city as part of the Trinity River Project. In plain English, they did it to see if it would work–and it did! Fingers crossed that they get the support to implement the plan.

Austinites Bike to Move Beyond Fossil Fuels

By: Brian Jackson
September 24th 2011 – Today was Moving Planet Day promoted by 350.org to move the planet beyond fossil fuels and unsustainable practices. The Lone Star Sierra Club paired with 350.org to host a green and sustainability bike tour. (Special thanks to Niles Seldon with Austin group’s outings in being the lead organizer for the event!) The group assembled at 4th and Guadalupe at the Austin farmer’s market to a beautiful Texas morning, the music and the fan-fare of the market. At around noon the 60 or so enthusiasts took action to explore the many sustainable and green transportation and civic landmarks around the city. The first stop was City hall where Council member Chris Riley shared many of the installations of the legislative building, including the terraced gardens watered from the Air conditioning condensation water.
The ride continued towards the Austin Amtrak station, that while not itself inclusively a green project, represents the public transportation of the future, with routes to Dallas, Houston, El Paso and San Antonio. The ride continued to ride past the Seaholm Power Plant, where the city is redeveloping the former power plant, into a hotel, apartment, concert venue and business park. This is a green project because it is revitalizing the buildings we already have to boost new industry. Other highlights included stops at the Whole Foods parking lot where we saw the electric car charging station and the Whole Foods Bicycle repair station both promoting more sustainable forms of transportation.
As the afternoon wore on and the Texas sun beat down, and the mercury topped 100, some riders turned toward home before we stopped at the Austin Sierra CLub office where volunteers can come and find resources and get involved in sustainable change. Our final destinations were the Texas Capitol building and the downtown Metro-rail station the meets the Lance Armstrong Bikeway. The brave dozen or so that made the last stop discussed local Cycling clubs and preferred routes, A Favorite being to take the metro rail towards Leander then riding back to Downtown.
The power of 350.org‘s vision of moving the planet is a goal that is a simple as dusting off your bike and taking it to work, or taking the relaxing trip to Dallas on the train rather than driving the congested 35. Many people felt the directs power of the sun on the ride and are enthusiastic about the possibility of the Austin City encouraging rooftop solar as the city’s power source. Beating fossil fuels is a battle won a day at a time, and todays bike ride proved that with enthusiasm and strength.