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Walk Score Blog: Articles tagged ' bicycling'

A Home for You – AND Your Bike, Too!

Maybe you’d like to ride more, but the hassle of liberating your bike from the storage locker every time you want to go get coffee is too much to deal with. The scowl from the building manager when you’ve got your bike in the elevator feels like an accusation. If there’s an elevator – you might be using the stairs because you’d rather keep your bike in your apartment than trust it to the garage.

There’s good news. Rentals with bike friendly services are on the rise. This year, for Bike to Work Week we’re all about these buildings that have amazing amenities for our rides.

In Denver (Bike Score: 70) a handful of buildings are adding bike rooms – DIY repair shops with work benches and tools. From the Denver Post:

Susan Maxwell, director of real estate for Zocalo, said the Velo Room at Solera includes “all the tools that you might need — Park brand tools, a stand to put your bike on while you work on it, a workbench, aprons, air pumps, tubes and lube, and other supplies. Also, consumables such as gel packs and energy bars, as well as maps on the wall for the more than 800 miles of bike trails in the Denver area.”

Biking is part of the design style at Cruise in Denver

Biking is part of the design style at Cruise in Denver

Cruise, a building in a Biker’s Paradise neighborhood, has bikes at the center of its design aesthetic. They gave away cruiser bikes as an incentive to renters, they’ve got the coveted bike room on site, and there’s storage space for your fair weather ride – we know you don’t have just one.

No surprises here – Portland (Bike Score: 70) buildings also have bike friendly services as part of what they’re offering renters. Currently under construction in the city’s Lloyd District, a cycle-centric apartment complex named Hassalo on Eighth has 1,200 bicycle parking spaces in its design. That’s believed to be more than any other apartment building in North America.

The Milano (which bill’s itself as “Portland’s premier bicycle friendly apartments, designed and built from the ground up to accommodate everything the Portland bicycle community need from an apartment complex”) and EcoFlats PDX both have secured indoor wall mounted parking for your ride. EcoFlats PDX has a bike bar on the ground floor and yes, it’s totally okay for you to hang your bike from the ceiling in your loft.

Velo Bike Shop located in the Via6 Apartments

Velo Bike Shop located in the Via6 Apartments

In Seattle (Bike Score: 64), Portland’s neighbor to the north, Via6 Apartments also has a bike shop at the ground level and there are 250 bike parking spots. Seattle just announced its new bike share program, so you don’t even need to own a bike to live a bicycle friendly life.

But bike friendly living isn’t just a west of the Rockies thing. A developer in Philadelphia (Bike Score: 68) opened a handful of buildings with bike sharing included – no bike, no excuse, the properties have a small fleet you can access for free.

And several communities in the Washington DC area – long a great city for cyclists – are using bike amenities to entice potential renters. Crescent, in nearby Arlington, VA has a room in the garage with storage for up to 200 bikes, offers complimentary loaners to residents and is home to Tri360, a swim/bike/run shop.

We’re psyched to learn that there are places where our bikes are not just welcome, but a part of the design for apartment living. We’d ride anyway – every week is bike to work week for us – but anything that makes living with a bike easier, we’re all for it.

  • Do you live in a building with great biking amenities? What could your building offer that would make biking a better option? Tell us about it in the comments.
  • Want to live a bike ride away from work? Use My Commutes on the map tool bar to find a rental within biking distance.

5 Simple Ways to Improve Your City Cycling

Guest post by Duncan Hurd, managing editor of Momentum Mag

I truly believe that my bicycle is the ultimate urban tool. My bicycle provides a solution to every city travel problem that I may encounter. Bicycling is fast, efficient, inexpensive, and let’s not forget fun.

Like any tool, a bicycle becomes more useful if it is designed for the task at hand. The growing demand for city bikes has resulted in an increased availability of bicycles that are made to be used daily, carry items, and keep the rider free from grease and street crud.

Do you need a new bike to make city cycling simpler? Not at all. Any bicycle will do. However, there are ways to improve any bicycle so it becomes better suited to daily city use. These five simple add-ons will help make your bike an attractive daily travel tool:

1. Fend Away Street Grime with Fenders

Unless you live in a place where it never rains and the streets are kept in pristine condition, you will benefit from fenders. As far as add-ons go, fenders give you the most bang for your buck and make city cycling a cleaner experience. And not only do fenders help keep you clean, they also keep tire spray away from riders around you. Since there are so many different fenders available it is difficult to make a specific recommendation, so visit your local bike shop and explore the available options that will fit on your bicycle.

2. Take More with You in Your Front Basket

I’m almost embarrassed by how long it took me to finally add a front basket to my bicycle. I thought I’d never use it; I’ll just use my messenger bag when I need to carry things. Boy, I was wrong. I honestly couldn’t imagine benefiting as much as I do from my bicycle without that front basket. As far as low-cost improvements go, a front basket is right up there with fenders. Any wire basket will do, though if you expect to carry more delicate items I recommend finding a basket with a solid base to provide support.

3. Keep Grease Where it Belongs with a Chainguard

Bicycle chains get dirty. They pick up road grime and are the number one culprit when it comes to ruined trousers. While their availability isn’t as widespread as fenders and baskets, adding a simple chainguard will help keep your pant legs clean and keep grease where it needs to be, on your chain.

4. Light Up Your Nights with Bike Lights

Having both front and rear lights on your bicycle is one add-on that is actually a necessity. Not only does having lighting on your bicycle improve nighttime safety (and save you from traffic fines) but it also makes you more likely to ride longer. In many European countries there are strict regulations on bicycle lighting, ensuring that the majority of riders are visible at night. In North America, the laws vary but lights are still required in most places. If you tend to leave you bicycle parked outside all night look for models that are easy to remove so you can take them inside with you. Another option that will ensure you never forget your lights is to install permanent front and rear lights powered by a dynamo.

5. Keep Your Bicycle Yours with a Secure Lock

While every bicycle lock can be defeated, the best locks take thieves longer to break. The goal of a good lock is to make your bike the least attractive option to would-be thieves. Heavy chain locks and solid U-locks are the most popular choice. Look for the security rating provided by the manufacturer to give you an idea if the lock can provide the security you need.


Duncan Hurd is managing editor of Momentum Mag, an independent media company that promotes, encourages and inspires “Smart Living by Bike.” He lives in Toronto, Canada and believes that every ride is a group ride, even if those around him don’t know it yet. Subscribe to Momentum Mag’s free newsletter.

Photo: David Niddrie

How to Combine Bicycles and Public Transit

Guest post by Duncan Hurd, managing editor of Momentum Mag

On a warm, summer morning my partner and I prepared to set out on our bicycles. Our destination was nearly 62 miles (100 km) away. As we unlocked our bikes, a neighbor asked where we were headed. He told us that we didn’t look like the kind of people who would ride that far. He was right. We had no intention of cycling the entire way. We’d ride the first 2 miles (3.2 km) to a commuter rail station, hop on a train with our bicycles and complete our trip with a short bike ride from a train station to our destination.

Combining bicycles with transit for trips both short and long is a growing trend in North America. Public transit systems are installing bike racks on buses and at popular transit stops and some are including secure bike storage facilities, with lockers and repair stands, at transit stations. By making it easier to combine bikes with transit, cities can help alleviate rush hour congestion and provide a stepping stone toward motivating people to use their bicycles more often.

Most public transit systems provide an excellent way to cover longer distances at a much lower cost than by personal car. However, it’s very difficult for a transit system to provide stations or bus stops close to all destinations. Since many destinations are only a few miles away from a transit station, bicycles provide a low-cost, efficient and often faster way to start and finish your trip.

Take Your Bike with You

  • On longer trips, I often look for ways that I can take my bicycle along with me. The commuter rail service that connects Toronto to cities throughout Southern Ontario offers limited access for bicycles. On weekends and outside of rush hours bicycles are permitted on most rail cars. Local and regional bus services here also have limited space for bicycles, often just a front-mounted rack that can carry at most two bikes.
  • Taking a bike with you will often mean traveling outside of peak times. If space is limited for your bike and knowing there are a lot of people intending to travel with theirs it can throw a wrench in your travel plans, so be sure to check your local transit regulations beforehand.

Lock It and Leave It

  • Many transit systems encourage commuters to leave their bicycles at transit stations. Sheltered bike racks and indoor storage facilities are sometimes available. You may be required to pay a fee or obtain a membership for some storage facilities, though outdoor racks are often provided free.
  • When leaving your bicycle at a transit station be sure to take anything with you that could be easily stolen. Make sure you use a secure lock, remove your lights and cover your saddle to protect it from the weather.

Travel By Bike Share 

  • Bike share systems are rapidly expanding and are a perfect complement to public transit. New York, Chicago, Vancouver, and Los Angeles among others are all expected to launch bike share systems in 2013. In cities where bike share systems already exist, like Montreal, Washington, DC and Boston, bike share stations are often located alongside transit stops. This makes the transition from train to bike simple. By using bike share you never have to worry about locking your bike or theft.

North Americans are embracing bicycles as their preferred transportation choice in ever-growing numbers. By allowing people to choose how they travel, and offering ways to combine walking, cycling, transit and even driving, cities can help address our diverse transportation needs.


Duncan Hurd is managing editor of Momentum Mag, an independent media company that promotes, encourages and inspires “Smart Living by Bike.” He lives in Toronto, Canada and believes that every ride is a group ride, even if those around him don’t know it yet. Subscribe to Momentum Mag’s free newsletter.

Photo: David Niddrie

5 Barriers to Women Bicycling More

Guest post by Ann DeOtte Kaufman, founder of female bike fashion company Iva Jean

I started biking to work after giving up my car in 2007. I lived just 2 miles from my office, the bus commute was pretty painful, and I knew biking would be the fastest, easiest and healthiest way to commute. The switch was intimidating, but I quickly fell in love with biking and all of the hassles or inconveniences faded.

Biking tips and insights from Walk ScoreHere are 5 barriers that prevent women from comfortably biking to work—and solutions to each one. I encourage all of you to break through barriers and enjoy cycling.

Barrier #1: Avoiding Risk

Safety often comes up as a top barrier to women biking to work. I believe that fear prevents a lot of people from biking, including men and older demographics, as well as women. These concerns include a lack of safe cycle infrastructure such as separated bike lanes and cycletracks; traffic and vehicular fears; personal safety fears; and topography (especially in cities like Seattle).

“Women are considered an ‘indicator species’ for bike-friendly cities for several reasons. First, studies across disciplines…have shown that women are more averse to risk than men. In the cycling arena, that risk aversion translates into increased demand for safe bike infrastructure as a prerequisite for riding.” Scientific American

Solutions

  • Learn your rights and responsibilities as a biker.
  • Take the lane when you feel comfortable.
  • Ride with a friend or experienced biker.
  • Study your city’s bike maps to be familiar with the existing infrastructure and easiest routes.

Barrier #2: Time

Time is a precious thing for many commuters, including women. With several reports showing that employed women devote more time to household duties and caregiving than their employed male counterparts, time could be an even bigger barrier for women. In turn, when biking is the fastest and easiest way to work, you’ll find more women on wheels.

Solutions

  • Bus or drive halfway to work with your bike to save time.
  • Work with your partner to relieve you of your regular duties once or twice a week.

Barrier #3: Convenience

It also seems that convenience comes up quite a bit regarding women biking to work. Many women attach errands to their commute. Whether it’s groceries, dry cleaning or picking up the kids from daycare – it’s just not clear how all of that can get done by bike.

“… ‘comfort’ and ‘needing a car’ were important factors influencing women’s cycling rates—but not men’s. Needing a car is likely tied to the household errands women often perform and could be addressed in part by outreach programs showing that women can ‘jump on a bike the way they jump in a car.’” Scientific American

Solutions

Iva Jean bicycling functional fashion for womenBarrier #4: Vanity

Let’s be totally honest. No one (men included) wants to sit at work feeling sweaty and nasty. Even if your office provides facilities such as locker rooms or showers for employees, the idea of getting ready at work is of little interest to many women. This concern often rises from a misconception that you need to wear head-to-toe spandex and ride hard on your way to the office.

Solutions

  • Ride slowly.
  • Bike in your everyday clothes or clothing designed to work on and off your bike (such as Iva Jean, Outlier, Nau).
  • Create a small bag of things you need to freshen up once you’re at the office (lip gloss, dry shampoo, pressed power, brush or comb).

Barrier #5: Community

Trying something new and unfamiliar, especially as we get older, can be difficult. Women are the minority of bike commuters in most cities, and from my observations, casual women riders are an even smaller demographic. In America, 24% of all bicycle trips are made by women vs. 76% by men (US DOT 2010). Perhaps, more of us would bike if we saw and aspired to a supportive community of riders that looked like us.

Solutions

  • Search online for organizations or rides for women that bike (there are so many across the country).
  • Ask a friend or coworker to show you the ropes and ride your commute with you once or twice.

As you consider biking, please know that a little bit of fearlessness and flexibility can lead to an incredible sense of joy and freedom on two wheels.

Photo: Cycle Chic Australia

Bike Score Expands to 25 U.S. Cities

By popular vote, we now have Bike Score in 25 U.S. cities and 11 Canadian cities—for any address. How bikeable is your office? School? Home? Hotel? If you live, work or play in any of these US cities, you can now find a Bike Score for anywhere inside the city limits.

America doubled the number of protected bicycle lanes “green lanes” in 2012 and is projected to double the number of green lanes again in 2013. Danes and Dutch might smirk at the US cycling infrastructure. But it’s notable for a country built for cars, not walkability.

Thousands of cyclists voted for more than 300 cities during National Bike Month 2012. The top 10 voted on cities (for which we could obtain bike data) plus 5 additional cities are now scored. The 15 cities below, combined with the top 10 Bike Score ranked US cities, expands Bike Score to any address within 25 cities.

#1 voted for city Cincinnati = Bike Score 37
#2 voted for city Austin = Bike Score 45
#3 voted for city Pittsburgh = Bike Score 39
#4 voted for city Philadelphia = Bike Score 68
#5 voted for city Miami = Bike Score 57
#6 voted for city Oakland = Bike Score 57
#7 voted for city Houston = Bike Score 49
#8 voted for city Los Angeles = Bike Score 54
#9 voted for city Eugene = Bike Score 75
#10 voted for city San Diego = Bike Score 48

5 additional voted on cities also now have a Bike Score including Ann Arbor =Bike Score 76, Boulder = Bike Score 86, Fort Collins = Bike Score 78, Tempe = Bike Score 75 and Tyler = Bike Score 38. Thanks to all who voted.

Bike Score for Any Address

What’s the Bike Score of your home, office, school, or apartment? Find the Bike Score of any address in the 15 new cities and top 10 Bike Score cities. Type any address in the “Get a Walk Score” field above to find its Bike Score. See Bike Score range details from 0 to 100.

For fun, here is the Bike Score for top schools, employers and attractions in several cities:

Washington, DC’s US Capitol = Bike Score 89 (see visual below)
Eugene’s University of Oregon campus = Bike Score 96
Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell = Bike Score 96
San Francisco’s Gap Inc headquarters = Bike Score 86
Seattle’s Amazon.com headquarters = Bike Score 85
Austin’s University of Texas campus = Bike Score 75
Chicago’s Groupon = Bike Score 65
San Diego Zoo = Bike Score 61
New York City’s NBC headquarters = Bike Score 58
Los Angeles’ UCLA = Bike Score 55

Bonus: Walk Score Now Has Bike Shares

We have also mapped nearly 1,600 locations of bike shares across North America. Search for any address in these cities and find bike share locations listed as one of the main categories: Boston, Denver, Minneapolis, New York, Houston, Washington, D.C., Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Broward, Charlotte, Des Moines, Kailua, Kansas City, Madison, Nashville, Omaha, San Antonio and Spartanburg. Best ways to use bike shares.

Resolve to Bike More in 2013

Make a New Year’s resolution to bike more in 2013. Here are a few good reasons why:

  1. Riding reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke by 50%.
  2. Cycling has been shown to help with weight loss.
  3. Bicycling has grown over the past 20 years in the US. The number of bike commuters rose by 64% from 1990 to 2009.

Bike Score Details