Bike Rave

Last night I went to Bike Rave, an annual event where Vancouverites decorate their bikes with bright lights, tassels, glow sticks, and all things raver.  Upon cue, people who have speakers set up on their bikes all start a pre-mixed track of music which playes in-sync (in theory at least) as the mass of riders cycle around the Sea Wall.

It makes me really happy to see thousands of people turn out on bikes to anything. The numbers of Bike Ravers alone makes me hopeful that maybe transportation officials and other policy makers will take note of the growing cycle culture in this city and stop treating people who cycle as a fringe group that can be routed around everything else.

That said, the congestion of Bike Rave was too much for me to really enjoy it as a bike activity, or maybe even as a party in itself. There were so many people on the Sea Wall at the beginning, that no one could really get enough speed to balance properly for enjoyable riding. It was social however, but in a particular way. There were plenty of exchanges of, “nice ___” (fill in the blank with something like “lights“, “wig“, “bike“) for example, and plenty of random Timmy Burch-like shouts of “bike rave!”.  I think that I might have liked it better if I were under-the-influence, but definitely would have crashed if that were the case.

I love the Bike Rave concept, although I personally think it would have been better as a smaller event, or not confined to the narrow Sea Wall.  Even so, I am happy at the demonstration that so many people clearly want to be riding their bikes.

Good on the Bike Rave organizers for rallying literally thousands of people, most of which, seemed to be having a blast!

Streets For Everyone

For the last couple of months, I have been working like crazy with a bunch of awesome people to launch Streets For Everyone, a grass roots organization with the purpose of promoting the transformation of Vancouver streets into places that are much more than just for cars.

Given how much space streets take up in cities, isn’t it kind of crazy that we use them primarily for motor traffic. Lets multi-task streets and use that space more efficiently!

Should a street be primarily just for one form of transportation? Shouldn’t it also be a place just to be – a destination in itself? Let’s encourage forms of transportation that contribute less to climate change and pollution!

Streets For Everyone is currently focusing on championing improvements on Commercial Drive such as:

  • wider side walks and more cross walks for people walking,
  • better bus service and stops for people who are using transit,
  • an all-ages-and-abilities ‘bike’ lane for people who cycle, skateboard, scooter, wheelchair, etc.
  • more seating, and human spaces for people who just want to be
Streets For Everyone's installation at Commercial Drive's 2014 Car Free Day.

Streets For Everyone’s installation at Commercial Drive’s 2014 Car Free Day.

 

We wanted to highlight how these changes might look by creating a life-sized installation at this year’s Car Free Day. We made fun balloon-headed figurines to ride in our bright green separated bike lane, had a space to demonstrate widened side walks which included a covered seating area, and had parking and landscaping to separate people cycling from motor traffic. (You can find more photos of the event here.)

If you like what we are doing, there are many ways to help us including:

  • Joining Streets For Everyone by becoming a volunteer.
  • Signing the petition to make Commercial Drive inviting for more transportation modes and human activity.
  • Donating so that we can continue to promote our cause through fun events and outreach (printing itself is crazy expensive, wowee!).

Where do Chicagoans Take Bike Share Bikes?

Chicago’s bike share program, Divvy Bikes, recently released their cycling data as part of a contest to compellingly visualize all of the bike trips taken by their users in 2013. Although Gabriel Gaster and Aaron Wolf’s entry didnt win, their web app is pretty cool and fun to play with.

They created an interactive map of Voronoi polygons, each representing a bike share station. When one of these bike station’s polygons is hovered over or clicked on, the map visualizes where bikes from the station were taken in 2013.

The map is made with D3.js, Leaflet, and beautiful Stamen tiles. You can access it here.

Divvy Bike Share Map
(Yet another reminder that I need to get my hands dirty with D3.js!)

How to get to Strathcona Safely by bike?

I live in the Dickens neighbourhood and recently had a contract that involved me working in an office on East Hastings street.

For three months I took Main Street North to Union by bike, despite it not really feeling safe at all. (But Main Street has ‘sharrows’, so that makes it safer, right?)

Rumour has it the the city of Vancouver is exploring the possibility of building a pedestrian and cycling bridge to overpass the train tracks that run along the False Creek flats. Sounds like a great idea to me!

I set up a Survey Monkey survey to find out how my cycling neighbours are currently getting to Strathcona, and to see if I could find a better way to get to work sans idealistic beautiful future bike bridge. I also included questions about how often respondents took their described route in an attempt to estimate how much traffic each route was getting.

Of the 39 respondents to my survey, 36 (92%) replied that they ride their bike to Strathcona at least once per month. Funnily enough though, when I mapped out all of the supplied starting and destination intersections from the survey responses, it became clear respondents either don’t know where ‘Strathcona’ is situated or more likely that I worded my survey in a confusing way. 15 of 39 respondents (38%) actually started or ended the bicycle trips that they supplied to the survey in Strathcona. These 15 trips shown in the map below. Line thickness is proportional to trip count. Click on a line for details.