Archive for the ‘Active Transportation’ Category
I’ve been bike commuting for years. Riding to work is particularly challenging because of all the barriers—which include time (or the lack of it), Texas heat and heavy car traffic. The car traffic, especially around my office building at rush hour, is probably the biggest of those obstacles. There are no bike friendly routes in this area, so most folks don’t even bother.
You could imagine my surprise when I saw this bike parked outside of my building, yesterday. Finally, another person in my building is bike commuting. The shift is happening and the momentum—although really, really slow—is starting to move towards bicycling.
This starts to raise another question: why aren’t there any safe and secure bike parking facilities at my building? Even though I’ve always brought my bike inside, I’m upset with myself for not noticing before. Looks like I need to start a campaign to change that. I’ll be reaching out to the owners of IBP Business Park, to see if they can add proper bike parking racks in their existing buildings, and include them on future developments.
Mark your calendars! Friday, May 16, 2014 is The League of American Cyclists‘ National Bike To Work Day. IF there is ever a day to ride to work, make it this day. Think about the positive statement we’ll be making as cyclists, safely using an alternate form of transportation.
Based on our great success in Richardson 2 years ago, which grew to 5 stations around Dallas last year, BikeDFW, DART and NCTCOG have partnered up to host 9 Bike Commuter Energizer Stations around the Dallas/Fort Worth area:
• ALLEN – Allen Events Center
• GARLAND – DART Downtown Garland Station
• DALLAS – DART St. Paul Station
• OAK CLIFF – Jefferson St. Viaduct
• RICHARDSON – DART Arapaho Station
• PLANO – Intersection of Bluebonnet & Chisholm Trail
• IRVING – DART Las Colinas Urban Center Station
• CARROLLTON – DART Trinity Mills Station
• MID-CITIES – TRE CentrePort Station
DATE: Friday, May 16, 2014
TIME: 6:30-9:00 am
We will be providing snacks, beverages and FREE bicycle safety checks at most stations.
Let us know you are coming on our Facebook Event Page.
MORE DETAILS TO COME.
A few years back, my city was awarded federal funding through a Safe Routes to School grant from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) for two schools in Richardson: Richland Elementary and Yale Elementary. Yale Elementary happens to be part of my neighborhood.
It’s finally getting implemented and is scheduled to be complete next month. According to the SRTS plan (pdf), we will be getting:
• Barrier-free curb ramps
• Sidewalks (repairs and missing links)
• School crosswalk and signage upgrades
• Bike lanes
• Bike routes (I’m not sure what they mean by this)
They are already working on the sidewalks and barrier-free curb ramps in my neighborhood, Yale Park. It’ll also be nice to get the bike lanes, which will help calm the car traffic through the neighborhood streets, create more awareness for bicycling and encourage more people to ride. The new lanes through my neighborhood will start to connect the bike lanes in the Duck Creek neighborhood, just south of us, to the bike lanes on Collins Blvd, a few miles to the west. There will still be a gap on Collins.
The original information about our Safe Routes To School grant had mentioned bike racks for the schools, but they aren’t on the current proposal (pdf). That either means there wasn’t enough funds or ‘Bike routes’ listed above is a typo, and we are still getting them.
I’m glad that I live in a city that works hard to get grants like this. This is a big win for Richardson and I hope to see more developments that improve safety and encourage more active transportation.
In case you don’t remember, I decided to participate in more active transportation this year – including more walking. I gave myself the goal to reach, at least, 10,000 steps per day – which is twice the average for most people. For the past 64 days, I was able to do so – and then some. Having a fitness challenge at the office was a great motivator, which kept me going for most of it.
Unfortunately, walking takes its toll in both time and wear-and-tear on my body.
Walking is sloooooooow. Some days, in order to reach my goal, I found myself waking up an hour earlier. Other days, I found myself having to take long walks on cold and rainy nights. Sometimes, I found myself so obsessed, I would walk around the house in circles – just to get the next few hundred steps. I realized that this isn’t active transportation, but rather, a gerbil in a cage lifestyle.
Also, walking hurts. When you walk a few hundred steps a day, you don’t really notice. But when you walk a few thousand steps a day, for many days in a row, you really start to feel your age. All of my leg and feet joints were in pain, all the time. There were times when I couldn’t get out of bed quickly. I’d even have to slowly work my body into back into standing. However, In just a day after breaking my streak, the pain had gone away.
Once again, this proves that bicycling is a better form of active transportation for both time and body. It’s nice to put things in perspective.
I do feel better about myself for walking more. I still plan to continue doing it – but only when it’s practical and serves the purpose of transporting me. When given a choice, I will strive to choose the option that gets my body moving under its own power.
Side note: In case you were wondering, for the year, I’ve walked over 906,000 steps totaling over 441 miles.
As I’ve been walking more this year, I’ve discovered a few things about being an active pedestrian. What stands out the most is my misperception of distance.
When I started riding regularly, I discovered that the distances between my cycling destinations were actually closer than I would estimate. Riding wasn’t as difficult, time consuming or challenging as I had assumed.
However, as I started walking more, I realized that the distances between my pedestrian destinations were actually farther than I would estimate. There have been a few trips that caught me off guard, requiring me to take longer and work harder to reach my destinations.
Walking is hard. Cycling is much more efficient.
I’m adding a new category to the Suburban Assault lifestyle: walking.
First, let me set the record straight, I am still bicycling and always will. In fact, I’ll probably ride even more this year than I ever have. Part of my new years resolution was to participate in more active transportation, and walking is very much a part of that.
Why the sudden addition to my lifestyle? Well, I’ve always enjoyed walking and hiking – even to the point where I would alway check those boxes in ‘favorite hobby or sport’ section of those random surveys that I’ve taken. I just never realized how little I was doing it.
Last December, the company I work for gave us Jawbone UP24 fitness bracelets as a holiday gift. The UP24 is, basically, a high-tech pedometers that connect with your iPhone to help you track and share your steps. According to the device, the average person should be walking 5,000 steps in a day, with the suggestion to do 10,000. I wore the device for the first few days to gauge my walking throughout a typical day – which was actually significantly less than the average.
This was a wakeup all for this daily desk jockey, and I needed to do more walking.
So far, this year, I’ve been walking well over the average of 5,000 steps a day – mostly hitting the 10,000+ step mark. Here are a few things that I’ve learned while walking more:
– Walking is HARD – especially on your feet, muscles and joints.
– Walking takes time. If you want to get more walking done in your day, you’ll need to make time for it.
– Although walking doesn’t require any special equipment, a good pair of shoes helps quite a bit.
– Bicycling is still a much better, more efficient form of human powered transportation.
I’ll report back on my progress and any other revelations that I have throughout the year. Until then, walk on.