April 30, 2012

More about Columbus Downtown Parking Meters

In my first post about downtown parking meters, I failed to look at what would happen if you were to put money in the parking meter between restricted hours.

This is what the parking meter looks like on the payment side. On the other side, the driver is notified that it's a tow-away zone between 7-9 AM and 4-6 PM and there is also another, stand-alone sign which states that there is no parking between the same times. This side says that the meter is enforced between 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM except Sundays and holidays and that there is a two hour limit. One minor improvement would be to put a tow-away zone sticker warning on this meter sides.

I put a dime into the meter at 8:31 AM on a Friday and what happened? It took my money and told me that I had 37 minutes and that it expires at 9:08 AM.

It also switched to this display which basically is the same information.

What does all of this mean?

I am alright with peak-hour on-street parking restrictions. I'm alright without any parking restrictions if it won't affect public transit. However, if there are on-street parking restrictions, we need to be sure that all potential drivers are aware of the restrictions and that their car will be towed between 7-9 AM and 4-6 PM. 

While there is plenty of signage warning people, it makes sense to reprogram the message output of these parking meters so that there is 0 confusion. I hate seeing any car get towed. That would be a day ruiner.

Cool cherry tomato plants growing in time-lapse:

April 27, 2012

If I were overlord of cars

I want to give a brief overview of what restrictions would be placed on cars/trucks.

  1. Maximum car widths - Sometimes it seems like the larger trucks will have mirrors which sneak across into another lane. Roads seem to vary between 10' and 14'. Let's make lanes be 10' (11' lanes with buses) and adjust cars to 8' width including side mirrors.

  2. Maximum heights of headlights - I get it. You like being up high off the ground. But there's no reason that you have to blind me with the placement of your headlights. Let's make the tops of headlights be no higher than 3'.

  3. No tinting on car windows - File this under public safety. When coming to a stop or attempting to turn or looking at traffic ahead or behind you, your view can be blocked by tinted windows. The fact that you are driving on a public road means that safety should come over your need for privacy/coolness.

  4. Taxes based on vehicle miles traveled / weight of vehicle / congestion pricing - This is a very complicated requirement. Gas taxes are no longer sufficient to pay for our roads so it's time to look for a new way to pay for them. Hybrids no longer pay their fair share to pay for roads. Heavier vehicles wear down roads quicker. Driving in congestion is unproductive and discouraging congestion or promoting public transit are laudable goals. I'll let someone else develop a model to adequately fund transportation. Hell, as a biker I would even be willing to throw in some bills for biking transportation for miles biked.

  5. No more turn on red - This is more for pedestrian safety. I'd be open for ideas on how to implement this. Pedestrians could have "sneak peaks" and get the walk sign before the light turn green. Also, in areas where there are few sidewalks or pedestrians, this ban on red light turns could be lifted. I'm not a heartless tyrant.
There you have it.

Cool I like you so much better when you're naked video of the day:

April 26, 2012

Columbus Downtown Parking Meters

Today, I want to focus in on peak-hour restrictions for parking and what you should expect. Recently, there has been more discussion about downtown parking in Columbus versus drive-ability. On-street parking at all times of the day or at least during off-peak hours could restore the retail and commerce downtown. However, on-street parking at peak hours (7:00 AM - 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM) could also reduce two travel lanes and cause delays/problems when people attempt to park or get out of the parking space. What's it like to park downtown today?

The first picture in this post is on Front Street by State Street. There are 3 parts of the sign that say NO STOPPING. The uppermost is no stopping for street cleaning every Monday at 12:00 AM - 6 :00 AM. The left part of the sign is a generic no stopping at any time closer to the intersection. Finally, the right part says no stopping 7:00 AM-9:00 AM and 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM. It would be nice, although likely expensive, if there could be signs with green lights that say "Parking = OK!" or red lights that say "No Parking Now!" That might reduce the millions* of people who park there, stare at the sign, get out of the car, realize that there's parking restrictions, and then get back in their car.

Let's say that you get out of the car without seeing the large No Parking signs. The curb-facing side of the meter has red tape that says that it's a tow-away zone 7-9AM and 4-6PM. That would be bad. What happens if I am still oblivious and try to put money in?

At 7:01 AM, the meter displays "No Payment Needed Until DAY 09:00 AM." If I recall, that side of the meter does not state that it's a tow-away zone, plus, I would guess that most people would concentrate on the screen rather than any stickers on it. It would be better if it displayed "Tow-Away Zone Until DAY 09:00 AM." I've made a request to Columbus to suggest the change.

The other option is to try to put change in before the parking restrictions. In this case, I arrived at the parking meter at 3:43 PM and there were already 13 minutes remaining in it / it expired at 3:56 PM. Note that it also says that the Max. Stay is 2 hours. This is incorrect as the max stay at that time is 17 minutes. Well what happens if you put money in at 3:43 PM to go longer than 4:00 PM?

It only lets you stay until 4:00 PM! That's pretty good. However, it is slightly disconcerting that the maximum time still says 2 hours:

I'll also include a suggestion to change the current maximum stay to be more accurate. 

One last note. As I was doing my hard-hitting journalism, the guy that owned the car parked at the spot returned to his car. He almost had a hard attack because with my yellow bike jacket, I almost looked like a city employee giving him a ticket. No, mister. I'm a blogger who blogs about bikes and transportation. That's why I'm taking pictures of these parking meters.

*This statement is not meant to be factual.

My Drunk Kitchen making cookies while drunk video of the day (NSFW):

April 25, 2012

Single speed bikes versus multi-speed bikes - Part 1

Growing up, a lot of people probably get most accustomed to single speed bikes with coaster brakes. And when you're young it works great. These bikes are geared lower so that you don't have to struggle to get going but as a result you don't have a high maximum speed. But that's ok! You're a kid! What else do you have to do? Then when you need to brake you just flip back the pedals and you're braking.

Multi-speed bikes are what you see a lot of adults riding. Just like a car, it can be more efficient and less stressful if you have different gears. These bikes usually lose the coaster brakes for what can be a variety of types but you will most likely have a brake mounted on the front wheel and back wheel. The front brake makes a big difference because most weight "goes" forward while braking so the front brake gives you the fastest stopping time. I only use the front brake since it's really the brawn behind stopping.

Single-speed and sometimes fixed-gear bikes are what you see hipsters bike with. These bikes are upgrades from kid bikes because they can have brakes on the front and/or back and the gear set is slightly higher so that you can go faster. The down side is that when you stop on a single speed, getting momentum again is a bit of a pain. You'll probably have to get out of your saddle/stand up to get going. (Remember to obey traffic laws and stop you scofflaws who run red lights!)

What are fixed-gear bikes? Most single-speed bikes will have a freewheel which allows a biker to coast while going downhills or just taking a break. Fixed-gear bikes don't have a freewheel which means that if the wheels are moving the cyclist needs to be peddling. Some fixed gear cyclists use this as a means to brake. If you push against the peddles as they're turning, you'll slow down. Others will jam on the peddles which will result in a skid. If you see a hipster without brakes on their bike, they probably have a fixed-gear bike.

Next week I'll discuss my experience with single speed and multi-speed bikes.

Cool link of the day:

April 24, 2012

Hipsters in Columbus

Yahoo has clearly never been to Columbus. In a recent article about which cities are the best for hipsters, Columbus did not appear on the list at all! Biking Columbus set out to determine our hipster street-cred by attending Root Down!, the Earth Day celebration event in Columbus.

The first thing that stuck out for it being hipsterish is this guy:

What are you looking at? A dog in a bag! Here, let me zoom in:

There's a person with a dog book bag with a stranger looking non-plussed behind him. Maybe the miniature pinscher just scolded him?

From there I went to one of the United Ministries of Hipsterdom, also known as a Liz Lessner restaurant. Please note that I mean this in playful jest as Tip Top, Dirty Frank's, Betty's, and Surly Girl are all fine establishments. And we all know that PBR tall boys and good, reasonably priced food attracts hipsters like no other. The restaurant we went to was the Dirty Frank's. Besides having a line of people waiting to be seated, I was also greeted by this fine bicycle:

The lowdown: "Ride or Die" sticker, equality sign, blue handle bars, likely a fixed gear bike as there is no rear brake, pedal straps, blue handle-bar tape, and a clip-on fender. Stylish, elegant, and hipster-like.

While inside I noticed a mystery. I don't know what the "kids" are doing these days, but apparently, Styrofoam cups are tasty:

Last but not least, while we were walking back to wait for the bus, I see none other than a miniature pincer with its owner lugging a fixed-gear bike:

Yahoo, Columbus deserves and honorable mention to the best cities for hipsters.

What people can do with fixed-geared bikes video of the day:

April 23, 2012

Pittsburgh Trip - Day 2

A few weeks ago, I went to Pittsburgh to see what the tributaries to the Ohio River were like. After the first day of my Pittsburgh Trip, I went to Mount Washington, a neighborhood on the top of Mount Washington. To get there, you have to take a road which switch backs up the hill or you can take an incline. In my case, my girlfriend and I took the Monongahela Incline because we're big on public transportation.
Monongahela Incline
The Monongahela Incline (Source: Port Authority of Allegheny)
View of the point from the top of the Duquesne Incline
The Duquense Incline (Source: Port Authority of Allegheny)
They're pretty cool to ride up and it sure beats hiking up! The interesting thing is that the main roadway to get to the top appeared to be out of service due to rockslides. When I was there, it appeared that they were finishing up work on the retaining wall but it was still closed to traffic due to lots of soils/sediment/rocks being on the road. 

Looking at the picture above, you might be able to notice an ominous, castle-like skyscraper towards the right. I'll circle it in color so you can see it:

Thankfully, someone on Wikipedia loaded a nice, upclose picture of the PPG complex:

PPG Place shot with Mount Washington in the background (Source: Derek Jensen on Wikipedia)
What is really neat is that there is a mostly pedestrian area nearby here. You can see it in the foreground in the bottom right of the picture. Here's an overhead shot of the square:

We passed through the area on the way to a showing of Jesus Christ Superstar at the Byham Theater. The show was pretty good and my favorite part was when the actors on-stage froze to ape famous paintings, like The Last Supper:

File:Juan de Juanes 003.jpg
The Last Supper
Speaking of last supper, prior to the movie we went to a pizza place called Pizza Milano. It was amazing and I would recommend it to anyone going there. The baked pasta pizza was great and they had a medium thick crust which I absolutely enjoyed. Normally I eat crust in order to clean my plate but I actually liked their crust.

The last thing I want to talk about was a restaurant called Olive or Twist. We arrived there at 6:30 on a Thursday and ordered classic martinis. When I get a bill, I find out that they were $12 or $13 each. This reminded me about how important it is to ask for prices. The old saying "if you have to ask the price you can't afford it" is way to 2000s. It's time to move on to the 2010s already.

Cool Jimmy Fallon singing "Fresh Prince Theme Song":

April 20, 2012

Dispatch to COTA - Leave Downtown

Columbus is looking to reconfigure downtown a little bit. One part is to re-assess on-street parking and to determine if it can be brought back. As some of you may be aware, High Street is clogged with buses, but this is as planned. As John of Xing Columbus noted, the pulse system is used for transferring where multiple buses get to one location at the same time so that people can get on a different bus. Obviously there is built in lag time so that people and the buses have time to get to the pulse spot.

When people try to move buses away from the transfer location or if the transfer location is restricted because buses are unable to queue because of parked cars, the complex machine of public transit looses its ability to get people places.

The Dispatch had an editorial on Thursday lamenting the fact that COTA would "have a monopoly on High Street lanes." The biggest offending paragraph goes to:
"COTA got an earful from its riders last fall after proposing, unsuccessfully, to reroute a line from the East Side. Some people felt picked on. Many said they didn’t want to walk from a new Front Street stop back to High Street, where they worked or transferred to another bus. Really? Walking a block is good for the health, and transit stops are often farther apart in major cities."
First, there's a stated fact in that "transit stops are often farther apart in major cities." This could be true but what is the source of this fact? Here's downtown Pittsburgh where they have lanes dedicated to buses all day long:

Of Cleveland:

Of Columbus:

The main thing to get out of these pictures is that you can't glean that much. In other words, there should be a report out there somewhere which shows that details what average distances for stops are for bus routes in downtown cities and also how the routes converge. I would love to read it if the Dispatch editorial board could provide it. 

The other point to make about the Dispatch is that bus riders are called lazy for not wanting to walk a block*. Why is that? Couldn't people going downtown park in lots/garages and walk to their destination? Are they lazy? Could Front Street's parking restrictions be removed in order for parking to be restored downtown? Then people could park on Front Street and walk a block. It seems in poor taste to call any one lazy for not wanting to add additional time to their trip.

*By block, I assume the Dispatch meant two blocks as you would walk past Wall Street to get to and from High Street. However, block is a poor description because blocks depend on grid size. Instead, it's the difference between walking 250 feet or 500 feet. Or, a one-minute walk versus two-minute walk assuming no detours are necessary.

Finally, the most amusing bit was this part:
"The proposed compromise, sharing the space, makes sense. Bus traffic on High Street falls off sharply after rush hour: COTA runs 54 buses along the Downtown mile in the 30-minute peak around 5 p.m. Midmornings, it runs just 31 buses in a half-hour period."
Assuming that the 54 total buses is divided in the two directions, 27 buses in a 30-minute peak means that there is nearly a bus on each side of High Street a minute. When you include fare collection and coordinating transfers, that minute will vanish quickly and without proper queuing ability, the buses will start to back up. You cannot provide peak-hour parking without completely re-configuring the system if you want to provide similar service.

Cool Ministry of Silly Walks link of the day:

April 19, 2012

New Unofficial COTA Map

I have another unofficial COTA map which is interactive. If you click a line, you'll learn the route number and how many times the route runs although to get the one-way total you divide by two. The route lines are weighted based on the frequencies.

As you zoom in, the stops will pop up and you can click on those as well to see how many stops are made there and which routes serve the route.

I'm still working to improve it, but you can click on the "Unofficial COTA Map" up top or the following link:

I am unaffiliated with COTA and you should really use COTA schedules/maps if you're planning a route. This is a side project

Dispatch Reports on Rush Hour

The Columbus Dispatch has a blog/feature called "Crawlumbus: Covering the reconstruction of the I-71/670 interchange, inch by inch." It's easy to assume that the blog would only be about the I-70/71 split fix but it's interesting what has been covered:
I've highlighted the three relating to the split fix in pink. The two highlighted in yellow are things I was somewhat interested in. I think when 80% of your recent articles have nothing to do with the name of your feature, you may want to rebrand to "Trafficking Columbus: About Traffic, Not Drugs" or "Transport Blog: We'll complain about traffic or your money back" or something about generic transportation. 

But really, it makes sense that you can't fill a blog with a road as small as the Innerbelt. Plus, there's only so much viewership you can get with "Ramp X is closed" or "Traffic was backed up again." Diversification is good but I don't look at everything filed under "Crawlumbus" because the idea behind it doesn't interest me. However, transportation does interest me.

For example, take what has happened since January 1, 2012, when BuckIDs were required to be swiped on COTA:
"The transit authority reports that OSU ridership -- 'free' for students with valid BuckID cards -- is down 7.3 percent so far this year. And paid ridership on campus-area routes is up ... [where] routes along High Street, Kenny Road and the Lennox Town Center have a combined 30,000 additional paid riders."
That's interesting. The following is also interesting for the author's disdain of how the bikes look:
"They're also not the most glamorous looking bikes. Bikes used for Minneapolis' program are lime green. Chicago's are gun-metal gray."
I think they're kind of cute:
Source: Live Green Twin Cities
A scene from Newsies:

April 18, 2012

Pedal Instead

Hopefully you were able to volunteer last weekend. The above picture is of my and my girlfriend's bikes at the Franklinton Gardens. This picture was taken during a small break from digging holes and filling the holes back up. I was sore the next morning but that's ok.

Speaking of volunteering, maybe at Comfest last year or an OSU football game you noticed people parking bicycles. People would take their bicycles to the volunteers, the volunteers would give them a slip, and then the volunteers would take the bicycle and store it in a bike corral.

Source: Pedal Instead
This valet bike parking is put on by Pedal Instead, a collaboration between Yay Bikes! and the University Area Enrichment Association. Parking can be an ordeal whether you're biking or driving, but when biking you have to be aware that your bike could be stolen.  That's why this is very important work in getting people out biking to big events. 

Yours truly volunteered at Comfest last year and I can say two things. It's tiring work but you certainly have a sense of accomplishment. Transportation mode is so often overlooked and you, yes YOU prospective volunteer, have the chance to help people get to where they're going without burning gasoline. That's a pretty big deal.

Here are some of the upcoming events that you can help:

Yeah, they'll be at a naked bike ride.

Cool sacrificing one car parking space for 10 bike parking spots:

April 17, 2012

It's tax day!

I hope everyone did their taxes and got a large refund which was immediately spent on bike-related equipment. Regardless, I feel as though it is my civic duty to discuss a common misconception of how our progressive federal taxation system works.

At my father's recent 50th birthday party, one of my uncles talked to me about his pay.  He was worried that part of his pay, which is reimbursement for car mileage, would bite him in the butt at tax season. I'm unclear on the details but he would have to claim the transportation benefits during his tax return but these benefits had no tax withheld like standard pay. He was worried that it would bump him up to a different tax bracket.

Fortunately for him, additional income doesn't place all earnings into a higher tax bracket. That's because we have a progressive tax system in the United States. What this means is that parts of our adjusted gross income are taxed at different rates.
Source: The IRS. Heard of it?
This chart is for people filing as single. It's showing you how the amount you pay is calculated. You know, these charts:

Those charts weren't just made up. For example, here's how to calculate how much you owed on an adjusted gross income of $11,000 if filing as single. Remember the limit for the 10% tax is $8,500 then the next portion of money is taxed at 15%.

When you look at the chart for $11,000 to $11,050, the amount you pay if filing as single is $1,229. The discrepancy arises because of the $50 increments. The tax would be $1232.50 for an adjusted gross income of $11,050. $1,229 is the average of the two amounts.

This calculation for the first $11,000 of your pay is true no matter how much money you  make. If your adjusted gross income is $1,000,000 and filing single, you will pay $1225 taxes on the first $11,000 of it. If it's $20,000, you will pay $1225 taxes on the first $11,000.

One sliver of truth to my uncle's claim is that all additional income claims on fringe benefits will be paid under the highest tax bracket of the filer. So if my uncle's semi-adjusted gross income was $11,000 and he had to claim $1,000 for transportation benefits, that $1,000 would be taxed at 15%.

Maybe next year I'll discuss what adjust gross income is all about.

The YouTube Music video with the highest view count with the term "Boring" in its title:

April 16, 2012

My Pittsburgh Trip - Day 1

A few weeks ago, I went to Pittsburgh. At first I was somewhat apprehensive because I was of the impression that the average Pittsburgher did not have hands:

Informative part of the amazing Pittsburgh Bike Map
I was quickly relieved that Pittsburghers did in fact have hands. I know this because OTB Bicycle Cafe used a bike stand to hold toilet paper:
Bike stand for toilet paper
Obviously, it's very difficult to use toilet paper without hands.[Editor's note: Biking Columbus does not discriminate against people without hands. However, Biking Columbus would be weirded out if a city of 300,000 people didn't have hands.]

As far as the OTB Bicycle Cafe's food, it was wonderful. I had The Thick because it was a burger with BBQ and onion rings on it. Sign me up.

For those wondering, OTB Bicycle Cafe is situated in what I would describe as "Hipsterville." Hipsterville's proper name is the South Side but I was surprised how this area was relatively flat. I think this explains why there were a lot of hipsters there because hipsters like to bike. The neighborhood is largely surrounded by small mountains/cliffs and a large river and since hipsters only use fixed-gear bikes, there's no way they could live on a mountain. One day the hipsters may opt for amphibious modes of transportation and live in the river instead.

Big hill in background. No one wants to bike there.
The neat thing about Hipsterville is that there's new development going on close to the river which is best described as an outdoor shopping mall, similar to Easton. There's an REI there which is an outdoor recreation store. So there were bikes, racks, equipment. Just about everything a person could ever want.

I went to the Strip District after 5:00 and it really wasn't that awesome. It seems like a lot of places are closed. I'll give a special shout out to Gene's Last Chance since it was open and the bartender was really nice. Also, the Primanti Brothers are open 24/7 and they are pretty good. Pretty good, indeed.

Finally, I want to end with one more thing that we saw in Pittsburgh on the first day:
A Kwik-E-Mart
  Cool Rube Goldberg Device link of the day:

April 13, 2012

Earth Day in Columbus

The only way to feel more smug than biking on any old day is to bike to Earth Day activities to volunteer and do stuff. I'll discuss this weekend today.

Yay Bikes! is holding a free bike ride  on Saturday which will go from Goodale Park to Olde Town East. Once there, the riders will work on a community garden. The way I see it, you'll be like the Amish living in the city instead of the country with bikes instead of horses. At the end of the event, a barbeque lunch will be had. You should try to RSVP to Facebook.

Consider Biking is hosting a ravine cleaning event in Clintonville on Saturday. Their base is situated next to one of the handful of ravines in Clintonville. All ravines have a special affinity for trash for some reason. After cleanup, there will be cookout. You should RSVP here for Clintonville Cleanup.

Finally, if you're looking for something else to do or want to do something on Sunday (like me), then go to Root Down and look at the event list. You can plant, cleanup, community garden, remove invasive species, pretty much anything relating to "green." If you can bike to the event, even better! My girlfriend and I are biking to the Franklinton Community Gardens on Sunday so maybe we'll see you there.

Anyway, have fun this weekend and I hope you have a chance to volunteer.

Cool The Giving Tree video of the day:

April 12, 2012

The saddest bike lane in Columbus

In order to improve my terrible photography skills I've started to take more pictures to put on this blog. As you will soon see, I am improving to slightly terrible.

The intersection of Livingston Avenue and Parsons Avenue has recently seen a major overall as part of the new Nationwide Children's Hospital expansion. According to the website:
"[The expansion of the Nationwide Campus] is a big fucking deal."
Just kidding, they didn't say that, but it does seem like they are saying the expansion will change the world just like the PPACA (Obamacare). Regardless, as part of the expansion Columbus has done infrastructure improvements which include bricked intersections, bike lanes, and pedestrian median refuges. Here is the extent of the new bike lanes:

The red lines are the new bike lanes and it is approximately 1/2 mile of of bike lanes. This is what you'll see at the terminal end of the bike lanes:

And from the other side you can better see how it's an instant merge:

Well, maybe you can't see that it's an instant merge because of slightly terrible photography skills. Here's a better example of instant merges at the terminal west end of the Livingston Avenue Bike Lane:

If you continue on your path, you would bike into a storm water catch basin. Note that there is a sign just behind me when I took this picture which says "Bike Lane Ending" so there is some warning. 

Here's a crazy picture where you can more-or-less see the entire length of bike lane:

It ends at the traffic light. The length is around 700 feet. You're probably wondering if there is a bigger plan to it all. Well, yes. From the Columbus Bicentennial Bikeways Plan, this is what will eventually happen:

The yellow highlight is the intersection we're talking about. The blue means the plan calls for bike lanes and the purple calls for bike boulevards of sorts. The red is shared road paths which likely means sharrows. Obviously, this small area will make more sense when they start repaving the rest of the roads although I assume that the northern portion of Parsons won't be completed until after the I-70/I-71 "Split Fix" is done.

One last bonus picture. What's a pedestrian median refuge? They are medians which pedestrians use to cross half of the street at a time. They're really nice and the ones on Livingston/Parson are great:

Cool people-walking-on-a-busy-New-York-City-simulation video of the day:

April 11, 2012

Biking Columbus and Branding

Some of you may be aware that Columbus has been promoting new branding for two things, the bicentennial and the recycling program. In both cases, they have made some interesting decisions.

For the bicentennial, it was decided to put an emphasis on the rear end of Columbus - the "US" part. In other words, the city is trying to connect Columbus to the United States. We're the heart of the heart of it all.

It could also be alluding to the community as in we are in this together but the star on top of the "U" makes me think of the country. Regardless, it looks ok if a little overly patriotic. BTW, I do want to point out the website for 200 Columbus because it looks nice.

The recycling project combines two words into one word. This is an act that is normally shunned because it's a little lame. Without further ado:

RecyColumbus is not my favorite branding. You see what they did? Recycle...Columbus... RecyColumbus. However, I do like the recycling symbol for the "o" and I  really like the recycling initiative and look forward for most households having recycling picked up.  

But all of this got me thinking. When I don't request to be referred to as Biking Columbus, people call me Cole. So when I refer to myself as Cole of Columbus, OH, I can bust out this logo:

Cool RecyColumbus-PSA link of the day:
(It's cheesy but in a way that I kind of start liking it by the end of the video but why are they recycling so many pizza boxes? If there's grease on them you can't recycle pizza boxes! And for those interested, the cyclist often attends the Columbus Bicycle Sub-Committee meetings.)

Bonus what's-up-with-this-music link of the day:
(Just the first 10 seconds is enough.)

April 10, 2012

Columbus Bike Detection System

The City of Columbus call center is known as the "3-1-1." I would have called it "Super Duper Awesome Columbus Call Center" but I have no say in what the city does.

Regardless, it's pretty cool. There's a variety of options you can select ranging from abandoned vehicles to water, sewers, and drains. What interests me are the Bike Related Items.

As you can see, there are 4 things a cyclist can do:
  1. Request a new bike path
  2. Repair or maintenance of a bike path
  3. Install bike racks
  4. Request adjustment to ensure two-wheel vehicle detection
To be honest, I don't know what happens if you choose any of the first three. I know Columbus won't immediately make a bike path if you request it, but maybe they track requests for future planning purposes. For repair or maintenance, I assume they would fill any pot holes but I don't know how wide of maintenance they cover. Do they street-sweep bike lanes? On Sunday, I requested that they sweep the Broad Street bike lanes by I-70. For the bike racks, Columbus will install 2 bike racks upon request by a business. So unless you own a business/property, option 3 isn't that useful either but it probably doesn't hurt requesting.

That leaves option 4 which is something that Columbus is very diligent about. When you stop at a traffic light (which all of you do, I'm sure) you want to be sure that you will be detected and get the green light like any other vehicle. Occasionally, you will not trigger the detector. After you have determined that the detector is faulty and you have waited some time, you can then treat the traffic light as a stop sign.

If you have an intersection that frequently gives you trouble and is in Columbus, go to Columbus 311 now and make a service request. It's easy and from what I gather from the Columbus Bicycle Subcommittee meetings, it sounds as though Columbus gets to the request within a week, if not faster. 

What happens after you make a request? Columbus crews will go out and adjust the traffic signal detectors. The result is a "sweet spot" which is on the right side of the detector. What will it look like?

The red box is the traffic detector area which you can usually see the outline to when you are nearing a traffic light. The blue circle is specifically for bike detection. Here's a picture closer up:

That's right. To be detected with the decal, you stop your wheel on the biker dude. Even if there's not a symbol, you would be able to be detected on the right side if the detector has been optimized for two-wheel traffic. If you know of a detector that works for bicycles but there is not a symbol, submit a 311 request and they'll mark it. Within the meeting notes of the last subcommittee meeting, you can find a list of traffic signals which have been optimized already but have yet to have a symbol installed.

Educational traffic signal video of the day:
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