Entries Tagged 'Bike Trail' ↓

Should we Scrap Public Transit for E-Bikes in Sioux Falls?

My little slice of Heaven

I made this joke a couple of months ago to some people, “Maybe the city should just sell SAM and buy current transit riders an E-Bike.”

Imagine my surprise when I heard about this NY Times Article today;

I’m no stranger to bike commuting, I have been doing it on and off, depending on the job since 1993. But like the article mentions, you get sweaty. I have been putting off getting an E-Bike, because up until this point, I don’t think many models are worth a crap (there are only about 3-5 brands that are worth a damn) and I have quite the non-ebike collection now, mostly cruisers I have fixed up or saved from the junk pile that are wonderful for leisure rides and short commutes and as I lovingly call ‘My Children’.

My 1957 Schwinn ‘Cotton Candy’

I first started with an E-Scooter (that only rides on the streets) 2 years ago, which I love. But it is heavy and you cannot pedal it.

E-Coco, made in Turkey

So after visiting San Diego in May and riding a certified throttle E2 I was sold and finally narrowed it down to my Ariel Rider (top pic). The bike I chose is not for everyone. It has a center bar and is made for shorter people. But it rides and handles like a motorcycle, and I won’t even tell you the speed I get out of it, but I have been riding everyday since I got it a month ago and it is amazing and the charge is good for 40 miles. The only thing I can suggest for you is to do your research (I watched hours of video reviews and read tons of data about batteries and motors). I don’t see myself driving my car at all next summer except for when it is raining (but this is an all-weather bike you can ride through most weather events except for like a blizzard or ice storm). Other brands like RAD and Himiway are also year round E-Bikes that are actually very affordable and tough as nails. The other advantage of having a bike VS. a car is that it can be included on your homeowners or renters insurance.

The ride that sold me on an E2

So how would it change our perception of Public Transit in Sioux Falls?

I’m not naive, I realize that there are many people who ride SAM that cannot bike or walk to work. But what if we reduced the size of SAM to targeted pickups and simply buy anyone who qualifies a good E-bike with a tool kit and access to affordable parts and a trade-in program? It would be life changing and you might even be able to diversify the workforce in Sioux Falls. If the city bought durable E-Bikes at a bulk rate they could probably get the bikes for under $1,000 a piece. They could probably even get a Federal Transportation grant for it out of the infrastructure bill. You could also exchange the FREE bike for a one-time volunteer opportunity to pick up trash along the river and bike trail or any other number of community projects.

Here is an example, through Federal housing grants it already costs around $300K to build one multi-family home in Sioux Falls. Can you imagine how many working people you would impact if you spent half that on FREE E-bikes Instead? It would be enormous. You could also set the program up so they could trade the bikes in for an upgraded model in a couple of years and make sure the bikes are specially marked from being sold to Pawn Shops, etc.

There are a lot of details to be worked out and YES some people may abuse the system but I can tell you from my experience of getting on a true E2 for the first time in California, once you ride one, you are sold. Many of these bikes can also fold up and be very compact for a small living space, and like my model, the batteries are detachable for recharging in case you have to store it outside. Let’s just say besides saving public tax dollars in transit costs it gives recipients of these bikes enormous FREEDOM they did not have before standing and waiting for the bus.

I think when it comes to commuting to work in Sioux Falls, we really need to think outside the box, and big clunky buses really are NOT cutting it anymore.

I grew up always having a bike, and I can’t imagine what it would be like NOT having one now, especially to someone who is working poor and cannot afford a vehicle. Instead of blowing millions on parking ramps, tennis courts and ice ribbons, maybe we should be investing in reliable transportation for workers. Just a thought.

UPDATE: The Levitt has NO permanent bike racks. ZILCH!

UPDATE: I went past the Levitt tonight and still no temporary bike racks. (there is an ice machine for the entertainers though). Ironically on the east side of the restrooms there is a large swath that you could have put in at least 30-50 racks, instead they put landscaping. Even if temp racks show up, I am not sure where they could put them. As for ADA parking, I think they are designating the area south of the stage in the city owned lot.

Bathrooms. Check. Expensive sodding and landscaping. Check. Food trucks and beer. Check. Sound system. Check. Sponsorships. Check. Lack of parking. Check.

So you would think an organization that has been complaining about parking by the Levitt would provide bike racks. There isn’t any permanent ones at the location and temporary ones haven’t arrived as of tonight. There isn’t even any trees or other structures to chain your bike to (we could drill a few holes in the Munson plaque and use that).

You would think when we are trying to promote walkability downtown and the use of other forms of transportation to get to events we would have a bike rack?!

Wonder who was the genius that left that out of the plans?

I will say this, the next time I hear anyone from Levitt or the City bitch about the lack of parking at the Levitt I will (not so gently) remind them to install bike racks.

$50K for Bike Counters

counters

Trust me, I don’t have an issue with this. Always loved the bike trail, and I believe it is way past due to track traffic. It will bring important data that shows our trail is well used (I think in the press conference he mentions 1,600 a day). What I find humorous is the modesty of the $50k investment. I’m sure my nerd friends and I could build this equipment from Radio Shack parts for a lot less. On top of that, why couldn’t some engineer from the traffic department come with this?

One word; Consultants.

Our city is obsessed with them. And it just isn’t the current administration. They are always looking for someone to blame when things go awry.

But I also see hypocrisy. When the city whines about free bus passes, they have no problem spending $50K on something a Boy Scout troop could have build on a Saturday afternoon for a Eagle Scout badge.

Is Bicycle Safety the issue or is it Vehicle Safety?

Before we go into a long diatribe about what ‘bicyclists’ should be doing to ride safely, I want to remind everyone who either drives a car or a bicycle or both, cars weigh a lot more then bicycles, like about 100x more. As a driver you must always be looking around you and aware of your surroundings, that is Driver’s ED 101, and it just doesn’t have to do with bicyclists, it has to do with pedestrians, wild animals and other vehicles.

In the latest incident where a teenage biker was drug 15 feet, there were probably many factors involved, but what concerned me the most about the accident is the age of the driver. First off, I don’t have a problem with elderly drivers, just BAD elderly drivers. I am also NOT saying they are driving badly on purpose, some of them lack the eyesight and hearing to drive safely. I suggested years ago that after an established age, that elderly drivers need to go in yearly to the DMV for AT least an eye and hearing exam, if not a full driving test. And in fairness, I would suggest that the testing be FREE to them for a five year period.

That being said, YES, bicyclists need to ride carefully. Trust me, most of the bicycle accidents I have been in the over 20 years I have rode in this town, have been self-inflicted because I WASN’T driving carefully, or riding on the sidewalk (which is extremely dangerous). Have I been hit by vehicles, yes a couple of times, but due to my very large mouth I was able to alert the driver before the incidents have escalated. I often tell fellow riders you must ride defensively a 100% of the time and should not be afraid to shout to alert drivers.

My advice for riding in Sioux Falls;

-Try to use the bike trail as much as possible for long commutes

-Try not to ride on the sidewalk unless you absolutely have to

-DO NOT ride on the sidewalk Downtown on Phillips Avenue, not only is it against city ordinance, it is extremely dangerous. I have almost been taken out a couple of times by cyclists while waiting on patio tables. The bump outs DT were created for pedestrian traffic, not bikes, skateboards and rollerblades. If you have to use the sidewalk with your bicycle DT, walk it.

-Lastly, try to ride in the road lane as much as possible

Riverdale Park chain of death

From my email box:
I was out riding my bike this morning and I noticed this hazardous chain down at Riverdale Park.  It has recently been placed across a section of the road that approaches the pedestrian bridge access to the bike trail.  It was nearly invisible to me, on a bike, and I took a few pics of it.  As you might be able to see, there are 3 reflectors in the chain, but they hang horizontally due to the chain twisting over, so they do not show up.  Please note that this chain is also in the way of the access trail that many people use to get onto the bridge, since it is nearer to the road.
I had intended to call this in as a problem this morning to see what the Parks Department thought of it, and to ask that something more visible could be added or used instead.

It seems I was too late, and I was informed that the chain is now down, and that someone had already run into it.  You can imagine the hazard this will pose to anyone who attempts to ride through the park at night.
Please make a note of this hazard to your readers.  The Parks Department boss informed me that the chain would stay in place to block parking for peewee football games, and that they would add some more reflectors to it.
I often laugh when this city gets ‘awards’ for being a bike friendly town when the Parks Department does stupid crap like this, and drivers scream at you and swerve at you when riding your bike in the street. We are anything but friendly, we are ignorant when it comes to bicycling.

This could have been any of us

Image; Minus Car Project

As a person who has ridden the streets of Sioux Falls for over 15 years, I can’t tell you about all the close calls I have had, even with sober drivers. Some weren’t paying attention, some were distracted, and even some will look straight at you and still proceed. Getting on a bike in SF is a ‘defensive’ practice. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There is something you must remember when driving your vehicles and you encounter a bicyclist; YOU ARE BIGGER and YOU ARE FASTER. Please pay attention to your surroundings and watch for bicyclists. These kind of events make us very sad;

Today we are sad. We are sad because someone many here knew as friend has died in a collision with a motor vehicle doing something that many of us know to be a beautiful thing – simply riding a bicycle.

Sioux Falls Press conference on Bicycle riding (H/T – MinusCar Project)

minusCar

Get your bike riding ass there;

The Mayor of The City will be hosting a bike related press conference Wednesday, 12:15 @ Cherapa Place. If you’ve ever ridden a bike before you should get on it and ride to this press conference.

Seriously, I think you should. Especially if you read The MinusCar Project and nod your head in agreement more often than you shake your head in disappointment.

Temporarily closing the city bike trail may save us from the Apocalypse

four-horsemen-mikh-l

Apparently the Four Horseman could be riding in on the Big Sioux Creek, but don’t expect them to be on bikes.

I see city officials are sharing talking points when it comes to levees, floods, and spending Federal money;

Sam Trebilcock, a city transportation planner, said the trail will close from 49th Street to the dam just north of where the river and creek meet northeast of 26th Street for a city flood control project to raise the levees by 5 feet and build a dam.

“You know very well what happens in the news if we don’t do that,” Trebilcock said. “Grand Forks happens. What happened in huge catastrophic (quantities) in New Orleans happens if you don’t have a good levee system.”

First off, Sammy, Sioux Falls isn’t a soup bowl sitting below sea level. In fact you and I both know the real reason why the levees are getting built; an overly paranoid FEMA after Katrina started running around the country like a chicken with their heads cut off. Secondly, several studies have shown Sioux Falls is experiencing a moderate drought, and everyone knows we have low water tables here. I find it ironic that the same city that is begging the Feds for money to build the Lewis and Clark water pipeline (That we have borrowed millions to build, well because, we don’t have much water in Sioux Falls) would be going to the same Feds to ask for money for our levees.

Does Sioux Falls have the potential to flood? Sure, and precautions should be taken, but don’t act like it is the end of the world and cut the crap.

What!? No Bikey.

I just noticed this tidbit of information;

Sioux Falls is going to close down the bike trail at the 41st area to the Great Plains Zoo area until 2010 with no alternate routes. This is not acceptable. We still have to chance to voice our opinions and concerns. The Snakebite will be speaking. I hope you all can dress in cycling garb and attend the meeting.

Please attend the meeting this Wednesday, 5-6:30 at the Oyate Community Center, 2421 W. 15th Street – next to Garfield Elementary.

Please attend the meeting if you can. I agree this is unacceptable. As you may or may not know, that stretch of the bike trail is the only route through that part of town bicyclists can use safely. Kiwanis avenue is two hilly.