Entries Tagged 'Bike Trail' ↓

Is Sioux Falls a Bike Friendly City?

There is a lot of data out there about the how bike friendly a city is.

I would give the city props for having an amazing bike trail and adding more bike lanes in the roads. I think city (government) has made a very good effort over the past decade to make it more friendly.

I have been commuting on my bike for over 25 years. I have been in several accidents (most of them my fault and only involving my own injury due to my own stupidity).

But where can the city improve?

I would put this on private businesses, especially hospitality, who do very little to make this a bike friendly city. It is nearly impossible to find a bike rack at a restaurant in Sioux Falls (unless it was put there by the city in a public space in front of the establishment). And when the dining rooms closed at most of the fast food establishments during the pandemic (some still have limited hours – or not open at all) they would deny drive-thru to bicyclists. I found it very odd they would turn away a customer based on the form of transportation they use. I do understand you probably don’t want walk up or bicycle customers in the drive thru during night time hours, but I am still puzzled how someone on a bike would have better success at robbing you then someone in a vehicle (PS- vehicles are faster then bikes).

I find it annoying all the accommodations restaurants and bars make for people with babies in strollers and dogs but the bicyclists be damned! We have crayons for your child and a water dish for your dog, just not a safe place to lock up your bike.

Drivers need to also be more patient. I don’t find it humorous when you rev your illegal muffler truck next to me, honk at me or swear at me when I am riding in the road. If you need to get somewhere faster, I suggest you leave a little earlier. The safest place for a bicyclist is in the street where vehicles can see you. Every accident I have had on my bike has either occurred on the sidewalk or the bike trail.

I get it, Sioux Falls is a vehicle centric town, and in some ways that is city government’s fault. Just look at the 5-Year Capital Improvement program. 1% is being spent on public transit and 43% on roads. We gave away $50 million in tax breaks (TIFs) for parking ramps last year but you can’t find a bike rack to save your life. There is something wrong with that picture.

Businesses, city government, individuals, non-profits, churches, etc. need to promote less cars and more bikes. I think Sioux Falls could become a great bicycle city, now if we can just get people to stop bringing their dogs and rug rats to the bar.

Sioux Falls Bike Cops need E-Bikes

Image: KEVN FOX TV

I have noticed that the SFPD has put their bike cops out on the trail several days a week. I was surprised to see that Rapid City has had E-Bikes since 2019;

The bikes give officers an edge in patrols along the city’s bike paths and park system during the warmer months. With the electric pedal assist, officers will be able to more-rapidly respond to emergencies, especially along the city’s elevated hiking and biking trails.

I think if the officers got E2 Moped Bikes with detachable/interchangeable backup batteries they could cover more ground and it would be way more affordable, efficient and safer than riding Harleys on the bike trails. You can also deck them out with lights, sirens, I-Pads, multiple baskets, saddle bags and just about anything that fits on a motorcycle.

I encourage the city council to request four bikes be added to the SFPD budget for 2023.

Sioux Falls City Council needs to repeal the E-Bike ordinances on Bike Trail

As we saw this past year, CountCilor Alex ‘$127K’ Jensen tried to slip by a deal for one of his business friends to allow electric foot scooters on DTSF sidewalks. They are already allowed in our city, but sidewalks, not so much.

I do agree with one aspect of the Count’s attempt, E-vehicles for recreation like skateboards, One-Wheels, bikes and foot scooters are the fastest growing industry in the country and because it is growing so fast, it is constantly changing. But we are being held back.

A few years ago the city council decided to wring their hands over this (they do piss around a lot with stuff that will be obsolete in a few years, you know, like $26 million dollar bunker ramps to no where).

They decided the problem with the bike trail wasn’t strollers going down the middle of the trail, dogs running about off the leash or people training for the Ironman do 30 MPH down the trail they decided it was those evil E-2 bikers. Well they are a problem, but there is a better solution.

Since the passage of only E-1 vs. E-2 (nobody can really tell the difference) the real issue on the trail is SPEED, courteous behavior and awareness and not classification. As I have mentioned in the past, there are all kinds of E-Vehicles on the trail, I am not sure we can control that.

So what is the solution? It can be accomplished by 3 simple changes to the ordinance;

• Repeal the current ordinance in it’s entirety, or at least certain parts;

§ 95.031  BICYCLING.   Bicycle and e-bicycle riders in the parks and upon recreation trails shall abide by the ordinances governing the operation and equipment of bicycles except bicycling and Class I e-bicycling need not be limited to paved areas. Bicyclists and e-bicyclists shall operate their bicycles or e-bicycles in a prudent manner and with due regard for the safety of others and the preservation of park property.(1992 Code, § 27-16.13)  (Ord. 49-99, passed 4-19-1999; Ord. 118-18, passed 12-18-2018; Ord. 66-19, passed 6-18-2019)

§ 95.031.1  WHEELED MOTOR VEHICLES PROHIBITED ON RECREATION TRAIL.   It shall be unlawful for any person to drive or operate any motorized or motor driven, wheeled vehicle except a Class I e-bicycle on any of the recreation trails. This section shall not apply to or limit authorized vehicles on the levees for maintenance, patrolling, and flood emergency purposes.

• Create a speed limit on the trail. (I am not sure what that should be, but research would probably suggest 15 MPH. We could also put up speed signs about ever 1-2 miles with a solar detector telling your speed).

• Allow ALL E-Vehicle transportation (prohibiting gas/electric motorcycles, ATVs and scooters)

One of the main reasons to support this is because of what Jensen said, TOURISM!

Also, the bike trail is one of our greatest assets in Sioux Falls. I constantly shake my head with all the money we dump into concrete along the river greenway when we could be spending this money to improve this gem instead like solar lighting, 24/7 commuting, and dual trails for walkers and bikers. We could make this asset even better.

It’s time to start again and simplify our recreation trail rules and regulations.

What was your favorite Christmas Gift?

Share with me something you got for Christmas (material or not) that was your favorite gift that left an impact on your life?

Mine was my first bicycle (with no training wheels). I don’t think I ever had training wheels on my bike and remember riding around the block by myself wiping out several times and running into parked cars. It wasn’t new, I think my dad found it in a dump or thrift store. It was a Coast to Coast that he spray painted. I think that is why I still have an obsession with one-speed junkers. This year I bought my first E-Bike and I have been riding it almost everyday since I got it.

I’m Flattered

Imagine my surprise tonight while out for a bike ride. The city took my advice and put up sign(s) about proper decorum on the bike trail, even though I’m not sure what a ‘courteous speed’ is. There was another sign further down the trail that said ‘DON’T FEED THE GEESE. GIVE TO CHARITY’ 🙂

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.