Thursday, October 29, 2015

Should Cyclists Have to Stop at Stop Signs?

San Francisco has a well-deserved reputation as a city that’s willing to experiment with urban policy. Now that reputation is being put to the test, as legislation that would change the way police deal with cyclists and stop signs makes its way through the city’s Board of Supervisor.

The ordinance, known as the Bike Yield Law, would instruct cops to treat cyclists who roll slowly and cautiously through stop signs as their lowest enforcement priority. It would, in essence, permit the so-called Idaho stop, in which a person on a bike is allowed to approach a stop sign, check for conflicts with drivers and people on foot, then roll through without coming to a complete halt—essentially treating it as a yield sign.
The Idaho stop is called that because it’s been the law in that state since 1982. Idaho, including its largest city, Boise (population 214,000), has served as a large, ongoing experiment in how well this practice works, at least in places with relatively low density. The answer is, apparently, quite well.

A 2010 study showed that bike-injury rates declined by 14.5 percent the year after the law was passed, then remained flat. Comparisons of Boise to comparable cities without the Idaho stop, such as Sacramento, showed that Boise was significantly safer for people on bikes, with collision rates for bike commuters up to 60 percent lower. (The law in Idaho also allows a cyclist to proceed through a red light after coming to a full stop and checking for conflicts, and to make a yielding right on red lights.)

Read the rest of the story here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

How Public And Private Came Together To Make Capital Bikeshare A Success

Like the much larger VĂ©lib bike-share system in Paris, which was run by advertising giant JCDecaux, our SmartBike program had been launched and operated by Clear Channel, who also contracted with the city to advertise on bus shelters. SmartBike was only one component of a much larger contract.
Unfortunately for the city, one line at the end of our agreement outlined the private partner's lackluster commitment to the program. It stated that Clear Channel agreed to set up and operate a bike-share program in Washington, DC That's it! Oh no, I thought, this was not terribly sound footing on which to expand our partnership, but let's meet them and see.
In my first meeting with Clear Channel, a few things became clear. They felt that the District had gotten a very rich, fifteen-year deal and associated revenue stream for the bus-shelter contract. They even mentioned that DC had "signed the contract at the height of the market." My reaction? "Not really the District's problem."
Read the rest of the story here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Waze Is Missing a Huge Opportunity to Actually Help People Improve Their Commutes

There was a frightening message waiting for many Angelenos last Friday as they fired up Waze for their evening commute. Two freeways were closed—one covered in a mudslide—and for many, the app warned of drive times that were doubled or more. The entire city of LA simultaneously canceled its dinner plans.
A group of my friends were trying to meet in the San Fernando Valley at this very moment, so I fired up the Google Transit app for a little thought experiment. Commuting from downtown LA to the Valley in a timely manner was pretty much impossible until they reopened the 101 Freeway—Waze said it would be an hour on an alternate route. But the Red Line subway traveled directly underneath the closure, delivering someone to the Valley in just 18 minutes. For someone who uses it regularly, considering transit is given, but despite having the second-largest system in the country and a very visible branding campaign, Angelenos sometimes need a reminder that transit is even an option: One friend who checked Waze had already resigned herself to the drive until I showed her my math, and she went underground instead.
This is kind of an extreme case. But it shows you how much Angelenos—at least 1.3 million of them, according to Waze—not only rely on this app but trust it to tell them exactly what to do. A redesign out today makes Waze even more powerful. But it also points to a simple way that Waze could actually help improve transportation for cities.
Waze should be telling people when they can save time or avoid a particularly awful commute by getting out of the car.
Read the rest of the story here.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Private Sector Teams Identified for I-66 Outside the Beltway

RICHMOND – A list of private-sector teams have been advanced to further stages of review in the Request of Qualifications (RFQ) process regarding the delivery of  I-66 Outside the Beltway project in Northern Virginia.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) issued the RFQ last month for interested private sector teams to share their resources, qualifications and experience to deliver the $2.1 billion project under the Public Private Transportation Act (PPTA).
Interested teams have submitted qualifications statements that have been reviewed by VDOT in coordination with the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation and the Virginia Office of Public Private Partnerships. 
The shortlisted teams, listed in alphabetical order below, have been asked to provide more information in the second part of the RFQ process.  
Design-Build-Finance-Operate-Maintain Teams
Similar to the 495 and 95 Express lanes, a private entity would contract to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the facility, taking the associated risks for the project for up to a 50-year period.  Under a toll revenue concession, the commonwealth may make a public contribution towards the financing of the project.
  • Express Partners:
Equity: Transurban (70%) / Skanska (30%)
Lead Contractor: Skanska / Archer Western
  • I-66 Express Mobility Partners:
Equity: Cintra (50%) / Meridiam (50%)     
Lead Contractor: Ferrovial Agroman / Allan Myers
  • Transformative Solutions Partners:
Equity: InfraRed (42.5%) / Isolux (42.5%) / Fluor (15%)
Lead Contractor: Fluor / Granite / Lane

Design-Build-Operate-Maintain Teams
The state would finance the project and collect the toll revenues, but the private sector would take the risk in designing, building, operating and maintaining the project for up to 15 years.

  • Express Partners:
    • Lead Contractor: Skanska (50%) / Archer Western (50%)
    • Lead Operations and Maintenance (O&M): Transurban
  • I-66 Corridor Development Group:
    • Lead Contractor: Dragados (42.5%) / Flatiron (42.5%) / Shikun & Binui (15%)
    • Lead O&M: ACS / HOCHTIEF
  • I-66 Express Mobility Partners:
    • Lead Contractor: Ferrovial Agroman (70%) / Allan Myers (30%)
    • Lead O&M: Cintra
  • Transform I-66 Express Partners LLC:
    • Lead Contractor: Shirley (39%) / Facchina (24%) / Trumbell (19%) / Wagman (18%)
    • Lead O&M: VINCI
  • Transformative Solutions Partners:
    • Lead Contractor: Fluor (40%) / Granite (30%) / Lane (30%)
    • Lead O&M: Fluor / URS

Design-Build-Alternative Technical-Concepts Teams
The state would finance the project, collect toll revenues as well as operate and maintain the project while the private sector would take the risk in designing and building the project and be able to come up with engineering savings during the bidding process, which cannot be considered under a design-build procurement. 
  • I-66 Corridor Development Group:
    • Lead Contractor: Dragados (42.5%) / Flatiron (42.5%) / Shikun & Binui (15%)
  • I-66 Express Mobility Partners:
    • Lead Contractor: Ferrovial Agroman (70%) / Allan Myers (30%)
  • Skanska / Archer Western JV:
    • Lead Contractor: Skanska (50%) / Archer Western (50%)
  • Transform I-66 Express Partners LLC:
    • Lead Contractor: Shirley (39%) / Facchina (24%) / Trumbell (19%) / Wagman (18%)
  • Transformative Solutions Partners:
    • Lead Contractor: Fluor (40%) / Granite (30%) / Lane (30%)

Responses are due to VDOT by December 1, 2015 at 2 PM, which will require the short-listed teams to submit indicative financial models. After receiving and evaluating the private sector’s responses, VDOT will select a preferreddelivery option and issue a Request for Proposals seeking detailed information on the private sector’s approach to develop the Project and binding price proposals.
Online sources:
I-66 Outside the Beltway P3 and RFQ information:                                   

I-66 Outside the Beltway project:

Friday, October 23, 2015

Scrapping Helmet Law Could Reduce Cyclist Injuries In Seattle

Wait, how could that be?
Advocates say that requiring people to wear helmets deters them from wanting to ride, thus fewer people are riding bicycles. The fewer the cyclists, the more crashes there are. Alternatively, more riders on the road actually decreases crashes, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing research. That is because drivers become used to maneuvering around cyclists.
Read the rest of the story here.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

12 Easy Tips to Help Local Governments Improve Transportation Options

Self-reflection can yield some truly beneficial results for public agencies: what’s behind your success? What could you be doing more effectively?

Two years ago, Arlington, Virginia’s Department of Environmental Services, the county’s second largest department, sought to get a handle on its many programs – and nearly 1,000 employees and contractors – by understanding those strengths and weaknesses.

To determine what was working and what wasn’t, consulting firm Denison gave a culture survey to all employees and measured four essential traits and 12 focus areas of organizations, such as adaptability, mission, consistency, and involvement.

Read the rest of the story here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

How a Former Video Game Designer Created the Best Intersection For Bikes

Riding through a city on a bike lane that’s separated from cars feels great. But when you roll up to a light, the infrastructure often vanishes, leaving you feeling vulnerable as you cross busy lanes of traffic. Now a new type of intersection might keep cyclists safer and more visible. And it was created by a designer who used to make video games.
The US’s first “protected intersection” opened this month on a busy corner in Salt Lake City. With only a few modifications to the traditional car-centered intersection, it keeps cyclists completely separated from vehicular traffic, makes them easier to see, and even gives them a head start at the light.
Read the rest of the story here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

After Stints In Business And Government, Gabe Klein Embraces Fear Of Screwing Up

Gabe Klein says his love for all things transportation began when he got a gig at his dad's bicycle shop... at the tender age of five.
39 years later, he’s been responsible for expandingZipcar's local fleet from 28 vehicles to 500. For startingOn The Fly, the nation's first all-natural, electric-powered food-truck company. And for launchingCapital Bikeshare, the first large-scale bike-share system in the United States.
And he achieved all of that — and so much more — in fewer than ten years.
“I was sort of shaking up the status quo,” he says. “I was a rabble-rouser, I think, in a good way: always trying to make D.C. a shining example of what a city could be.”
Read the rest of the story here.

Monday, October 19, 2015

A 40-Block Bike Path Could Be Coming to Cleveland

Cleveland is considering a 40-block protected bike path down Lorain Avenue, one of the city’s busiest streets. Increased bike infrastructure in Cleveland comes as no surprise. According to Cleveland radio station WCRN, the Washington-based cycling advocacy group, League of American Bicyclists, recently pointed to Cleveland as one of the country’s fastest-growing cycling towns.
Still, not all are on board. Some business owners fear that it will cause traffic problems.
“I think there’s a problem with crowding at the intersections,” local business owner, David Ellison, told WCRN. “If you narrow the street down, with trucks making turns, and only two lanes of traffic—one in each direction—I can only imagine it will get quite a bit slower.”
Read the rest of the story here.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Virginia Receives Extra $55.5 Million in 'Bonus' Federal Funds

RICHMOND - Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) received an additional $55.5 million in federal funds that was originally allocated to other states.   Since they did not have projects ready to go to use the funding, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) reallocated the money to Virginia and other states that have projects in the pipeline ready for work to begin.
The bonus money will fund work to re-pave 400 lane miles of roadways across the state and improve 17 interstate bridges.
"Virginia aggressively pursues federal dollars for transportation, maximizing all resources available, which leaves us in an excellent position to get more funding,” said Governor McAuliffe.  “By carefully investing federal tax dollars to deliver road and bridge improvements and having projects ready to go, we have put our Commonwealth in a position to benefit from additional funds that would have gone to other states. My administration is committed to spending every single transportation dollar to ease congestion and help build a new Virginia economy.” 
Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne added, “The federal bonus money is the result of VDOT managing its program efficiently and being good stewards of taxpayer dollars.  Federal funds are allocated and used to build infrastructure, with more projects in the pipeline ready to receive additional federal money.”
“The ‘bonus’ funding will go toward rehabilitating Virginia’s aging bridges and pavements across the state,” explained VDOT Commissioner Charlie Kilpatrick. “VDOT is committed to keeping our existing infrastructure of 57,867 miles of roadways and 20,900 bridges in safe and good condition.”   
Each fall, the FHWA reviews all states' ability to commit allocated highway dollars as the federal fiscal year ends. States that cannot obligate federal funding must return that spending authority to the FHWA. The funds are then redistributed to states that can obligate all of their federal allocations and have additional eligible projects ready to move forward.
- See more at:

Thursday, October 15, 2015

About Safe Routes To School

  • The Virginia Department of Transportation manages the statewide Safe Routes to School Program, providing funding, technical assistance and other resources to local communities to encourage safe walking and biking to school.

  • Since 2007, VDOT has awarded over $23 million in funding to more than 550 schools in Virginia for Safe Routes to School activities.

  • Walk to School Day was established in the U.S. in 1997 by the Partnership for a Walkable America. Canada and Great Britain already had walk to school programs in place. In 2000, these three countries joined together to create International Walk to School Day.

  • In May 2006, the National Center for Safe Routes to School was established to assist communities in enabling and encouraging children to safely walk and bike to school.

  • The National Center for Safe Routes to School serves as the national coordinating agency for Walk to School activities in the United States.

  • Walk to School Day began as a simple idea – children and parents, school and local officials walking to school together on a designated day. It is an energizing event, reminding everyone of the simple joy of walking to school, the health benefits of regular daily activity, and the need for safe places to walk and bike. Schools focus on health, safety, physical activity and concern for the environment.
  • Organizations supporting Bike to School Day in the United States include the League of American Bicyclists, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Highway Administration, the Institute of Transportation Engineers, the National Center for Bicycling and Walking, the National Center for Safe Routes to School, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Safe Kids Worldwide, and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Virginia Celebrates National Walk To School Day; Grant Awards Announced

RICHMOND, VA — Communities across Virginia and the country will join together Oct. 7 to celebrate the ninth annual International Walk to School Day (WTSD). 

Last year, a record 220 Virginia schools took part in the event, the most recorded in Virginia since its first WTSD event in 2007. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), which administers the Federal Safe Routes to School Program (SRTS) in the Commonwealth, expects to see more than 250 events this year with participation growing throughout October, which is International Walk to School Month.  Events can be registered online at

The Virginia SRTS Program recognizes the many benefits of active transportation and the role that WTSD plays in encouraging kids to make that choice.

“It’s amazing to see Walk to School Day participation in Virginia steadily increase from year to year.” said Rob Williams, VDOT’s Safe Routes to School coordinator. “It’s a clear indication that more and more schools and parents are recognizing that the trip to school is a fantastic opportunity to get some exercise and get students ready for the day,” he said. 

This year, VDOT marks the event by announcing a total of $940,000 in SRTS non-infrastructure grant awards funded by the Federal Highway Administration through the Safe Accountable Flexible Efficient Transportation Equity Act.  This funding will be used to organize activities and purchase equipment to educate students about walking and biking safety, and to encourage active transportation to school. They will be implemented throughout the current school year and into the summer.

The following school divisions will receive grants:

  • Arlington Public Schools
  • Chesapeake Public Schools
  • Chesterfield County Public Schools
  • Fairfax County Public Schools
  • City of Galax on behalf of Galax City Public Schools
  • Greater Richmond Fit4Kids on behalf of Richmond Public Schools
  • Henrico County Public Schools
  • Loudoun County Public Schools
  • Lynchburg City Schools
  • Norfolk Public Schools
  • Prince William County Public Schools
  • Rockingham County Public Schools
  • Sentara RMH Medical Center on behalf of Harrisonburg Public Schools
  • Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools

For additional information, visit these websites:

VDOT Safe Routes to School Program                     

Walk to School Day in the USA                               
National Center for Safe Routes to School   

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Home Is Where Your Bike Is

Some renters want to live close to a Metro station. Others look for a building with reasonably priced parking. But for a growing number of District residents, a place to park one’s bike is the most crucial component of apartment living.
As the city adds bike lanes to make commuting easier, local apartment buildings have gotten on board with the trend, adding bike-friendly amenities to entice renters who cycle.
Shankar Kulumani, 28, bikes to class at George Washington University, where he’s a doctoral student in mechanical and aerospace engineering. He and his wife, Christine Kulumani, 24, have three bikes between them, so they made finding a bike-friendly building a priority in their apartment hunt.
Read the rest of the story at the Washington Post.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Carsharing Growing Around the World with More User-Friendly Options

Carsharing, which is projected in a new report to grow globally by about sixfold by 2024, is beginning to look like a reliable transportation option in places like the Washington D.C. region and beyond.

“The U.S. has fewer cities than Europe with comprehensive public transit services, which is usually – but not always – a condition for successful carsharing,” said Lisa Jerram, a co-author of Navigant Research’s latest global market analysis and forecast for carsharing.

Why is carsharing growing?

As the cost of a private car, along with the societal costs of endless traffic jams and smog-filled cities, continue to mount, there are new factors that carsharing companies could capitalize on to take even fuller advantage of greater paths to revenue and profitablility, including:

  • Making carsharing more like one-way services that have already succeeded, such as ride-hailers Uber and Lyft and bikesharing. In Paris, Autolib’ gained 200,000 members in just three years. And Daimler’s car2go and BMW’s DriveNow have adopted the one-way model.
  • Auto companies like Daimler and BMW are helping the carsharing industry in a big way, as their members make up about 1.3 million of the 2.4 million total global carsharing members. They are succeeding because they have deep pockets, which is needed to build comprehensive and reliable coverage and, in turn, membership.
  • The rise in plug-in electric vehicles presents a way for carsharing services to differentiate themselves from competitors, allowing the companies to secure tax breaks in the form of zero-emission vehicle credits and helping city officials promote green initiatives like low-emission zones.
Jerram, who co-wrote Navigant’s report with John Gartner, said carsharing “needs visionary city mayors that see the benefits of all these types of new mobility offerings and work to bring them to their cities.”
The authors project that North America will have about 1.78 million carshare members at the end of 2015, Europe will have 1.77 million, and the Asia-Pacific region 1.15 million.

Read the rest of the story here.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

12 Easy Tips to Help Local Governments Improve Transportation Options

Self-reflection can yield some truly beneficial results for public agencies: what’s behind your success? What could you be doing more effectively?

Two years ago, Arlington, Virginia’s Department of Environmental Services, the county’s second largest department, sought to get a handle on its many programs – and nearly 1,000 employees and contractors – by understanding those strengths and weaknesses.

To determine what was working and what wasn’t, consulting firm Denison gave a culture survey to all employees and measured four essential traits and 12 focus areas of organizations, such as adaptability, mission, consistency, and involvement.

Read the rest of the story here.

Monday, October 5, 2015

VDOT Crews Are Well Prepared For More Rain, Possible Hurricane

RICHMOND – Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) crews are prepared and stand ready across the state to respond to any unsafe traveling conditions and damage resulting from another round of forecasted heavy rainfall and the possibility of impacts from Hurricane Joaquin.
Rain is expected to impact Virginia through Saturday.  Hurricane Joaquin could impact Virginia on Sunday and Monday, depending on its track.   VDOT is closely monitoring the statewide storm, with the hardest hit areas expected to be along the coast in the Hampton Roads and Fredericksburg regions.
High winds combined with rain-soaked conditions are likely to weaken trees, causing downed trees and limbs to block roadways. Since heavy rains have already drenched the state, additional rain fall will tend to pond on roads, which is expected to worsen from the possible impacts of Hurricane Joaquin on Sunday.
Conditions change quickly. Motorists are encouraged to monitor weather reports and road conditions before traveling. Driving on area roadways through Sunday or Monday could be hazardous as a result of heavy rain and wind gusts. VDOT recommends drivers delay travel until unsafe weather conditions have passed.
What is happening today across the state:
  • 2,500 VDOT crews and contractors are prepared to clear roadsfrom expected heavy rains, fallen trees and other debris. 
  • Additional contract debris removal and tree crews are on standby.
  • VDOT has begun preparations for Hurricane Joaquin at Hampton Roads tunnels, moveable bridges and ferries.
  • Based on current forecasts, the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel (HRBT) should not be impacted by the tidal events.  The district will test tide gates at the HRBT 2am Friday morning.  
  • Elizabeth River Crossings (ERC) is prepared to shut the Midtown Tunnel if needed should tide levels reach potential flooding levels.  ERC will test the tunnel gate at 10 tonight.
  • Merry Pointe and Sunnybank ferries are closed throughout the storm. Normal operations continue at the Jamestown Scotland Ferry.
  • Crews are repairing damaged roads from flooding that occurred this week in the Salem, Staunton, Culpeper districts. 
  • Nine roadways are washed out and VDOT is working on emergency repairs.
  • Early flooding has been reported in the Southampton County communities of Franklin and Capron where rural roads often flood first.
Road clearing priorities:
  • Crews will first clear roads that provide access to hospitals and emergency facilities, followed by interstates and major primaries.  Once those roads are cleared, they will focus on the secondary system.
  • VDOT only closes bridges, ramps or roads when there is eminent danger to public safety such as high water, strong sustained winds, structural damage, or downed trees and debris blocking the roadway.  Following a hurricane, crews in conjunction with utility companies, work to clear all roadways of debris. Roads will be cleared and opened as quickly, and safely, as possible.
Motorist Safety:
While VDOT urges motorists to limit travel, if you are driving in bad weather, keep the following in mind:
  • Expect the unexpected. Be prepared to slow or stop quickly and without warning.
  • Keep headlights on while it’s raining: it’s the law.
  • Drive at a speed that enables you to stop quickly and safely within the distance illuminated by the vehicle’s headlights.
  • Turn Around, Don’t Drown! Never drive through water flowing across a road. It takes only six to 12 inches of water to float a small vehicle.
  • Never drive around barricades. Remember, the road has been closed for your safety.
  • Slow down when driving through standing water. Driving too fast through water could cause loss of control due to hydroplaning.
  • Avoid flood-prone areas, especially along creeks and other low-lying areas.
  • Be alert for tree limbs and other debris in the roadway. Even small branches and other debris can damage a car or cause the driver to lose control.
  • If you come across a downed power line, do not try to move it. Contact your local authorities.
  • Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded and watch out for debris. Floodwaters often erode roads and walkways.
During storms with high winds: 
  • Anticipate gusts.

  • Be aware of large vehicles such as tractor trailers and recreational vehicles. They are more susceptible to high winds and drivers may have difficulties staying in their lanes.

  • Keep a firm grip on the wheel in case the wind begins to move your vehicle.