Tag Archives: Bikeonomics

NCTCOG Oct 21, 2009 recap

So I made it to another NCTCOG meeting yesterday, and there were a couple interesting presentations I’d like to mention:

  • TXDOT just opened their program call for “Transportation Enhancement” project submissions.  They have about $70 million to give out, and bike/ped programs will get top priority.
    • I didn’t see any representatives from Denton present at the meeting.  Contact your council member and mayor if you want to encourage participation.
    • Caveat: TXDOT will give priority to shovel-ready projects, so if Denton’s planning department doesn’t have a proposal ready, we won’t have a good chance at getting funding.  You can call them at (940) 349-8541 and ask that they submit application to TXDOT.
    • Remember this opportunity, because next time you hear “we’re broke” as an excuse to not improve Denton’s bike/ped infrastructure, you’ll know we missed a chance at federal funding.
    • The program call closes in December.

The federally-funded program supports transportation-related activities that promote the quality of the environment through aesthetic enhancements associated with transportation.

Projects should go above and beyond standard transportation activities and be integrated into the surrounding environment in a sensitive and creative manner that contributes to the livelihood of the communities; promotes the quality of the environment; and enhances the aesthetics of our roadways.

Eligible projects must demonstrate a relationship to the surface transportation system through either function or impact. Project nominated must incorporate one of the following 12 categories:

  1. pedestrians and bicycles facilities
  2. safety and education activities for pedestrians and bicyclists
  • Don Koski, respected planner for Ft Worth and BFOC interviewee, has left to work for the Federal Transit Administration.  Could this bode well for public transit in DFW?  We’ll see.  He was the chair of the NCTCOG bike/ped committee, so we’ll see who replaces him.  He’s left an impressive standard in Ft Worth to uphold.
  • Dave Carter of Richardson gave a presentation on their Bicycle Route Masterplan.  It’s a great start, and they worked hard with the community to include all angles.  The Canyon Creek HOA, stakeholders at Richardson Bike Mart, and cyclists were all included in the planning for this since 2007.  There are only a couple dedicated bike lanes, but it’s a start.
    • I liked Dave’s candid admission that post-WWII planning has been negligent of non-car transit.
    • Dave presented pictures of the Custer Rd bike lane, and it’s pretty interesting because it allows parking in the bike lane.  Now, that lane appears to be 11′ wide, so it may turn out to work just fine.  I’m skeptical, but I could see how this might work ok.
    • If you look at this diagram, you’ll see that the City of Richardson is just fine with a 10′ car lane, an 8′ parking lane, and a 4′ bike lane.
    • Denton’s traffic engineer, Bud Vokoun, uses totally different math, as seen at the controversial Oak/Hickory bike lane proposal, which was tabled and shows no signs of reappearing.
    • I am flabbergasted that the suburb (Richardson) in which I grew up is executing more progressive transit planning than Denton.  Is that because they’ve sprawled to capacity and are now looking inward for improvements?  When will Denton catch up/wake up?
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Bikeflation in Portland (but not Denton)

photo by Stuart Isett of The New York Times

photo by Stuart Isett of The New York Times

Robin Goldstein just wrote a Freakonomics article about his perception of bicycle price inflation in Portland, since cycling has been growing almost 30% per year (as measured in 2007-2008).  Robin was visiting Portland and wanted to buy a cheap bike to get around, but he couldn’t find anything for under $300 or so, which led him to analyze the average prices for recent Craigslist ads in several major cities.  His price index table shows a rough doubling of prices in Seattle, San Francisco, and Portland, compared to Phoenix and Miami.  I suspect that Dallas is on the cheaper side.  (Anyone want to run the numbers and comment?)

Still, what’s up with this bike micro-inflation? Why does there seem to be no market in Portland for used bikes that are actually cheap? Portland is otherwise a pretty cheap city. Beer is cheap. Used clothing is cheap. By major urban standards, housing is cheap too, unless you compare it to the strip-mall-type cities. And certainly there are plenty of people in town who can’t afford to spend $475 — never mind $1,000 — on a bike.

I asked a few people in town about this and got some general sense of agreement and common frustration: cheap bikes are impossible to find around here. The word on the street was that so many people are selling their cars (or taking their cars off the road) and using bikes to commute to work that there just aren’t enough bikes to go around.

From my experience, used bikes seem to be priced relatively low in Denton, and the Querencia Community Bike Shop (at which I volunteer) has many used bikes for sale at super cheap prices ($25-100).  Many of the bikes which make their way to QCBS have been thrown away or donated.

Cycling appears to increase steadily in Denton, especially in the last few years, and I’m curious whether the inflationary trend will eventually raise Denton bicycle prices?

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