Get Paid to Report Bike Lane Blockers

Austin spent millions on improving their infrastructure and now they are looking to citizens to enforce the rules of using that infrastructure. Anybody who reports a vehicle blocking a bicycle lane will now get a bounty when the driver of the vehicle is charged. Yes, it’s a Wild West bounty program in the 21st century.

This program makes sense since police don’t always enforce traffic laws (and in the city I live police refuse to enforce traffic laws) and it encourages more reporting. When drivers block bicycle lanes not only do they endanger every cyclist they are also causing traffic jams, which slow down all vehicles on the road.

The program, inspired by one in New York City, would allow Austinites to use the 311 mobile application to report photo evidence of cars obstructing bike lanes. The person reporting the infraction would then receive 25 percent of the revenue collected by the city for the citation.

“The city spends millions of dollars to make these facilities, and these facilities get blocked all of the time,” said Mario Champion, Urban Transportation Commission chair and author of the proposal. “A successful transportation system doesn’t just move cars, it moves people.”

Champion said the proposal isn’t too dissimilar from other programs already used by the city. One program uses citizens trained by the police to find and cite cars illegally parked in accessible parking spaces around Austin.

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This Electric Truck Sees You

Let’s be honest, trucks cause a lot of harm but current infrastructure means we rely on them to deliver both long and short distances. Many companies are looking to replace the reliance on trucks with better trains and more efficient long haul journeys. When trucks get into cities a new challenge arrives which electric trucks are better suited for.

Old school trucks powered by dead dino juice need large engine compartments which block the driver’s view of humanity. New electric models will make our roads safer by literally letting the diver see more.

Electric trucks are a good thing all on their own. But what makes this company’s offerings interesting are that they are specifically focused on safety in urban environments. As Ars Technica explains: “The truck features a central driving position, with a minimum of blind spots, that places the driver at an appropriate height to spot vulnerable road users like cyclists.” Safety isn’t an incidental consideration, either. Volta is foregrounding safety—for people outside the vehicles—in its official marketing, as seen on the company’s Twitter feed.

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Reducing Traffic Pollution Greatly Increases Health

Intersection

It’s well known that vehicular traffic is deadly no matter where it is and how much of it exists. Even with all the evidence cities in North America put cars first with the occasional protections like bike lanes and pedestrian crossings. What we also need to talk about is the threat cars bring to our lungs.

The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment have released a report outlining how many health gains come from eliminating cars from our streets. Electric cars aren’t the solution because they are still only focused on single occupants and give off particulate matter when braking.

Recommendations for achieving those benefits include stronger fuel content and vehicle-type rules, restrictions on idling and the use of vegetation barriers along busy roads. Cities can also implement low-emission zones that favour electric vehicles, bicycles and public transit. Ventilation systems in buildings, which became a focus during the pandemic, can play an important role in preventing traffic-related pollutants from infiltrating indoor spaces.

But like many pollution issues of the past century, effective solutions typically require governments to motivate change.

“Problems like this just cannot be tackled at the individual level,” Dr. Green said. “If an individual is concerned about this issue, then they need to demand that their politicians take action.”

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SF’s Busiest Street Removed Cars and Traffic Improved

Market Street in San Fransico connects many communities within the city, yet using it to navigate from place to another was a slog. Until they got rid of cars last year. The removal of cars on the popular main street made getting around the city faster, easier, and healthier. Anyone who lives in a city knows how much space cars take up so it’s a logical thing to ban them from streets that are best serviced by public transit, bicycles, and pedestrians.

A renewed Market Street will anchor neighborhoods, link public open spaces and connect the City’s Civic Center with cultural, social, convention, tourism, and retail destinations, as well as Salesforce Transit Center, the regional transit hub. The vision is to create Market Street as a place to stop and spend time, meet friends, people-watch while sitting in a café, or just stroll and take in the urban scene.

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This Library Wants You to Ride a Bicycle

An active group of academics want more people to be fit and have fun. The Urban Cycling Institute has set out to educate the average person on the multitude of benefits that riding a bicycle has for people and the communities they live in. One of the initiatives they launched is the library of bicycling marketing material that anyone is free to use to promote cycling. They also have a collection of bicycle documentaries which are worth viewing.

What are you waiting for? Safe your health and protect the environment by supporting two wheels.

Cycling is a simple means that connects to a wide range of very complex problems and challenges of contemporary cities. It is intertwined with many aspects of urban life in all its richness and complexity.

Academic attention for this has been very limited. A more structured approach is needed to map these complex relations, understand best practices and foster reciprocal learning between research and practice.

Check out the cycling library.

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