Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Monday, March 21, 2011
Trailnet staff recently attended the National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C., hosted by the League of American Bicyclists. This event was attended by upwards of 700 bicycle enthusiasts from around the U.S. (and Canada), ranging from advocacy organizations similar to Trailnet, bicycle retail owners, lobbyists, academics, and people who love biking. The theme of the conference was “Acting on a Simple Solution.” This simple solution, bikes, can help to solve lots of America’s problems, whether it is health, economic, or environmental.
This simple solution also coincided with our simple ask to the 112th Congress: don’t cut bicycle/pedestrian funding. Currently, the 112th Congress is going through major budget cuts and bicycle/pedestrian funding, along with all funding, is in jeopardy. Therefore the group ask, by National Bike Summit representatives from all states, was simply to not cut bicycle/pedestrian funding. In previous years, this ask is usually to increase funding, but since all funding is at stake, we just want to make sure our funding is safe.
Bicycle/pedestrian funding, which comes out of transportation funding, only makes up .03% of the budget. This low-cost solution is crucial to provide transportation opportunities with the added benefits of helping the environment, health, and economy. Since 2001, the federal investment in bicycle infrastructure has spurred a 25 percent increase in ridership. Bicycle commuting has increased even more—44% nationwide since 2000, and more than 70% in bicycle-friendly communities with the largest investment.* Bicycle projects also create more jobs than road projects, with 14.4 jobs created per $1 million investment for bike lanes compared to only 6.8 jobs per $1 million investment for road resurfacing.** With these facts in hand, we made a strong case for our ask.
The Missouri contingent met with Senator Claire McCaskill (pictured above) to discuss our agenda. Senator McCaskill bluntly explained to us the debt situation that America is facing, and that no funding is guaranteed. When discussing with her the benefits associated with bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure, she understood our case, but explained that trimming the budget was her priority. Our discussion with Senator Roy Blunt went similarly. He was interested to learn why bicycle/pedestrian funding is important, but his priority was to cut the overall budget, but not specifically bicycle/pedestrian funding.
When meeting with St. Louis area Congressional Representatives Clay, Carnahan, Akin, and Luetkemeyer, our discussion was more optimistic. Our Representatives (and in some cases, their Legislative Assistants) were proud to represent Districts where Trailnet was implementing rides, events, the Safe Routes to School program, Healthy, Active, and Vibrant Communities program, Bike/Walk Masterplans, and Bike-to-Work Day activities. We helped our Congressional Representatives to understand the link between bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure and improving the health and economic well-being of their constituents. While not all Representatives were willing to sponsor a bill, they were all interested and wanted to learn more about how they can help.
After returning from Washington, D.C., the job is now in our hands to continue advocating for funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects. It’s up to you to contact your Congress member to explain how important bicycle/pedestrian funding is to you, your family, and your community. Visit the League of American Bicyclists for a variety of resources related to bike advocacy. Visit the following website to find your district and the contact information for your Congressional representative:
*Source: National Household Travel Survey: American Community Survey, US Census
**Garrett-Peltier, Heidi, Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Posted by Trailnet at 12:26 PM
Monday, March 14, 2011
The City of St. Louis is in the midst of a major land use study that is looking at how we can best use our north riverfront corridor. The study area, shown above, includes roughly 30% of St. Louis's riverfront, the Riverfront Trail, the McKinley Bridge Bikeway, and the proposed Trestle bikeway.
If you ride the Riverfront Trail, you know that the corridor being studied is currently used by many of St. Louis's heaviest industries, including scrap metal recyclers, junk yards, and coal shippers, as well as a series of lighter industrial uses, such as machine shops, wholesalers, manufacturers, and Produce Row. In addition, the corridor has long served as a hub for major movement of goods into and out of the region due to its proximity to the river, rail lines, and I-70.
As our City develops this major land use study (it is an $800,000 study), we have a rare opportunity to think big and develop a vision for the corridor that serves the triple bottom line of profit, people, and planet. With the industrial era in America's rear view mirror, river cities throughout our country have been re-tooling their riverfront corridors to include a softer mixture of uses (lighter industry, offices, recreation, housing, retail, etc.) that reflects the modern value that environmental stewardship and profit can co-exist. If you visit St. Louis's north riverfront corridor today, you see the past -- fragments of the industrial era literally scattered across the land and spilling into the streets. The current state of the corridor is enough to scare off even hearty urban explorers, let alone the creative class that St. Louis so desperately needs to retain and attract.
Two great examples of city's that have re-invented their riverfronts are Saint Paul, Minnesota (our neighbors up river) and Pittsburgh's recent Alleghany Riverfront Vision Plan. Here is an image of Saint Paul's riverfront from the Saint Paul Riverfront Corporation website:
Here is an image of Branch Street in St. Louis -- the only remaining direct connection between St. Louis neighborhoods and the north riverfront. In the distance you can faintly see the flood wall painted with the words "Riverfront Trail." Not exactly an inviting scene:
The Land Use Study underway presents an exciting opportunity to envision the future of our riverfront. If you would like to learn more about the land use study and share your input, please plan to attend the upcoming Public Information Meeting, Thursday, March 24, 4-6pm. The invitation (in italics) and meeting flyer are below:
On Thursday, March 24, 2011, the St. Louis Development Corporation (SLDC) in coordination with HNTB (the lead consultant), will be hosting a Public Informational Meeting, about the Port/North Riverfront Land Use Study, at the Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD), Bissell Point Treatment Plant, in St. Louis.
The purpose of the meeting is to share the Study goals and to learn more about your vested interests in the area. We encourage you to attend because your input does matter. For more information, please review the flyer attached, or contact Hudson and Associates, at 314.436.3311.
We would like to hear from you!
Posted by Trailnet at 1:24 PM
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
All across the US, cities large and small have been experimenting to create new kinds of bike facilities that create safer travel environments for cyclists and vehicles. The new facilities include a broad range of things, such as green bike lanes (shown above), contra-flow bike lanes, bike boxes, bicycle signal heads to tell cyclists when it's safe to go, and more. Cities like Philadelphia, New York, Phoenix, Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, Portland, Houston, and Boston have come together to share the work they are doing with one another through the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO). Now, as part of the Cities for Cycling initiative, NACTO has released the Urban Bikeway Design Guide to "provide cities with state-of-the-practice solutions that can help create complete streets that are safe and enjoyable for bicyclists."
So, why haven't we seen any of these best-practices in Missouri?
First of all, the documents/guidelines that transportation engineers most commonly use -- AASHTO's Green Book and Guide for Bicycle Facilities and the MUTCD -- do not include these best-practices, despite the fact that are being successfully implemented from coast to coast. Second, our state's major cities are not yet plugged into NACTO's professional network. In addition, there are budgetary constraints, lack of local leadership, and not enough public pressure. With regard to the last item, take some time to peruse the Urban Bikeway Design Guide, educate yourself, and then educate your local elected officials. MO Livable Streets is hosting a series of advocacy trainings throughout the state that will prepare you with the tools you need to be an effective advocate for complete streets -- there is a training March 29th in Kirksville, April 28th in Kansas City, and one May 3rd in Cape Girardeau.
How quickly do you think we can get a green bike lane painted in our state? See below for additional pictures of best-practice facilities.
A bike box, which improves intersection safety. Photo thanks to BikePortland.org
A bike corral places bike parking in a traditional car parking spot. It keeps the sidewalk clear for pedestrians and can accommodate more than ten bikes in a single car parking space.
Posted by Trailnet at 5:46 PM
Saturday, March 5, 2011
In 2005, a San Francisco art and design studio called Rebar decided to explore the ways in which parking spaces can be reclaimed to create much needed public space. Every year since, the Park(ing) Day movement has spread throughout the US and world, including St. Louis, as a global day of creativity and advocacy for the preservation and creation of meaningful public space in our communities.
As the first green shoots of spring appear, St. Louisans are already starting to break out of their winter hibernation, seeking places and spaces in their community to play, relax, and gather with neighbors in the public domain. Does your neighborhood or community have the kinds of public spaces you wish it had? Pay attention this spring and summer and start making a list of the public spaces you wish your community had -- Parking Day 2011 will be taking place Friday, September 16th, and we want more St. Louis communities than ever before to participate in this incredibly fun, creative way to spark meaningful dialog about public spaces that enhance the livability of our communities.
Check out the links below for more information about Park(ing) Day and Rebar's incredible work:
Posted by Trailnet at 3:19 PM
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Winter 2011 in St. Louis is less than halfway over and it's already been the snowiest winter on record. Ok, that's a lie, but it sure as hail feels like it. Even the hardiest all-weather cyclists seem to take snow days or even snow weeks from cycling due to the snow- and ice-covered roads. Thanks to the DIY ethic of hipster cyclists, we are proud to bring you a low-cost solution to transform your bike into a snow machine.
The folks at the Dutch Bike Company blogged about how they transformed their bikes into all-weather monsters with nothing but a package of zip ties, a pair of scissors, and a beer (optional).
Aside from the great how-to photos on their blog, my favorite part of the post was the authors admission that he didn't invent the technique:
It pains me to admit this not because my ego suffers, but because the zip-tie-DIY-bicycle-snow-chains idea appears to have originated with my favorite bicycle industry whipping boy: fixed gear hipster culture. Several years ago, I'm sure, some bright child with extremely tight pants and an asymmetrical haircut had a genius-caliber idea, and I hate that it wasn't me. So here it is: Fixed gear street bike hipster guys, I'm sorry for the things I've said over the years. It's not true that the only drink you like is 4Loko. It's also not true that you're not allowed to wear shoes that don't match your bikes. You can wear whatever you want. And finally, you have come up with a good idea besides brightly colored deep-section rims.
Check out the full post and photos here:
Posted by Trailnet at 4:13 PM
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
According to the folks at Gizmodo, Taco Bell's "beef" taco filling is actually only 36% beef. The remaining 64% is not beef or anything even remotely related to a cow. Taco Bell's website refers to this 36% beef product as "seasoned ground beef". When barely a third of the substance is beef, wouldn't it be more accurate to describe it as "beef flavored seasoning"?
This realization is thanks to a class action lawsuit against Taco Bell by an Alabama law firm.
Read more on Gizmodo's website, including the suggestion that USDA rules may not even allow Taco Bell's taco filling to be referred to as "meat":
Posted by Trailnet at 4:39 PM
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
The Missouri Farm to Institution Project is pleased to announce that registration is now open for four Farm to School workshops. Please join us to help build the Farm to School movement in Missouri. The dates and locations are listed below:
Friday, January 21
Truman State University, Kirksville, MO (Snow date: January 28)
8:30 am to 4:00 pm (Registration opens at 8:00 am)
Wednesday, February 16
St. Louis University, St. Louis, MO
8:30 am to 4:00 pm (Registration opens at 8:00 am)
Wednesday, March 2
This workshop will be broadcast to TeleCenters in Maryville, Trenton (tentative), Independence, Columbia, Salem, and Poplar Bluff. Addresses to be provided upon registration.
8:30 pm – 3:00 pm
Wednesday, March 30
Springfield-Greene Co. Botanical Center, Nathaniel Greene-Close Memorial Parks, 2400 South Scenic, Springfield, MO
8:30 am to 4:00 pm (Registration opens at 8:00 am)
All workshops will follow a similar format and feature presentations in the morning by farmers, distributors, food service directors, and others who are making farm to school happen. The afternoon will include breakout sessions geared toward either farmers or school food services to provide more in-depth information about starting and sustaining farm to school programs.
Workshops are free and lunch is included. Registration is required. Contact Stacy Colley at 573-882-5114 or ColleyS@missouri.edu to register for a workshop. Please indicate the location that you will be attending, whether you will be in the Farmer or School Food Service afternoon breakout session, and if you have a dietary/meal consideration.
For more information, email Bill McKelvey: firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by Trailnet at 5:41 PM
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
I looked outside this morning and thought “35 degrees and raining...sounds like a great day to ride to work!” Now, before you go saying “he’s just a ‘hardcore cyclist’ who’s crazy enough to ride in anything,” hear me out: People drive slower when it rains. There’s less traffic on the road when it rains. The rain on a helmet creates a soothing noise that can help calm your nerves. You’re still getting exercise outside even though it’s raining, and think of how good it’ll feel to get warmed up once you reach your destination!
With that said, here are a few rainy day cleaning tips for those who still like to jump in puddles...
- Brush foreign objects off the tread and check overall condition of the tires
- Wipe down or hose down the bike if it’s very dirty (especially with road salt); be careful not to direct water at bearings or other sensitive components; bounce the bike to shake off excess water and store it in a warm, dry place.
- Dry off the saddle if it’s wet.
- If the chain got wet, wipe it down and apply some fresh chain lube
- Remove the seatpost, turn the bike upside down, and let the seat tube drain; apply fresh grease or antiseize before reinstalling the post (except where carbon fiber is involved).
- Check hydraulic brake lines (if you have them) for kinks or splits)
Posted by Trailnet at 1:19 PM
Thursday, December 23, 2010
A new community grocery store, YOURS Market, opened just last week in St. Louis City. The 9000 sq. ft. market, located at 8005 N Broadway, features a wide variety of foods and fresh produce. The market will host nutrition education programs, a garden for growing produce, and eventually two greenhouses on site. This new store is an exiciting step towards addressing the "food deserts" that exist throughout much of North St. Louis City and County.
Click here to see the KSDK Video.
Click here for a story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Click here for a story in the St. Louis American.
Click here for a story in the St. Louis Business Journal.
Old North Grocery Coop
A similar store opened earlier this summer just north of downtown. The Old North Grocery Co-op, located at 2718 N. 13th Street, features many fresh and healthy foods produced within 100 miles of the store. In addition to stocking food and household goods, the Old North Grocery Co-op provides a variety of cooking, food preservation, and nutrition classes as well as space for community events. The 13th Street Community Garden is located adjacent to the building and home to some very friendly egg-laying chickens. The Old North Grocery Co-op, the 13th Street Community Garden, and the nearby North City Farmers’ Market create a formidable axis of edible with the mission to provide affordable, fresh, healthy food to the community.
Click here to visit the Old North Grocery Co-op website.
Posted by Trailnet at 12:10 PM
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
The Metro transit agency (AKA Bi-State) just learned that it will receive a $1 million "Transit in Parks" grant to enhance the connection between the Arch grounds and adjacent bikeways, including the North River Front Trail and the proposed South Chouteau Trail. Trailnet worked closely with Metro, Great Rivers Greenway, the City of St. Louis, and other partners to shape the vision for this grant. The grant was one of 47 awarded throughout the US. Click here to see Metro's announcement.
“Connecting people to our parks, refuges, forests and historic and cultural sites is one of the primary goals of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative to establish a new conservation ethic for the 21st Century,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. “With these projects, we are opening the way for many more people to discover the beauty, history and culture of America.” Click here to see the Federal Transit Administration's announcement.
We're very excited about this opportunity to work with Metro, Great Rivers Greenway, the City of St. Louis, and the National Park Service to enhance connectivity between the Arch, the River, and adjacent St. Louis neighborhoods. The St. Louis riverfront and the Arch are two of the greatest, yet woefully disconnected assets in our region. This grant will help bring our region a little closer to our natural and cultural heritage. Stay tuned for updates this spring...
Posted by Trailnet at 5:08 PM
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
"Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride."
-John F. Kennedy
"Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia."
-H. G. Wells
"It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle."
"And I love to ride my bike, which is great aerobics, but also just a great time for me to think, so it's like this terrific double bill."
"I thought of that while riding my bicycle."
"Next to a leisurely walk I enjoy a spin on my tandem bicycle. It is splendid to feel the wind blowing in my face and the springy motion of my iron steed. The rapid rush through the air gives me a delicious sense of strength and buoyancy, and the exercise makes my pulse dance and my heart sing."
"Bicycles are almost as good as guitars for meeting girls."
"Bicycling is a big part of the future. It has to be. There is something wrong with a society that drives a car to work out in a gym."
-Bill Nye the Science Guy
"If I can bicycle, I bicycle."
"A lot of fun stuff happens when you go out on a bike compared to when you're in a car. You're more in the environment. It's enjoyable. Even when It's raining, it's still fun."
-Stone Gossard, Pearl Jam guitarist and long-time Seattle resident
"Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel...the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood."
-Susan B. Anthony, the woman, not the coin
"The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets."
"Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race."
-H. G. Wells
Posted by Trailnet at 1:49 PM
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
"All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking."
"The sovereign invigorator of the body is exercise, and of all the exercises walking is the best."
"Anywhere is walking distance, if you've got the time."
"One step at a time is good walking."
-Old Chinese Proverb
I can remember walking as a child. It was not customary to say you were fatigued. It was customary to complete the goal of the expedition."
Walking is man's best medicine.
"My grandmother started walking 5 miles a day when she was sixty. She's ninety-seven now and we don't know where the hell she is."
"There is nothing like walking to get the feel of a country. A fine landscape is like a piece of music; it must be taken at the right tempo."
-Paul Scott Mowrer
"I was walking down the street with my friend and he said, " I hear music," as though there's any other way to take it in. You're not special, that's how I receive it too. I tried to taste it, but it did not work."
"From walking - something; from sitting - nothing."
"Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called 'walking'"
-George W. Bush
Posted by Trailnet at 1:50 PM
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Our friend Alex Ihnen, a regular contributor on the UrbanSTL blog, recently posted a piece asking the question: Why doesn't someone tell you to drive less as a key way you can reduce the risk of injury or death when you have kids?
It is, in fact, a primary way that we can decrease the risk of child injuries. Yet, with all the advice that is given to new parents, no one ever recommends less driving. Is driving so deeply ingrained in our infrastructure and culture that we no longer see driving as a choice? (Exempting, of course, people who have no choice in the matter, including people with certain disabilities, living in poverty, too old, too young, and all the other significant groups that can't drive who in total make up ~30% of the population)
The American love affair with cars was largely about freedom--Route 66, the open road, Kerouac. But how free do you feel when you have to drive a one ton vehicle to Walmart to get a loaf of bread? Has the pendulum swung so far in the car-centric direction that we no longer have the basic freedom to utilize bi-pedal locomotion to get about our daily lives? Are we safer or less safe?
Visit UrbanSTL and read Alex's take. While you're there, take some time to explore the site -- it's a great St. Louis blog!
Posted by Trailnet at 1:55 PM
Monday, December 13, 2010
For other pictures of the benefits of smoking, visit: http://www.nsma.org.au/propics.htm
The United Health Foundation recently published their annual ranking of America's healthiest and unhealthiest states. According to the report, which takes into account a myriad of factors, Missouri ranks as the 39th healthiest state or the 11th most unhealthy. According to this report, Missouri is tied as the 5th worst state for smoking prevalence and the 9th worst for obesity prevalence. Illinois ranked above Missouri as the 29th healthiest state overall.
To see the 2010 ranking, check out this article from Forbes.
To learn more about the report, visit the project's website.
Smoking and obesity are known to be two of the most significant risk factors for a variety of diseases -- including heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease, and type II diabetes -- which is likely one of the reasons that Missouri ranks so low overall. If Missouri is able to significantly reduce smoking and obesity rates, it is likely that overall population health will increase and we will ascend in the rankings.
Two Pertinent Pieces of News
First, the Missouri Foundation for Health (MFH) was recently awarded a grant through the federal Social Innovation Fund to tackle both smoking and obesity at the same time. MFH received $2 million of funding that they are matching with another $2 million of their money to create the Social Innovation for Missouri (SIM) funding program. This pool of $4 million will be granted to approximately 10-16 communities throughout the state to integrate two successful models: Trailnet's Healthy, Active & Vibrant Communities Initiative and Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights Support for Local Tobacco Policy Change. Trailnet is thrilled to be part of this effort and will be serving as a technical assistance provider to communities that receive SIM funding from MFH. The deadline has passed for communities to apply, but stay tuned for the funding announcement in the first quarter of 2011. The SIM communities will be charting exciting new territory in the years ahead as they work to tackle both obesity and tobacco use simultaneously.
Second, the indoor smoking bans in St. Louis County and St. Louis City go into effect January 2nd, 2011. The County Health Department has launched this webpage with information about the new restrictions. Just last week, Mayor Francis Slay announced that Lambert St. Louis International Airport would finally go smoke-free. And, St. Louis County recently received a $7.6 million federal grant to help reduce smoking prevalence.
As the 11th most unhealthy state in the US, Missouri has a long way to go. However, these and other promising efforts are setting the stage for important and long-overdue improvements to Missouri's health landscape.
Posted by Trailnet at 10:27 AM