Category Archives: Cycling Media

The Resourceful Cyclists of Havana, Cuba

Cuba’s bicycling culture was born in the economic crisis that followed the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. Severe oil and gas shortages gave rise to the use of bicycles as transportation in the country, a trend that continues today. Kauri Multimedia produced a short documentary about bicycling in Havana and resourcefulness necessary to keep bikes running in a country without access to new parts.

Havana Bikes from Kauri Multimedia on Vimeo.

Aaron Naparstek: the Evolution of an Advocate from Honku to StreetsBlog and Beyond (Part 2)

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Aaron and family. Photo by Clarence Eckerson via StreetFilms.org.

In the past decade, New York City has seen a remarkable transformation from one of America’s worst bike cities to one of its most progressive. Like any political movement, the change was a confluence of many, many factors. And Aaron Naparstek seems to have had his hands in a whole lot of them. From Honku–a neighborhood campaign centered on haiku about traffic–to work with Transportation Alternatives to founding StreetsBlog, he has played an important role in New York City’s evolution towards walkable, bikeable, livable streets.

In part one of this far-reaching interview, Aaron discussed his current work as a MIT Visiting Scholar and his recent Loeb Fellowship at Harvard, his roots in neighborhood activism and streets advocacy, and the foundation and growth of StreetsBlog, an influential advocacy journalism outlet in the livable streets movement. Part two continues with our discussion of pivotal moments in the history of New York City’s bike advocacy, the work necessary to continue its growth as a bike-friendly place, and the successes and shortcomings of modern American bike advocacy at large.

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Aaron Naparstek: the Evolution of an Advocate from Honku to StreetsBlog and Beyond (Part 1)

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Aaron and his son in the controversial Prospect Park bike lane. Photo from naparstek.com.

In the past decade, New York City has seen a remarkable transformation from one of America’s worst bike cities to one of its most progressive. Like any political movement, the change was a confluence of many, many factors. And Aaron Naparstek seems to have his hands in a whole lot of them. From Honku–a neighborhood campaign centered on haiku about traffic–to work with Transportation Alternatives to founding StreetsBlog, he has played an important role in New York City’s evolution towards walkable, bikeable, livable streets.

In part one of this far-reaching interview, Aaron discusses his current work as a MIT Visiting Scholar and his recent Loeb Fellowship at Harvard, his roots in neighborhood activism and streets advocacy, and the foundation and growth of StreetsBlog, an influential advocacy journalism outlet in the livable streets movement. Part two continues next week with our discussion of pivotal moments in the history of New York City’s bike advocacy, the work necessary to continue its growth as a bike-friendly place, and the successes and shortcomings of modern American bike advocacy at large.

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Bill Schieken: Cyclocross Passion and the Art of SVENNESS

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Photo by Sean O’Donnell.

Cyclocross lends itself to obsession. Participants either love it and go all in or hate it vehemently. Rare is the middling cross racer with a lukewarm attitude. Bill Schieken of In The Crosshairs falls squarely among the cross obsessed. He is best known for SVENNESS, a web series that recaps the major international cyclocross races and breaks down racers’ technique and strategies. (The title is a play on Sven Nys’ name and a nod to his dominance and nearly-unparalleled bike handling skills). But SVENNESS is just the tip of Schieken’s cyclocross iceberg. He also launched a similar web series, Like a Vos, that’s focused on women’s racing, runs a cycling team, wrote a cyclocross skills book, is a photographer, announces races, is a race series director, and occasionally finds time to actually race. I spoke to Bill about the evolution of In the Crosshairs, SVENNESS, Skills, Drills, & Bellyaches, his history with racing, and much more.

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Is Detroit America’s Next Big Bike City?

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The Dequindre Cut. Photo from livinthehighline.com.

This week, the League of American Bicyclists released a new report unpacking a trove of bike-related data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey (ACS). Their report highlights everything from cities with the most bicyclists to highest share of bike commuters to top bike cities by geographic region. Much of the data affirms what we already knew about bike friendly cities such as Portland, OR and Davis, CA and increasingly bike friendly cities such as New York and Washington, DC. But there were a few surprises in the mix. Perhaps most notably, Detroit topped the list of cities where bike commuting is growing the fastest.

To better understand why biking is on a rapid rise in Motor City, I reached out to Todd Scott of the Detroit Greenways Coalition. Launched in 2006, the Coalition is a collection of stakeholders working in Detroit to improve biking and walking conditions, primarily by advocating for new and refurbished infrastructure.

Scott prefaced his thoughts on Detroit with caution to take the ACS data with a healthy grain of salt. He cited high margins of error in ACS data, the impact of Detroit’s high-unemployment rate on commuting data, and that “ACS travel-to-work modes speak as much about land use density, jobs types, and demographics as … bike friendliness.”

With that said, Detroit has greatly increased its investments in bike infrastructure in recent years. In 2006, the city had all of 6 miles of bike lanes. According to Scott, the city now has about 130 miles of bike lanes, sharrows, and signed routes. They also have 17 miles of paths and trails.

Theoretically there are many more miles of lanes coming in the future. The city’s Non-Motorized Transportation Master Plan, adopted in 2008, calls for nearly 400 miles of bike lanes and other bicycling infrastructure.

Detroit’s showpiece infrastructure is the Dequindre Cut, a 1.35 mile, below-grade trail built on a former rail line that Scott refers to as the city’s bicycle highway. The Link Detroit project—funded in part by a $10 Million TIGER grant—will extend the Dequindre Cut by another 2 miles and add more bike lanes in the process.

Regardless of whether or not the ACS accurately captured the true number of bikers in Detroit, it is clear that bicycling is growing in the city. Scott points to Slow Ride, a weekly, social group ride around the city organized by Detroit Bike City, as evidence.

“There has been a tremendous increase in Detroiters bicycling,” said Scott. “Three years ago Slow Ride had 10 people. This summer it was over 1,600.”