USBR 76 Realignment Proposal

Thanks to everyone who sent in comments over the past week and came to the meeting on Tuesday afternoon (with snow coming down!) to look at shoring up USBR 76 in Charlottesville.

At the meeting we looked at the route turn-by-turn and tried to decide on a proposal for the best single route. Major considerations included 1) avoiding high speed/volume auto traffic, 2) maximizing exposure to local points of interest, 3) keeping a generally direct course, and 4) minimizing left turns on major roads. Below is the route we came up with.

Please take a look and let us know what you think over the next week by posting to this blog or emailing

We spent alot of time discussing the section between Avon/Garret and W. Main/Ridge, and also the proposed alternate route through UVa. Stephen Bach has written up a wonderful background to justify the alternate route through UVa. Your feedback on these sections would be very helpful.

Our goal is to get signs up on the improved route in time for the VBF's Cross-State Ride in May!

What's the best cross-town cycling route in Charlottesville?

The current US Bicycle Route 76 and TransAmerica routes as they pass through Charlottesville are shown in the map below. Everyone would love to see "Bike 76" signs (right) put up along US Bicycle Route 76, just as they mark the route in Albemarle and the rest of VA, but having the two different routes here is confusing. The two routes are identical through most of the rest of Virginia. The ideal outcome for Charlottesville is for the two routes to merge into the single best (and possibly different) route, and to get that signed.
As local cyclists who know these roads best, ACCT and Charlottesville Parks and Rec would like to compile your route suggestions into a recommendation to VDOT and the national agencies who oversee these routes. They too are interested in seeing the two routes reconciled into one. There are several layers of process to go through, but we may be able to get changes approved and the signs up in time for summer cycling season. What do you think is the best bicycle route to cross Charlottesville east-west (it can be one of the existing routes or an entirely new one)?

Post your comments here or send them to me at We'll have a public meeting to discuss them next Tuesday, February 10th at 430PM at the City Hall Annex, Parks & Rec Conference Room.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions (295-6554).

Let's make Charlottesville a great place for cross-country cycling tourists!

For more information on the history and future of US Bicycle Route 76, the TransAmerica, and US Bicycle Routes in general, visit the Adventure Cycling Association. A whole system of US Bicycle Routes is emerging! A recent post by the US Bicycle Routes Coordinator is especially helpful. Also, the Virginia Bicycling Federation is a great resource and steward of Virginia's bicycling routes. Check out the Cross-State Ride coming up in May!

Do you love bicycles?

"Kickstand is a zine written about bicycles by the people who love them. It's not a repair zine, or a how-to, but one-page stories of adoration for bikes." - Microcosm Publishing, Bloomington, IN

The Kickstand crew of Community Bikes, ACCT and friends is kickin' together some fabulous plans for their new bike zine, Kickstand No. 2. Would you like to be a part of it?

we need:
bike stories
commuter thoughts
inspirational bike projects, etc

Please send all submissions to Patrick C:
ptack.costello (@) gmail (dot) com
By Feb. 15th

VTrans 2035 available for review and comment

For those of you who enjoy reading state-level planning documents (or need help falling asleep), the Commonwealth of Virginia's statewide long-range multimodal transportation plan, known as VTrans2035, is in draft form. You can download it at; the official comment period ends Monday. Possibly because it's a statewide plan, there's not much on walking or bicycling, but there's quite a bit on transit as well as compact development.

Seriously, it has some interesting sections. Chapter 5 is the meat.

Audio/Video of Albemarle BOS Candidates Forum Now on

Courtesy of our friends at, the Albemarle Board of Supervisors Candidates Forum we hosted on Thursday night at the Westminster Presbyterian Church (along with ASAP, PEC, and RCS) is now available in full audio and video - All six candidates came out and defended their views on growth, transportation, and the environment in front of a good-sized audience. Cvilletomorrow's coverage is excellent, so you can read the questions that were asked, and see exactly how the candidates in your district responded. This coverage allows you to use the forum as we intended it - to inform your decision on election day and to hold the winners accountable to their campaign!

Traffic lights in the City not detecting your bike?

Because I am a good law-abiding bicyclist, I stop at red lights. (Also, I dislike getting run over.) However, lots of Charlottesville traffic lights use magnetic detectors that aren't sensitive enough to detect my bike, even though it has a steel frame, making it tough to get a green light.


I've been in touch with the City's traffic engineer, who has made some tweaks but says they've done all they can with the existing system. Here's where you can help: the next step is to create a list of every City intersection where this happens. Then local government can spring into action, prepare priorities, look at budgets, etc.

So make a comment here with your nominees for traffic signals that don't detect bikes. Not if it just takes a long time. Only include it if you sit there and watch as other traffic gets a green light, but you never get one. Don't know if it's in the City? Include it anyway, although I'm not promising to do anything with VDOT-controlled signals right now.

PS - If you didn't notice, Google is looking for nominations for bike trails, pedestrian malls, campus paths, etc. to StreetView-ify with this trike they've built. Submit yours by 10/28.

Suggestions Needed for New Bicycle Rack Locations

Charlottesville Transit Service is ready to move ahead with new bicycle racks at bus stations! They want to try and locate them in places where they would also be useful to other bicyclists, so they came to ACCT looking for specific suggestions. This is a great opportunity to put our local knowledge to work! Their focus is on the city, but they also want to know about needs in the County. Below are my initial thoughts on the topic - please add your suggestions or discuss mine before I send them all in on Wednesday, October 21!

Transit station -
The west side of the transit station would be a great place for new bike racks. Alot of people approach the station from the mall or coming east down Water St, and the current bicycle racks are a little out of the way for them. I just went down there to take a look at the whole scene around the station, and low-and-behold, there were two bikes locked up to a trash can and a tree on the west side of the transit station (and none at the existing bike racks)! Specifically, I think locating the new racks closer to the road, on the grassy patch or next to the building, would be a good place because they would be visible and convenient for people coming either from the mall or from Water St., and close to both entrances.

The Corner - If there is any way you could upgrade the clunky yellow rack in front of Bodos/Starbucks, that has been an issue for years, and is also a very high-use area for bike parking. It is right next to bus stop at BofA and across the street from another one.

Tonsler Park - racks somewhere close to the entrance would serve the popular picnicking spot down by the sidewalk and the grills, and also the basketball courts there. Since this area is very popular with locals in the warm months, I would try to be sensitive to how people use the space when choosing an exact location so as not to encroach. And, if there aren't racks near the entrance of the community center there, there should be!

The Hospital - the racks in front of Jordan Hall (across the street from a bus stop) usually seem quite full.

Perspective from Africa on the work we do with bikes

Check it out!

Police in Denmark Hug Cyclists and Give Them Helmets

Check it out!

From the new

Livability of Cities

* Build More Livable and Sustainable Communities: Our communities will better serve all of their residents if we are able to leave our cars to walk, bicycle and access other transportation alternatives. President Obama will re-evaluate the transportation funding process to ensure that smart growth considerations are taken into account.

NYT: A Bicycle Evangelist With the Wind Now at His Back

For years, Earl Blumenauer has been on a mission, and now his work is paying off. He can tell by the way some things are deteriorating around here.
“People are flying through stop signs on bikes,” Mr. Blumenauer said. “We are seeing in Portland bike congestion. You’ll see people bikingacross the river on a pedestrian bridge. They are just chock-a-block.”

Mr. Blumenauer, a passionate advocate of cycling as a remedy for everything from climate change to obesity, represents most of Portland in Congress, where he is the founder and proprietor of the 180 (plus or minus)-member Congressional Bicycle Caucus. Long regarded in some quarters as quixotic, the caucus has come into its own as hard times, climate concerns, gyrating gas prices and worries about fitness turn people away from their cars and toward their bikes.

“We have been flogging this bicycle thing for 20 years,” said Mr. Blumenauer, a Democrat. “All of a sudden it’s hot.”

But Mr. Blumenauer’s goals are larger than putting Americans on two wheels. He seeks to create what he calls a more sustainable society, including wiser use of energy, farming that improves the land rather than degrades it, an end to taxpayer subsidies for unwise development — and a transportation infrastructure that looks beyond the car.

For him, the global financial collapse is “perhaps the best opportunity we will ever see” to build environmental sustainability into the nation’s infrastructure, with urban streetcar systems, bike and pedestrian paths, more efficient energy transmission and conversion of the federal government’s 600,000-vehicle fleet to use alternate fuels.

“These are things that three years ago were unimaginable,” he said. “And if they were imaginable, we could not afford them. Well, now when all the experts agree that we will be lucky if we stabilize the economy in a couple of years, when there is great concern about the consequences of the collapse of the domestic auto producers, gee, these are things that are actually reasonable and affordable.”

All this might still be pie-in-the-sky were it not for one of Mr. Blumenauer’s fellow biking enthusiasts, Representative James L. Oberstar, a Minnesota Democrat, avid cyclist and chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which has jurisdiction over surface transportation.

“He’s been wonderful,” Mr. Oberstar said of his Oregon colleague. And as support for cycling grows, he said, builders, the highway construction lobby and others have stopped regarding biking as a “nuisance” and started thinking about how they can do business.

With an eye on the potential stimulus package, cycling advocates “have compiled a list of $2 billion of projects that can be under construction in 90 days,” Mr. Oberstar said, adding that prospects are “bright.”

In addition, after many attempts, this fall Mr. Blumenauer saw Congress approve his proposal to extend the tax breaks offered for employee parking to employers who encourage biking. The measure, which Mr. Blumenauer called a matter of “bicycle parity,” was part of a bailout bill.

Mr. Blumenauer has spent a lot of time on another issue that ordinarily draws little attention: the federally subsidized flood insurance program. The program serves people who own property along coasts and rivers who otherwise would pay enormous premiums for private flood insurance, if they could obtain it at all.

The insurance “subsidized people to live in places where nature repeatedly showed they weren’t wanted,” he said. They might be better off if they did not live there, he said, but “it’s un-American to say, ‘Get out.’ ” Politicians who should confront the problem “are betting Nimto, not in my term of office,” he said. They hope that disasters will spare their districts or, if they strike, that the government will come to the rescue, Mr. Blumenauer said.

A Portland native, Mr. Blumenauer, 60, has spent his adult life in elective office. He graduated from Lewis and Clark College in 1970 (after organizing an unsuccessful 1969 campaign to lower the state’s voting age to 18) and worked until 1977 as assistant to the president of Portland State University. In 1972, he won a seat in the Oregon House of Representatives. He moved to the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners in 1978, and from there, in 1986, he won election to the Portland City Council. Though he lost a mayoral election in 1992, he easily won election to the United States House in 1996 and has not faced serious opposition since.

Mr. Blumenauer entered Congress just after Newt Gingrich, the Republican speaker, killed a stopgap spending measure, shutting down much of the government, out of pique over his treatment on Air Force One. “Partisan tensions were very raw,” Mr. Blumenauer said. The bicycle caucus was “a way to bring people together.”

Sherwood Boehlert, a Republican and fellow bicyclist who represented upstate New York in Congress until 2007, agreed. When “partisanship was at an all-time high and tolerance of another point of view was at a longtime low,” he wore the bike caucus’s plastic bicycle lapel pin. “Bicycling unites people regardless of party affiliation,” he said.

In addition to bicycles, Mr. Blumenauer is particularly interested in public broadcasting and the plight of pollinators like honeybees. He is a founder of a “livable communities task force” whose goal, he said, is to educate members of Congress and their staffs on the benefits of transportation alternatives, open space, sustainability, vibrant downtowns, affordable housing and transparency in government.

Initially, he said, these interests marked him as “kind of left coast.” Not anymore. “They are becoming very mainstream,” said Adam B. Schiff, a Democrat who represents in Congress the area around Pasadena, Calif., and who, with Mr. Blumenauer’s bicycle advice, now regularly rides to work from his home in Maryland. “He has been way out in front of the Congress,” Mr. Schiff said. “Now the rest of us are trying to catch up.”

When Mr. Blumenauer is in his Portland district, he usually gets around by bike, cycling about 20 miles in a typical day. He has three bikes in Washington and five here, and he cycles in all weather, even in the unusual snow Portland has had recently. “In falling snow you can get some traction,” he said.

But the surge of bicycling in Portland has not been free of incident. The Oregonian newspaper and bloggers have reported on “bike rage,” drunken biking, hit-and-run bicycle accidents and other problems. Drivers complain about bikers who ignore traffic rules or hog narrow roads, phenomena some irritated motorists attribute to feelings of entitlement or moral superiority.

Mr. Blumenauer brushes off this criticism. “They are burning calories, not fossil fuel, they are taking up much less space, they are seeing the world at 10 miles per hour instead of 20 or 30,” he said. “And even though there are occasionally cranky or rude cyclists, they are no greater a percentage than cranky or rude motorists.”

Plus, he added, “they have really fought for their place on the asphalt.”


Daily Progress: A 2-wheeled variety of fun and celebration

By Bryan McKenzie

Published: January 10, 2009

They’re organized, militant and recruiting: Members of the Alliance for Community Choice in Transportation are tossing down a bicycler party Friday evening on the backside of the Market Street parking garage and they’re inviting everyone who pedals.

“It’s designed for regular commuters, those who came out to ride with us in neighborhood rides, weekend bikers and those who are bicycle-curious,” said Shelly Stern of ACCT. “There’ll be a lot of information, a bit of entertainment and fun.”

Like motorcycle riders, bicyclists have their own subculture. They dress oddly. They dodge cars. They like to toss parties and talk of two wheels. For instance, Friday’s Bike Extravaganza! includes an “interactive, multi-media celebration of biking,” smoothies made in a bicycle-powered blender, mechanic’s advice, customizing and decorating bikes, raffles, snacks and more.

Bike to the other side

The idea is to not focus on cyclists’ wants like trails and lanes, but to invite others into the lifestyle.

“It’s a culture. There are a lot of fun people who love their bicycles and they are fun to be around,” Ms. Stern said. “There are different aspects of bicycling, different subgroups and, with the extravaganza, we’re sending out a long arm to try and circle everyone into the fold.”

Ms. Stern knows the culture well. Last year she sold her 1987 Subaru wagon for a ticket to Belize (about $500). Now she pedals a tandem bike with her 8-year-old son to get to school and work and shop for groceries.

“There are times I miss the car, but it really hasn’t been that hard to go without it. Sometimes lousy weather is a deterrent to riding, but you get used to it,” Ms. Stern said. “It does take a lot of advance scheduling and sometimes I have no choice but to borrow a friend’s car or ask for a ride.”

Naturally, there are advantages. She gets plenty of exercise. Her family eats less because she can carry less on the bicycle. She and her son get plenty of one-to-one time to and from school. Maintenance costs are cheap and much of it she can do herself.

“I learned a lot of the maintenance from the bike docs when I volunteered with Community Bikes,” Ms. Stern said, referring to a local organization that helps area residents keep their wheels in good condition.

Friday’s extravaganza also is designed for those who rode with ACCT members last summer as part of the alliance’s Discover Transportation Freedom project. The grant-funded effort put cyclists into neighborhoods promoting bikes as a better way to get there, wherever there is.

Pedaling fun

More than 220 people joined ACCT volunteers on the neighborhood rides.

“We wanted to show people how easy it can be to commute by bicycle and safe ways to get to where they wanted to go,” Stern recalled. “A lot of people came out, got to know their neighborhood and neighbors a little better and had a lot of fun.”

Fun, she said, is exactly why Bike Extravaganza! is being thrown.

“It’s not just about information, although there’ll be plenty of that,” she said. “It’s about fun and people.”

CTS now on Google Transit Maps!

View Larger Map

Google Transit is now available for all Charlottesville Transit Service (CTS) routes. Directions for the shortest distance between two points by bus are fully integrated into the popular Google Maps feature. The user enters the starting and destination addresses, and chooses between walking, mass transit, or driving. Google Maps will calculate the shortest distance for multiple options, show the schedules of pick-up and arrival, estimate a total time for the trips, and give the fare prices. It will even tally the cost difference between busing and driving.

Google Transit was unveiled in Portland, Oregon about a year and a half ago, and it has been steadily spreading to metropolitan areas around the county. Currently, 21 other transit agencies in Virginia have opted to join Google Transit. This is the highest level of participation for any state in the country, surpassing California by almost 30%. This may be attributed to a strong push by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation to join Google Transit.

Ridership for CTS is already at all-time high levels. According to a press release, “Over 1.7 million passengers boarded CTS buses from June 1, 2007 through July 31, 2008, a 12.5% upswing in service use compared to the previous fiscal year. Ridership in the first four months of the 2009 fiscal year is up almost 14%, to 658,040 passengers.” There is some evidence to suggest that the enhanced usability Google Transit offers may boost ridership even further. A local transit authority in Duluth, Minnesota saw a 12% jump after joining a year ago.

There is no cost to CTS for providing its schedule and route data to Google. Google Transit does not make use of the real-time CTS satellite global positioning system (GPS) equipment, though GPS data on the expected stop time of each bus is available through the City’s website. University of Virginia’s transit service is not currently available through Google Transit.

via Daniel Nairn at C-ville Tomorrow

Wall Street Journal says: Your Car is a CASH GUZZLER

A Real Auto Bailout: Escape Your Car


Last week, the auto industry finally got its bailout.

But is it time for Americans to rescue their own finances from their cars?

Families are now bracing for the mother of all recessions. They're looking for every chance to save a dollar.

Forget lattes and store-brand cereal. If you really want to see where your money is going, take a closer look at your car. Foreign or domestic, it doesn't matter. It's a cash guzzler, and it is probably costing you more than anything else except your home.

How much? First there's the actual capital cost of buying the vehicle. Obviously people can spend as little as a few thousand dollars buying an old clunker. But most spend a lot more. And that initial cost is just the start. Now add everything from gas and maintenance to insurance, registration, taxes, tolls, parking, tickets and so on.

You'll be lucky if you're spending less than about $4,000 a year. Most people will pay a lot more. If you buy the vehicle with a loan, you'll have to pay interest. If you pay cash, you have to factor in the interest you would have made on that money if you had saved it instead. That's a real cost too, and a substantial one, though most people forget about it.

In 2007, the most recent year that numbers are available, the American Automobile Association figured its members paid about $7,800 a year on average to own and maintain their cars. That figure dropped to about $6,200 for small-car owners.

The AAA's numbers were tabulated before the surge, and recent collapse, of gasoline prices. It's hard to imagine gas prices will to remain at today's panic-level $1.60 per gallon for long. But even if they do, that will only cut the AAA's figures by about $400 annually.

These are not trifling costs. Drivers are hemhorraging money. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics calculated that in 2006 vehicles sucked down nearly 17 cents of every family dollar.

Maybe it's time for smart families to consider some really tough choices.

Life without a car may seem inconceivable. They are useful and can be fun. In most parts of America, you really can't survive without one. And they've been hammered into the culture and the national psyche.

But a lot of things are happening these days that nobody expected. Rules are changing. People need to make every dollar count.

Trading down to the cheapest car possible is one move. Dumping one vehicle from a two-car household is tougher to do, but offers real savings. Moving into a city with a downtown, and getting rid of your cars completely, can save you even more. When you factor in the savings, city real estate might actually work out in your favor.

Residents of inner-ring and upscale suburbs, as well as everyone in car-dependent cities like Dallas and Atlanta, are in the worst of all possible worlds on this. They're paying plenty for real estate – and then paying even more on top of that to run a car for each adult in the home.

Surely they'd be better off moving out to the country, where they would still need their cars but at least real estate is cheap, or into a downtown where they could lose the cars.

Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention. We are going to see a lot of necessity. It may lead to some interesting developments.

Write to Brett Arends at