Virginia Wal-Mart Bans Bike Toting Cyclist

So I generally choose not to patronize walmart for several moral reasons...but today I was in desperate need of some CD-Rs so I could mail a file to my university and the only place anywhere near me that sells them is Wally world. So I grudgingly got on my bike and made the 4 mile ride on some pretty dangerous roads only to find that they have no form of bike rack whatsoever. That's typical for this area so I've become used to just taking my bike into fact I usually use the basket on the back as a shopping cart.

So I walk into the walmart and the most evil grandmother I've ever met grabs my arm with her claws and says I can't bring it into the store. I explained to here there was nowhere outside to lock it up and that I had brought it into that particular store with no problem. She insisted that I had to leave it in the foyer and I calmly said that I wasn't going to leave a 600 dollar bike just sitting in the foyer and that I'd like to speak to her manager.

So the manager comes out and says I can't bring the bike into the store, so I explain to her that there are safe places for people who drive to lock their cars but there is no safe place for me to lock my mode of transportation. She says that I should have driven there I told her that I didn't own a car and that my bike was my only form of transportation and I couldn't risk having it stolen. She said I couldn't bring it in because they sell bikes in the store. So I said but those bikes don't look anything like this and this is clearly not a brand new bike, so why is that a problem. She insisted that for the safety of the other customers I couldn't bring it inside, so I asked her why she thought a bike controlled by an adult was more dangerous than a shopping cart being pushed around by someone's bratty kids. So she switched back to the excuse that they sell bikes in the store so I couldn't bring another bicycle in. I was starting to get really frustrated since I had ridden all the way there seemingly for no reason, so I asked her if they also sold shirts in the store. She said yes so I took off my jersey and said well then I'd better not bring this in either. She got kind of flustered and said that it was a different situation but couldn't explain why. So I said that if they also sold shorts in the store that I'd better not wear those in either and I took off my shorts. Same goes for the shoes and sunglasses. Now I'm standing there in my spandex and a sports bra and I ask here if I can leave my things behind the customer service counter where they will be safe until I finish making my purchases and she said that I couldn't come into the store without shoes on, to which i responded "but I certainly can't wear shoes into the store because you sell those here and someone might think I've stolen them." She threatened to call security if I didn't leave so I told her that I would never be coming back to that store again and that I was glad I hadn't driven there since the gas to go four miles was probably more expensive than what her underpaid employees make in an hour.

Her expression when the shirt came off was absolutely priceless...I was pretty tempted to take off the spandex too but I wasn't sure what constitutes indecent exposure in Virginia so I figured I'd err on the side of caution. Still I had a decent sized crowd gathered before the end of the discussion. Anybody else have issues with Satan's superstore?


7 Things Bike Commuting Can Teach You

A Simple Improvement to Bike Lane Safety

As a biker in Charlottesville I am always interested in the many ways the city can improve bike infrastructure, increasing safety and convenience for both motorists and cyclists. While many improvements may be slow to arrive due to time, expense or feasibility, I was recently made aware of one such improvement that may require relatively little time and expense, and is certainly feasible.

Bike friendly cities such as Amsterdam and Portland have already implemented painted bicycle lanes and even cities not known to be particularly bike-friendly, such as New York City, have started to paint bicycle lanes (see the street in Brooklyn pictured above). Incidentally, New York City has even begun to add bicycle lanes physically separated from the street (9th Avenue being one of the first), a step that Charlottesville may eventually look to employ, though not necessarily using the same style or method. Though physical separation requires investment that the city might not be prepared to make at this time, painting the bike lanes might be an easy step to make the lanes more visible to drivers. A study from Portland (see here) shows that prior to painting bicycle lanes 71.7% of motorists properly yielded to bicyclists whereas post-painting the percentage increased to 92%. It certainly seems that this relatively inexpensive step might return real benefits in improved safety and awareness.

Finally, small improvements such as these are the first steps to drawing more citizens to cycling. While Charlottesville already boasts a bronze award for being a "Bicycle Friendly Community," safety is still an issue on my mind as well as, I'm sure, other cyclists. I would wager that the more community members see the city taking small but serious steps towards improving bike infrastructure, the more willing they would be to venture out and experience the benefits of cycling. Painting bicycle lanes is one easy step the city can implement to show our community it is serious about safe, alternative transportation.

More Passenger Trains to Stop in Cville (hopefully)

By Rachana Dixit, Daily Progress

Published: July 22, 2008

A draft of Virginia’s Statewide Rail Plan recommends implementing a new passenger line with stops in Charlottesville as the first phase of the statewide TransDominion Express, with initial operations that would begin as early as 2010.

The plan was released last week by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, which examines all state transportation corridors to determine where improvements are needed. Public comment on the draft will be received until Aug. 25.

The passenger line — listed in the plan as a potential rail investment location — would add up to two roundtrip trains per day from Lynchburg to Washington, D.C., with stops in Charlottesville, Culpeper, Manassas and Alexandria. The TransDominion Express, a four-phase venture for which the General Assembly has already earmarked $9.3 million, is a $206 million project that includes expanded service to Richmond, Roanoke and Bristol.

“What’s in the plan is completely consistent with what we had hoped for,” said Meredith Richards, chairwoman of the Piedmont Rail Coalition and a former city councilor. Richards and the coalition have been longtime advocates for increasing train stops in Charlottesville, and 21 area governmental bodies and other organizations recently signed a resolution declaring support for the Lynchburg to Washington line.

“I think the public pressure is going to result in major public investments in rail,” Richards said. Currently, 20 passenger trains run through Charlottesville per week, compared to Lynchburg’s 14 and Richmond’s 126.

Growing ridership demand is one of the reasons the plan cites for adding the new service. According to a 2007 Virginia Amtrak ridership report, last year there were about 48,000 boardings — riders getting on and off a train — from Charlottesville’s West Main Street station.

With no service improvements, the annual Amtrak ridership between the Washington area and Lynchburg is estimated to be between 71,800 and 90,900 by 2030, according to the Statewide Rail Plan report.

If two daily roundtrip trains were added, annual ridership would increase to between 152,800 and 193,300 by 2030.

But for the new TransDominion project to come to fruition, the plan notes that a public-private partnership between the state, Norfolk Southern, Amtrak and federal partners is required. Three of Norfolk Southern’s corridors, including the Crescent that runs through Charlottesville, would be included in the project.

Obtaining funding is an obstacle for the project, since the Lynchburg to Washington line alone would cost the state an additional $1.9 million per year.

In a letter written to Richards, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said his administration “is committed to improving both passenger and freight rail service in the commonwealth,” but no funding sources exist to fund the project.

Richards said a clear funding source has not been defined and the schedule for when the service would start also remains uncertain. Kaine proposed transportation funding legislation during the General Assembly’s recent special session, but it was not passed.

“We don’t really know what they have in mind,” Richards said, referring to the General Assembly.

Zachary Shahan, executive director of the Charlottesville-based Alliance for Community Choice in Transportation, said getting communities to discuss rail options can be difficult.

“It’s hard to get a lot of people behind the initial investment of rail,” Shahan said. But he added that discussion is increasing for multiple reasons, including rising fuel costs and reducing the country’s carbon footprint.

“I think people are starting to come back to it a bit, but there are varied views on this,” Shahan said. “With the trajectory of things it’s only going to become more and more likely.”

To consistently fund and expand rail service, Richards said it would require a whole new paradigm from the state — recognizing the importance of passenger rail and how it contributes to long-term transportation goals.

“That is a big hurdle politically for us to climb,” she said.

Officials at the state rail and public transportation department did not return calls before deadline.

More Hard Surfaced Trails for C-ville (hopefully)

The city has about 5 miles of soft-surface trails — made from dirt or stone dust — and 3.5 miles of hard-surface trails, excluding the Rivanna trail network.

The city’s goal is to build 10 more trail miles by 2015. Increasing the network is partly a result of recommendations from the city’s Bike and Pedestrian Master Plan, adopted by City Council in 2003.

“We’re not just grabbing at thin air in terms of trying to plan,” Svetz said.

Four of the 10 upcoming trails are planned to go near Moore’s Creek and others are planned on Emmet Street, the future Meadowcreek Parkway and near Pen Park, but the city does not own much of the land away from city streets.

Svetz said the city is looking into either purchasing the land or obtaining easements, but the situation has created some unwanted obstacles for trail development. Land purchases will ultimately be decided by City Council.

“If we were able to do it from scratch, that’s one thing,” Svetz said. “We’re dealing with a lot of private properties.”

Construction of all proposed trails is planned to begin by 2011, with many set for this year and 2009. But available funding could also become an obstacle.

Though the city is good to go for the next five years, the project will need to remain in the city’s Capital Improvement Program for two more years in order to complete the trail network by its 2015 target date. And Svetz said trail building is expensive due to material, labor and possible land costs — even the trail at Schenck’s Greenway, a quarter-mile path that runs along Schenck’s Branch Creek between Preston Avenue and the C’ville Coffee shopping center at Harris Street, cost $25,000 to build.

Some in the community think the area is begging for more trails, and having them may ultimately change residents’ transportation habits.

John Holden, vice president of the Rivanna Trails Foundation, said the 20-mile Rivanna network should be better connected with city trails.

“There’s an attempt to connect them all,” he said. “Everywhere needs more trails.”

Zachary Shahan, executive director of the Charlottesville-based Alliance for Community Choice in Transportation, thinks the city’s trail network is limited and is in need of more development. According to the 2000 census, nearly 2 percent of Charlottesville residents biked to work — about five times the national average — and 16 percent of employed people older than 18 walked to work.

“It’s decent compared to other places in the United States, but we would like to make it a much more common mode of transportation here,” Shahan said. But he added, “It’s hard to change habits. You sort of have to go beyond what’s needed.”

via Rachana Dixit, Daily Progress

Live Well Without Owning a Car

ACCT Newsletter, Summer 2008

ACCT's summer newsletter is fresh off the printers (or not yet to the printers, actually). You can have the first look by clicking this link!

There are articles about Charlottesville's new designation as a Bicycle Friendly Community (at the Bronze level), a new Bike Mentor program for the area, a major new grant from VDOT to create Safe Routes to School Plans for Charlottesville and Albemarle, middle of the year reflections on the Discover Transportation Freedom program, all the new and renewed ACCT members, and other things!

Click here to read now!

Hungarian Bike to Work Commercial

I Love Driving

Are We Changing? TIP Comments

We are faced with critical issues in our world today that society and humankind has never had to deal with.

Are we making the changes to deal with them?!!!

The 2000 World Petroleum Assessment (by the US Geologic Survey) identified that the United States, with 4.5 percent of world population and 2.7 percent of its oil reserves (including ANWR), uses 26 percent of the world’s daily consumption of oil. As I repeat every chance I get, according to climate experts, we need to reduce greenhouse gases to 60 to 80% below the 1990 level by 2050 to somewhat adequately deal with the global climate change issue we are facing. The transportation sector accounts for approximately 27-33% of GHG emissions in the United States, 61% of which are from automobiles and light duty trucks. According to a US Department of Energy from 2005, the transportation sector is the largest and fastest growing contributor to GHGs in the country.

The recent Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for the region brought to my attention, in a general sense, just how little we are changing our planning process to address these issues.

We are still planning for auto mobility, creating token changes to our infrastructure for pedestrians and bicyclists. We are still encouraging automobile transportation as if we were living in the 1950s.

Here is a link to our comments on the TIP.

And here is a link to Cville Tomorrow's coverage of the MPO Policy Board meeting where this was covered (including mention of our comments).

Thank you for reading!

Roads Closed, but Open!

If you don't visit The Oil Drum, you may not have seen this great video report on roads closed off to motor vehicles for a day in Portland, Oregon, to allow people to bike, walk, rollerblade and jog without worrying about traffic.

On the Climate Protection subcommittee of the city's Sustainability Task Force we are working up a plan to present to the City to do something similar.

Bike Commuting Media Blitz!

Bikes Belong prepared a great collection of all the recent Bike Commuting News Stories

C-ville Gets $328k for Walking & Biking to School

Charlottesville has received $328,280 from the state to make safer routes to school!

More coverage by CBS19 here as well.

Excuse me, Mr. Gore...

Open Letter to Al Gore
July 20, 2008

Dear Mr. Gore:

Again, I find myself excited that you’re promoting dealing with Global Warming by merging thinking on foreign policy, pollution, human behavior and health but I wonder why you seem to insist upon not “walking your talk.”

Since the publication of “Earth in the Balance” in 1992, for example, why haven’t you insulated and otherwise “greened” your Tennessee home? That was, after all, 16 years ago. Even now, after “An Inconvenient Truth” and your Nobel Prize, you still insist upon appearing at your speeches in three gas-guzzling Lincoln Town Cars (as reported in the July 20, 2008 Washington Post).

If your entourage is so large – why? – that you need three cars, why not utilize one fuel cell or electric bus or, better yet, take mass transit?

You lost my vote in 2000, Mr. Gore, when you demanded President Clinton release the Strategic Oil Reserve – America’s sole success in our continual drive for energy independence – when gasoline prices spiked at $1.81 a gallon. I was again ready to support you if you’d have decided on a 2008 presidential run but then, sir, you didn’t mention personal automobiles in your Nobel acceptance speech. Certainly, you know, Mr. Gore, that America produces almost half of the world's automotive CO2 while having only 2.7 percent of the world's oil reserves and 4.5 percent of the planet's population. Certainly, you know that transportation emits the most greenhouse gas in the economy yet produces only 11 percent of GDP. Certainly, you know that industry and commerce have decreased their CO2 emissions relative to gross domestic product by 23 percent since 1990.

With your background, Mr. Gore, you must know that America's 250 million vehicles are our primary greenhouse problem.

Still with your alleged commitment to the environment, you drive a small convoy of gas guzzlers to get around? Why, Mr Gore, do you continue to give so much ammunition to those who don’t believe Global Warming and Peak Oil are real phenomena?


Win a free bike with Trek’s Go By Bike Challenge

Take the Go By Bike Challenge.

Trek Bicycle today announced the “Go By Bike Challenge,” a national pledge campaign sponsored by 1 World 2 Wheels — Trek’s cycling advocacy initiative — that challenges people to put down the car keys and instead go by bike.

“The momentum for going by bike is undeniable,” noted Trek’s Director of Advocacy, Rebecca Anderson. “Growing traffic congestion; skyrocketing gas prices; alarming obesity rates; concerns about global climate change as the result of greenhouse gas emissions; there is interest all over the country for transportation alternatives. The bicycle — as arguably the most efficient mode of transportation on the planet — represents a simple solution to some of the toughest problems; and tons of communities are recognizing this fact by taking steps to become bike-friendly. There has never been a better time to go by bike!”

From July 17th through August 31st, will accept “Go By Bike” mileage pledges online, displaying a homepage ticker that tracks total miles pledged, money saved, calories burned, and pounds of carbon offset accumulated. Visitors to will also be presented with the “Go By Bike” ticker and invited to visit to take the “Go By Bike Challenge.”

To promote the challenge nationally, Trek will take out two full-page print ads in USA Today, and Trek’s network of independent bicycle dealers will ask customers to make in-store pledges. Each day of the campaign, one lucky pledger will also be selected at random to receive a brand new Trek 7.2 FX fitness hybrid bike, valued at $519.99.

According to a National Personal Transportation Survey, nearly 40% of all trips taken by car are two miles or less. Whether it’s to work, to school, to the park, store, or gym, the “Go By Bike Challenge” asks individuals to think about all the short trips they take by car and instead pledge to go by bike.

Via Commute by Bike

Drop in Vehicle Miles Traveled

Great news for us alt transpo folks.

Vehicle miles traveled are down.

Read more below or on Kleeman Blog.

DOT 84-08

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Contact: Doug HecoxTel.: (202) 366-0660

Americans Drove 1.4 Billion Fewer Highway Miles in April of 2008 than in April 2007 While Fuel Prices and Transit Ridership Are Both on the RiseSixth Month of Declining Vehicle Miles Traveled Signals Need to Find New Revenue Sources for Highway and Transit Programs, Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters SaysWASHINGTON – At a time of record-high gas prices and a corresponding surge in transit ridership, Americans are driving less for the sixth month in a row, highlighting the need to find a more sustainable and effective way to fund highway construction and maintenance, said U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters.The Secretary said that Americans drove 1.4 billion fewer highway miles in April 2008 than at the same time a year earlier and 400 million miles less than in March of this year. She added that vehicle miles traveled (VMT) on all public roads for April 2008 fell 1.8 percent as compared with April 2007 travel. This marks a decline of nearly 20 billion miles traveled this year, and nearly 30 billion miles traveled since November.“We’re burning less fuel as energy costs change driving patterns, steer people toward more fuel efficient vehicles and encourage more to use transit. Which is exactly why we need a more effective funding source than the gas tax,” Secretary Peters said.The Secretary said as Americans drive less, the federal Highway Trust Fund receives less revenue from gasoline and diesel sales – 18.4 cents per gallon and 24.4 cents per gallon, respectively.The Secretary noted that data show midsize SUV sales were down last month 38 percent over May of last year; car sales, which had accounted for less than half of the industry volume in 2007, rose to 57 percent in May. She said past trends have shown Americans will continue to drive despite high gas prices, but will drive more fuel efficient vehicles consuming less fuel. “History shows that we’re going to continue to see congested roads while gas tax revenues decline even further,” she said.“As positive as any move toward greater fuel efficiency is, we need to make sure we have the kind of sustainable funding measures in place to support needed highway and transit improvements well into the future,” said Acting Federal Highway Administrator Jim Ray.To review the FHWA’s “Traffic Volume Trends” reports, including that of April 2008, visit

Charlottesville Bike Mentor Program

Shawn Strubee teamed up with ACCT this month to start a bike mentor program for Charlottesville. The first volunteer meeting to sign up bike mentors and get help with advertising and program development will be on Tuesday, July 22, at the Charlottesville Community Design Center (100 5th St NE, Charlottesville) at 7:00pm. Come out and help more people to get comfortable bicycling in our community!

Share your thoughts!

The ACCT blog is a place for members to share their thoughts about all things transportation.
  • Know of any places in C-ville where bike or pedestrian lanes would be a welcome addition?
  • Have you had a "close call" with a car at a sticky intersection?
  • Have a great idea for a new project or program?
Post it here and let your voice be heard!