Archive for the League of American Bicyclists Category

Mayor Frank Scott Jr. of Little Rock, Ark., to Speak at #BikeSummit22

01/14/2022 0:02
National Bike Summit

The League is excited to announce that Frank Scott Jr., the Mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas, will be joining us as a plenary speaker for the 2022 National Bike Summit, which takes place March 27-30, 2022, and features completely virtual speakers and sessions plus in-person content for those who wish to attend the Summit in Washington, DC.

Mayor Scott will speak virtually on Monday, March 28, 2022. Frank Scott, Jr. made history on Dec. 4, 2018, when he was elected as the City of Little Rock’s 73rd  mayor and first popularly elected African American chief executive. Since that day, Mayor Scott has worked to unite diverse neighborhoods into one City and one people, cooperating to expand the economy and improve the quality of life for the people of Little Rock. 

As a Bronze-level Bicycle Friendly Community since May 2016, Little Rock aims to make streets safer for all users — a mission its Mayor shares. Mayor Frank Scott Jr.’s Mobility Agenda includes an emphasis on improving sidewalks, instituting the complete streets ordinance, and expanding bikeshare, all while directing funds to areas with the highest needs. 

We look forward to learning from Mayor Frank Scott Jr. about how a mayor can influence real change in transportation planning and his perspective on how the implementation of investments introduced in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) could help meet the Mobility Agenda and Bicycle Friendly Community goals of Little Rock and communities across the country.

This will be the 23rd annual Bike Summit and in an effort to include as many bike advocates as possible, this year will be a hybrid event with all plenaries and conference sessions as virtual. Join us as we discuss how the bike movement can shape the future for the next generation, from climate change to racial equity.

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Categories:League of American Bicyclists

The Story Behind a BFC: Ann Arbor, Michigan

01/13/2022 0:02
Bicycle Friendly America
Bicycle Friendly Community

In the Fall of 2021, the City of Ann Arbor, Michigan, climbed the ranks of our Bicycle Friendly Community program when it was promoted from Silver to Gold-level designation for its efforts to be better for people who bike. Now the first and only Gold BFC in Michigan, and one of only 35 Gold BFCs in the U.S., Ann Arbor has made significant strides for cycling in its community.

“We’re pleased the League of American Bicyclists has recognized the work done in Ann Arbor to improve cycling,” said Raymond Hess, City of Ann Arbor transportation manager. “This honor is a testament to the hard work of the City of Ann Arbor, our elected officials, our partners, and the community at large. Collectively, we are working together to give people safe and sustainable choices to travel to all the places they want to go. We also take this honor with a great deal of humility as we know there is still far more work to be done as laid out in our Moving Together Towards Vision Zero – City of Ann Arbor Comprehensive Transportation Plan.”

See the full list of current BFCs

Ann Arbor first joined the Bicycle Friendly Community program as a Bronze-level BFC in 2005 and moved up to Silver in 2009. Advancing to Gold on their sixth BFC application in sixteen years is a testament to the steady progress of the city over time, and also of a common theme in the BFC program: that investments and efforts can take time to translate into impacts such as increased ridership and improved safety outcomes. 

According to the city’s transportation program manager Eli Cooper, “More than 1 out of every 10 trips taken in Ann Arbor is a bicycle trip. The current statistic is twice as high as the statistic reported in the previous application and exceeds goals set by previous plans. Even further, 36% of all trips within Ann Arbor are made by walking, biking, or transit. Simultaneously, community support for bicycling has led to an explosive growth in the development and use of bicycle infrastructure in the past few years. All of this information aligns with the City’s carbon neutrality goal for 2030. Looking at the big picture of Ann Arbor it brings the city pride to say that our current practices are in line with our goals.”

To achieve these improved outcomes, ensuring major infrastructure improvements for on-street and off-street bicycle networks has been a long-haul project for the city. Since the city’s previous application, the Downtown Development Authority planned and implemented new cycle tracks on William Street and First Street which encourage residents and visitors to spend more time bicycling downtown. These two particular bikeways incorporate buffers and barricades to make the cycling experience more comfortable and safe. Some barricades hold plants as well, further improving the look and draw of the bikeways. 

The William Street Bikeway also connects to the Ann Arbor District Library Downtown Branch and the University of Michigan’s central campus, a Silver-level Bicycle Friendly University. This provides a comfortable ride for those commuting to and from the University. Both the William Street and First Street cycle tracks have been met with overwhelming support in the community and are enjoyed by experienced and beginner bicyclists alike. The Downtown Development Authority has also approved contracts for two more downtown cycle tracks, on Division Street and Catherine Street/Miller Avenue. The addition of these bikeways, in conjunction with the William Street and First Street Bikeways, will complete a connected “bike loop” around downtown Ann Arbor. 

Aside from the on-street bikeways, the City of Ann Arbor has improved access to off-street bike networks through the Allen Creek Berm Project. This $9.4 million project provides safer access from the downtown area to the Border-to-Border Trail and aligns with Ann Arbor’s connectivity and safety goals stated in the Moving Together Towards Vision Zero plan. 

​​The promotion of bicycling is a key part of Ann Arbor’s non-motorized system development, supported by the city and countless community partners. Ann Arbor promotes bicycling through “Commuter Challenges” – annual month-long, city-wide competitions to commute to work by bicycle, bus, or foot – as well as a month-long “Conquer the Cold” challenge for winter bicycle commuters hosted by getDowntown. The Conquer the Cold challenge encourages non-car commuting through commute tracking and educational seminars. Local bike shop Wheels in Motion hosts a Worst Day of the Year bike ride in January in partnership with getDowntown and several other local businesses. 

Ann Arbor Public Schools hosts a Bike to School Day and is encouraging bicycling as a part of the 100% commitment to Safe Routes to School. The Program to Educate All Cyclists, Common Cycle, Sic Transit Cycles, Wheels in Motion, the Ann Arbor Bicycle Touring Society, the Bicycle Alliance of Washtenaw, the Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition, and the getDowntown Program all promote bicycling through community rides for families, mountain bikers, road bicyclists, city youth, casual bicyclists, new bicyclists, commuters, refugees, women, and cyclists with disabilities. As Ann Arbor further grows its bicycling infrastructure, additional plans are being deployed to increase the number of community rides, encourage more bicycling to school, and add bicycling events beyond the existing fairs/challenges to ensure that bicyclists of all ages, levels and backgrounds can bike safely throughout the city.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR ANN ARBOR

As with all Bicycle Friendly Communities, there is still room for improvement in the newest Gold-level BFC. In their current state, not all of the city’s bicycle facilities are considered accessible to people of all ages and abilities. In order to create an equitable and accessible bicycle network, the City is working towards its goal of completing an All Ages and Abilities bicycle network by 2035, with 26 miles established and 72 more miles planned. 

The All Ages and Abilities network plan, which was developed based on an analysis of bicycling conditions and feedback from the public, consists of new and improved bike lanes and cycle tracks across Ann Arbor. Once completed, 97% of the population would live within 1⁄4 mile of the All Ages and Abilities bike network. With this, the city hopes to provide equitable access to places where people live, work, and play to people of all abilities, ages and stages of life, income, races, cultures, and ethnicities.

In addition to planning and implementing bike network improvements, the City of Ann Arbor is actively pursuing lower speed limits for vehicles, traffic calming devices, road diets, lane diets, and adding improved bike lanes in pursuit of desirable bicycling conditions for all.


Sign up here to be notified when the BFC application reopens for submissions.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can improve bicycling in your community or how to become a Bicycle Friendly Community, visit bikeleague.org/community. The next Bicycle Friendly Community submission round will open in May 2022 and close in Fall 2022. The BFC form is currently offline for updates through Spring 2022, but you can find steps you can take now to strengthen your next BFC application here and sign up to be notified when the BFC application reopens here


Categories:League of American Bicyclists

Guidance for State Departments of Transportation

01/11/2022 0:02
Advocacy
Federal News

Now that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill is a law — and is now referred to as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law — the eyes of advocates has moved from Congress to the US Department of Transportation (US DOT) and Pete Buttigieg. With that the law signed, it is now up to US DOT to implement it, and that starts with writing guidance for state Departments of Transportation. And so far the news is good!  

In December, the US DOT announced they would be prioritizing fixing existing roads first — including improving safety and access for pedestrians, bicyclists and transit users — over building new roads.   

The US DOT has also asked stakeholders like the League and the public for their suggestions on how the new bill should be implemented. The League had quite a few suggestions (see below)!

Stay tuned for an email from the League on how you can submit comments yourself.


Categories:League of American Bicyclists

Ensuring a Voice for Youth: El Grupo Norte and El Liderato

01/7/2022 0:02
Advocacy

In 2013, the League released “Engaging Youth In Bicycle Advocacy”, a case study on why youth bike and youth involvement in bicycle advocacy is so important as we build a future that is better for biking. A lot of the obstacles to youth engagement noted in the study, like a lack of bike accessibility and a disconnect between adults and youth when it comes to leadership, are still prevalent today. Many organizations, including the League itself, can better educate themselves on how to not only get more youth involved in biking but make sure young bicyclists feel recognized as an integral part of the bicycling movement. 

As part of that work to listen, learn, and collaborate, we endeavored to hear from organizations made for youth and/or guided by youth to best answer the question of how to do this. In a continuing series, we’ll learn more about these groups and their answers. Today, meet El Grupo Norte and their youth leadership council El Liderato. Read our previous blogs here.


About El Grupo Norte

Norte is Northern Michigan’s youth-focused organization that helps people of all ages and abilities keep moving and stay active in their community. They primarily do this through engaging bike programs, offering walking encouragement, safe route to school initiatives, and advocacy training. 

Norte’s youth bike programs start by inviting the youngest among us to hop on balance bikes, then move on to their Summer Bike Camp, seasonal mountain bike practice, and their school-based Adventure Bike Club. These latter two programs average nearly 400 young riders combined in the fall and spring. In addition, the Summer Bike Camp serves about 500 individual riders. All of these programs offer opportunities for riders from first through 12th grade. Older riders ride on the varsity mountain bike team and serve as assistant coaches for all three programs. Norte also offers a unique advocacy training program called Explore Academy that teaches teens about community decisions and how to impact them.

About El Liderato: Youth Leadership Council

The Liderato Youth Council is a portion of Norte’s board in which middle and high school students provide input so that the organization continues to prioritize what’s best for the youth. El Liderato members commit to a one-year term and are eager to learn the ins and outs of advocacy to bring about the needed change for safer streets for all. They attend either a 1-hour meeting or a 1-hour volunteer event per month. 

In addition to participating in board meetings, Liderato executes various passion projects. For example, Liderato is currently in the very early stages of designing a map that would be distributed to people around the community to raise awareness of the infrastructure that currently exists in Traverse City. The project resulted from recognizing there is a lack of awareness of existing infrastructure by people in Traverse City, not a lack of infrastructure itself. Overall, Liderato is both the youth voice within Norte’s board and an independent philanthropic committee whose goal is to better the cycling community.

What would you like to see other groups, especially national organizations, doing to involve more youth in cycling?

#BikeSummit22 offers free attendance for youth. Learn more and register now!

Passion is the main driving force behind a successful youth cycling organization. Without it, there would be no sense of purpose or belonging within the organization, but luckily youth have a lot of it, so it’s just a matter of matching that energy and providing the support needed to channel it in the right direction. Norte is a prime example of matching the energy of the youth. Everything from the bright and energetic color scheme to the staff who are always supportive of Liderato’s ideas shows how an organization can thrive if there is dedication and a youth focus behind it. In my own personal experience with my passion project of advocating for world-class mountain bike trails at Hickory Hills, a local ski hill, the Norte staff have provided outlets and guidance that have allowed me to navigate my first foray into nonprofit government. Their willingness to have meetings with me and to provide help with funding, policy, and general workings of how to tackle the project has left me with a deeper insight into mature conversations that effectively enact change.” — Will Unger, secretary of El Liderato 


If you’re a youth group or cycling organization interested in sharing your tips for involving more youth in cycling, reach out to us at communications@bikeleague.org. We would love to hear from you!


Categories:League of American Bicyclists

Ensuring a Voice for Youth: Belmont Cragin Youth Leadership Council

12/17/2021 0:02
Advocacy

In 2013, the League released “Engaging Youth In Bicycle Advocacy”, a case study on why youth bike and youth involvement in bicycle advocacy. A lot of the obstacles to youth engagement noted in the study, like a lack of bike accessibility and a disconnect between adults and youth when it comes to leadership, are still prevalent today. Many organizations, including the League itself, can better educate themselves on how to not only get more youth involved in biking but make sure young bicyclists feel recognized as an integral part of the bicycling movement. 

As part of that work to listen, learn, and collaborate, we endeavored to hear from organizations made for youth and/or guided by youth to best answer the question of how to do this. In a continuing series, we’ll learn more about these groups and their answers. Today, meet Belmont Cragin Youth Leadership Council, a “safe, positive, consistent space for students to grow as young organizers, receive academic and emotional support, and make meaningful peer connections” based in Northwest Side of Chicago, IL. The group was recently featured in an Active Transportation Alliance publication article (shared below).


A Victory for Local Youth Bike Advocates

When a fellow member of the Belmont Cragin Youth Leadership Council broke a collarbone because he was “doored” by a driver while riding his bike, members of the youth council were upset and decided to act. 

They knew that a lack of good bike lanes contributed to dangerous dooring incidents. With this knowledge in hand, they started on a journey to make their community a safer place to bike. 

Two years later, their diligence has paid off as the city committed to building 17 miles of bike lanes in Northwest Side neighborhoods of Belmont Cragin and Hermosa. 

A recent article about the youth’s efforts in the Chicago Sun-Times explained how the council members relentlessly lobbied local leaders and gathered support from residents. The youth insisted on meetings with city, state and federal elected officials, explaining to them that bike lanes enhance public safety while offering a healthy transportation option for local residents.  

The youth talked with neighbors by going door to door in Belmont Cragin and they testified at the Chicago Transit Authority’s board meetings. The local alderman was skeptical of their requests initially, but came around thanks to their persistent efforts. 

The youth council — which is part of the Northwest Side Housing Center — also worked with Active Trans to organize biking events and meet with public officials. 

In August, new bike lanes started appearing in the Northwest Side neighborhood (see page 5 for more about the current bike lane expansion in Chicago).

Youth Leadership Council member Zair Menjivar told the Sun-Times: “We never thought we would get green freshly painted bike lanes in our neighborhood, and to see that is really shocking. This is a testament to all the hard work we put in.”

This year, 18-year-old Menjivar was the youngest recipient of the City of Chicago’s Mayoral Medal of Honor. He was recognized for this work to improve transportation in his community, as well as distributing food to community members in need during the pandemic shutdown. 

What would you like to see other groups, especially national organizations, doing to involve more youth in cycling?

“From our experience, Youth want to ride a bike but can’t afford one. Maybe figuring out more ways for non-profit organizations to help get more money to buy bikes for youth who want to ride. One way we can get more recognized is to bring bikers to the table when it comes to decision making and not just make us an afterthought”

Did you know #BikeSummit22 offers free attendance for youth? At next year’s National Bike Summit there are many choices that need to be made about how the bike movement can shape the future for the next generation, from climate change to racial equity, and we want every voice involved. Learn more and register now at bikeleague.org/summit!


If you’re a youth group or cycling organization interested in sharing your tips for involving more youth in cycling, reach out to us at communications@bikeleague.org. We would love to hear from you!


Categories:League of American Bicyclists

LCI Spotlight: KJ Garner

12/14/2021 0:02
Education
Smart Cycling

The League certifies hundreds of League Cycling Instructors every year and there are thousands of LCIs around the country leading bike education efforts in their communities. In our LCI spotlight series, we are sharing the stories of League Cycling Instructors doing what they do every day: educating, mentoring, empowering. You don’t have to be an extraordinary athlete or overachieving student to be a stellar LCI, all you need is the conviction that life is better for everyone when more people ride bikes. 


Our latest League Cycling Instructor in the spotlight is a great example that some of the best joys in life can come from something initially met with resistance  especially when it comes to being on a bike! Meet KJ Garner, a bicycling enthusiast and educator in Madison, TenneseeFind our earlier LCI Spotlights in our blog archives. 

After learning the joys of biking changed her own life, KJ now works with riders of all experience levels, ages, and backgrounds to help get more people riding and states that she is “truly convinced that life is better on a bicycle”. Read on to learn how KJ motivates her students to choose bicycling as their outlet. 

Learn how to become an LCI in the Smart Cycling section of our website.

ARE THERE LOCAL BIKE GROUPS YOU’RE A PART OF? 

Bike Fun (non-profit) – founder & board president; Walk Bike Nashville – volunteer & former board officer

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHY YOU ENJOY TEACHING OTHERS TO BIKE.

Bike riding saved my life. In 2010 I was physically inactive, recently dumped out of a long-term relationship, and depressed. I remembered how much I enjoyed bike riding when I was in college, and I purchased a new-to-me hybrid-style bike. First, I rode in my neighborhood, then on greenways, and finally built up to riding in a 30-mile agrotour in Athens, GA with a friend. By then I had purchased a brand new bicycle and loaned my friend my other one. I started working in the outdoor retail industry in 2015 not long after completing my LCI program through Walk Bike Nashville.

I encountered a lot of returning riders who were enthusiastic to get on a bicycle again, but who were low on confidence about their abilities – as well as adults who had never learned to ride. I was able to point them towards the adult cycling classes that Walk Bike Nashville offered, and often was their instructor as well. To see their delight at “getting it” is unparalleled. As a result of inquiries from adult students as well as from parents of children who just couldn’t quite make that jump from training wheels, I founded Bike Fun in 2016 – and in 2020, transitioned to a non-profit.

WHAT FIRST MOTIVATED YOU TO BECOME AN LCI?

I initially resisted becoming any kind of educator – I had previously been at college to pursue that academic path and it failed wildly. Over the course of my life, I have been the person of whom many friends – and total strangers! – would ask advice and opinions. I have therefore leaned into the role in which others have placed me – putting their trust in me as a person with understanding, curiosity, a broad background, and empathy.

Seeing little attention paid to casual or beginning riders from traditional bicycle clubs and groups encouraged me to get involved with Walk Bike Nashville, who footed the bill for the LCI training and – in return – their sponsored LCIs would teach classes.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST REWARD IN TEACHING BIKE EDUCATION?

I am motivated to continue doing what I do when I get to see young girls and FTW folks completely lose their mind at how awesome it feels to take that first one-mile, five-mile, 10-mile ride; to feel the wind on their face; to understand that this is a powerful step in reclaiming ownership of one’s body and spirit.

WHAT IS YOUR BEST PIECE OF ADVICE FOR AN LCI WHO WANTS TO TEACH A CLASS BUT ISN’T SURE HOW TO GET STARTED?

It always helps me to start with a summary. What do you want to teach? Pick a topic and then list 3 points about that topic you want to convey. Create a “catalog listing” (e.g. short teaser paragraph about the class) that hits the highlights. Consider your audience – is it more general? Is it a very specific topic? Is it accessible? Does it take into consideration potential student limitations? If you’re preparing handouts or presentation slides, do the people featured in any pictures reflect a truly diverse slate of bicycle ridership (or is it just pictures of white men in spandex)?

Be prepared to answer student questions with a response of “I don’t know – but I can find out and get back to you”. For each class or activity I teach, I keep notes on and revise my syllabus based on student feedback, so make sure to send out a follow-up survey (even if it’s simple, like “What did you like about the class?”). There are lots of good frameworks to be found within the LCI community and with the LAB documents in general, so you don’t have to start completely from scratch.

WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU THINK THAT ALL LCIS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT TEACHING BIKE EDUCATION? 

  • It is very difficult to rewire language that has been accepted into American society’s common vernacular. I make it a point to say crash not accident; to gently push back when someone says they are “out of shape” (I speak of strength and endurance); to not weaponize exercise as a punishment for eating or for existing in contemporary culture that wants us to “shred” or to “feel the burn”. When students tell me they are scared to ride on the roads in a shared vehicle mix, I completely understand – and then make sure they know how, as drivers, to interact with riders who are able to physically and mentally navigate those situations.
  • I never tell a student what *not* to do. As soon as you utter the words, “Don’t do this or X might happen,” it’s the only thing that student can think about. Especially kids! Overprepare them to do the *right* things and once they are achieving success in that arena, *then* consider telling them the other consequences. I have a scar on my chin from when I was 4 or 5, and was riding on the back of a neighbor’s bike. We’d go out for a ride regularly. She told me, “Don’t stick your foot in the spokes!” And I thought, well, she never told me not to do that before! Interested in seeing what would happen, I – you guessed it – stuck my foot in the spokes. Fortunately, there were only minor injuries – but I have a little reminder of never telling a student what *not* to do.
  • Don’t feel discouraged if your student *doesn’t* “get it”. Each rider is different and has different levels of anticipation, anxiety, trauma, learning types, etc. Your job as the teacher is to assess and regroup constantly – especially in a group learning activity. Establishing a connection early on with each student that you can be trusted, that you care about their progress, and that every human learns at their own pace is critical. The fastest learners I’ve had took about 20 minutes to teach, with no prior independent movement on two wheels; the ones who have taken the longest might have been 8 to 10 hours over the course of a few months. Some learners need lots of practice in between direct instruction – and that’s OK!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY FROM BEING ON A BIKE?

Riding on the Chief Ladiga Trail in 2017 with my dog, Frankie. See the blog about it here: http://www.nashvillebikefun.com/2018/02/16/bikepacking-with-frankie/. The following year I went back with Frankie and my partner – now husband – Jeff.

GIVE US AN INTERESTING OR FUNNY FACT ABOUT YOU.

In 2020, I saved someone’s life & became a live-in caregiver for 5 months, fixed up and sold my old house, painted the inside of the new house, started a non-profit, and got married. After that year, there is very little I feel I cannot do.

Know an LCI who should be featured next? Nominate a stellar bike educator here! 


Categories:League of American Bicyclists

The League of American Bicyclists Assists Argo AI In Developing Best Practices for Autonomous Vehicles

12/10/2021 0:02
Advocacy
Research/Policy

The League of American Bicyclists has seen a lot since its founding in 1880. Whether in the rise of the car, the decline of streetcars, or the diversification of bikes into their mountain, cargo, and electric-assisted varieties, technologies have shaped how people get around the United States. Automated Vehicles are a technology that has the potential to significantly change how people biking and people driving interact and share the road. That’s why we’ve been advocating for putting the safety of people biking and walking first in their development and why we’re excited to partner with companies that share our vision of improved safety for all road users.

We hope that the technical guidelines the League developed with Argo AI help this emerging technology contribute to a more Bicycle Friendly America for everyone by ensuring the future of transportation in the United States is one where people bicycling, walking and rolling are made safer, and their rights to the road are preserved. Protecting people biking, walking and rolling is not an edge case for Automated Vehicles, but must be a core competency. We are incredibly glad to have Argo AI take this step and hope that other Automated Vehicle developers and manufacturers follow suit. 

Read the press release below to learn more about the technical principles outlined by Argo and the League.


As part of its commitment to develop self-driving technology that positively impacts communities, Argo AI today released the technical guidelines it applies to ensure safe interactions between autonomous vehicles and cyclists, and encourages others to do the same. The guidelines, created in collaboration with The League of American Bicyclists, are intended as a foundation for further innovation and improvement among companies developing self-driving technology.  

“Argo AI is focused on developing self-driving technology that makes cities safer for everyone—in particular cyclists and other vulnerable road users,” said Dr. Peter Rander, president and co-founder of Argo AI. “These technical guidelines deliver on our commitment to developing a self-driving system that is trusted by cyclists and enhances the safety of the communities in which we operate.” 

Self-driving technology, defined by SAE International as Levels 4 or 5 automation capability, holds the potential to vastly reduce the number of automotive crashes and resulting injuries and fatalities. According to NHTSA, traffic fatalities of cyclists in the United States rose five percent in 2020 from 2019. Globally, the World Health Organization estimates that 41,000 cyclists die in road traffic-related incidents every year. 

“Argo AI and the League of American Bicyclists share a common goal to improve the safety of streets for all road users,” said Ken McLeod, policy director, the League of American Bicyclists. “We appreciate Argo’s proactive approach to researching, developing, and testing for the safety of people outside of vehicles. Roads have gotten significantly less safe for people outside of vehicles in the last decade, and by addressing interactions with bicyclists now, Argo is demonstrating a commitment to the role of automated technology in reversing that deadly trend.” 

To understand concerns among cyclists when sharing the road, Argo set out to collaborate and engage with the cycling community. The League of American Bicyclists provided consultation to inform Argo of common cyclist behaviors and typical interactions with vehicles. Together they outlined six technical guidelines for the manner in which a self-driving system should accurately detect cyclists, predict cyclist behavior, and drive in a consistent way to effectively and safely share the road: 

#1: Cyclists Should Be a Distinct Object Class 

Due to the unique behaviors of cyclists that distinguish them from scooter users or pedestrians, a self-driving system (or “SDS”) should designate cyclists as a core object representation within its perception system in order to detect cyclists accurately. By treating cyclists as a distinct class and labeling a diverse set of bicycle imagery, a self-driving system detects cyclists in a variety of positions and orientations, from a variety of viewpoints, and at a variety of speeds. It should also account for the different shapes and sizes of bikes—like recumbent bikes, bicycles with trailers, electric bikes, and unicycles—as well as different types of riders. 

#2: Typical Cyclist Behavior Should Be Expected 

An advanced understanding of potential cyclist patterns of movement is necessary to best predict their intentions and prepare the self-driving vehicle’s actions. A cyclist may lane split, yield at stop signs, walk a bicycle, or make quick, deliberate lateral movements to avoid obstacles on the road, like the sudden swinging open of a car door. A SDS should utilize specialized, cyclist-specific motion forecasting models that account for a variety of cyclist behaviors, so when the self-driving vehicle encounters a cyclist, it generates multiple possible trajectories capturing the potential options of a cyclist’s path thus enabling the SDS to better predict and respond to the cyclist’s actions. 

#3: Cycling Infrastructure and Local Laws Should Be Mapped 

A self-driving system should use high-definition 3D maps that incorporate details about cycling infrastructure, like where dedicated bike lanes are located, and include all local and state cycling laws to ensure its self-driving system is compliant. Accounting for bike infrastructure enables the SDS to anticipate cyclists and to maintain a safe distance between the self-driving vehicle and the bike lane. When driving alongside a bike lane, the SDS will consider the higher potential for encountering a cyclist and common cyclist behavior, like merging into traffic to avoid parked cars blocking a bike lane, or treating a red light as a stop sign, which is known as an “Idaho Stop” and is legal in some states.

#4: A SDS Should Drive in a Consistent And Understandable Way

Developers of self-driving technology should strive for the technology to operate in a naturalistic way so that the intentions of autonomous vehicles are clearly understood by other road users. In the presence of nearby cyclists or when passing or driving behind cyclists, a SDS should target conservative and appropriate speeds in accordance with local speed limits, and margins that are equal to or greater than local laws, and only pass a cyclist when it can maintain those margins and speeds for the entire maneuver. In situations where a cyclist encroaches on a self-driving vehicle—for example when lane splitting between cars during stopped traffic—the vehicle should minimize the use of actions which further reduce the margin or risk unsettling the cyclist’s expectations. The SDS should also maintain adequate following distances so that if a cyclist happens to fall, the self-driving vehicle has sufficient opportunity to maneuver or brake. Self-driving vehicles should provide clear indications of intentions, including using turn signals and adjusting vehicle position in lane when they are preparing to pass, merge lanes, or turn. 

#5: Prepare for Uncertain Situations and Proactively Slow Down

The reality of the road is that sometimes other road users act unpredictably. A self-driving system should account for uncertainty in cyclists’ intent, direction, and speed—for instance reducing vehicle speed when a cyclist is traveling in the opposite direction of the vehicle in the same lane. When there is uncertainty, the self-driving system should lower the vehicle’s speed and, when possible, increase the margin of distance to create more time and space between the self-driving vehicle and the cyclist and drive in a naturalistic way. 

#6: Cyclist Scenarios Should Be Tested Continuously

The key to developing safe and robust autonomy software is thorough testing. Developers of self-driving technology should be committed to continuous virtual and physical testing of its self-driving system with a specific focus on cyclist safety in all phases of development:

  • Virtual Testing: the creation and simulation of real-life scenarios in the virtual world to safely test a wide variety of scenarios. A virtual testing program should be made up of three main test methodologies: simulation, resimulation, and playforward to test an exhaustive permutation of autonomous vehicle and cyclist interactions on a daily basis. These scenarios should capture both varying vehicle and cyclist behavior as well as changes in social context, road structure, and visibility. 
  • Physical Testing: includes testing on closed courses followed by public roads. Testing on a test track validates simulation and ensures the technology behaves in the real world as it did in the virtual world. Scenarios tested should include interactions that are both likely to occur on public roads as well as rare situations, known as “edge cases.” Fleet testing on public roads in multiple cities exposes the technology to a diverse variety of urban environments to first learn about cyclist behaviors and then validate that the self-driving system works as intended.

The development and publication of these guidelines are intended for adoption as industry best practices promoting special consideration of cyclist behavior and interactions. Argo and The League encourage the guidelines to be used by all self-driving technology developers to build trust in self-driving technology as testing and deployments expand and to ensure self-driving systems share the road safely and effectively with cyclists. 

“The creation of these guidelines is part of Argo’s dedication to building trust with community members and developing a self-driving system that provides a level of comfort to cyclists, by behaving consistently and safely,” said Dr. Rander. “We encourage other autonomous vehicle developers to adopt them as well to further build trust among vulnerable road users.”

These guidelines build upon the six principles Argo outlined last year for the development of a self-driving system that prioritizes safe interactions with vulnerable road users, through which it set out to contribute to an environment of collaboration, engagement, and education with community advocacy groups. 

In addition to input from The League, other members of the cycling community and cycling enthusiasts from the Argo employee resource group provided feedback to ensure the guidelines are broadly representative of various cyclists’ perspectives.    

Argo AI currently operates self-driving test vehicles in Miami; Austin, Texas; Washington, D.C.; Pittsburgh; Detroit; and Palo Alto, California. Argo AI also recently expanded on-road testing to Europe including Munich and Hamburg, Germany. 

About Argo AI

Argo AI is a global autonomous vehicle technology platform company headquartered in Pittsburgh. The company is developing self-driving technology in partnership with leading automakers, including Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen Group, to make getting around cities safe, easy, and enjoyable for all. Argo AI employs more than 1,500 people with engineering centers located in Dearborn, Mich.; Cranbury, N.J.; Palo Alto, Calif.; and Munich, Germany. Argo is currently testing autonomous vehicles on public roads in Miami; Austin, Tex.; and Washington D.C., as well as in Pennsylvania, Michigan, California and Germany. For more information regarding Argo, please visit www.argo.ai

About the League of American Bicyclists 

The League of American Bicyclists leads the national movement to create a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone. With a history dating to 1880, the League is committed to engaging diverse communities and building a powerful, unified voice for change around protecting and promoting bicyclists’ rights. Learn more at www.bikeleague.org



Categories:League of American Bicyclists

57 Communities Transforming Bicycling This Fall

12/9/2021 0:02
Bicycle Friendly America
Bicycle Friendly Community

As many look to a new year for inspiration, the League of American Bicyclists is proud to honor 57 places with a Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) award in its Fall 2021 round. Joining a grand total of 497 BFCs across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, these 57 new and renewing awardees and 7 honorable mentions are pedaling their way to a Bicycle Friendly America. 

“Biking has the power to strengthen our nation economically, environmentally and socially and we are proud to continue honoring those who have laid the groundwork over several years to make biking a safe, accessible option for all,” said Bill Nesper, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists. “We are at a pivotal point in the movement to build a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone as we head into a year that could be transformational for investments in better biking and we’re grateful to have these 57 places making it possible for more people in their community to safely and easily choose bikes.”

Family Bike Ride in Decatur, Georgia, a Silver-level BFC

Of the 57 communities, many moved the needle on their award designation. Ann Arbor, Michigan, moved up to a Gold-level designation, while Decatur, Georgia; Alameda, California; Portage, Michigan; and Jackson, Minnesota, all moved up from Bronze-level to Silver-level. With this announcement, Ann Arbor is the first community to achieve Gold-level BFC status in Michigan, and Decatur has become the first Silver-level BFC in Georgia. 

“The most positive outcome of the pandemic is more cyclists out and about as well as the variety of cyclists,” said Greg White, director of Active Living in Decatur, GA. “There are families cycling together to the park or sports, children biking to school, recreational cyclists, and those who bike for transportation. While we don’t have data backing this up, we have seen an increase and the demand for more cycling facilities.”

Many awardees also demonstrated a growing effort to make bicycling safe and accessible to riders of all ages and backgrounds, whether in working with advocates, local businesses and universities to reach underrepresented groups or spearheading programs to distribute resources themselves. 

Both renewing Platinum Fort Collins, Colorado, and renewing Gold Tucson and Eastern Pima County Region, Arizona, are doing more to not only better understand how to help more people ride, but to engage them more meaningfully as well. Fort Collins is currently developing a public Equity Indicators Dashboard project that includes five indicators related to transportation, including community perceptions of ease of bicycling, transit use, and dependency on cars for transportation and shows current disparities using data disaggregated by race. 

In Tucson and Eastern Pima County Region, the Pima County Health Department works with schools and community groups that have been underrepresented and underfunded in the bicycling community, such as by certifying 29 new League Cycling Instructors (LCIs) to increase the diversity of local instructors in the region. Other regional partners such as the Tucson Indian Center promote bike safety classes through community listserves and social media that reaches out to members of all Native American tribes in the region. The region also ​provides subsidized bikeshare through $5 Tugo-for-All Annual Passes for registered members of SNAP, Medicaid and Sun Tran Economy Fare plan holders.

“We want communities to be constantly improving and evolving and always considering EDI in their efforts to be better for those who bike — and we do our best to hold ourselves to that same standard,” said Amelia Neptune, Bicycle Friendly America program director at the League of American Bicyclists. “We hope that with the upcoming updates to the BFC program next year, which will include stronger integration of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI)-related questions and answer options to the application, feedback, and guidance materials, more communities will place EDI at the forefront of their work. It’s been inspiring to see places like Fort Collins and Tucson already leading by example in this work.”

Sign up to receive updates about the BFC program changes in 2022.

The Bicycle Friendly Community application is currently offline to undergo several updates but will reopen for submissions in May 2022. Find the full list of current Bicycle Friendly Communities by state on the League’s interactive Bicycle Friendly America Awards Map

ABOUT BFC & THE LEAGUE OF AMERICAN BICYCLISTS

The League of American Bicyclists leads the national movement to create a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone. With a history dating to 1880, the League is committed to engaging diverse communities and building a powerful, unified voice for change around protecting and promoting the rights of people who bike. 

Our Bicycle Friendly Community awards reflect local leaders’ ongoing work to build better places to bike and evaluate those efforts as part of a national movement. Each of the five levels of the Bicycle Friendly Community award – diamond, platinum, gold, silver, and bronze, plus an honorable mention category – provide a clear path for communities to continuously improve. Visit bikeleague.org/community to learn more about the BFC program.


Categories:League of American Bicyclists

Creating Safe Streets For People With Disabilities

12/4/2021 0:01
National Bike Summit
Smart Cycling

At the 2020 National Bike Summit, we hosted the “Creating Safe Streets for People With Disabilities” panel showcasing four organizations working to ensure people of all abilities and backgrounds can safely and confidently walk, cycle and roll to their destinations.

As we move into the new year and gear up for the 2022 National Bike Summit, we’re revisiting some of the amazing presentations we’ve had in the past as we look to the future. We connected with Programs to Educate All Cyclists (PEAC) to find out what 2022 and beyond looks like for advancing their mission and the movement for safer streets. Read below to learn more about PEAC and find out ways everyone can be involved in their advocacy.


New and Improved Programs In 2022

Currently, PEAC runs a comprehensive travel training program for adults with cognitive impairments, as well as a school-based program for young adults, where participants learn how to walk, cycle, and ride fixed-route buses to their destinations. After buying a space that will be used as a community bike shop run by students with disabilities, they are aiming to expand their Summer Cycling Program in 2022. The program teaches over 200 individuals how to cycle, as well as repair bikes, and it will run twice a week for 8 weeks and welcome people of all abilities over the age of five. 

Through both the Summer Cycling Program and travel training programs, PEAC empowers individuals with disabilities to travel safely and independently. In 2022 and beyond, the organization hopes to help other organizations and advocates advance their cycling education around people with disabilities and assist in making their programs more accessible to people with disabilities.

What PEAC Says We Can Do To Help Create Safer Streets for People With Disabilities:

  • Talk about it: people with disabilities face traffic violence at a disproportionate rate. While it’s not always easy to talk about these horrific incidents, it’s important to spread more awareness around the additional hurdles and dangers individuals with disabilities face in active transportation, as well as talk about the fact that with proper guidance and safe infrastructure, everyone can ride. 
  • Be mindful as an able-bodied cyclist: able-bodied cyclists can make sure they are not a part of the problem by making sure they keep all pathways of travel (sidewalks, bike lanes, etc.) clear for other users. Where we park our bikes or dock our bike share can impede the mobility of wheelchair users and other people with disabilities so be sure to avoid blocking sidewalks. 
  • Let people with disabilities be the voice at the table: those living the experience need to be involved and put at the forefront of conversations about what they need. 
  • Everything we do and build should be cognitively accessible: being cognitively accessible removes barriers to ensure people with limitations in cognitive abilities are able to process information and easily travel. A disconnected or broken-up bike lane is an example of something that’s not cognitively accessible and can prove difficult for someone with a disability to maneuver. A lot of resources don’t reach our total society in that they are too complex or not inclusive of individuals with cognitive impairments. Organizations can provide more basic information to meet these individuals where they are and push for fully connected biking and walking networks. 
  • Show more people with disabilities: Organizations, including the League itself, should include more images of people with disabilities in their resources, promotion and storytelling. Focusing on that representation makes it more known that people with disabilities are welcome in the cycling community. 

The 2020 “Creating Safe Streets for People With Disabilities” panel also featured presentations from Cycle St. Louis, InTandem Cycling Inc, and Greta Neimanas, Paralympian and Cycling Coach for U.S. Navy Wounded Warrior and Mind Endurance. Watch the full recording of the panel below.


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Categories:League of American Bicyclists

Honoring World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims

11/20/2021 0:02
Advocacy

Each year, 1.35 million people around the world are killed in traffic crashes. The number of people dying or being seriously injured from preventable traffic crashes is rising at an alarming rate — this is particularly true for the United States. According to early-estimate crash data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 20,160 people died on U.S. roads alone in the first half of 2021. 

Started in 2005 and celebrated on the third Sunday of November each year, World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims (WDR) was adopted by the United Nations as a day to honor the lives lost and impacted by road crashes. Many street safety organizations, like the Vision Zero Network and Families for Safe Streets chapters, come together to lead the charge in commemorating the day and provide a platform for road traffic victims and their families. 

You can honor World Day of Remembrance by hosting or participating in commemoration events, like a candlelight vigil, and by calling on local, state, and federal government for change. Here in Washington, D.C., the local Families for Safe Streets chapter and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) Street Smart Program are hosting a chalk art Remembrance Wall at Union Station leading up to the day and Families for Safe Streets chapters across the country will hold a virtual candle lighting on Sunday, November 21 at 8 pm EST.

Learn how you can join here.

This year’s WDR theme emphasizes reducing traffic speeds and adapting low-speed streets. Prioritizing safety over speed has the potential to prevent many traffic deaths and serious injuries. Fitting for this year’s slogan: REMEMBER. SUPPORT. ACT. which serves as a reminder that the day is the perfect time to commemorate the people we have lost to traffic violence, but also take action to prevent the loss of even more lives. 

Why? Pedestrians and people who bike are dangerously overlooked on our car-oriented streets. While there are forthcoming opportunities to address building better infrastructure and safety standards that aim to protect vulnerable road users through the recently passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill and impending Reconciliation Bill, we still have much work to do. 

Work that involves dismantling the passive attitudes towards people who bike and walk that allow streets to remain speed-prioritized and eradicating discriminatory practices in infrastructure investment and racial injustices that have made Black and brown communities more susceptible to traffic violence. This action may take years — leading to the loss of millions more — if we don’t continue to prioritize safer streets and better biking for all people. 


Earlier this year, the League of American Bicyclists joined Families for Safe Streets, along with Toward Zero Deaths, the Road to Zero Coalition, and the Vision Zero Network, to urge President Biden and his leadership team to commit to reducing traffic fatalities to zero by 2050. 

The League joined the call for #ZeroTrafficDeaths because every traffic death is a person whose loss impacts a family, impacts friends, and impacts their community. There is no reason to accept the inevitability of traffic deaths and there is every reason to be outraged that roads in the United States are significantly more dangerous than almost all peer countries.

In honor of World Day of Remembrance, and every day that a precious life is lost to road traffic violence, we call upon the action of both those working on the ground and Congressional leaders — who yield the most power in enacting change-making legislation — to ensure that our streets are made safer for all so that more bicyclists will not be needlessly lost.


Categories:League of American Bicyclists

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