The city of Portland, Oregon, has reached the impressive milestone of100 bike corrals. That's 9 years after the first one was installed, and the city expects to reach 150 within 5 years and has 98 additional applications under review. As far as I know, that's a lot more than any other city in the US, though I hope that others will give Portland some competition.
Why are bike corrals so great? Because in a dense urban environment, the are very space-efficient; where 1 or 2 cars could park, dozens of bikes might fit. ThePortland Bureau of Transportation(PBOT) said that their bike corral program "has helped Portland businesses increase on-street customer parking ten-fold." That's 163 car parking spaces swapped for1,644 bicycle parking spaces!
They also allow cyclists to park right in front of where they're going to eat or shop, making cycling more convenient. And in their own way, they're great marketing for bikes. People see these big clumps of bikes and get used to the idea that cycling is something normal.
FlyKly founder Nino Klansek seems to have internalized one of the great problems of city cycling and bike commuting - sometimes you just don't want to sweat. Along with a team, Klansek worked two years to develop an e-bike concept that would solve that problem, allowing cyclists to add pedal-assist electric power to their existing bikes easily via a wheel-based e-motor.
According to the company, when installed, the FlyKly Smart Wheel will be able to zip cyclists along at up to 20 miles per hour, with users able to actually choose a riding speed via the smart phone app. Additional features with the FlyKly system include a battery that recharges from pedaling and downhill coasting, GPS, and a security system that allows riders to lock their bikes' e-wheel as well as get tamper warnings from their iPhone or Android phone.
The FlyKly Smart Wheel adds approximately nine pounds of weight to the average bike, and can fit on any bike that accommodates a 26" or 29" wheel. The e-bike's speed is controlled via pedaling effort as well as setting top speed via the application. Once the Smart Wheel is installed, the bike's existing gear system is converted to FlyKly's single-speed, fixed gear setting. The battery recharges in about three hours and is expected to be good for 1,000 charging cycles.
Via the smart phone app, FlyKly will also store and track a rider’s biking stats, to allow the rider get feedback from the system on efficient routing and also to create and share routes.
The FlyKly's range will average 30 miles, and thus far the FlyKlyKickstarterhas been a resounding success. A $550 pledge gets a rider one Smart Wheel and the dynamo-driven Smart Light. The company plans to make the hub motor in eight colors.
This could be the type of easy-install e-motor that brings e-biking to masses of new city cyclists.
Bike rush hour in NYC is still far from what it is in Amsterdam, Copenhagen, or Groningen, where torrents of cyclists seemingly take over the whole city. But the number of bike commuters certainly has been growing nicely in recent years.
This is what commuting should look like, at least in cities (I understand it's not practical everywhere, and that around half of the world population lives outside of big cities).
Every time I look at the bike culture and infrastructure inCopenhagenor Amsterdam, I feel inspired and hope that people around the world will learn from these great examples. There are many other great bike cities, but those two are generally at the top of most people's list, including mine. Well, thanks to this video (below) I've just added Groningen to the top of my list.
They do amazing things that must be seen to be believed. Sit back and enjoy a look into what most dense cities should look like:
Clarence's remark about how quiet the city is reminds us that we don't have to live with noisy cities. As long as there are lots of people, some noise is impossible to avoid, but it could all be made much more pleasant if bicycles were central to how people get around in cities.
What must be highlighted here, as with Amsterdam and Copenhagen and all other great bike cities, is that this didn't all happen by accident. There was a time when these weren't such great bike cities, and people decided to transform them. That's what we'vestarted to see in some US cities like New York, Washington DC, and Portland which is encouraging. But we could do so much more.