Category Archives: mass transit



BikeWise is a great new interactive resource for bicyclists to report incidents of crashes, safety hazards & thefts.  The idea is that anyone who is involved in or witness to an incident logs a report into the BikeWise database.  BikeWise then records & organizes those incidents by city, state and country and displays them on an interactive google map.  You, as a cyclist can pull up a map for any area or view a list of incident reports. From Worldchanging:

Although the site’s creators are based in Seattle, this tool is available for cyclists everywhere. The site (with about 90 percent accuracy) can sense your location, and will pull up information for the city you are surfing the web from. I think it’s great that Bikewise has created a space for people to talk to each other about how to make their city a better place. The trick will be getting enough users to generate reports to make the data useful for people like city planners, analysts and public policy officials. So, if you’re a cyclist, head to Bikewise and get the conversation started!

That last point is critical – as of today, there are only 11 states reporting any accidents, 18 reporting hazards and incidents, and in total there are maybe a few dozen incidents reported for 2009 in the whole US.  Hopefully word will spread so this tool can be put to use.  If the BikeWise developers are correct in saying that over 75% of cycling crashes go unreported, then no wonder city planners keep ignoring our pleas for bike-safe roadways.

It looks like the site is still a work in progress.  The interactive maps are pretty user-friendly, but the incident reporting could use some organizational improvements, like organize by date, incident type, etc.  It would be especially useful to planners & city officials to be able to download the database info into an excel spreadsheet of some sort.  Maybe this is in the works.

So…let’s start reporting!

May is National Bike Month!


If you haven’t broken out your wheels yet, now is definitely the time to do so.  The League of American Bicyclists has lots of useful info for nation-wide events as well as useful tips and tools for commuting and recreational bicyclists as well as non-cycling but bike-friendly folks.  Here in the Bean, Mayor Menino has instigated Bay State Bike Week from May 12-18 with bunches of events and challenges.

Since bikes are pretty much the universal favorite topic of every green/eco/earthloving blog out there, I will now just shower you with a few of the millions of worthy bike links habting the interwebs recently:

D.C. has a new bike share program, Smartbike DC, which will be the first of its kind in the US – similar to Zip Car, but for bikes. Um, one gross thing about it though, it is sponosred entirely by Clear Channel. Yuck.


Treehugger always brings us worthy bicycle news: New York has a new plan to be more bike friendly; a Treehugger favorite, Ben Wilson’s monowheel makes for an interesting, if not practical, transportation tool; and my personal favorite, Street Films videos of NYC bike mechanic Hal Ruzal walking around the city grading bike locks – I believe my bike locking strategy would get me a D/D+.  Dude is hilarious.


Grist’s Ask Umbra column this week has been full of fun bicycle gear to get you motivated to hop on that bike – she covers the gamut from thermos holders to cargo bikes.


There are millions more, but I am out of time.  Be expecting more throughout the month.  Happy biking!!

Underwater Subway Dwellers




SLAUGHTER BEACH, Del. — Sixteen nautical miles from the Indian River Inlet and about 80 feet underwater, a building boom is under way at the Red Bird Reef.

One by one, a machine operator has been shoving hundreds of retired New York City subway cars off a barge, continuing the transformation of a barren stretch of ocean floor into a bountiful oasis, carpeted in sea grasses, walled thick with blue mussels and sponges, and teeming with black sea bass and tautog.

“They’re basically luxury condominiums for fish,” Jeff Tinsman, artificial reef program manager for the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, said as one of 48 of the 19-ton retirees from New York City sank toward the 666 already on the ocean floor.

This is like a gully version of Jason de Caires Taylor’s Underwater Sculpture Park. There’s even beef developing between overcrowded fishes, between the fishermen trying to catch them, between states vying for cars for their ocean floors and between agencies over whether or not subway cars are the best materials to be dumping into the ocean.

Bikes Not Bombs 21st Annual Bike-A-Thon


Green.MNP’s favorite bike shop is having their 21st annual BIKE-A-THON and this year they are introducing the 1st annual Green Roots Festival. Sunday June 8th, mark your calendars!

Rides Info:
Choose from one of three routes:

15 MILE RIDE – This route will be totally different from previous years, using the bike paths through a string of beautiful and historic urban parks known as the Emerald Necklace. Occasionally urban safe-riding skills will be necessary. One rest stop with food and drink. Registration starts at 10 am. Ride starts at 11 am.

25 MILE RIDE – We’re making a few changes to last year’s route (which rode west from Jamaica Plain to Houghton’s Pond in the Blue Hills for a mid-way rest stop). This ride will entail urban and rural riding. One rest stop with food and drink. Registration starts at 10 am. Ride starts at 11 am.

62 MILE RIDE – To keep things interesting for returning riders, we’re making big changes to last year’s route, to be announced soon. (Last year’s ride went west from Jamaica Plain to The Peace Abbey in Sherborn, looping back east for an idyllic ramble through beautiful countryside.) This will be a gorgeous ride for the avid cyclist, with two rest stops each with food and drink. The current plan is to start registration at 8 am, and start the ride at 9 am. Check back here.

Great options for everyone: families and children, new cyclists, daily commuters, fitness and distance trainers. These rides are fully supported with food, mechanics, maps, road markings, following vehicles, and more. Your ride will end at the Green Roots festival where you’ll get fed and celebrated! More Info on Rides

And after the ride, stick around to hear Green Roots Festival keynote speaker Bill McGibbon:

Bill McKibben will be a keynote speaker. He is the author of The End of Nature, Hope, Human And Wild, and Deep Economy, and also the lead organizer for the Step It Up! global warming activist campaign.

[Bikes Not Bombs]

PopSci’s Top 50 Greenest US Cities


I am a little behind the times, but at the beginning of February Popular Science Magazine came out with their list of America’s 50 Greenest Cities. They compiled the list based on four criteria – electricity (10 points), transportation (10 points), green living (5 points) and recycling & green perspective (5 points). Here are the top 20:

1. Portland, Ore. 23.1
2. San Francisco, Calif. 23.0
3. Boston, Mass. 22.7
4. Oakland, Calif. 22.5
5. Eugene, Ore. 22.4
6. Cambridge, Mass. 22.2
7. Berkeley, Calif. 22.2
8. Seattle, Wash. 22.1
9. Chicago, Ill. 21.3
10. Austin, Tex. 21.0
11. Minneapolis, Minn. 20.3
12. St. Paul, Minn. 20.2
13. Sunnyvale, Calif. 19.9
14. Honolulu, Hawaii 19.9
15. Fort Worth, Tex. 19.7
16. Albuquerque, N.M. 19.1
17. Syracuse, N.Y. 18.9
18. Huntsville, Ala. 18.4
19. Denver, Colo. 18.2
20. New York, N.Y. 18.2

Check the PopSci site for the full list and all the details. They also highlight 6 case studies of cities making concerted efforts to green themselves.

Oakland: Zero Emission Bus

Chicago: Make Power, Save the Heat

San Francisco: Sunroofs in Fog City

Santa Rosa: Tapping Geysers for Watts

Salt Lake City: Heating Homes from Waste

New York City: Turning the Tides into Electricity

Another interesting analysis of green spots in the US was listed by a PopSci reader in the comments. Check the site for an interesting interactive state-by-state look at green stat’s across the country.



D.C. Trumps Beantown for Most Walkable City


Can Boston hold no title of its own anymore?? It is not the greenest city (though it made the top 10 in the 2007 MSN City Gude; it was #11 in 2006 according to It is not the best city to find a job in (didn’t even make top 25). It is not the best place to live, although our near neighbor Milton made #7 (and I’m sorry, but f* cnn money, what do they know about how we want to live). It is not the most cultural city (#5). It is not the best city for shopping (#8). It is not the best ‘after dark’ city (#12, god help us). We do not have the best people (#15, um ouch). Best food? no. We don’t even make the top 10 underrated cities. Need I go on?

But Best City for Walking?? Surely that is ours. Alas, no longer; the self-proclaimed title has been stripped:

With its tightknit residential neighborhoods, its boulevards lined with cafes, shops, and parks, Boston officials for years have smugly considered the Hub the best city for a stroll.

Hotel, tourist, and advertising executives two decades ago coined the phrase “America’s Walking City” and made it part of an international ad campaign. Mayor Thomas M. Menino is fond of calling the city “the most walkable in America.”

There has never been any empirical data for the boast.

“We just claimed title to it,” said Pat Moscaritolo, president of the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Just let someone else dispute it.”

Well, someone has.

Damn the Brookings Institution.

A report by a venerable think tank, the Brookings Institution, declared yesterday that Boston is, in fact, not number one. Brookings instead bestowed top honors on the nation’s capital, saying Washington D.C.’s urban planners have created “the national model of walkable urban growth.”

Boston ranked second, ahead of San Francisco, Denver, and Portland, Ore.

The response from Boston officials was confusion, then indignation. (Some noted that Brookings is based in Washington. Coincidence?)

Granted, it is cold outside. But, as orangemenace puts it: “I say we’re still first – walking around DC is begging for a mugging.” My ninja, please.


An Interview With Bikes Not Bombs


Bikes Not Bombs is a Boston-based bike shop that does a lot more than sell bikes. In fact, calling BNB a bike shop is a bit of a misnomer, since it functioned as an international outreach organization long before it started selling bikes locally. Founded in 1984 by Carl Kurtz, BNB started out sending used and recycled bikes to Nicaragua in protest of the US backing of the Contra War during the 1970′s and 80′s. Since then, the bicycle activism of BNB has only multiplied. In their own words:

Who We Are: Bikes Not Bombs promotes bicycle technology as a concrete alternative to war and environmental destruction. For 23 years, BNB has been a nexus of bike recycling and community empowerment both in lower income neighborhoods of Boston and in the nations of the Global South. BNB’s programs involve young people and adults in mutually respectful leadership development and environmental stewardship, while recycling thousands of bicycles.


Aside from international, local community and retail work that BNB does, they also offer bike mechanics training classes to the community at large. I recently signed up to take one of these classes in order to get a little more intimate with my bike, and decided it was about time BNB got recognized on green.mnp. The organization holds ideals near and dear to the heart of green.mnp and the shop staff is always more than helpful when it comes to any bike-related query. I caught up with Matt Coe, a manager of the Jamaica Plain bike shop (and my bike mechanics sensei), and Lee Archung, BNB Board member and Treasurer, after one of my mechanics classes and asked them a few questions about the work that BNB does locally and globally:

Can you tell me a little about the history of BNB and how it has maintained itself and grown over 23 years?
Lee Archung: Bikes Not Bombs started in 1984 during the Nicaraguan Contra War and that whole series of US interventions in Central America; the organization was founded on the logic essentially that, as a country, the United States is sending down all this armament and technical training used by the military causing all this death and destruction, why don’t we send something practical? I think the first shipment was a few hundred bikes that went into Nicaragua, and over the years they went into Nicaragua, El Salvador and as the momentum built, and as the organization got established as a 501c3 non-profit, that program expanded.
Matt Coe:
Bikes Not Bombs started in response to US policy in Nicaragua, during the Sandinista period, against the US government support of the [Contra] opposition. It was started around the same time as Food Not Bombs and other “not bombs.” It started off operating out of a bunch of other bike shops, actually, collecting parts and trying to get containers together to send over there. Carl, the founder, spent time over there. That went on for a while and then at one point they realized they had all this programming aimed at overseas, but almost none that had any impact on the surroundings in Boston. At that point there was a big change toward local youth programming, like Earn a Bike, Girls in Action, more social advocacy stuff. My involvement in the retail shop and training center came out of that, in that they started doing vocational training and then started the shop as a fundraising tool. Since I’ve been here, we’ve gone from being open 15 hours a week, to now we’re open up to 75 hours, so it’s been a huge change for the shop.
LA: Some time around 1987, 88, or maybe a little later, we said we’re doing all these things overseas, why don’t we do something domestic, and that’s how the concept for Earn-A-Bike got started, at least in Boston. The basic logic being that we can teach basic mechanics and ride safety to younger people, aged 15-18, get them interested in biking and working. We’ve got about 4 or 5 no-longer-young people who have gone through that process of Earn-A-Bike and vocational training who are now full-fledged mechanics. Two of them work here, and one of them is on our board, Max Lee. Max is now a shop owner, he has his own shop in Hyde Park. There’s a girls program, called Girls In Action; there’s a youth alumni program called YDIP, for Drop-In Time, so anybody who has taken any of the youth programs can come in once a week on Wednesday to hang out and work on their bikes, but we also try to integrate an academic component, so they bring their homework. And there is the Voc-Ed program, which is once a year. It is a 6-hour, very intensive, career-oriented program to get people who are interested in getting their first steps into the bicycle industry. So when they finish that program, they have enough skills to work in a shop, which is enough to make them dangerous.

As Bikes Not Bombs has gotten to be a lot more locally oriented, do you still do all the global outreach work?
Yeah, Bikes Not Bombs has grown in a couple different directions. I don’t have a great grasp on how things were 15 years ago, or 8 years ago, but I think there’s a much greater presence in the community as far as getting people on bikes, getting people riding bikes – and in an affordable manner. But we sill do have a large overseas presence. I think we shipped more bikes overseas last year than we ever have before. It seems to me that recently we’ve had a lot more staff and volunteers overseas assisting in development programs. So, I don’t think we’ve lost our international focus at all, we’ve just diversified with all the local stuff.


How many countries do you supply bikes to?
MC: I think right now there’s 5 or so main recipients. There’s Village Bikes in Ghana, there’s a bike project in South Africa, there’s Maya Pedal in Guatemala, there’s an Earn A Bike program on Nevis Island in the Caribbean. It’s always changing, there are 25 to 40 different groups through the history of BNB. Pine Ridge Reservation 15 to 20 years ago, lots of places, New Orleans right after Katrina.

Is Boston the main hub for Bikes Not Bombs in the US, or are there other locations?
MC: Carl had done a lot of work mostly overseas and had been successful at it, and then he decided to try and get other people involved and at that point there were 10 or 15 Bikes Not Bombs throughout the US. There’s still a small inactive one in New Hampshire and another small inactive one in Austin, Texas. Which is why we have a sign at the Hub that says “Bikes Not Bombs: World Headquarters,” which is kind of silly now. So there were a lot of other ones in the US, and then most of them sort of died out or turned into other projects. There are, however, a lot of other good groups doing pretty similar work to what we do, like Working Bikes Cooperative in Chicago, for example.

In terms of US bike culture, what do you think about the US, compared to other countries, in terms of using bikes as a means of transportation?
MC: There’s places where bikes aren’t used at all for transportation, and there’s places where bikes are used really effectively, like Amsterdam. I love riding my bike – it’s fun, get to be outside, there’s a lot of reasons – it’s not soul-killing and boring, like a lot of other transportation options. But, it’s also difficult because to really make change a lot more people would have to ride bikes, but because of conditions, how streets are set up, and all these other things, it’s not at all reality like it is in other countries. In Europe for example, where you see old folks riding bikes, people riding bikes in high heels.

Yeah, it seems like there are cities where they’ve done a lot of infrastructure changes to make it friendlier for bicyclists
MC: Yeah, Chicago is a good example where the mayor sort of made a statement that he wanted this to happen – and now Chicago is a very bike-able city, there’s bike highways going through it, there’s lots of places that are easy to navigate, lots of bike paths. There’s lots of places in California like that too. And then there’s places that aren’t at all like that.

What do you think about Mayor Menino’s Bike Summit?
MC: Yeah, I don’t know. Bikes Not Bombs got a late invitation to get involved…I went to a bike shop owners’ meeting talking about our involvement in it, but it wasn’t especially interesting. Some of the other meetings other BNB staff went to they found fruitful and useful and had a lot of good energy. I don’t know the history of this in Boston, but I don’t know if there’s been a time before when the mayor has put funding into anything, like bike lanes or attention for traffic issues; there’s no place to park your bike in Back Bay, or half of Boston. There seems to be a lot of good energy – it will be interesting to see what comes out of it, and how much changes.

You guys have these programs overseas and support biking overseas; do you think that if the US did more to make bicycling friendly it would influence other countries, especially developing countries?
MC: Western culture in general is very car-oriented. It seems like the US has a lot more to learn from some other first world countries who we would try to emulate or catch up to. We definitely have a lot to learn from developing countries, as well.

How long have you been riding bikes?

MC: Since I was a little kid. It’s funny, the kids who work here, who are in high school, ride bikes over and talk about bikes all the time, and it’s a part of their lifestyle. Definitely in my high school, kids didn’t ride bikes. I had a friend who rode a BMX bike, but you didn’t ride your bike to school. It wasn’t until about ten years ago, around when I went to college and moved away from home, that I started taking it seriously again. Then I went on a long bike trip and started gaining some confidence in mechanics.

How many high school students get involved in the programs here at BNB?

MC: There are a lot of kids who are in high school who work here and at the Hub, maybe 15 or 20.
LA: Elijah is our success story. He spoke at [a cycling] conference yesterday. He started in Earn-A-Bike, completed two Earn-A-Bikes, volunteered and worked in the shop and now he’s the second Earn-A-Bike instructor.


How can people volunteer or get involved in the different programs?
MC: The way to get involved is at the Hub, every Wednesday night from 7-10 is volunteer night. Bikes get sorted and prepped for shipment overseas. There’s also fairly regular container loadings. Then from there volunteers who are interested in more responsibilities get recruited into doing more.


Chicago School Buses Burning Biodiesel


CHICAGO – The nation’s largest independent school bus company, the Cook Illinois Corporation in Chicago, is switching its entire fleet of school buses to burn bio diesel fuel.

Research shows that biodiesel reduces hydrocarbons in exhaust fumes by more than 30 percent. Studies reveal that children riding school buses are exposed to higher level of emission toxins than other children. Exhaust emissions inhaled on a consistent basis, particularly exhaust from diesel engines, have been linked as a cause of asthma and other respiratory conditions.

The company, Cook Illinois Corporation, last year reduced nearly 1,000 tons of toxic emissions in Chicago by switching to a biodiesel fuel in many of its buses. Chicago School Transit is owned and operated by Cook-Illinois Corporation, Oak Forest, IL. Cook Illinois Corporation was the first bus service company in the Chicago area and one of the first in the nation to use bio diesel fuel.

The new Clean Air Club website, is available for all school children who care about the environment. Kids who log on to the website can play games and win prizes.

[environmental news network]