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9 TRANSPORT YOURSELF USING ONLY YOUR OWN ENERGY

This action focuses on bicycling and walking exclusively to reduce transportation energy.

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why?

As we are all aware, using more of our own body’s energy is much more desirable than using the energy of fossil fuel resources, which are both very polluting as well as being rapidly depleted.

Bicycling is the alternative-commuting choice that gets the most attention, but transportation data still shows that only 4.3% of work trips and 10% of all trips in Minneapolis are taken by bike.

While walking and biking may not be ideal for every trip, they are excellent choices for trips of shorter distances. According to Twin Cities Department of Transportation data, 28.7% of all trips in the metro area are 2 miles or less in length. Nationally, according to data from the American League of Bicyclists, half of all trips are three miles or less and 40 percent are two miles or less, making biking and walking good options for a sizable share of personal transportation. Nonetheless, currently 90 percent of these short trips are taken by car. (League of American Bicyclists). Bicycling and walking can offer a lower-stress way to transport yourself, whether for commuting or running errands, while keeping physically fit as well. The challenge, then, is to make these choices a more significant part of our transportation habits, even for longer trips.

Fortunately, Minneapolis and the surrounding areas are well-positioned to support such an effort. Minneapolis is the 9th most walkable city in the US (walkscore.com) and was recently designated as the #1 bicycle city in the country by Bicycling Magazine. Over 92% of streets in Minneapolis have sidewalks on both sides, resulting in nearly 1,800 miles of sidewalks in the city, along with the nearly 88 miles of on- and off-street bicycle paths. In addition, the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) has announced that Minneapolis is designated as a Gold-level Walk Friendly Community (http://www.walkfriendly.org/ ) A Walk Friendly Community is a city or town that has shown a commitment to improving and sustaining walkability and pedestrian safety through comprehensive programs, plans and policies. Communities can apply to the program to receive recognition in the form of a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum designation. PBIC cited Minneapolis’ excellent planning policies, high level of staff commitment to pedestrian safety, and pedestrian campaigns and events as reasons for the Gold-level recognition (minneapolismn.gov). See a full report here.

Enter your specific neighborhood or location in another city on walkscore.com to see how it rates and what areas and good for walking.

While driving may be a quicker way of getting around when there isn’t traffic, the time Americans spend on congested freeways is motivation enough to consider some alternatives. The 2010 Urban Mobility Report, published by the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University, paints the most accurate picture yet of traffic congestion in the 439 U.S. urban areas:

“…[The] problem is very large. In 2009, congestion caused urban Americans to travel 4.8 billion hours more and to purchase an extra 3.9 billion gallons of fuel (equal to 130 days of flow in the Alaska Pipeline) for a congestion cost of $115 billion.” The translates to an average cost per commuter of $808 in 2009, compared to an inflation-adjusted $351 in 1982.

In the report, urban areas are ranked, the worst cities being Chicago and Washington DC. Both of these cities have an average delay per auto commuter of 70 hours a year. Residents of these cities use an extra 52-57 gallons of fuel while crawling along or idling their cars, costing them an extra $1,738. Even the least congested major urban areas such as Detroit have an average 33 hours of sitting in traffic per commuter, wasting 24 gallons of fuel and $760.

The report goes beyond just presenting the grim truth of wasted time and money, however, and presents some solutions to congestion problems such as freeway ramp metering, arterial street signal coordination and high-occupancy vehicle lanes. On average, cities which employ some these strategies could log a total savings of 15,397,000 hours of congestion and $364 million. Lastly, public transportation on average would save 44,732,000 hours and $1,071 million (TTI).

Bicycling and walking require only the use of our own energy, offering the benefits of limiting pollution and resource consumption, spending more time outdoors, less stress than driving and many physical health benefits.


how to do this action:

KNOW THE ROUTES

The first step to beginning a walking and bicycling lifestyle is to learn some routes and the estimated times it will take you to make your trip. Use any of the following sites to map the distance and route of a potential trip:

  • Map My Walk
    This site will measure the distance of a potential trip.

  • Walk Score
    This site allows you to enter your commute location and calculates the mileage, time to destination and cost per month if this distance was driven.

  • Google Maps
    Google Maps is also a good resource for walk-commuters. Routes can be found for walking and biking, as well as estimated time and distance for your route.

  • Cyclopath
    Cyclopath allows bicyclists to input many different factors as negative or positive and maps the route accordingly. For example, you can input to find a route that avoids large hills, or gives preference to a bike path.

  • Minneapolis Department of Public Works
    For Minneapolis specifically, the Minneapolis Department of Public Works has links to some common walking routes here.

  • Bicycle and Pedestrian Maps: Pan and Zoom
    Bicycle and Pedestrian Maps: Printable PDFs
    Citywide bicycle maps which includes pedestrian trails and shortcuts.

  • Minneapolis Parks
    Mileage chart for local parkway paths.

  • City of Minneapolis Bicycle Resources
    The city of Minneapolis website has number of resources on their website.

Ultimately, the best route finding is often a result of your own experience. Some people will be more comfortable biking on busier roads, while others prefer to go a little further distance to ride on a bike path. Try out different routes and find a customized one to fit your needs.

SAFETY: BICYCLING
KNOW THE LAW

One of the most essential tools for keeping safe on a bicycle is simply knowing the law, both what is required of bicyclists and motorists. The operation of bicycles in Minnesota is regulated by Minnesota Statutes (M.S.), generally in section 169.222. Click here to see the highlights of those laws:
Share the Road MN State Statute Summary
Minnesota State Statutes.

A summary of some of the key points is as follows:

  • Bicyclists not only CAN but SHOULD ride on the road.

    Minnesota bicycling law states that bicycles are required to ride in the road just right of center in the furthest-right lane (unless a bike path is provided). Do not ride in the gutter or too close to parked cars to avoid debris and car doors opening unexpectedly. Bicycling on sidewalks is actually against the law as this space is reserved for pedestrians and can often lead to bicycle accidents with motorists who do not see them when crossing streets.

    A 1996 study determined the likelihood of a bicycle accident by facility type. (This is the only major study that adjusts crash data for the number of miles bicyclists actually travel on these facilities.) The study found that riding on the road is not only safer—but much safer—than riding on these other types of facilities.
  • Bicycle Crashes per Million Kilometers Traveled

  • Street with bike lanes — 26
  • Street with signed bike route — 32
  • Major street with no bike facilities — 41
  • Minor street with no bike facilities — 59
  • Multi-use trail — 88
  • Off road/unpaved trail — 282
  • Sidewalk — 1026

  • Source: William E. Moritz, "Adult Bicyclists in the United States,"
    in Transportation Research Record 1636

Bicyclists are 25 times more likely to experience an accident when riding on a sidewalk than riding on a major street—even one that neither has a designated bike lane nor is designated as a bike route. And bicyclists are twice as likely to experience an accident on a multi-use trail than on an unmarked street.

Bicyclists are discouraged from riding on the sidewalk. Not only is there potential for a collision with a pedestrian. More importantly, motorists are not expecting a bicyclist, moving much more quickly than a pedestrian, to cross the street in a crosswalk. So, motorists often fail to detect bicyclists on sidewalks and strike the bicyclist in the crosswalk.

According to the concept of Effective Cycling developed by John Forester, "Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles." America's leading bicycle education course, the League of American Bicyclists' BikeEd, is based on this concept.
  • Protect yourself using headlights, rear reflectors and rear flashing lights when dark , and a helmet at all times:

    According to the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute (BHSI), about 540,000 bicyclists visit emergency rooms with injuries every year. Of those, about 67,000 have head injuries, and about one in eight of these has a brain injury. Two-thirds of the deaths here are from traumatic brain injury.

    A very high percentage of cyclists' brain injuries, estimated at anywhere between 45 and 88 percent, can be prevented by wearing a helmet.

    The BHSI Web site provides a consumer's guide to buying a bicycle helmet and provides instructions on how to properly fit a bicycle helmet so that you "get all the protection you paid for." How to correctly fit and wear a helmet (photo instructions).

    While helmet use for bicyclists in Minnesota is not required by law, using lights on the front and rear of your bike IS. Front white headlight visible for 500 feet - approximately one city block. A red rear flashing light is recommended to increase visiblity.

  • Take responsibility by obeying traffic laws and signalling for turns and stops.

    Bicyclists have all rights/duties of any other vehicle driver. (M. S. Section 169.222, sub-section 1.) While this law is an essential one for bicyclists to use roadways, it does not recongnize that in the event of an accident, it is almost certain that the bicyclist will suffer any injury or loss of life that occurs as a result. Because of this, bicyclists inevitably must take greater caution to avoid accidents by obeying all traffic laws in the same manner as you would when driving a car.

    Nearly 40 percent of crashes occur when the bicyclist and motorist are at an intersection. Three-quarters of these crashes occur when either the bicyclist or the motorist fails to yield the right-of-way at an intersection. (Share the Road)

    The most severe crashes—those resulting in the death of the bicyclist—occur when the bicyclist and motorist are traveling in the same direction, however. Perhaps this is because the motorist is moving at a higher rate of speed than at an intersection. In about half of such crashes, the motorist overtakes the bicyclist from behind. In the other half, the bicyclist takes a right or a left turn into the path of the motorist. (Share the Road)

    In order to reduce accidents at both intersections and while continuing down roadways, be sure that you are communicating with motorists by using proper signalling when turning, switching lanes or stopping. Continuous arm signal required during last 100 feet prior to turn or lane change (unless arm needed to control bike) and while stopped waiting to turn. (8)

    For a more readable version of this law, see the MN Share the Road website
  • SAFETY: WAKLING

    In a perfect world, pedestrians would not have to worry about the dangers of walk-commuting. However, with the majority of pedestiran related injury and deaths a result of car accidents, pedestrians need to take steps to insure their safety. Review the law for pedestrians here:

    • Definition of a pedestrian: "Pedestrian" means any person afoot or in a wheelchair. MN Statute 169.01 Subd. 24.
      Most laws about pedestrian traffic, rights and responsibilities are found in MN Statutes 169.06, 169.202, 169.21, 169.212, 169.215, 169.2151, 169.222, 169.305, and 169.31.
    • Key Tips: (from minneapolismn.gov)
    • -Before crossing a street, scan in all directions. Look left, right, and then left again. Also check for vehicles which may be entering the roadway from a nearby intersection or driveway.

    • -Cross streets at marked or unmarked crosswalks. Marked crosswalks have pavement markings, pedestrian warning signs, and/or flashing lights. An unmarked crosswalk occurs at any intersection where crosswalks are not marked. If you choose to cross mid-block, you must yield to vehicles (unless the crossing is marked). Mid-block crossings are illegal if there are traffic signals at both ends of the block.

    • Do not enter the crosswalk if approaching vehicles cannot stop. While Minnesota's Pedestrian law says that motorists must stop to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian in a crosswalk, it also says that pedestrians may not enter a crosswalk if it is impossible for a driver to stop. The word "crosswalk" applies to both marked and unmarked areas where pedestrians can gain the right-of-way.

    • -When ready to cross a street, make eye contact with vehicle drivers, and keep your eyes and ears on vehicle speed and noise. Always be prepared for a motorist who fails to yield the right-of-way. The law does not require motorists to stop for a pedestrian waiting to enter a crosswalk. If a motorist does stop, proceed cautiously to determine if other approaching vehicles are following suit. As an alternative, you can wave a stopped motorist on, if you are uncomfortable crossing while motorists are present.

    • -Obey "Walk/Don't Walk" signals. Minnesota Signal law says that a pedestrian may only enter a signalized intersection when the "Walk" signal is shown. They may not enter a crosswalk with a flashing or steady "Don't Walk" signal.

    • -Look carefully for vehicles emerging from alleys and driveways. While it is illegal for motorists to emerge without stopping before the sidewalk, always be prepared for a vehicle which does not stop.
    DRESS FOR THE WEATHER

    One of the barriers to bicycle-commuting year round, especially in certain climates, is the need to deal with weather elements in a much more direct way than driving or even taking the bus.

    Not only is there a need to dress for bicycling in general, there is also a need to dress for the weather. Many bicycle commuters are dedicated to this lifestyle change regardless of the weather. Ironically, it seems that the top two bicycle-commuter cities—Minneapolis and Portland—also have some of the most undesirable bicycling weather. Portland is notorious for long rainy seasons, and Minneapolis, with an average temperature of 45.4 degrees, isn’t exactly an ideal spot for bicyclists much of the year. Regardless, these two cities claim the highest percentages of bicycle commuters as well as miles of bicycle routes (paths and bike lanes) throughout the city.

    The City of Minneapolis has a page on their website specifically dedicated to winter biking. What may surprise summer bikers is that 50 of the 60 miles of bike trails throughout the city get plowed just like city streets. Often these paths are some of the first to get plowed. Census data shows 4,800 residents of Minneapolis regularly commute to work on a bicycle. The number for the entire metropolitan area is 9,700 bikers. A local group called Transit for Livable Communities estimates one-third of those biking enthusiasts continue commuting to work during the winter.

    For more information about how to dress for the weather, winterize your bike and winter safety tips, follow this link: Cold Weather Cycling Tips from the City of Toronto.

    KEEP UPDATED

    Is is important to ekeep up to date on new infrastructure projects, important detours, public meetings and volunteer opportunities as a walk- or bike-commuter:

    • If you are in Minneapolis, subscribe to Pedestrian e-mail updates here.

    • For City of Minneapolis bicycle updates, subscribe here here.

    • To submit a path maintenance request to the City of Minneapolis, click here.

    what will be measured?

    KEY QUESTIONS

    QUANTITATIVE QUESTION: What percentage of transportation energy can be saved when transporting yourself exclusively with your own energy (walking and bicycling)?

    QUALITATIVE QUESTION: How does the experience of transporting yourself using only your own energy affect happiness, convenience, health, and costs?

    BASELINE WEEK TRACKING

    QUANTITATIVE
    During the baseline tracking week before the project begins, use the corresponding spreadsheet (T9_BASELINE) to track the mileage you currently commute by each mode (bike, walking, car, bus...) daily.

    QUALITATIVE


    Qualitative Scale

    Using the above scale as a visual, rate each of the following criteria on the spreadsheet (T9_BASELINE) as it relates to your current transportation habits:

    • 1. SATISFACTION/HAPPINESS
      (Overall, how much enjoyment or dissatisfaction do you get out of doing and completing this behavior?)

    • 2. CONVENIENCE
      (How easy/difficult and accessible/inaccessible is this behavior for you to do and complete?)

    • 3. HEALTH
      (How healthy/unhealthy and safe/unsafe does this behavior make you feel?)

    • 4. COST
      (How much does this behavior cost? Use positive numbers for being above average and negative numbers for being below average and zero for being average.)

    IMPLEMENTATION PHASE TRACKING

    QUANTITATIVE
    Use the corresponding spreadsheet (T9_QUANTITATIVE) to track the miles you travel each day bicycling or walking. The spreadsheet will calculate the energy used (in gallons of gas and MJ) of each day’s transportation.

    QUALITATIVE
    Part 1 - Ranking


    Qualitative Scale

    Using the above scale as a visual, rate each of the following criteria, every IMPLEMENTATION day on the spreadsheet (T9_QUALITATIVE). Your answers should not be rated in comparison to your baseline week, but in general as a reflection of how you are feeling.

    • 1. SATISFACTION/HAPPINESS
      (Overall, how much enjoyment or dissatisfaction do you get out of doing and completing this behavior?)

    • 2. CONVENIENCE
      (How easy/difficult and accessible/inaccessible is this behavior for you to do and complete?)

    • 3. HEALTH
      (How healthy/unhealthy and safe/unsafe does this behavior make you feel?)

    • 4. COST
      (How much does this behavior cost? Use positive numbers for being above average and negative numbers for being below average and zero for being average.)

    Part 2 - Blogging
    Keep a narrative log of your experiences changing this action in your life. How did the experience of transporting yourself using only your own energy change your experience of transportation? What were the benefits of changing this habit in your lifestyle? Did you feel as if you sacrificed? Why or why not? How did you typically transport yourself, and why?


    resources

    BICYCLING
    Minnesota Department of Transportation Bicycle Resources
    City of Minneapolis Bicycle Resources
    City of Toronto Cold Weather Cycling Tips
    Minneapolis Commuter Connection Bicycle Resources
    WALKING
    MINNEAPOLIS RESOURCES
    Minnesota Department of Transportation Pedestrian Resources
    Minneapolis Commuter Connection Pedestrian Resources
    NATIONAL RESOURCES
    WalkingInfo.org
    BikeWalk.org
    Federal Highway Administration Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Information
    ORGANIZATIONS
    Minneapolis Pedestrian Program
    Bike Walk Ambassadors
    ACTION SPREADSHEETS

    The spreadsheets referred to above can be found in the Excel file at the following link:

    T9_Transport Yourself Using Only Your Own Energy Spreadsheet

    If you prefer to enter your responses by hand, printable PDFs of each spreadsheet can be found at the following links (at the end of the project, all data will have to be entered into the Excel spreadsheet):

    T9_BASELINE
    T9_QUANTITATIVE
    T9_QUALITATIVE