Elly’s East Coast Tour
Elly’s travel set-up:
A backpack and a Brompton.

BikePortland Managing Editor Elly Blue is on a swing through the East Coast. She’ll post regular dispatches from the road about the people she meets and the transportation and bike-related topics she learns about.

Read her articles below and follow her adventures on Twitter.

From NYC: Behind the scenes of the Livable Streets Network

Posted on January 30th, 2009 at 10:44 am.

[Publisher’s note: This story was written by Managing Editor Elly Blue during her recently concluded East Coast Tour.]

Sarah Goodyear, Livable Streets
Network editor and community manager
(Photos: Elly Blue)

While I was in New York briefly, I met up with Sarah Goodyear, editor and community manager of the recently launched Livable Streets Blog Network. Billed as “the national blog network for sustainable transport, smart growth, and livable streets,” the network is the brainchild of Aaron Naparstek, editor-in-chief of StreetsBlog.org. (Both the network and StreetsBlog are part of umbrella organizaton The Open Planning Project.)


Baltimore rolls with bike-friendly momentum

Posted on January 27th, 2009 at 11:13 am.

[Publisher’s note: This story was written by Managing Editor Elly Blue during her recently completed East Coast Tour. Read more of her travel dispatches here.]

It’s not on the annual lists of biking hot spots, but during my recent visit to Baltimore I realized they might just become the next big bike city. They’re not quite Portland (yet), but they’re gaining fast.

Baltimore bike and ped planner Nate Evans
sets off for a tour of the city.
– More photos below –
(Photos by Elly Blue)

Like many cities, Baltimore’s bike-friendliness begins at the top. Bikes are buoyed by the city’s Bicycle Master Plan (that was adopted in 2006) that is wholly supported by their mayor Sheila Dixon. Dixon was elected in 2007 and she’s an avid cyclist. Dixon leads weekly morning rides (which are open to anyone) and last year she put the city’s dollars behind biking with the hire of bike and pedestrian planner Nate Evans.


A sampling of New York’s new livable streets infrastructure

Posted on January 23rd, 2009 at 12:04 pm.

Before heading out for lunch with Livable Streets Network editor Sarah Goodyear, we took a couple of quick detours to check out some of the more interesting livable streets initiatives in the West Village.

This is my favorite moment on the 9th Ave cycle track — this didn’t make it into my other post about the track and its many uses. (Photos: Elly Blue)


TRB profile: Roads and bike paths on the reservations

Posted on January 15th, 2009 at 10:57 am.

[Publisher’s note: This article is a dispatch by Managing Editor Elly Blue, who recently attended the Transportation Research Board conference in Washington D.C. Read more articles from Elly’s East Coast Tour.]

John La Verdure (Photo by Elly Blue)

Taking a break in the lobby of the Marriott during the TRB conference, I noticed a man nearby with Portland on his nametag. He turned out to be John La Verdure, an engineer who lives in Troutdale and advises the The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) on technical issues with building roads on Native American reservations.

I asked what conference sessions he was attending, and he launched into an enthusiastic description of a flaw that has lately become apparent in the 12 inch concrete slabs used to build many highways. The slabs shift slightly, over a long period, so that 20 years after they’re installed, one end will be 1/16 inch lower than perfectly flush. That’s why, when you’re driving across North Dakota, the road feels bumpy.


A visit to Baltimore’s Velocipede Bike Project (Slideshow)

Posted on January 12th, 2009 at 10:56 pm.

One of my favorite stops in Baltimore was at the Velocipede Bike Project.

Occupying a bright storefront in the young and hip Charles Village neighborhood, Velocipede is a collectively run community bike shop. Since July of 2006, the all-volunteer shop has welcomed members of the community to come volunteer time (or, as a downplayed alternative, pay a fee) in exchange for access to bike tools, parts, and expertise.


In D.C.: The great transportation convergence

Posted on January 12th, 2009 at 10:49 am.

You can take a shuttle between conference
venues, or a ten minute walk across this gorgeous
bridge on Connecticut Ave.
(Photos by Elly Blue)

Washington, DC is the final stop on my East Coast Tour. I am here for the week-long Transportation Research Board (TRB) annual meeting.

TRB is the big transportation conference in North America, hosted by the country’s pre-eminent transportation research organization. Hundreds of sessions fill three huge hotels on Connecticut Avenue, and 11,000 attendees walk briskly from room to room, talking shop about everything from bituminous pavement to international shipping to pedestrian signalization.

The theme of the conference this year is Transportation, Energy, and Climate Change. The fact that this is the theme is a big deal in its own right, as it signals a shift in focus in transportation research and policy nationally.


Building livable streets in New Haven: State, city, and university

Posted on January 12th, 2009 at 10:41 am.

[This is a dispatch from Elly Blue’s East Coast Tour. Read more here.]

Parker and Sturgis-Pascale catch up with their former intern, Reed College student (and New Haven native) Rose Vickery. (Photos by Elly Blue)

New Haven, Connecticut is the birthplace of pizza, hamburgers, and the lollipop. It has the highest rate of public housing per capita in the United States. But it has always been better known for being home to the wealthy, prestigious Yale University. Yale is a major player in New Haven — the university is the city’s largest employer, owns a huge percentage of downtown property (including several streets), and is incredibly influential in the social and economic life of the city.


On the street in NYC: Checking out the 9th Ave. cycletrack

Posted on January 9th, 2009 at 10:14 am.

“Over the few blocks that I rode, I saw it used in a number of ways, including actual cycling.”

While I was in New York City for a few hours on Wednesday on my way from New Haven to Baltimore, I took the Brompton for a rainy ride down the new 9th Avenue cycletrack. The cycletrack, common in Copenhagen and Amsterdam but still relatively rare in the US, is a bike lane that is physically separated from motor vehicle traffic.

Portland is building a cycle track in the Northeast Cully neighborhood, and new mayor Sam Adams has pledged to build a higher-profile one in his first 100 days in office.

StreetFilms captured some New Yorkers’ first reactions to this cycletrack, the city’s first.

Since then, New Yorkers have incorporated the cycletrack into their daily life. Over the few blocks that I rode, I saw it used in a number of ways, including actual cycling. Below are some photos and more of my thoughts:


Dispatch from New Haven: A look at new Complete Streets law

Posted on January 9th, 2009 at 8:42 am.

Whitney Avenue, shown here at
New Haven’s northern border, is ready
for a Complete Streets makeover
(Photos by Elly Blue)

New Haven, Connecticut, which has never been known for progressive transportation initiatives, is now home to a Complete Streets law — one of only a handful in the country, and one of the most comprehensive.

When I arrived at a Yale University office last week to meet with their Transportation Options team (more on that soon), I learned that the program’s assistant director, Erin Sturgis-Pascale, also serves on New Haven’s Board of Alders (their city council).

This October, Sturgis-Pascale and another board member introduced and passed a Complete Streets bill, making New Haven one of the few communities in the country to have such a law. For this accomplishment, she has been called “the preeminent “livable streets” elected official in Connecticut.”


Waiting for CT Transit in the snow

Posted on January 3rd, 2009 at 9:09 pm.

The view from my old bus stop on Whitney Ave hasn’t changed much in 20 years.
The white band on the center pole marks the stop, in lieu of a sign.
(Photos by Elly Blue)

After a warm, dry week, New Year’s Eve brought us another big snowstorm here in Hamden, Connecticut (my hometown, just north of New Haven). At around noon it was snowing hard, the wind was blowing, visibility was low, and the streets were covered with increasingly packed and rutted snow. I decided to take the bus downtown.