Entries tagged: Bicycle Lanes

Alliance Adventure in Ecuador

Blog contributed by Alliance intern Alex Boardman

imageLast month, I was lucky enough to travel to Ecuador with my International Environment and Development class. Our trip was intended to be a case study on the trade-off between development and the environment — a topic we’ve focused on over the course of the semester.

The trip wasn’t exactly a vacation, and I was certainly grateful to be back in the United States for Thanksgiving! Luckily, despite all the time off from my internship, the past month gave me some interesting, international insight into bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

Ecuador was a perfect place to investigate the intersection of development and conservation, because of its constant conflict between preserving such a biologically diverse environment, while simultaneously trying to develop both socially and economically. For example, Yasuni National Park — the world’s most bio-diverse rainforest — has nearly one billion barrels of crude oil buried underneath it, amounting to more than $10 billion in potential revenue for the country. Over the course of three weeks, our trips included stops in Quito, Coca, the rainforest, the Galapagos Islands, and the Otavalo region.

Unfortunately, our first destination, Quito, which is the capital of Ecuador, was not particularly bike-friendly (picture below). Car ownership in Quito has risen more than 45 percent between 2002 and 2008 alone, and it continues to grow at an average rate of 30,000 more cars a year. With this significant increase in cars on the road, even something as simple as crossing the streets in the city is incredibly dangerous. To add further difficulty to bicycling and walking, the city streets are narrow, steep, and incredibly windy. There were virtually no bicyclists or pedestrians throughout the entire city. Our class had to take taxis to even travel three blocks from our hotel. Quito is also built in a valley, surrounded by the Andes Mountains, and suffers from severe air pollution and smog, especially as more and more cars occupy the road.

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While Quito, and the rainforest (our second destination), weren’t particularly bike and ped friendly, I was more than impressed by the advanced biking and pedestrian infrastructure in the Puerta Ayora, the main “city” on Santa Cruz, in the Galapagos Islands. Residents and tourists of this small community enjoy streets with broad sidewalks and wide bike lanes. Included along the main road, Avenida Charles Darwin, bicyclists and pedestrians took advantage of two-way bike lanes. Cars seemed largely unnecessary in the town, where nearly everything is in walking distance of the few hotels in town. Residents in Puerta Ayora walked and bicycled everywhere—in fact, the only cars we saw were the white pick-up truck taxis intended for tourists.

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In a country where car ownership is on the rise and such a unique environment is increasingly threatened by economic development, bicycle and pedestrian advocacy would be a great asset in Ecuador. In light of the recent holiday, we can certainly be thankful for the amazing groups we already have in place here and can only hope that in the future other countries around the world, like Ecuador will be able to further their bicycling and pedestrian accessibility efforts the way that we have been able to. I’ve certainly seen hope for this in the Galapagos.

Posted by Carolyn S on December 07, 2010
Tags: pedestrians, infrastructure, ecuador, cars, bicycle lanes, alliance for biking & walking, advocacy
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Portland Unveils Its First Cycle Track

Portland‘s Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) is celebrating the unveiling of the city’s first cycle track on August 31st.

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The new cycle track runs on Broadway, from southwest Clay to southwest Jackson, and separates cyclists from parked cars by a 3-foot striped buffer zone. This seven-block section has always had heavy bike traffic and few right turns for cars, which makes it the perfect location to test this innovative concept.

In addition to the bicycle-friendly lanes, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has painted green markings throughout the track to facilitate left-hand turns for bikers. Known as “Copenhagen lefts,” they are the first of their kind being used in North America.

The BTA helped in getting this project started by creating the proposal and presenting it to the city staff.

This cycle track is the latest development in an extremely successful summer for Portland after finishing three Sunday Parkways, a new uphill bike lane on North Mississippi, and buffered bike lanes on several main streets. The PBOT believes that this track will prove safer and more comfortable for bikers and drivers alike. They plan for similar projects throughout Portland in the future.

For more information, go to http://bikeportland.org/2009/08/31/first-look-at-portlands-inaugural-cycle-track/

Posted by krsteele04 on August 31, 2009
Tags: portland, cycle track, bta, bikes, bicycle lanes
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