The NCBW Forum
is one of the oldest, most trusted publications covering
the field of bicycle and pedestrian design issues. First published
in 1977 as Bicycle Forum, the quarterly newsletter
changed its name in 2001 to become the NCBW Forum.
This was done partially in response to the broadening focus
of the organization; the content now explicitly includes pedestrian-related
articles, references, and news items.
In September, 2003, the NCBW Forum moved from
a print publication available via subscription only to an
publication open to all. The articles compendium is joined
with an online message area where people can post comments
about articles, start new discussions, and search for archived
articles and posts. John Williams, the long-time editor of
the print version of the NCBW Forum, remains at
the helm of our NCBW Forum.
Trails and High Speed Rail: Are they compatible?
BY MIA L. BIRK, Alta Planning + Design
Rails with Trails, or multiuse trails located adjacent
to active rail lines, have become increasingly common
in the United States. While the idea of shared use corridors
has gained acceptance, what of the idea of Rails with
Trails with high speed trains?
two uses compatible? Alta staff, through various field
trials, concludes that at a distance of 30 feet, a train
moving at 90 mph does not create significant negative
impacts on trail users. These results only confirm the
previous conclusions of the Federal Railroad Administration
which conducted its own test, using an even higher testing
speed (150 mph). Bottom line: the presence of high speed
rail is not a legitimate reason for objecting to a rail
with trails project.
The article concludes
with several recommendations on what measures can be
undertaken to create a safe and useful trail facility,
without compromising train operations or safety.
Review: Rationality & Power: Democracy
Bent Flyvbjerg, University of Chicago Press, 1998
BY BOB CHAUNCEY, NCBW
Is change best accomplished
with power, or with persuasion? In his book "Rationality
& Power" Bent Flyvbjerg comes up with his own
version of Realpolitik which those in the pedestrian
and bicycle community may find of interest.
tells the tale of a Danish city that attempted to reshape
it downtown. Professor Flyvbjerg uses this detailed
case study to explore his fundamental question: How
does democracy happen? Other questions then follow,
such as: How are ideas propagated and accepted —
or rejected? How do some visions become realized, while
others do not? How are projects reshaped in the crucible
of political discussion and behind-the-scenes plotting?
How is power created, nurtured and employed? Who has
power, and why? And what is the relationship between
rational argument and power?
In this review, Mr. Chauncey
of the NCBW explores the author's answers to these questions,
as well as offering an answer to the 'So what?' question
that Flyvbjerg’s observations pose to the reader.
Transportation That's Actually Good for
BY CATHERINE O'BRIEN, Ph.D.
Evidence continues to
grow that our transportation choices are affecting our
health. But while we typically think of these impacts
in terms of air pollution alerts, increasing incidences
of childhood asthma, the growing numbers of children
and adults considered overweight and
to name a few—transportation's impact on mental
health is often overlooked. This article examines the
nexus between children’s health and transportation,
and the significance of social connections to our health.
The author presents research and anecdotal evidence
from around the world about transportation’s connection
to mental health—especially children’s mental
Here is a sample: “Slowing
down and experiencing the moment is emphasized in stress
management training as well as meditation techniques
for spiritual development. Pleasant walking and cycling
paths that lead to destinations that adults and children
regularly travel would allow us to use these modes for
transportation. And surely “Road Rage” is
the antithesis of the compassionate society that we
would wish for ourselves and our children?”
(Review) Global City Blues
Daniel Solomon, Island Press, 2003
BY MIA L. BIRK, ALTA PLANNING + DESIGN
Daniel Solomon (founding
architect of the Congress for New Urbanism, leader in
the New Urbanist movement) reviews, in this collection
of essays, the past practices, and
progress the field of urban planning has made towards
realizing its ideal: livable places. His new book provides
a fascinating and hopeful set of insights into the growing
field of progressively integrated urban architecture
and planning. It brims with interesting stories and
inspiring leaders, architects, planners, and developers.
The author concentrates on the land–use history
of San Francisco, traces how the conflict between planners
and traffic engineers shaped the city, and, in doing
so, provides insight into the beginning of the freeway
This book is highly
recommended “for all working to enhance the character
of our cities.
State DOT Scan: Phase II...Performance/Projects
In March 2002, the NCBW issued its report, Are We There
Yet? (AWTY) in which we considered the plans and policies
of State DOTs. In most cases, the information reported
was provided by the State DOT?s bike/ped
objective for this Phase II of our scan of State DOTs
is to look at what the agencies are really doing to
accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists in highway projects.
We will accomplish this by encouraging local advocates,
state bike-ped coordinators, APBP and ITE members, public
health officials, and members of the general public
to participate in an assessment of at least a sample
of recent state projects, providing a tool and a methodology
for conducting this post-project review and assessment,
and encouraging meetings with appropriate State DOT
staff to discuss their findings. Our hope is that this
process will help improve both the policies and practices
of the State DOTs with regard to highway design to accommodate
Once you've completed a review
of this document, please go to our onlne NCBW Forum
to add your suggestions and comments to the dialog.
The direct link to the DOT Scan review area is:
Wauconda (IL) School Bans Bikes...and the schools'
bicycle ban is on the wrong track!
BY STEVEN J. BOIME, CHICAGOLAND BICYCLE FEDERATION
This topic comes (unfortunately) right out of today's
headlines. While many in America struggle with
the health problems tied to increasing numbers of children
suffering from obesity,
some school systems
are forbidding children to ride bicycles to school!
Here's a sample:
"It used to be that kids walked, biked or took
the school bus. You only got a ride if you had a broken
bone or a huge school project to carry– and it
was raining. Now, in many places, more children arrive
by car than any other means. Hurried parents drive their
children, talk on their cell phones and eat fast-food
breakfasts, but some consider this to be quality time
with their children. Maybe this explains their terrible
driving behavior– it's hard to focus on both your
child and traffic at the same time."
Review: TECHNICAL HANDBOOK OF BIKEWAY DESIGN
2nd Edition, Velo Quebec, 2003
BY MIA L. BIRK, ALTA PLANNING + DESIGN
From our friends north of the border comes a
handy, well-produced guide to bikeway design.
Mia Layne Birk takes a look at the handbook, noting
where it in some places offers treatments not found
in the AASHTO Guide.
Here's a sample: "The
2nd edition of Vélo Québec?s Technical
Handbook of Bikeway Design (2003) covers ground familiar
to bikeway planning professionals. Nicely laid out,
written, and illustrated, it is a good fi rst stop for
bikeway planners and designers. It includesan overview
of bicycling, types of bikeways, and planning. It succinctly
covers the basics of geometric bikeway design, construction
issues, multi-use trails, bike parking, bicycles and
public transit, and maintenance/operation.
Are We There Yet? Assessing the Performance of State
Departments of Transportation on Accommodating Bicycles
National Center for Bicycling & Walking, 2003
its Benchmarking Project, the NCBW produced this report
which shows that only only 11 state departments of transportation
(DOT) have bicycle and pedestrian plans, and routinely
accommodate bicycles and pedestrians in state highway
projects. In developing the report, the NCBW interviewed
49 state DOT bicycle/pedestrian coordinators and reviewed
planning documents they provided.
The study looked closely
at four topics: statewide bicycle and pedestrian plans,
accommodating bicycles in state highway projects, providing
sidewalks for pedestrians in state highway projects
located in urban areas, and implementing a statewide
Safe Routes to School program. The NCBW reviewed federal
legislation, regulations, polices, and guidance, as
well as the policies and recommended practices of national
organizations including the American Association of
State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)
and the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE).
Using these sources, a set of benchmarks was identified
and used to assess the current performance of each state
DOT. A chart shows all 50 states and their positions
on these benchmarks.
You can respond to these and other articles and topics
at the NCBW