Sunday, May 10, 2009

PUMA Needs Exclusive Lane

I am sure you have heard about the GM and Segway joint venture called Project PUMA (Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility). Just this weekend I read an interesting article titled Will GM Design Your Next Car? In this article Parade Magazine interviews Larry Burns, head of R&D for GM, and asks some great questions about the future of mobility. Larry hits on many key points supporting a shift towards smaller vehicles, including the PUMA high-tech electric scooter. Most notably, he points out that sustainable transportation is about more than petroleum and global climate change, its also about congestion and safety - which, coincidentally, are the two underlying reasons for developing motorcycle infrastructure.

So, Larry, GM, and Segway, I would like to make a suggestion. If you really want to design the vehicles of the future you also need to help with the infrastructure of the future. PUMA will not be successful if you are asking customers to drive in in mixed traffic alongside SUVs - its too dangerous (according to the NHTSA, you are 35 times more likely to die, per vehicle mile traveled, on a scooter or motorcycle than you are in a passenger car). We need to develop priority lanes for new innovative electric scooters like the PUMA that can be shared with bicycle commuters and other vulnerable road users.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

WW2 German Motorcycle Track

This image of a motorcycle track near Rochefort, France was sent to me by a couple biking through the area and can also be found on their blog ( I was aware that the Germans used motorcycles during the war but had never before heard of a motorcycle track used in this manner. Apparently, these narrow concrete tracks were built by the Germans to patrol large areas of concurred territory. They are now used for cycle paths.

My interest in posting this image is to provide some historical context and also show that a motorcycle track can be a highly efficient option to move a single person - not unlike the 80% of American Single Occupancy Vehicle (SOV) commuters.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Cycle sales help Honda cope with down economy

I came across this article (Cycle sales help Honda cope) that, in summary, states that Honda is expected to post a significant profit largely due to its motorcycle sales. It goes on to state that most of these sales are in southeast asia where motorcycles are used for everyday transport and while the $20,000-30,000 Honda car and SUV sales have plummeted, sales of relatively affordable motorcycles have held strong.

“Motorcycles are more resilient against a recession than cars because these products are used in Asia for people’s main mode of transport,” said Makoto Haga, president of Tokyo-based hedge fund Wing Asset Management Co. “Motorcycles give Honda an advantage over its rivals.”

What are the implications for the rest of the world? What if cash-strapped Americans were to turn to efficient and affordable motorcycles as a means of everyday transport? What would it take to make this happen? In my opinion, safe motorcycle infrastructure is needed, the riders will follow.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Motorcyclists celebrate opening of London bus lanes

Autobloggreen reported on the opening of London's bus lanes to motorcycles. "Looking to ride safely while saving a little time and using a bit less fuel", there was definitely cause for celebration within the London area motorcycle community as described in the following post:

Posted Jan 8th 2009 at 8:02AM by Jeremy Korzeniewski. To celebrate Transport for London's recent decision, a group consisting of local Honda motorcycle dealers, members of the Motorcycle Industry Association, the Institute of Advanced Motorists, the British Motorcyle Federation and the Metropolitan Police BikeSafe squad decided to take a first commemorative ride through the city, ending at the historic Ace Café in Wembley.

Pro-motorcycling groups have created a Code of Conduct that all cyclists are urged to follow while using the bus lanes. As it is, just 5 percent of London's roads are made up of red bus lanes, but the impact on the city's traffic should be much larger. It's hoped that if things go well over the 18-month trial period that the Mayor of London has instituted, other London boroughs may make similar allowances for bikers.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

American Planning Association National Conference

I will be giving a poster presentation on Exclusive Motorcycle Lanes at the APA National Conference this spring in Minneapolis. This will be a great opportunity to engage planning professionals in the merits of establishing motorcycle infrastructure in the US. I will be sure to report back to this blog on the feedback I receive from the conference.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Safe Routes Scooter Rally, Melbourne, Australia

In Melbourne the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) has been holding a Safe Routes Scooter Rally for a few years now to shine a spotlight on scooters as a valid mode of transport and to demand that government make allowances for scooters in their transport policy. Here are a few of their positions that, by the way, are all relevant in the US:

“VACC is calling for the implementation of designated and signed ‘Safe Routes’, access by scooter riders to certain designated bicycle lanes, filtering in stationery or slow moving traffic and allowing boxed turns at certain busy intersections,”

“With high petrol prices, many people are tightening their financial belts. Some see scooters as a viable means of transport because they are cheap to buy and run, easy to park and are environmentally friendly."

“Sales are soaring and yet, the Government and transport policy makers seem oblivious to their existence and growing relevance."

"There is no sign of the boom in scooter and motorcycle sales abating. Road sharing must be made safer for scooter and motorcycle riders. Neither regulation, nor training, nor traffic management and infrastructure has kept pace with the boom in sales of two-wheeled transport. Clearly cars and poor road sharing practice pose the greatest risk to scooter riders."

“Riders are doing their bit for the economy and environment by taking to scooters. Now the Government has to do its bit and provide protection for these responsible, but vulnerable, members of society."

"Scooter sales are booming. Some brands are up nearly 60 percent on last year. They are a cheap alternative to cars, they benefit the environment because they leave a tiny carbon footprint, they reduce congestion on roads and they reduce pressure on city parking spaces. It is time for the Government to take them seriously and to accommodate scooters in our road planning and traffic management systems."