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Cyclists may find that their next ride through Paris is a bit faster (though hopefully not more dangerous) because there are some new rules of the road for pedal-powered vehicles.
This certainly should make your next Vélib' bicycle rental that much more interesting: BBC News is reporting that Paris will now allow cyclists to ride through red lights when traveling about the city. Apparently studies and analyses have shown that riding right through the red lights probably won’t cause an increase in accidents. (Just make sure that you can see the traffic up ahead over that baguette in your bicycle’s basket.)
Now, this isn't to say that bike travel will suddenly become lawless in Paris. You see, separate traffic signals for bikes will be installed right under those for cars, and these lights will indicate when cyclists can turn right or just keep moving forward — even though the traditional traffic signals require cars to stop. The roll-out is beginning this month and should be complete in September, and it’s all in the effort to encourage more green-friendly traffic to flow around the city —and maybe cut down on some of that smog along the way.
With the first day of May here it is now National Bike Month. Sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists, the event has been celebrated across the country since 1956. The idea is to show off the benefits of biking, while encouraging newbies to give the two-wheeled lifestyle a try.
Whether you ride for recreation, exercise, personal errands or to commute, here are a few smart cycling and basic maintenance tips to keep in mind. These are especially useful if you plan on taking advantage of a city's bike share offerings.
Just the other day the city and the Board of Transport just gave the okay to spend around $240 million on new spiffy bike lanes that are intended for bikes and only bikes—like no cars allowed. Much of the spending will be focused on two new routes—these are those superhighways—that will run both up and down and across central London.
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Booking a plane ticket to a new city is, for the most part, fairly easy. It's the arriving in that city which can be a headache, figuring out how best to explore and get around. Fret no more, because that's all RideScout's specialty.
This newish mobile app, available for both Apple and Android devices, helps travelers get from point A to point B faster and smarter using some GPS technology and an easy-to-use interface. RideScout gathers together all the ground transportation in the area and presents it as simply as possible, including directions, estimated cost, and arrival times, ensuring that you get where you need to go by cab, public transport, car-sharing, or biking.
Alaska Airlines is spreading its wings and venturing into another mode of transportation, as they’re kind of getting into the bicycle business. In actuality it’s more of a sponsorship deal—advertising their main business of flying to here and there—as they’re chipping in $2.5 million to help get the Seattle metro area’s bike share up and running later this year.
Pronto Emerald City Cycle Share will be similar to bike sharing systems set up in cities across the country and the globe, so we don’t bore your with all the nitty gritty details. Do note that organizers recognize that the city is a little more hilly than other metro areas, and they’re preparing the rental bikes to have a few more gears than in other cities and systems—seven to be exact.
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Here in the US, the bike sharing thing is still catching on, as even spots like New York City are getting used to pedal power. However, Paris is pretty much and expert, as their bike share system—Vélib'—has been doing its thing since around 2007. Unfortunately bike sharing may have caught on too well, as the Paris system is going through a rough patch.
It’s not just bicycle theft that’s a problem, as vandalism is also to blame for the city’s dwindling pedal population. According to Le Monde there were around 9,000 bikes damaged, stolen, or uh—misplaced—just last year alone. They’re expensive to repair and replace as well, as new bikes cost around €650 per vehicle. All in all the city thinks it spent like €1 million just last year to keep things rolling.
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Brand new CitiBikes at NYC's Pier 11
Bike Sharing is not all bikini-wearing girls and hot, muscled guys pedaling along as Miami would have us believe, but it is a very attractive, eco-friendly addition to the urban infrastructure, and cities across North America are either already installing solar-powered bike rental kiosks or studying those that have.
Paris' popular Velib and London's BarclayBike are the best known programs, but would you have guessed that Minneapolis is challenging New York's claim to the largest system in the US, and that Mexico City is on track to have 6,000 bikes scattered around their neighborhoods? It's not just Europe having all the two-wheeled fun. Check out our guide to North America's cities that bike share:
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With the appearance of bike sharing programs all over the place there’s also the need for bike safety re-education, and the city of Boston is getting ready to go all in. The police aren’t giving tickets to riders just yet for not wearing helmets, but there is quite the push to ensure that your head stays safe.
Residents and locals alike have made the city’s Hubway bike share system a hit, but now the increase in riders has resulted in a need for increased safety. Signups for Hubway encourage riders to buy a helmet, to always wear the helmet, and there are even safety classes from which to choose. The city has also started to blanket the bike lanes with signs reminding everyone what can happened to those who choose not to wear a helmet, and the results—which are not too pretty. Some of the signs show some pretty nasty injuries, and many have the tagline “And you think a helmet is uncomfortable?”
The best way to get around Venice is by foot, but of course there are plenty of gondoliers that will tell you differently as you make your way around the city. Despite the lack of cars and roads—and the abundance of canals and waterways—there’s another way to cruise around town. Over on the Lido bicycles are everywhere, but don’t be sad if you forgot to bring yours too, because bike sharing is alive and well in Venice.
We took the vaporetto over to Venice’s longest island, and immediately stumbled onto the city’s "Bike Sharing Venezia" program after getting off the waterbus. Unfortunately we weren’t just able to swipe our credit card and pedal away, but this time it was due to some poor planning and not the lack of a chip-and-pin credit card.
Venice’s bike sharing program works much like other bike sharing systems around the globe. Swipe your access card, pick out your bike, pedal around, and then return it before too much time passes. You’re encouraged to use the bikes to get to the next stop, as it’s cheaper to do it that way and it keeps the bikes available for others looking to do the same.
It's finally happening, you guys. New York City is getting up off its butt and getting on the bike sharing bandwagon. What's that saying? "Better late than never." Yes, that saying. It very much applies in this case, as New York is way behind a slew of world cities who have had their bike sharing programs up for several years already.
The announcement of the NYC program and debut of the bikes came today, presided over by Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Thanks to a $41 million dollar cash infusion from CitiBank, the program won't rely on tax dollars, but will be named "Citi Bike." London's "Barclays Cycle Hire" is the same idea, except that's been around for nearly two years.
So enough about how late to the party the Big Apple is. Let's get down to the nitty-gritty details of using Citi Bike:
This week, a couple penguins took a few steps down the First Class aisle onboard a Delta flight and the footage went viral. Meanwhile, The Discovery Channel has installed a live Penguin Cam in the enclosure at the San Diego Zoo, keeping 24-hour watch over the waddling residents in celebration of the March 19 premiere of the new show "Frozen Planet."
The first time we tuned in to the cam, there were another 2,682 people also online, staring in at the 300 penguins (of 5 species) at the zoo. That's crazy, but it attests to the continued popularity of the tuxedo-d cutiepies. Oh, and the camera goes beyond just passively staring at the birds; there's underwater viewing and Q&A sessions:
You are watching Penguin Cam: live video of the "Penguin Encounter" at SeaWorld® San Diego. Stay tuned for penguin feedings throughout the day, and don't miss our live Q&A sessions every Monday from noon to 12:30 p.m. ET starting Monday, March 19.
It's Friday. Zone out here.
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This seems crazy, but leave it to Hertz to figure out more ways to rent things that move to travelers when they just don't need cars. We're talking about electric bicycles, which have now entered Hertz's rental fleets in London andthe newestall over Spain, including Granada, Almería, Alicante, Valencia, Pontevedra, Álava and Barcelona. Even the islands of Mallorca and Formentera haven't been left out; Hertz has brought their nine different types of Swiss Flyer electric bikes off the mainland.
We'd probably most likely use these on an island; it's already on our to-do list now for Palma.