Planetizen picked up an interesting note from Calgary, where planners are getting ready to install a downtown cycle track. You, dear reader of this blog may consider that to be a livability upgrade, but wait, have you considered the traffic flow argument? I’m talking about the traffic-flow argument that supports converting lane from automobile to bicycle use.  

The Calgary Herald talked to researchers and found the proposed change – to one of the most heavily traveled downtown streets – would add mere seconds to rush hour commutes. And that’s the worst case scenario. There’s actually a chance travel times through the corridor could go down. That’s because poorly timed lights are unnecessarily constraining capacity on the street, a problem the city proposes to fix in concert with the cycle track installation. But there’s a more obvious, direct connection to the cycle track installation itself. Sandeep Agrawal, a professor and director of the Planning Program at the University of Alberta in Edmonton sums it up thusly:

“The bike lane gets a bad rap…The question is, if those people on bikes were in cars, how much would it have delayed traffic? They probably would have delayed it more.”

Calgary’s cycle track proposal goes beyond that one street, to create a network of safe and convenient routes through town:

Calgary's proposed network of downtown cycle tracks.

By better timing lights, separating turning lanes from through traffic, and separating vulnerable cyclists from motor vehicles, Calgary’s streets have the potential to safely serve more users, more quickly and efficiently.

Can Seattle find space on its crowded downtown streets to do the same? The Emerald City is a national leader when it comes to protected bicycle lanes. Knitting those lines on the map together, across the heart of the city, is considered by many to the next big change to watch for in a city that has been reinventing itself since the first settlers started calling it a city.

 

 

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A fun event with our friends at the Cascade Bicycle Club:

It’s Waterfront Week! This Sunday we’re celebrating the redesign of our beautiful Central Waterfront by holding a policy rideto explore the coming changes (and a few of our hoped-for changes).

 

We’ll check out the ferry terminal, new viewpoints, connections and intersections, the future two-way protected bike lane and needed improvements to the Interbay Trail. The total ride will be seven miles with several stops for discussion along the way.

 

Waterfront Policy Ride

Sunday, March 9, 1-2:30 p.m.

Meet at Occidental Park

End at the Seattle Aquarium

(7 miles total)

 

Click here to RSVP >>

We’ll finish the Waterfront Policy Ride at the Seattle Aquarium, right across the street from Waterfront Week’s “Field Day” activities, so bring the whole family!

Participants will need to sign a liability release form. RSVP here to register >>

I hope you will join us. Together we can create a community that’s healthier and happier.

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Bike sharing systems have won over cities around the world, growing from 60 in 2007 to more than 400 today. Is it merely a tourist toy or an alternative to congestion and all its social, environmental and health impacts? CNN.com says it’s pragmatism that makes local governments enthusiastic about the potential of these systems. 

Can the world’s most popular form of transit make inroads into American cities where the car is king? Join us  Monday at GGLO for a preview of the Puget Sound Bike Share plan.

Bike sharing is an innovative approach to urban mobility, combining the convenience and flexibility of a bicycle with the accessibility of public transportation. Bike share systems consist of a fleet of bikes provided at a network of stations located throughout a city. Bikes are available on demand to provide fast and easy access for short trips.

Puget Sound Bike Share is a partnership of public and private organizations working to bring bike sharing to King County. Our vision is to provide King County residents and visitors access to a low-cost, fast, flexible, and convenient transportation alternative with economic, social, and environmental benefits to the region.

via Puget Sound Bike Share | Connecting the Community by Bike.

And, in other bike news, The Eastlake Community Council on April 25 will be hosting a presentation and discussion of ideas to better accommodate the growing throng of brave cycle commuters who travel through the corridor rain or shine.

Public meeting about bicycling. Thurs., April 25, 7 p.m. at TOPS-Seward School.Featuring our own Craig Etheridge, World Cycle Messenger Champion. Questions: info@eastlakeseattle.org (via http://www.eastlakeseattle.org/?page=upcoming-events)

And, in case you missed it, The University of Washington is holding a June Bicycle Urbanism Symposium:

The International Bicycle Urbanism Symposium will bring together practitioners, academics, policy makers and advocates with diverse backgrounds including urban design, planning, transportation, engineering, landscape architecture, and public policy.

Over two days, participants will explore the way that cities can best encourage and accommodate bicycle in the future. Speakers from around the globe will lead sessions… (via http://www.greatcity.org/2013/03/03/reimagining-bicycle-friendly-cities-bicycle-urbanism-symposium-to-be-held-in-seattle-june-19-22/)

All great opportunities to learn more and get engaged building a more bicyclist-friendly city of tomorrow!

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Alex Merrick takes a flying leap off a closed and unused section the 520 Bridge into the cool water of the Washington Park Arboretum below on Monday August 8, 2005 in Seattle. The unused ramp is a popular spot where Seattelites have plunged into the water below for many years. Photo: JOSHUA TRUJILLO, SEATTLEPI.COM FILEYesterday, The Seattle Times reported that “the ramps to nowhere” are going away. The unofficial public swimming infrastructure is making way for a new Highway 520 floating bridge. That project has caught the attention of neighbors in Montlake, Madison Park, Laurelhurst, and Capitol Hill who have come together to ask for the replacement project to help reconnect their neighborhoods and “make it safe, comfortable, and convenient for everyone, from an 8-year-old child to his 80-year-old grandmother, to bike and walk” in their neighborhood.

The Cascade Bicycle Club reports overwhelming community support. Nearly 1,200 people wrote the Seattle City Council telling them to “get SR 520 right!” The groundswell has catalyzed a City Council resolution calling for the city to work with WSDOT to improve walking and biking connections in Montlake and to figure out how to build a shared use trail on the new Portage Bay Bridge.

Here is an image of the impact to the Portage Bay Bridge footprint if a few feet were added on each side for non-motorized options:

And that’s not all:

But wait, it gets better. Councilmember Conlin has introduced an amendment to help ensure the biking and walking improvements work for people of all ages and abilities. This means they’ll build protected bike lanes and neighborhood greenways instead of just slapping some paint on the road and calling it good.

For more information about this effort and how you can lend your voice to the call for new non-motorized connections between neighborhoods, check out the Cascade Bicycle Club or Central Seattle Greenways.

I have great summer memories of leaping off the Arboretum’s unfinished freeways. I always marveled at the seemingly limitless appetite of road builders. Let’s hope the city and state jump right into the work of planning other ways for us to get around, building a future of vibrant urbanism that’s less dependent on private automobile ownership and use.

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We’re excited about tomorrow’s Brown Bag Lunch to hear from Cascade Bicycle Club about the opportunities they see for Seattle in the ongoing update process for the Bicycle Master Plan. Across the country and right here at home, smart folks are creating those opportunities, and measuring the economic value of cyclists.

Bikenomics

This is geared more towards rural America, but from Utility Cycling comes a great video on the economic development potential of Bike Tourism.

And, from Mother Nature Network we learn that recent data shows that even though consumers who bicycle to a local store may spend the same, per visit (as those who arrived via public transportation or a car), the bicycling consumer visits the same store more often, thus increasing overall receipts.

Post-sharrow Seattle

It is encouraging, then, to see some great investments coming online here at home.

  • Via the Daily Journal of Commerce’s SeattleScape Blog we learn the West Thomas Street Pedestrian and Bicycle Overpass is now open and has been host to a steady stream of users in both directions, “despite the wet streets and ominous clouds, looking very pleased. It’s a good bet that nearby office workers will do the same on work days.”
  • Up in North Seattle, there’s the new Linden Avenue Complete Street, which features a separated cycle track. According to the Cascade Bike Blog, one of the first people to see it (a member of the “hesitant majority”) exclaimed: “I would actually bike on that!”
  • Jumping off that news, Seattle Bike Blog reports that construction is well underway on the main structure of the UW Station biking and walking bridge over Montlake Boulevard. (SBB has more on that Linden cycle track, too, including photos, as well as an update on something called a “Bike Sneak,” intended as a safer way to cross the Streetcar tracks going into the ground through Little Saigon.)

It stands to reason that asking cyclists to chart their own course through busy city streets won’t translate into a huge share of folks choosing to get out of their car. As we’ve discussed here, research proves its not the safest way to include cycling in a city’s transportation mix, either.

What women want

The Atlantic Cities has a nice summary of “research that lays out some of the reasons why women stay off bikes.”

Women want things like more, better cycling infrastructure, supportive communities of cyclists that look like them, and for cycling for transportation overall to be a safer, more convenient experience.

Certainly relevant here in Seattle, where we want more gender diversity among cyclists. Recent research shows that women make up less than 30 percent of the riders on Seattle’s streets. And we’ve noted on this blog before that “Both women and men are using separated bicycle lanes at more equal rates, whereas roads without separation (even the same road before redesign) are used predominately by men.”

Some argue, however, that we have farther to go towards gender equality in a world where women are laden, more so than men, by obligations of both work and family, necessitating the multipurpose trips ill-served by bike.

What do you think? “Build it and they will come,” or “break the glass ceiling.” What needs to happen before cycling becomes a reasonable option for more women?

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Also: New West Seattle bike advocacy effort, Cascade Bicycle Club on the broader bicyclistic future of Seattle and more!

This Thursday, we welcome our friends at Cascade Bicycle Club to our Brown Bag Lunch at GGLO–Cascade will be providing an overview of the Bicycle Master Plan Update process. We meet at noon at GGLO’s Space at the Steps (1301 1st Avenue, 1/4 of the way down Harbor Steps)-bring your lunch and your insightful questions!

There is a lot of action and interest in bicycling as a solution to congestion, economic development and environmental challenges, both here at home and around the country.

Speaking of the Bicycle Master Plan; also Thursday, a new advocacy group is busy organizing their first outreach event for West Seattleites who feel like the peninsula is behind the rest of the city in safe, continuous bike routes. The fledgling group of a dozen hopes to rally Southwest residents behind the alternative transportation needs of their neighborhood throughout the plan update process.

So how are we doing as a city that cycles? To begin to answer this question, Cascade recently partnered on the creation and installation of an automated bike counter. Installed within the last week, this will give transportation planners and advocates alike a better handle on real bicycling mode share in one main corridor.

Meanwhile, The Atlantic Cities has a post with the surprising assertion that “transportation engineers have long… counter-intuitively argued that you’re actually better off learning to ride alongside cars than having your own bike lane.” Readers of this blog are likely to be un-surprised, however, to learn what research can now prove: “A major city street with parked cars and no bike lanes is just about the most dangerous place you could ride a bike…”

…Your chance of injury drops by about 50 percent, relative to that major city street, when riding on a similar road with a bike lane and no parked cars. The same improvement occurs on bike paths and local streets with designated bike routes. And protected bike lanes – with actual barriers separating cyclists from traffic – really make a difference. The risk of injury drops for riders there by 90 percent…

As for the economy, which continues to be a focal point for all of us as campaigns hurtle towards election day, Sustainable Cities Collective has nine reasons why cyclists and infrastructure spur organic growth.

How do you see rethinking our car-dependant, spread-out, North American development legacy changing how we live and get around in Seattle? Can everyone, from an 8-year-old child to her 80-year-old grandmother, one day have the freedom to safely bike to get wherever they need to go? Join us Thursday at noon at GGLO as we explore a two-wheel path to that vision.

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Price Tags found a cool animation for London Bike Share usage data. The graphic shows how bikes are used and circulated back to several key hubs–the more frequent the use, the brighter the line.

London’s bikeshare has launched over 5 million trips since it started in 2010. This animation by visualization specialist Jo Wood shows you where they’ve all been going. It’s more informative if you know the city — but even if you don’t, it’s kind of hypnotic.

A little closer to home, PubliCola reports Seattle’s own bike share is moving forward towards a fall 2013 launch. “Puget Sound Bike Share” is seeking an executive director, raising money for the pilot program and researching potential vendors. One other key issue they’ve been working on, which we’ve looked at in the past, is the city’s mandatory helmet law. PubliCola interviewed Ref Lindmark who confirmed the rumor we’d heard about a possible helmet dispenser at docking stations:  “there are groups working hard to develop and deploy” such a system for Seattle, and other helmet-law cities interested in bike shares. Ref also shared some thoughts on the hills and weather bike share users might encounter in Seattle:

Ref Lindmark, King County Metro’s transportation planner and president of the bike-share program’s board, says multi-speed bikes can get riders up hills (some ride-share programs only feature one-speeders) and that even rainy weather is typically only an issue for 15 to 20 minutes, the average trip time advocates estimate people will use shared bikes. Just be thankful we don’t have those Midwestern winters.

Meanwhile, the Seattle Bike Blog has an update on Mayor McGinn’s proposed 2013-14 budget, highlighting “some strong support for biking and walking improvements, including a big boost to the city’s Safe Routes to School and neighborhood greenway efforts.” The blog notes Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, a greenway champion, likes what she sees:

I am particularly glad to note that enhancements to pedestrian and bicycle mobility are a key component of the 2013-2014 Proposed Budget.  The proposed budget funds bicycle facilities, sidewalk safety, Safe Routes to Schools, the creation of a Center City Mobility Plan, the continued good work of the Bike Master Plan, cycle tracks and greenways.

As momentum for bicycling continues to shift from radical experiment to true alternative, look for more discussion of ideas and investments from near and far. And, join us later this month as we welcome the Cascade Bicycle Club to our October 25 Brown Bag lunch on the state of Seattle’s bicycling infrastructure and the Bicycle Master Plan Update process. Bring your lunch — and your insightful questions!

 

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Finding space in 12th Ave's bike parking rack

Lock up n' shop till you drop

There is some new research into the value of those ginormous bike racks that take up a vehicle parking space or two. Seems like a good topic for the day many will take over a parking space of their choice for a more creative, populous use than storing the typical single occupancy vehicle. Happy PARKing day everybody!

Research makes connection between bike friendly and bottom line

Portland State University researcherKelly Cliftonhas shared more detailed data on her research into how mode choice impacts spending behaviors. After talking to Clifton at the outset of her research and then sharing some initial findings back in July, I learned more about her findings at the Bureau of Transportation’s monthly Bicycle Brown Bag discussion series held at City Hall today.

According to data from 1,884 surveys taken outside various establishments, non-driving customers — those who show up by bike, on foot, or via transit — are often more valuable in terms of dollars spent than customers who arrive in a car. This data flies in the face of the often heard perspective that automobile access should be the highest priority to ensure business success.

…more

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Did you know Bike Share is coming to Seattle? Here’s the Seattle Times on the plan, in case you missed it earlier this month:

Momentum is growing to build a bicycle-sharing network in Seattle by mid-2013, if a nonprofit coalition can gather a few million dollars.

Puget Sound Bike Share hopes to follow the lead of Capital Bikeshare in Washington, D.C., and other operations around the world.

The proposed initial phase would put 500 bicycles in downtown, South Lake Union, Eastlake, Capitol Hill, the University District and Sand Point. Future phases might include Ballard-Fremont, Overlake, downtown Bellevue and Rainier Valley… (Continue Reading Bike-share in Seattle: Start-up calls for 500 bicycles, a few million dollars | Local News | The Seattle Times)

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Prevalence of Overweight Children in US

Our credo is that smart and responsible urbanism offers solutions to many of our society’s most pressing issues. One example is that great, vibrant, urban places don’t just look better than spread out auto-oriented development, they work better. Part of that is because of the way they make us work. Working out is easier when it is a reasonable part of your daily routine, like commuting.

Obesity is an epidemic spreading from community to community across the United States. In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC estimates that more than one-third of U.S. adults 35.7% are obese; while in 1997 the obesity rate among adults was at 19.4%.  Childhood obesity is also on the rise. Since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents have almost tripled.  In 2011, the CDC reports that approximately 17% or 12.5 million of children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese. According to studies, obesity in both children and adults is not only a circumstance of eating unhealthy food, but also results from an inactive lifestyle.

Regular physical activity can reduce the risk for obesity and help people lead longer, healthy lives. Studies show that less than 10 percent of adults get the recommended 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise per day. Walking and bicycling to and from work, school and errands is one easy way to incorporate physical activity in your daily routine, with the additional benefit of reducing automobile use.

The obesity epidemic is complex and finding lasting strategies that reduce its spread involves participation from many sectors. Currently, communities across the United States are doing their part to encourage active lifestyles for their residents. Many communities are promoting walking and biking by adding well-marked bike lanes on major routes, and also repairing and extending the sidewalk network to accommodate pedestrians. Studies show that cities with more sidewalks and bike lanes have a lower rate of obesity than those without active transportation options. (Continue Reading: Walking and Biking: The Key to Reducing Risk of Obesity? | Sustainable Cities Collective)

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Over in the other Washington, there’s a new website to help cyclists navigate the nation’s capital, Next American City reports.

Cyclists in Washington, D.C., home to Capital Bikeshare, have another tool at their disposal to help them navigate the nation’s capital on two wheels.

Today, techie non-profit OpenPlans launched BikePlanner.org, a District-focused program that routes bike trips according to the user’s preferences. It’s the first software of its kind in the U.S.

The website’s bright, clearly discernible map allows visitors and locals alike to set a path for throughout the Washington metro region, and modify the route based on a preference for the flattest, safest or quickest path (or, if you like, somewhere between these three options). Right now, the city’s bike share program stretches into Arlington County, Va., but it plans on extending to Alexandria, Va. and Rockville. Md… (Continue Reading New Website to Help D.C. Cyclists Get Around – Next American City)

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Seattle Bike Blog breaks the welcome news of progress on the long-awaited idea of a bikeshare system for Seattle:

As we reported last week, Puget Sound Bike Share has officially formed and is currently searching for an executive director. If all goes smoothly, the first bikes could roll out as early as late summer or fall of 2013.

Guiding the process process forward is a business plan developed by Alta, which suggested having an administrative non-profit (Puget Sound Bike Share) and a private operating contractor (TBD, though Alta would probably like the job).

“Non-profit is a good model for us because it’s a lot easier to apply for public sector grants and [private] sponsorships,” said PSBS Board President Ref Lindmark (also with King County). While elsewhere in the nation, municipalities have owned and operated the systems, a non-profit makes sense for the system’s goal to be a regional system, he said… (Continue Reading The plan for Puget Sound Bike Share | Seattle Bike Blog)

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We’ve been taking a look at bikeshare systems and issues with their implementation. Here in Seattle, helmet laws might be a hurdle but we are hearing some rumbles of possible low-cost helmet vending machines at rental stations as a solution. What with all the hills in Seattle, pricing might also be structured to give users an incentive to ride uphill to return a bike.

But first, a look at China, home to the biggest bikeshare system in the world:

The Beijing Municipal Government recently launched a new public bike rental program, though this is not Beijing’s first foray into bike sharing. There are 39 public bike schemes in China—dwarfing all other nations. As more Chinese cities introduce public bike systems, we need to think carefully about their design and operations under a broader sustainable transport framework.

There has been a boom of shared and public bikes in cities around the world. From Paris to Washington D.C., from Barcelona to Boston, shared bicycle fleets have been branded and introduced in modern cities as a “new” member of mass transit. China, once called the “Kingdom of Bicycles,” is also sparing no efforts in promoting public bikes.

The attention for pubic bikes in China is partially related to the success of the Hangzhou public bike program. Currently, Hangzhou runs the largest bikeshare program in the world with 250,000 trips a day with more than 60,000 bikes and 2,177 stations. This system, which is funded entirely by the municipal government, was planned and built within only three years  The red bicycles have been so well-received by the public that it inspired many other Chinese cities, including Beijing, to replicate the Hangzhou model.  On June 16, the Beijing municipal government launched its public bike program. The first batch of 2,000 bikes have been stationed in 63 places with high-traffic flow in Beijing’s Dongcheng and Chaoyang districts. According to the plan, 50,000 bikes will be in use in 1,000 designated service places by 2015 to cover major districts, transportation hubs and streets… (Continue Reading China Transportation Briefing: Booming Public Bikes | TheCityFix)

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City of Sydney Bikeway Plan

U.S. transportation planners are increasingly looking at cycling as a way to move more people through cities without increasing traffic. Lessons from abroad abound with instructive examples of how to get it done.

From Pedestrian and Bicycle Transport Institute of Australasia's blog

From Down Under:

New research on cycling habits is in from Sydney, and it turns out that city dwellers are less likely to start biking if theyre afraid a lumbering SUV might crush their back tire or that errant car doors will send them over their handlebars. Who knew?

The Australian city is in the process of implementing its 2030 blueprint for a greener city, and its building a hell of a lot of bike lanes. As in 200 kilometers 125 miles worth. City government is also spearheading a program to increase ridership amongst its citizens—it wants 10% of the metropolis biking by 2030. And its research on ridership reveals that theres a magic ingredient to success: separate bike lanes.

According to the Guardian, the lanes

“have been successful in persuading previous non-cyclists to get out on their bikes. Research done by the council has shown that the likelihood of a resident commuting by bike increases exponentially with the proportion of their commuting trip made possible on a separated bike lane.”

The city is now in the process of building 55 kilometers of them… (Continue reading: Sydney Builds Separate Bike Lanes, Ridership Skyrockets 82% : TreeHugger)

h/t Via Architecture

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Looking North/Northwest for more thoughts on compulsory helmet laws: A few interesting snippets recently appeared on the blog of former Vancouver, BC City Councillor (and too many other civic contributions to list) Gordon Price:

Liberal policy chair differs with his government.

From The Province:

The mandatory helmet law is even being questioned by those close to the  premier.

Ted Dixon, the BC Liberal Party Policy Chair, told The Province Monday  he is speaking out personally about the mandatory helmet law, adding he thinks  it could be a topic of debate for the next election.

“We need to bring the responsibility back to the individual who is riding the  bike,” he said. “My personal view is the individual is best able to assess the  risk.”

Dixon said he hopes the law is reviewed and ultimately changed, noting that  in Australia a mandatory bike-helmet law resulted in people shying away from  bikes.

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The position of the B.C. Cycling Coalition:

Helmet Education – Encouraging the use of helmets through evidence-based education that accurately reflects the risk of cycling in different circumstances. Helmet marketing campaigns that exaggerate the risk of cycling and thus discourage people from cycling should be avoided.

Helmet Choice – As many jurisdictions which have implemented comprehensive crash reduction measures have cycling fatality rates dramatically lower than BC and also very low rates of helmet usage, we recommend allowing adults choice regarding helmet use by eliminating the mandatory helmet requirement for adult cyclists. This will enable enforcement resources to be focused on collision reduction and facilitate the successful introduction of bike share systems.

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From Alaska Dispatch:

More than 20 years ago, G.B. Rodgers examined 8 million cases of injury or death to cyclists in the U.S over 15 years and concluded there was no evidence that helmets reduced head injury or fatalities. That injury survey remains the largest ever done.

Not only did it lead Rodgers to conclude helmets don’t work, according to the Bicycle Helmet Research Foundation, it also led him to conclude “that helmeted riders were more likely to be killed.” The foundation is not some anti-helmet crazed, personal-liberty organization. The foundation’s website sets out good arguments both for and against helmets. The foundation claims to have been “established to provide a resource of best-available factual information and to challenge evidence and policies that do not stand up to scrutiny.” …

What Anchorage ought to be doing, if it cares about its children, is encouraging them to get out and ride. What Anchorage ought to be doing, if it cares about its children, is designing safe routes to schools, playgrounds, ball fields and other activity areas. And what Anchorage ought to be doing, if it cares about its children, is dumping a do-gooder law that discourages kids from riding a bike.

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…More: The Helmet Debate – 2 « Price Tags.

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