A Theory of Signs

I’ve mentioned needing good signs in past entries without, I realize, specifying exactly what makes for good signs.

I’ve also been threatening to bring back the philosophy.

I think it’s time to make good on my promises. Continue reading

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#coffeeneuring 7, 7.5, and beyond: The Old Familiar Places

7: Maryland Food Collective (7.7 miles), blend of medium/dark Equal Exchange in house mug for 75¢ and Campfire S’more Sundae from the Dairy

8 (7.5?): A Baked Joint (4.4 miles), Elixir washed process Konga Yirgacheffe pourover and butternut squash/pumpkinseed focaccia stick.

IMG_3374Wait, why 7.5? I thought the rules only required 7 stops?!?

IMG_3373Well, yeah, that’s true. I wanted to do 7 places I didn’t do last year, though, and I realized after the fact that I’d hit up Coffee for People, Not Profits previously. I mean, it’s not like I begrudge my favorite Den of Equity extra publicity—The Revolution must be caffeinated—but I was trying to do New Places and New Things. Continue reading

#coffeeneuring 5&6: God in a Cup

#5: Potter’s House, Washington, DC (26 miles): Counter Culture Kenyan Thiriku Cooperative pourover

#6: Vigilante Stand, DCCX (11.2 miles), Washington, DC: Brazilian Santa Ines pourover/Acme hazelnut nutella pie—Will Race for Nutella.

IMG_2916It’s been a noisy week in Washington, my hometown, out on the Anacostia.

A DDOT meeting on bike lanes turned into a well-publicised shouting match in Shaw. Churchgoers vs. cyclists, long-time residents vs. newcomers, suburbs vs. the new DC, black vs. white, cars vs. bikes…pick your side of the battle lines and start cursing at one another. Continue reading

#coffeeneuring the GAP (3&4)

3: Joe Greens, Meyersdale, PA; 62.3 miles (Cumberland, MD—Confluence, PA); house coffee with cream (& Turkey/Bacon/Swiss/[unlisted avocado] sandwich with locally made plum lemonade)

4: Ohiopyle Bakery, Ohiopyle, PA; 54.7 miles (Confluence—West Newton, PA); hot chocolate (& pumpkin cookie & apple dumpling & Roast Beast sandwich)

Not Coffee/Not Visited this time: Queen City Creamery, Cumberland, MD (butter pecan peanut butter sundae in homemade waffle bowl); Mountain City Coffeehouse and Creamery, Frostburg, MD (hey, it was good two years ago!); Milroy Farms, Salsbury, PA (Maple Deliciousness!); Sweetie’s Bakery and Cafe, Confluence, PA (sure, pizza, but local maple/walnut ice cream, pumpkin bars that are actually made with actual pumpkin, and Other Sorts of Pastries…); Trailside Restaurant, West Newton, PA (Megalodon fish sandwich and local English IPA…oh, and pierogi pizza); OTB Bicycle Cafe, Pittsburgh (Buck Snort Stout, good hummus, and enough bike puns on their menu to last you a while); Burgatory, Homestead (hey, they’ll grind bacon INTO the burger—and their local draft selection’s pretty good, especially that Blackstrap Stout)

IMG_3091So a three-day trek may be a tad long to ride for a couple cups of coffee and a can of beer, but if I can bike to Annapolis for my Amsterdam fix, then trekking to the Forks of the Ohio for a stout makes total sense.

Plus, I have this totally awesome ‘cross bike that needs to be ridden, and fall foliage is cool.

Continue reading

#coffeeneuring 2: Slipstream

2: Slipstream, Logan Circle, Washington, DC; 15.2 miles: washed process Reko (espresso)

The last time I was at Slipstream, it was sleeting. “Shinola Detroit: Coming Summer 2015” said the sign on 14th NW. Didn’t believe it for a moment. Oh, they’d be there in June, to be sure; I just didn’t believe in summer. That may have been the worst day of that neverending winter (cracked my helmet later after slipping on an icy expansion joint on 9th NW, which may have been the Single Worst Moment of Freezing Saddles for me), but end it did. Continue reading

#coffeeneuring 1: Ceremony

1: Ceremony Coffee Roasters, Annapolis, MD; 64.8 miles: natural process Wazzala

The first time I tried to head out to Annapolis was with Ben and Dustin. I’d spent the night before nervous and not sleeping (this happens a lot before big rides), almost didn’t show up at Proteus, and, when we did get going, had to bail along Springfield Road—just couldn’t keep up on the rollers. Sure, I made it back to the start of the Goose Loop by the time the morning farms ride showed up, but it wasn’t exactly my best showing.

IMG_2429Time two was with Eric and Laurie for BikeMaryland Day; we followed Eric’s supersecretspecialrandoroute. Yeah, um…there’s no way I’m ever going to be able to follow all those cuts we took through Bowie back streets and over metal grate bridges again. I get lost.

Time to screw my courage to the sticking place and take the nutcaseroute. Between highways, geography, and poor planning, there are no good ways between DC and Annapolis, just picking evils.

To summarize: 1/3 is great, 1/3 isn’t too bad, and 1/3 is Bowie.* Continue reading

Case Study 2: Hyattsville

In my last post, I went on quite a bit about connections between communities and effective wayfinding networks. There’s a really great illustration of these points just south of the UMCP campus in the City of Hyattsville.

IMG_2394The wayfinding network is great. In many ways, it’s an exemplar of what these networks should be in suburban environments. Intersections are signposted to eliminate navigational confusion; signs lead naturally to other signs like bread crumbs; routes take the path of least stress around hills and busy streets; signs note linkages to other major routes; directions to transit links, like Metro stations, include their unique logotypes; signs are visible and frequent enough to clearly communicate the message that, if you are walking or riding, these streets and sidewalks are for you and that cars should expect your presence. Continue reading

Case Study 1: The University of Maryland, College Park

“The barriers formed…may indeed keep out extraneous people with sufficient effectiveness. If so, the price will be hostility from the surrounding city and an ever more beleaguered feeling within the fort.”
—Jane Jacobs, describing the University of Chicago, in 
The Death and Life of Great American Cities

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 10.38.19 AMIn many ways, the University of Maryland (UMCP) functions as a city in its own right, rather than simply a part of the City of College Park. From a transit perspective, it runs one of the most extensive bus networks in northern Prince George’s County, hosts events that can disrupt traffic on state, federal, and interstate highways, and occupies a crucial place near the intersection of several major commuter bike routes. Within the limits of the main university campus, the Department of Transportation Services (DOTS) manages infrastructure for private autos (and their parking), bus and shuttle networks, pedestrians, and cyclists. Continue reading

2: Retrofitting Suburbia

  The key, I think, to making infrastructure work out in the ‘burbs is less to try and copy what worked in the core, but rather to take advantage of what already exists. It’s a key concept behind Dunham-Jones and Williamson’s Retrofitting Suburbiarather than raze and rebuild, find ways to adapt and work with what already exists.

So what do we have to work with out where the sidewalk ends? Calm, suburban streets. Existing recreational trails along rivers, old rail grades, and parkland. People who already walk or ride bikes somewhere other than their neighborhoods. People who already walk or ride in their neighborhoods, but become invisible people in a car-centric environment. In the best of cases, small, local civic governments that respond to the needs of their citizens. That’s more than a bit, come to think of it. Continue reading

1: Trouble in the Suburbs

IMG_2917Oh, what the hey, accidental biketransitblogger, I swear I’ll get back to talking about philosophy one of these days..

We’ve pretty well established in previous episodes that, yes indeedly, bike transit is possible in suburbia. It’s where many of us learned how to ride bikes as kids, after all, and where many of us who continue to ride live. So why do so many people look at me like I’m nuts whenever I gush about the transit network out here in suburban Prince George’s, where you absolutely must have a car to get anywhere, right?

Here’s the thing. Suburban bike infrastructure needs to use a different approach than we’d use in an urban core. The built environments are different, approaches to navigation and engineering are different, and, oftentimes, even the terrain and ecosystems are different than what you’d find downtown. Continue reading

Velointerlude: Can You Bike There? Beyond Suburban Sprawl

IMG_2185So, the $360,000 question is this: can you make car-dependent sprawlcities and suburbs like Oklahoma City bikeable? If so, why bother?

No, really. If a car-dependent infrastructure has already developed, why try to radically disrupt it for the sake of something that’s foreign to the local way of thinking? Continue reading