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LAPD takes electric bikes for a spin

The Los Angeles Police Department bicycle coordination unit is running a pilot program that put officers on electric bikes. They're pretty schmancy bikes, too. They can go up to 20 mph, top speed for typical cyclist. The manufacturer donated the bikes to the police department, but they retail for $3,499. The program began because LAPD officers couldn't keep up with road bikes on the mountain bikes they already own. The electric bikes may not be quite as intimidating as those horses police departments trot out sometimes, but they do give officers an edge over misbehaving cyclists who only have their …

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Hey NYC! Lay off cyclists, already!

The New York City Department of Transportation has released a new ad campaign telling cyclists, "Don't Be A Jerk." Apparently the DOT staff hasn't left their office for a while, because if it's jerks they're looking for on the streets of New York, there's no need to single out cyclists. The DOT claims that the ad campaign "humorously highlights the essential dos and don’ts of safe, responsible biking," but it feels more like an apology to the anti-bike lane crowd that's hijacked the city's transportation policy lately. In the ads, celebrities like Mario Batali and Paulina Porizkova ride the wrong …

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Transportation secretary: ‘Hipster? I hardly know ‘er’

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood is a bike fan, and he doesn't care if that makes him look like a hipster, because he doesn't know what the word means. In an interview with the Huffington Post, LaHood made some perfectly reasonable, and indeed heartening, statements about the importance of bike lanes: And as head of the Department of Transportation, LaHood noted his “concern” over the “way that bikers are treated when they are on streets.” “I’m concerned that people that are driving cars have a level of respect for bikers, and that’s the reason that we have these bike lanes,” …

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Critical List: Biofuels kinda suck, biomass kinda sucks, Toys ‘R’ Us embraces solar

The Fish and Wildlife Service has promised to evaluate the endangered status of 251 species in the next six years, if only so those pesky enviros will be quiet for a bit. The country's largest rooftop solar-energy field will be installed in New Jersey, at a Toys "R" Us distribution center. No word on when the Barbie Dream House will go green, though. Three senators released a bill that would cut subsidies to oil companies. Don't pat yourself on the back for flying on a plane that uses biofuels: If the fuel comes from palm oil grown on land converted …

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The bike economy is booming

We don't want to underestimate Americans' ability to buy things they don't use, but bike sales were up 9 percent this quarter. There was an even bigger jump -- 29 percent -- in sales of road bikes, implying that people are using their new vehicles to commute. Gas-powered scooter sales went up even more -- those are still gas-powered, duh, but a hell of a lot more environmentally friendly than a car. Is this because of $4-a-gallon gas? It's too early to tell, but it seems reasonable. Then again, it could be because of increased bike-friendliness. The federal government has …

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The iPhone is the new Prius

Ditch the car and get a bike, a transit farecard, and a smartphone.Photo: NoktonCross-posted from Shareable. Two years ago, my California driver's license expired. Living in Chicago at the time, where the smart resident uses bikes or public transit to avoid traffic, I hadn't found a compelling reason to get behind the wheel of our car in months. With plenty of other pressing tasks on my to-do list, renewing or replacing an expired out-of-state license quickly plummeted to the bottom of my priorities. Two years later, the license is still expired, and I'm happier, healthier, and richer for it. There's …

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Not just better for bikes: New York completes its streets [VIDEO]

Something has been lost in the recent kerfuffle over bike lanes in New York City. The rethinking and redesign of the city's streets is not just about bikes (and it is not a terrorist plot). It's about what is known in the land of urban wonkery as "complete streets," and it is a concept that is becoming more and more prevalent around the country. Here's how the National Complete Streets Coalition defines what it means to build a complete street: Instituting a complete streets policy ensures that transportation planners and engineers consistently design and operate the entire roadway with all …

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Awesome concept design makes buildings into bike racks

Floor space is at a premium in cities -- everyone wants to walk, bike, drive, and park their various human- and gas-powered vehicles on the same precious real estate. Vertical space, on the other hand, is available in abundance. And while the obvious use for this space is crazy-ass trompe l'oeil murals, the second-best option is doing something useful and innovative to take some of the space burden off the ground. Voila: The bike hanger. These aren't reality, yet, but the concept is brilliant. These vertical bike racks work something like a Ferris wheel or the motorized rack at a …

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Rep. Earl Blumenauer wants better tax benefits for bike, transit commuters

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.)Photo: Thomas Le NgoWhat is a sensible political reaction to rising gas prices? Standing around shouting "Drill, baby, drill"? Or offering material support to commuters who increasingly opt for public transportation or biking to work? Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), who often sports a bike pin in his lapel (and rides a bike to work himself), is taking the second approach. This week he is introducing legislation that would help people who want to drive less -- without costing the government any more money. His proposal is the Commuter Relief Act. It would expand tax credits "for individuals …

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How employers can encourage happy, healthy bike commuters

This is the sixth column in a series focusing on the economics of bicycling. Miles Craig of Portland, Oregon applied for an hourly call center job at movie rental by mail empire Netflix last January. "My phone interview went incredibly well," he said. "And the lady said, ‘Well, let's get you in for a face-to-face interview. What time can you come in?'" Craig mentioned casually that he'd be using a combination of bicycle and transit to get to the interview and, if he got the job, to work. That was when things started to go downhill. "She got very subdued …

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