21 June 2010

DESIGNER BIKES: Kamdyn Moore & bike-friendly infrastructure

Bicycles are ubiquitous on college campuses - as is the case on Pratt Institutes' Brooklyn campus where students gravitate to being cost effective and self sufficient. As I was wrapping up my graduate thesis at Pratt (developing products for a growing community of urban cyclists) I crossed paths with Kamdyn Moore, a Urban Environmental Systems Management graduate student at Pratt.

Kamdyn Moore's own thesis culminated in the creation of Campus Area Biking (CAB) aimed to establish Pratt as a leader in the race to change the concept of alternative transportation on a local level. Kamdyn shares her thoughts with for the LOVE of bikes on developing bike-friendly infrastructure on a college campus, falling in love with a single speed in Italy, and biking through Utah...

What got you started on developing better biking systems for Pratt Institute?
There have been a few inspirations for my thesis project. My first day at Pratt, I saw a petition pinned to the wall by the elevator that read “Want more bike racks at Higgens Hall?” As a student commuting to campus by bike, I happily signed the petition. Higgens Hall is probably the building most frequented by cyclists and the bike storage there is horrible. A few weeks later, the petition was gone and I never heard anything more about it. I don’t know if anyone ever saw the petition, who it was delivered to (if it was even delivered), or even who wrote it. And it is no surprise that, Higgens Hall still lacks adequate bike storage.
In addition to the bike racks, there is a pretty large community of students and staff passionate about alternative transit modes, particularly biking, yet Pratt was doing nothing to bring these people together. If anything, I felt that the Institute was trying to pull them apart. There were rumors that administration wanted to close specific entrance gates to cyclists and possibly even ban bikes from being ridden on campus.

I saw no one advocating for the cyclists and felt the need to step up and do something about it. If anything, at least provide the opportunity—the space—for Pratt’s cycling community to come together and share ideas and projects and provide accessible information about the campus policies and other local resources.
What type of systems do you foresee Pratt Institute developing?
My goal has been to analyze how our existing conditions function (or don’t function) and, with the information I’ve gathered throughout my process, better understand how each thing—policy, bike rack, website, resource, campus administrator, student, etc. can be integrated in a much more comprehensive way that will not only improve the cycling experience but the whole campus experience. There has been a lot of push back from key administrators who I believe would rather there be no bikes allowed on campus at all. Fortunately, some progress has been made and I’ve received some really positive feedback from a few administrators that are much more focused on improving the campus community.

In the long term, I hope my project brings light to the fact that the Institute must take a much more holistic approach when working to improve the campus infrastructure as well as when developing policies. You can’t just plop down a bike rack or write a policy. Well, you can, that’s what has been done in the past however the root of the problem, whatever the problem may be, is never addressed.
What was the first bike you ever rode?
As a kid, the first bike I ever rode was, I think, a blue and pink Huffy I got it for my 7th birthday. No training wheels!
How has your interest evolved since then?
My brother and I biked to school together when I was in the third grade but I never thought much of it until I moved to Italy in 2003 and bought a single speed beauty for 20 Euro. I road it until the day I left. I fell in love with the view from the bike. My perspective of the city had completely changed. When I moved back to New York, I was living in the West Village and got a job on 21st St and 1st Ave. There was really no great way to get across town except to bike so -- I bought an old beater off of Craigslist.
What type of bike(s) do you currently commute on?
At the moment, I only have one bike--- a Trek road bike. I wanted something that I could use every day but, if I ever wanted to go on a long ride, I could use the same bike. Once I have a bit more storage space, I hope to get something a little more “chic”. I’ve fallen in love with the “cycle chic” style and feel the need to participate!
What has been your most memorable ride?
Utah was my first and biggest ride. One (slightly drunken) night I called my dad and asked him if he would bike across the US with me. After a (strong) coffee the next morning, I realized that this was a pretty ambitious idea for two people who were completely inexperienced with long distance cycling -- I didn’t even know what a “pannier” was. We whittled down our plans to “a long ride through a dramatic US landscape” and Utah seemed like a good place. I was able to convince my brother to join us on the ride and we hit the road. The scenery was incredible. To climb up a mountain road and then descend into a dessert plain. It was pretty breathtaking (those mountains are steep)! I would still like to bike across the US someday but for now, I’m sticking with riding through NYC. I think my favorite NYC ride was from the West Village up to Times Square. It wasn’t a long ride, but at 3am - pretty awesome.
In most American cities, including NYC, women make up less than half of bike commuters. Any ideas on ways to encourage more women to cycle?
For me, seeing other females advocating for cycling has really encouraged me to continue riding as well as advocating for better biking systems. I think women have an incredible ability to gauge whether or not something is safe – not to be too simplistic but, usually you can judge an area’s safety by how many women are populating the streets. Unfortunately, I think in most American cities, most women wouldn’t consider our city’s streets to be safe for cyclists. We’re working on it - especially in New York but, I think more women will ride more once they are confident that the routes are safe - or at least getting safer.
Parting words...
Ride safe and wear a helmet. I know I sound like an infomercial but, my dad works with people who’ve suffered from a brain injury and I’ve heard some pretty horrible stories. And lastly, keep advocating for your right to the road!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...