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Archive for March, 2012

Bike racks in Long Beach

Bike racks in Long Beach help attract customers to local businesses.

One of the truly encouraging trends we’ve seen the past few years is the gradual uptick in urban cycling around Sarasota. Many new bicycle parking racks have been installed and people are slowly catching on to the fact that the bike may just be the best way to get around the downtown area. Plus, the sight, smell, and sound of people riding bikes and walking is just so much more pleasant than those of cars, especially on Main Street. Even during a severe economic downtown, life in the heart of our fair city has become more vibrant, not less.

An article crossposted on Grist and The Nation took a look at Long Beach, California, as it works to better integrate the bicycle as a regular means of transport. Like Sarasota, Long Beach has a climate that accommodates year-round cycling (the only thing required in SRQ during the worst heat of summer is more shade from street trees), a high number of older and retired residents, and way too much traffic. That is changing, slowly but surely, in Long Beach and perhaps in Sarasota as well. Why? Well, besides being good for quality of life, bikes are good for business.

Of course, there are still plenty of cars in Long Beach…but bicycles are getting more respect, not to mention resources, than ever before. With help from state and federal grants and pressure from local cycling enthusiasts, the city government has installed 130 miles of bike trails, established protected bike lanes (that is, lanes separated from vehicular traffic by physical barriers) on major commuter thoroughfares, created bike boulevards that enable kids and parents to bike or walk safely to and from school, and installed 1,200 new bike racks.

Perhaps most innovative has been the city’s effort to establish bike-friendly shopping districts — the first in the country, officials say — engaging local merchants by showing them how, contrary to common belief, biking can actually bring more customers and vitality to shopping districts.

“The math is pretty simple,” says April Economides, the principal of Green Octopus Consulting and the leader of the city’s outreach to local businesses. “You can park 12 bikes in the amount of space it takes to park one car. And someone who shifts from owning a car to a bicycle tends to have more discretionary income, because, for a commuter, the typical cost of a bicycle is $300 a year, compared to $7,000 a year for a car.”

Separated bike lane in Stockholm, Sweden. Where the weather isn't nearly so favorable for cycling.

Besides putting extra money in your pocket, pedaling more and driving less makes it easier to remember why you chose to live in paradise in the first place.

“I like a line by Aristotle, ‘Beware the barrenness of a busy life,’” Long Beach mayor Bob Foster says. “Sometimes I can’t remember at the end of a day what I did the past eight hours. That’s moving too fast. A bit slower pace in life is a good thing.”
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This post is a bit long in coming, but check out the pics of the 2011 Sarasota Chalk Art Festival below. For those of us who were there, it’s a nice reminder of how quickly the event has grown. For those of you who weren’t…well, don’t miss it in 2012! Sarasota has a long history as a haven for artists, and the Chalk Festival is part of downtown Sarasota’s burgeoning street art scene (more on that in upcoming posts). More photos can be found here. The festival home page is chalkfestival.com

2012 Sarasota Chalk Festival Announces Circus City Theme!!

The 2012 Sarasota Chalk Festival theme will bring us back to the 1920′s when the serene seaside shores of Sarasota became Ringling Bros.-Barnum & Bailey’s Circus winter home and became known as “Circus City, USA”.

A time when residents would glow with anticipation as the trains rolled into town carrying circus families from around the world along with their elaborate costumes, massive tents and exotic animals to practice their fearless acts.

The Sarasota Chalk Festival hosted the most important contemporary street painting venue in the world last year (2011 Pavement Art Through the Ages) with over 250 of the most renowned artists participating for the first time in one location and 200,000 visitors attending. Local artists were joined by artists from all over America as well as international artists from Australia, Italy, Canada, Spain, Netherlands, Mexico, Japan, Peru, France, Brazil and Germany. (more info at the official website)

Juandres Vera, of Mexico, finishes his submission for the 3D Pavement Art category at the 2011 Sarasota international Chalk Festival.

A chalk mosaic pays homage to modern collages made from hundreds of digital photos. (Apt. 46/Flickr)

One artist blends past and future with an homage to apples and Apple products. Sarasota, Fla. officials estimate over 100,000 visitors attended the free festival. (Apt. 46/Flickr)

Wide-pan view of the 2011 Sarasota Chalk Festival. The festival’s end on Nov. 7 saw a high-pressure street washer wipe all the art away, leaving only photos through which to remember the gallery. (Apt. 46/Flickr)

This LEGO terracotta army was inspired by the giant LEGO man found on a Sarasota beach, as well as the Terracotta warriors of ancient China. (Zinnia Jones/Flickr)

The finished LEGO terracota army by Planet Streetpainting of the Netehrlands. (Zinnia Jones/Flickr)

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