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January 31, 2008

Has Dear Abby Been Reading The Cycling Dude?

I wonder? ;-D

Imagine my surprise when I saw her latest column, in this mornings OC Register.

Dear_abby

In a column with the online title of "Common Courtesy Conquers The Perils Of The Bike Path" Dear Abby apparently channels her inner Cycling Dude. ;-D

"Good manners can smooth many potentially abrasive situations."

"The rule should be to use caution on shared pathways, whether you are walking or riding -- and instead of taking for granted that you have the right of way, show consideration for others and practice good manners."

The letters sent in to Dear Abby, that she shares in this column, make some valid points.

As readers of this blog know I've been saying this, and more about cycling safety on the street, and on the trail, in essays, and Special Reports (The Back Bay, The Huntington Beach Bike Trail, Share the Road, etc...) since day 1, 5 years ago, and in a whole slew of posts, in a Special Archive Category, since October 2006, and not always to universal acclaim, either.

Most of the OC doesn't know this Blog exists, and my worldwide traffic, as mentioned the other day, is miniscule.

I don't kid myself about my reach, and influence.

Yes, I reach, and influence, people every day, and am damn well proud of it, but I ain't no Dear Abby, or Instapundit, not by a longshot, hee, hee! ;-D

More people will see her column than discover the resources in my sidebar, hands down.

One single column by Abigail Van Buren will be seen by millions worldwide, in print, and online, and one assumes that her popularity means that people take what she says seriously, and put her advice to good, practical use.

I hope that will be the case with this column as well.

Thank You, Dear Abby, for spreading the word!

THIS cyclist appreciates it.

(I used the contact form on her site to tell her so.)

January 31, 2008 in Share the Road, and Trail: Safety Matters! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 29, 2008

Advice on Getting Your Message Heard and Being an Advocate for Cycling

The website Bicycle Frenzy offers up an excellent article full of tips on Bicycling Activism for those with the knowledge, time, and sometimes even resources to pull it off.

While money, and even knowledge, isn't everything, time is of utmost importance where Advocacy is concerned.

Sometimes I wish I had more time, and knowledge, to be more of a BikeBlogger, and active advocate for cycling than I've been all these years, but I don't let that discourage me from doing what I can.

My Average Page Loads are currently 114 a day, Unique Visitors 91 a day, Firstimers 84 a day.

You know how I look at that?

Positively: That's 91 people a day discovering what I have to offer, in posts, and resources, that didn't know this material was out there to be discovered and learned from.

Bradly Fletchall, of Bicycle Frenzy, writes:

I can write and read about bicycle advocacy all day long on this site. I could post 25 times per day and even if I had 40,000 readers per day taking in everything I write, it will never do any good if no one acts on it.

The best advocacy in the world for any issue, not just bicycling, is totally useless if someone doesn’t take action to do something.

He goes on to say that there are many ways to be an activist, many ways to take action, and support cycling.

I look at his list and I smile in satisfaction as I realize that, hey, I AM an Activist!

My audience is miniscule, but every month I get e-mails from ordinary people, and "important" people, with questions, tips, compliments, and more, and from time to time other Bloggers comment on, and link to something I wrote.

I've even been quoted in a book! ;-D

This all means that my efforts have not been in vain.

His List?

Ride your bike.

  1. The more you ride your bike, the more others will see you riding.  This has a ripple effect of passively encouraging others to do the same.  It has been said that the average cyclist influences at least 3 others to start cycling.  I know that I am directly responsible for at least 5 people getting started.

I don't know how many people I've encouraged to ride, but I know I've encouraged lots of people to ride in places, and ways, they have never thought to do so.

Join a Local Bicycle Club.

  1. There are local bicycle clubs all over the place.  There are multiple clubs in every major city in the U.S. and clubs in many smaller towns as well.  If there isn’t a club in your town, start one.  Nothing is more effective at changing local laws or growing support in a small are than a local group of active cyclists speaking up for what they want.

Years ago I was briefly a member of the LA Wheelmen, and last year I join the OC Wheelmen.

This year I plan on finally getting out there and riding with them. ;-D

Look in my sidebar, and you will see a list of Clubs from Ca. and every other state in the United States.

If one is close to you, then check out their website, and go on a ride, to learn more.

Contact your local City Council.

  1. Usually the City Council is who you should contact to get road and signal safety issues addressed within the city limits.  They also influence and under some circumstances can change local laws as well.

Been there, done that. ;-D

I plan on doing it again. ;-D

Write letters to the editor in your local newspaper.

  1. Writing a letter to the editor of your local news paper is a great way to get your opinion heard.  If there is an issue that you feel isn’t getting enough attention write to the paper about it.  They may publish your letter and/or do a follow up story about it.  This can grow a lot of public intrust about an issue.

Been there, done that, too! ;-D

I've done it since, though nothing appeared in print, and plan on doing so again. ;-D

I was also profiled in a Local Weekly a few years back.

I've corresponded with the Outdoors Columnist of the OC Register a few times as well, though nothing has come of that correspondence as far as a write-up in the paper.

Oh, and I've been on TV as well! ;-D

Join your state bicycle association.

  1. Almost every state in the U.S. has a bicycle association of some form.  Here in Missouri there are several different associations that represent road racing, off road racing, and cycling as a whole.  Your state probably has similar groups.
  2. These groups can effectively represent cyclists on a state level to state governments to encourage and improve cycling state wide.

Years ago I was briefly a member of the California Bicycle Coalition, and rejoined them last year.

Once, a few years back, they kindly paid me a great honor, thus encouraging this fledgeling BikeBlogger in his efforts.

Look in my sidebar, and you will see a list of Advocacy Groups in CA., and from every other state in the United States.

If one is close to you, then check out their website to learn more.

Join a National Bicycle Association.

  1. You can also join a association like USA Cycling which represents bicycle racing in the U.S.  An association like USA Cycling has the resources and contacts to get issues heard by the federal government.

Or do like I have done and join Rails for Trails, Adventure Cycling, and the League of American Bicyclists.

Look in my sidebar, and you will see lists of national and internationl organizations.

Check out their websites to learn more.

Contact your State and Federal Representatives.

  1. Every citizen has the right and the ability to contact your government representatives.  You can call, e-mail, snail mail, and even visit your state and federal representatives.  Each of these representatives have staff members that read these letters and messages.  The most compelling and unique messages get the most attention.  So hand write a letter or get everyone in your bike club to send an e-mail with the same subject or get them all to call their representative on the same day.

Been there, and done that! ;-D

In the 2 years I spent writing about Critical Mass I had debates with the founders, activists, and supportive politicians.

Agree, or disagree, you must admit it was all quite informative, and absolutely fascinating.

So, as Bradley writes, get out there, when you can, and however you can, and start making a difference!

One way I've found to spread the word about The Cycling Dude is to pass out Business Cards, and distribute Flyers.

For years I've also had an open invitation to my readers in my sidebar:

Looking for news tips, story ideas, and the rare contributor appearance.

While the tips and story ideas keep coming in, the contributors have been few.

I Like to think that many of those who might have considered it ended up starting their own BikeBlogs, hee, hee. ;-D

Like Bradley I hope that if you have any other ways to spread the word please leave a comment, here, or at his place, or write a post on your blog, and link and trackback to this post, or send me an e-mail with the link.

***UPDATE - 745PM***

This is so cool, and very kind.

As I wrote, above, I've passed out Business Cards, and Flyers.

A Flyer is on the Bulletin Board near the Bike Shop at the REI in Santa Ana, Ca., and I gave my card to the guy at the Huntington Beach location who helped me fix a flat a few months back.

He just left a comment to my post, earlier in the day, about REI and its Grant Program. ;-D

***END UPDATE***

January 29, 2008 in Pedaling Advocacy | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Grants for Cycling From REI and Bikes Belong Given to Two Groups

The innaugural REI/Bicycle Friendly Communities Grants have been awarded:

New York City's Transportation Alternatives and the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation have been selected as the first recipients of REI/Bicycle Friendly Communities Grants of $15,000 each. This new grant fund, administered by the Bikes Belong Foundation and made possible by generous support from Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), helps aspiring, committed Bicycle Friendly Communities become great places to ride.

Transportation Alternatives (TA) will use their award to support a comprehensive citywide bike parking initiative designed to increase bike transportation in New York by giving cyclists safe, convenient places to park and store their bicycles. TA will conduct advocacy work for "parking spot swaps" and legislation mandating bicycle access to commercial buildings. The grant will also back a bike-rack design competition organized by the NYC Department of Transportation, TA, and city art museums.

Chicagoland Bicycle Federation will use their funding to produce the first of a series of Sunday Parkways events in Chicago, modeled after Ciclovia in Guadalajara, Mexico, and Bogotá, Columbia. With a goal of "transforming communities by invigorating their lifelines—their streets—every weekend from June through October," Sunday Parkways promises to dramatically increase ridership in the city of Chicago by creating a car-free community celebration that other U.S. cities can adopt.

Very cool news indeed!

You can read more in a report by The Corporate Social Responsibility Newswire.

January 29, 2008 in Pedaling Advocacy | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Me Not Missing, Just Busy!

I got an email from a fellow BikeBlogger, today, that sent me searching for myself.

I can't find your blog online any more.  Is everything ok?

The Midnight Rider

As you can imagine this concerned me greatly.

After checking to see that I was still here, both physically, mentally, and blogally, I quickly wrote to assure my friend that I was still alive and kicking, and to inquire as to how he came to the conclusion that I might not be.

After all the link to me in his sidebar works just fine! ;-D

People will no doubt notice the infrequent posting recently, I'm sure.

I've had a few things going on, from some writing related to my other blog, the fact that I had no time to do any bike riding, and the fact that now I have to spend my days, for the moment, at the beck and call of the government, for possible Jury Duty (So far just daily check in calls to find out if they want me to come in and sit in the waiting room.).

While I await with great curiosity for his reply I want to share with you a few reasons why I enjoy the blog of the Midnight Rider:

1. "Bike commuters don't usually mind a little bit of adversity. Things like rain, cold, wind, traffic and all those other maladys can be fun when they happen occasionally. None of us want to put ourselves at risk of getting clobbered, but occasionally we do happen into a predicament."

Read:  {{{{{{BOING}}}}}} Hee, hee! ;-D

2. "After finally realizing, (it took four years), that I could easily continue commuting by shortening my route, I managed to get two days of commuting before getting sick."

Read the follow-up to #1: Two and Out, which has some nice pictures.

3. "Lots of people were out today taking advantage of temperatures in the 40's...

It seemed like everyone was feeling mellow. The walkers were walking slow, the bicyclist were riding easy, the dog walkers were moping along. It was one of those afternoons when everyone was feelin' alright."

Tag along on a ride from which he shares some wonderful photos.

Thank You, MR, for caring! ;-D

January 29, 2008 in Life, The Bike Trail, and Everything | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 25, 2008

Rain, Rain, Rain

Well, the last few days have been all wet, and more is to come. ;-D

They are saying that LA County, and the OC, will get anywhere from 2 to 5 inches of rain from a Pacific storm that is apparently hitting LA later today, and will hang out in the OC from Saturday afternoon to Sunday morning.

I actually saw some cyclists braving the storms the last few days, but I don't intend to join them. ;-D

January 25, 2008 in Life, The Bike Trail, and Everything | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 22, 2008

Tour de Bicycling Blogs 11

Ladies, and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Cyclists, and non-cyclists!

Welcome to the 11th edition of The Tour de Bicycling Blogs!

Do U Bicycle?

There are a growing number of Bloggers with sites dedicated to the proposition that bike riding is good for you and fun.

In various ways we all provide commentary, and opinion, reports about events, and news, write reviews, stories, and travelogues, share photographs, and spread the word about the wide variety of websites of interest to anyone who rides a bike.

BikeBloggers spread the word, and the word is BICYCLE!

This ongoing series is about bicycling, and bicyclists...Recreational Bicyclists, Bike Commuters, and Activists.

It is about those of us whose blogs are devoted to writing about our bicycling escapades and about anything else cycling related that catches our attention.

Expect to read my own thoughts about some, or all, of what I bring to your attention.

Let's saddle up, and ride!

1. Adventures of the Crazy Biker Chick seems to have stalled for the time being in November.

If you want to know why Tanya has been one of the best Canadian BikeBloggers, since 2004, then check out this wonderful October post: Urban Jungle vs. Quiet Countryside.

Here's hoping she some day returns.

2. James, of Bicycle Deisgn, recently invited a very special guest to write an informative post about a new Mountain Bike:

Design of the Arantix Mountain Bike.

3 and 4. Da Square Wheelman, of Bicycle Diaries, has a couple of interesting posts:

109 years ago, this past weekend, a composer died while riding his bicycle.

Who? I'm glad you asked! ;-D

Read: A dangerous bike.

In another post he asks 2 questions:

Ever get bored just biking in the big city? Why not launch a few balloons then follow them through the streets? Better yet, why not attach a compact digital camcorder to the balloons and record their journey?

Well a group of cyclists did just that, and he shares the 11 min. Video, and a song the escapade brought to mind.

Read: 99 Luftballons.

5. The Conservative Jewish Rabbi, Ira Stone, who writes Bicycle Musings, is still in the saddle. ;-D

His 2 year old Granddaughter now has a Glider Rider!

Thanks to his own short heads-up I learned of "the publicity growing around the idea of a city-wide bike sharing program in Philadelphia": in the Philadelphia Inquirer

6. Over at Bicycle Net is a great article by David Shields:

A couple of months ago the Wichita, Kansas chapter of the MS Society invited me to ride in their event and speak at their dinner. As those of you who have participated in charitable rides like this already know, the atmosphere is almost always electric and addictive. This particular ride was even better than usual, especially because of the presence of a few special people.

Right after I finished speaking to the crowd about my newest book with Saul Raisin a man came up to my booth and asked if I could stick around afterwards...

He introduced himself as Matt Hampton, and then he asked to look at Saul’s book. He turned to the photo section and pointed to Saul’s brain scans. “My son suffered a massive stroke at birth. His brain was in a similar condition to this and has never fully recovered. He has cerebral palsy....”

I told Matt how sorry I was to hear about his son’s situation.

Just then a tentative young man stepped out from behind him. “This is my son, Jacob. He’s thirteen. Today he rode forty-one miles with me,” Matt said.

Want to be absolutely blown away?

Read the rest of the story: Lose the Training Wheels. ;-D

After you do so, please watch a video of Lose the Training Wheels students in action.

You can visit the organization’s web site by clicking here, or email them at matt.hampton - at -losethetrainingwheels.org, to learn more.

7. Over at Big Bear Blog, the Reverend Rich has some very important advice for cyclists everywhere. ;-D

Well, that's it this time, so until next time...Happy Cycling! ;-D

January 22, 2008 in Tour de Bicycling Blogs Archive | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 20, 2008

A Hearty Thanks to Carnival of the Vanities

Over the years I've submitted posts for acceptance in the Granddaddy of all Blog Carnivals, the Carnival of the Vanities, and its various hosts have thus helped get the word out to the wider Blogosphere about our Niche.

It had been a while since my last submission, so I figured that my 5th Anniversary post would be a good place to make a return. ;-D

I wish to thank Andrew Ian Dodge, of Dodgeblogium, the current Keeper of the Flame, for including me in a recent Carnival.

This Carnival inspired the creation of my own Tour De Bicycling Blogs.

The 11th Tour will be up this coming week. ;-D

January 20, 2008 in Blogosphere covers Bicycling | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 18, 2008

Amtrak Bike Train - Ideas Wanted

Amtrak1

Over the years I've taken my bike on Metrolink all across Los Angeles, Orange, and San Bernadino Counties, and the Metro Commuter Trains in Los Angeles, but have never had the chance to use Amtrak.

Amtrak2 My friend and fellow advocate for cycling, Larry Lagarde, of Ride This Bike and Places to Ride, was inspired by a story from Canada to look into the implimentation of a similar idea in the United States.

He's looking for serious feedback from cyclists across the country, through blog comments here, or on his blog.

Let him explain:

Just thought I'd pass along that I'm in the initial stages of discussing
a Bike Train with Amtrak. I'm looking for feasible locations for such a
service and would like to put the call out to readers at the CyclingDude.

Last summer, Canada's ViaRail ran a pilot Bike Train with space for 56
unboxed, fully assembled bikes from Toronto to Niagara Falls. The
service was such a success that ViaRail is expanding the Bike Train. I'm
convinced that an Amtrak Bike Train would have the same results.

Ideally, the Bike Train would run from a large metro area served now by
Amtrak. The metro area selected must have a high number of cyclists and
the train must run to a destination that is favored by cyclists and is
just a few hours from the large metro area. The cycling destination
should already be a stop on Amtrak that is staffed by Amtrak personnel.

Based on the above qualifications, if readers have ideas regarding a
potential Bike Train service, please pass them along.

Here's the story by Larry, with a link to the website of the Canadian Project.

See the results of his great straw poll of some bicycle advocates from across the country in "Unboxed Bikes on Trains in the USA."

Here in SoCal cyclists and everyone else, pack the Metrolink from LA to Ventura, and Amtrak to Santa Barbara, and beyond, for day trips on the weekend.

I've heard it can be a madhouse, and I've heard it can be great.

On trains, such as the Surfliner, you sit adjacent your bikes, but space is limited.

Metrolink_train Beginning next month I will be using both Metrolink (Pictured to the left.) and Amtrak, to get me to some rides throughout the year, and will write of my experiences.

When I head out to the Northern end of the Los Angeles River to begin my ride to the beach, soon, I will have to use the Blue and Red Line Trains in LA, and on those you have to stand with your bike in designated areas of each car for the whole ride.

Here is the page on the AMTRAK Website that describes its options for the cyclist.

Metrolink Policy is as follows:

Bikes are allowed on trains at all times.

Regular bikes should be secured using wheel straps available on certain
passenger cars.

Folding bikes should be folded, carried onto the train and stored like any other carry-on item.

Train personnel may ask cyclists to wait for the next train if bike storage is unavailable.

Three-wheeled bikes are not permitted on trains.

I like the idea of having special Baggage Cars just for 50 or so bikes.

Larry says that "People have been calling and emailing like crazy about the bike train.
Many have asked what more they can do to help get the bike train underway." 

He has some suggestions:

Ways To Build Interest In The Bike Train:

1. Tell others.
More cyclists must be aware of the bike train and express their desire
to use it.

2. Gather statistics.
Providing Amtrak with hard facts on the number of cyclists interested in
the service and where those cyclists want to take the train to go
cycling helps Amtrak guage the costs and benefits of the service.

3. Endorse the concept.
Everything that Amtrak does is scrutinized so demonstrating broad
support is vital. The more entities that speak up, the better.

4. Sponsor the bike train.
Offsetting the initial costs of the bike train service with sponsorships
makes it more appealing for Amtrak to initiate bike train service.

Gene Bisbee, of Biking Bis, has suggested running the bike train
to major cycling events like the Seattle to Portland Bike Classic (STP).
The coordinator of that event (Dave Douglas) believes that a
competitively priced bike train would sell out for the STP and other
rides put on by the Cascade Bike Club.

He has more to say about the issue here.

Like Larry I am very passionate about cycling.

I think the idea of combining cycling and passenger rail is a no brainer and confident that a bike train would be successful

I support Larry's efforts to pursue the idea with Amtrak.

Although my time and resources are limited, compared to many cycling advocates, I'm willing to do what I can to help in the effort.

Let's see what we can do to help Amtrak become more appealing to
cyclists!
 

January 18, 2008 in Have Bicycle, Will Travel, Life, The Bike Trail, and Everything, Pedaling Advocacy | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 16, 2008

Yes, Says Virginia, Cyclists CAN be Abusive Drivers

In Virginia cyclists apparently have to REALLY mind their P's and Q's.

Traf_haz Virginia political leaders defended the civil remedial fee speeding ticket tax by insisting that they did not apply to minor offenses and only the "worst of drivers" had to worry about them. On January 10, the Newport News General District Court disagreed and imposed a $1050 fee on the driver of an 18-speed Huffy (That's a representative model of the naughty vehicle, used to commit the "crime", in the photo.) ...

The intent of the law was that real abusers -- those with a chronic record of dangerous driving that endangers other road users -- would be made to pay for their reckless driving.

Bicyclist Kajuan Cornish, 19, has not accumulated a bad driving record because he does not own an automobile. That did not stop Newport News Police Officer George Evans for writing up Cornish as he pedaled down Warwick Boulevard near Denbigh Boulevard on December 27. Cornish was headed back to work after taking a lunch break.

"The officer who pulled me over said I was going too fast," Cornish told WAVY-TV. "He said it looked like I was in a rush."

Apparently a judge saw things the Officers way so Cornish must either pay the fee or fight his case in court.

Cornish says his reckless driving ticket might one day be funny, if it weren't so confusing.

"I get some people who laugh," he says, "and I get some people, like me, that are lost."

He reads his ticket out loud.

"Year?  None.  Make?  None.  Type?  Bike.  License?  None.  State?  None."

Cornish has to pay an abusive driver fee - he says $350 each year for the next four years - for a ticket he got on his lunch break.

"So I turn and I go into the parking lot," he remembers, "and I get pulled over for recklessly driving on a bicycle."

State Delegate Dave Albo (R-Springfield), the mastermind of the fees -- and a traffic attorney (figures!) -- is more than a bit surprised that a judge would apply them to a bicyclist.

Considering the ignorance and prejudice many display toward cyling and cyclists I'm not surprised at all.

Mr. Albo apparently didn't think his idea thru far enough before fighting to get it enacted into law.

The Governor is looking into overturning the law.

Considering the outrage from the Cycling Community, and others, that seems like the prudent thing to do. ;-D

Hat Tips to:

Bicyclist hit with $1050 Abusive Driver Fee by Alex Roy of Team Polizei 144.

Bicyclist gets ticket for reckless driving- WAVY-TV.

Virginia: Bicyclist Hit With $1050 Abusive Driver Fee
A Newport News, Virginia court applies the abusive driver fees to a man riding a bicycle - thenewspaper.com.



January 16, 2008 in Life on the Street: Local, and state Laws, and other topics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 11, 2008

Rare Neuromuscular Disorder No Hindrance for CrossCountry Cyclist

This is a cool story about a worthy cause.

The Cause? To raise money to find a cure for a rare desease:

Friedreich’s ataxia is a life-shortening, debilitating and rare genetic neurodegenerative disorder. Onset of symptoms usually occurs between the ages of 5 and 15. Symptoms include muscle weakness and loss of coordination in the arms and legs; impairment of vision, hearing and speech; aggressive scoliosis (curvature of the spine); diabetes, and a serious heart condition. Most patients need a wheelchair full-time by their late teens and die as young adults. There is currently no treatment or cure.

January 3, 2008 — Kyle Bryant and Team Ride Ataxia are preparing to begin their second cross-country journey to draw attention and raise research funds to find a cure for the rare neuromuscular disorder Friedreich’s ataxia with which Bryant and other teammates are affected.

The team will begin the ride on March 15, 2008 at the state capitol building in Sacramento, CA and conclude in Las Vegas, NV on March 27, 2008 at the National Ataxia Foundation’s 51st Annual Meeting. It will be a 13-day trip covering 600+ miles.

Check out the Blog linked above, and a short video by Kyle.

The rest of the Press Release can be read at the Blog of Kyle's friend, Bali What?

January 11, 2008 in Cycling News Network | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack