September 22, 2005

Katrina: Texas aids victims

As Hurricane Rita bears down on Texas it is important to share some great stories, from the Lone Star State, about what those wonderful people have done, or are planning to do, in the wake of Katrina:

From Bicycling in Austin:

Austin's Yellow Bike Project is building bikes for Katrina evacuees and is seeking bikes, children's seats, racks, and bike trailers -- as well as volunteers to help fix them up. Upcoming bike giveaways will be on Saturdays 9/17, 9/24, and 10/1 at 5:00pm at 3rd and Trinity (the west side of the Austin Convention Center).

From the Greater Dallas Bicyclists:

Texas Cycling Classic benefiting the Katrina Kids on Oct. 8th.

From the Texas Bicycle Coalition on Sept 8th:

When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast this week, countless people lost their homes, their livelihoods, and their means of transportation. Thousands of people from neighboring Louisiana have taken refuge in cities and towns across Texas. Texas Bicycle Coalition is working with the Texas bicycle community to coordinate a thoughtful and concerted response. Several staff members visited the Toney Burger Center in Austin, a local Red Cross shelter for hurricane victims, on August 31 to assess need and determine how the cycling community may be able to help. As a result of this visit, and with growing support from the bicycle industry and our membership, Texas Bicycle Coalition is spearheading efforts to provide bicycle education and recreation to the thousands of refugee children living at Red Cross shelters.

Still in its infant stages, the Coalition’s plan is to provide a bicycle safety education day for the children at the Austin Convention Center and other Texas shelters. This event would provide a much-needed day of recreation and fun for the youngest of the hurricane refugees. To make this day a reality, the Coalition is working with the bicycle industry and relief workers to determine how to procure bikes and purchase helmets for each child who wishes to participate.

This effort will be funded exclusively from member donations as the Coalition’s grants don’t provide funding for this type of emergency response. If you would like to help Texas Bicycle Coalition in this effort, please visit our donation page and make a contribution to the Cycling Towards Relief Fund. Your donation will help the Texas Bicycle Coalition staff this event, rent and transport bicycles, and purchase helmets for Katrina’s youngest victims. Any excess funds raised for this effort will be donated to the American Red Cross.

Texas Bicycle Coalition and Cycling Community Respond to Hurricane Katrina.

Okay, people, if Rita is the bitch she's looking to be parts of Texas will be seriously trashed.

I hope you will remember these efforts, and come to the aid of Texas as it continues to come to the aid of the victims of Katrina.

September 22, 2005 in KATRINA: Cycling toward Recovery | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 16, 2005

Katrina: Recovery from the perspective of a cyclist

This is an open letter to leaders, and ordinary cyclists in the region affected by Hurricane Katrina, and to leaders, and ordinary cyclists, around the nation:

Katrina struck a horrible blow to New Orleans but the storm has the potential to be a blessing too.

With proper planning, New Orleans could become the model green city that others will emulate for years. The city's flat and compact, the climate's mild year round and much of the city must be razed. Combine these factors with the massive infusion of federal funds that are coming and we have the POTENTIAL to build a metropolis in which bikes are a major and legitimate form of transportation. I'm thinking along the lines of Amsterdam, or Copenhagen and frankly, this is the time to promote such ideas.

To begin with, thousands of New Orleanians could not afford to own an automobile before the storm. Most of the low income areas were terribly inundated so residents in those areas that stayed through the storm probably no longer have transportation. Many of the city's public buses are not serviceable as they were parked in garages that flooded so this transportation resource will not be available either. Additionally, residents that evacuated will be hard pressed with thousands of dollars of expenses that will not be reimbursed by either insurance, Red Cross or the federal government. As a result, many people more than normal will be relying on bicycles for making short trips. If we act now to promote the rebuilding of the city in a bike friendly manner, everyone will benefit both now and in the long run.

Mine is just one voice. Any help in this worthy cause would be gratifying. If you, dear reader, know of others that dream of America as a greener and more environmentally friendly place to live, please forward this message to them.

Respectfully,
Larry Lagarde
RideTHISbike.com

Recovery is possible with people Like larry giving serious thought to how it can be done.

September 16, 2005 in KATRINA: Cycling toward Recovery | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 15, 2005

New Orleans Cyclist responds to River Trail Directors Letter

The other day I posted an e-mail I received from the Executive Director of Mississippi River Trails, Terry Eastin, about trails in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

This morning I was suprised to find a lengthy, interesting, comment to this entry waiting for my approval for posting.

I immediately decided that it was worthy of a wider audience, and here present Larry Lagarde's thoughtful discussion about re-developement of bike trails in the path of Katrina.

If anyone else in the affected region reads this please feel free to give us your 2 cents worth in the comments:

It's truly gratifying to learn that the MRT is looking to assist with the redevelopment of bike trails and trail systems in the New Orleans region.

As a distance cyclist and a New Orleanian, I'd like to suggest four potential projects that would turn New Orleans into a top bicycle travel destination:

1. Completing the bike trail along the Mississippi River levee.
2. Turning the old Hammond Highway from LaPlace to Pontchoutoula and Covington into a bike trail.
3. Creating a rail trail along Airline Highway from the Airport to the French Quarter.
4. Completing an inner city loop trail through neighborhoods that were destroyed by the flooding.

PAVING THE LEVEE:
Years ago, the Army Corps of Engineers completed extensive studies in preparation for the creation of a bike path along the flood control levees that contain the Mississippi River from New Orleans north to Destrehan Plantation. The Corps determined that such a path would allow cyclists to ride over 50 miles along a car free route with excellent views of the river. Portions of the path have been completed; yet, two major segments await funding (a 4 mile stretch that would circumnavigate Avondale Shipyards and the portion of levee running along the west bank of St. Charles Parish). If this project was completed, cyclists could ride in a continuous loop, crossing the river on the south end by ferry and on the north end by using a bike lane on the Luling Destrehan bridge.

RE-PAVING THE OLD HAMMOND HIGHWAY:
Before the interstate highways came to New Orleans, there was a narrow, single lane road that followed the lakefront of Lake Pontchartrain west out of the city from WestEnd (scene of the massive yacht club fire shown in television coverage of Hurricane Katrina) to the town of Hammond. This highway was notoriously dangerous and prone to flooding. With the construction of Airline Highway (Hwy 90) and US Hwy 51, the Old Hammond Highway was abandoned. Over the decades, it's bridges have collapsed and the highway has been overgrown but it exists still. The portion that ran along the north end of Jefferson Parish (along the lakefront) has been repaved several times and is used as a bike trail now; however, the storm surge has probably torn it up. If this trail was rebuilt around Lake Pontchartrain, it could connect with the existing Tammany Trace (Louisiana's only rail trail and a fine one at that).

AIRLINE HIGHWAY RAIL TRAIL:
Years ago, the Kansas City Southern Railroad had tracks that ran parallel to Airline Highway from the Louis Armstrong Intl Airport to Carrollton Avenue in New Orleans. The railroad tore up the tracks years ago; yet the corridor has never been developed. Currently, Airline Highway is considered an eyesore by many and an embarrassment by some ( so much so that the name was changed to Airline Drive; wow; what a difference that made... ). Paving the corridor with a bike trail and planting landscaping would turn this section of town into a recreational asset. As Airline is frequently used by cabbies as a shortcut to the airport, it would also serve as a pleasant welcome to the city.

CREATING AN INNER CITY LOOP TRAIL:
The inner city of New Orleans was one of the areas most affected by the flooding resulting from Hurricane Katrina. Many of the homes in this area will be bulldozed as they were old and in poor repair to begin with. Rather than go back with the same street grid and narrow property lines, it would be better for the city to annex properties to consolidate property lines as this would create large lots that would be close and convenient to the revitalized downtown area. If a bike trail looped through this area and was replanted with trees, this would provide a lush urban retreat through the heart of the city. Admittedly, this is the most ambitious plan; however, it would also be the most beneficial for the largest group of users.

Regards,
Larry Lagarde
RideTHISbike.com ( About a Folding Bike ), and Great Bicycle Rides and City Trails Worldwide ( His BikeBlog ).

This is an impressive bit of thinking concerning the future of cycling in the New Orleans region.

I particularly like the last idea.

I intend to alert Mr. Eastin to this essay, and maybe others will also see it, and a discussion can begin about what to do, and how best to get it done.

 

September 15, 2005 in KATRINA: Cycling toward Recovery | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 14, 2005

Katrina: Larry is Alive!!

With apologies to a popular commercial....

LARRY LAGARDE to a certain Hurricane of his acquaintance:

You're not killing ME, or MINE, Katrina!

I received this e-mail a little over 2 hours ago...

Life in the Afermath of Katrina:

Kiril,

Thanks so much for your kind words. As of this morning, I'm finally online again & a lot has happened...

At 4am Sunday morning (the day before Katrina's landfall), my dad called on the phone and said GET UP and GET OUT NOW. We did and were caught in a bumper to bumper exodus that lasted over 12 hours.

The week before when Katrina was in the Atlantic, my dad had the foresight to rent a few hotel rooms in Tunica, Ms. for much of our family. My grandmother, aunt, cousin, brother and his wife, neices, nephew and more were priveledged to weather the storm together. From afar, we watched in disbelief as the winds tore apart the Gulf Coast. Then the levees broke when the authorities thought the crisis had subsided, sealing the city's fate.

My parents, grandmother and cousin all lost their homes. The home of one of my sisters still stands but is likely a complete loss. My other sister's home as well as that of my aunt were not flooded but they're not accessible so we know nothing further. FYI, my aunt's home stands about 1 block from the yacht club building that TV cameras caught burning to the ground.

I've lived in New Orleans all my life. In many ways, it was and is a beautiful city. What happened was a travesty; nevertheless, life goes on for the living. My wife and I are busy picking up the pieces along with a million others. Overall, I have no complaints. Sure, the storm caused upheavel, pain and anxiety but how would we know the meaning of peace and happiness if we didn't experience sorrow? So many people have been affected by this tragedy though. I anticipate that a variety of my web design clients had extensive damage and may not reopen their businesses. Some of them have become close friends and I haven't been able to reach them. I struggle not to fear for the worst...

More than ever, the reality of our present circumstances makes the success of RideTHISbike.com a critical part of our recovery. Please do what you can to spread the word about the site. Additionally, should you know of anyone seeking the services of a webmaster with extensive experience in website hosting, design or marketing, please let them know of me.

Respectfully,

Larry Lagarde

RideTHISbike.com ( About a Folding Bike ), and Great Bicycle Rides and City Trails Worldwide ( His BikeBlog ), and Areafocus.com ( Web Design )

Happy, happy, joy, joy!

I just love happy endings, don't you?

Admittedly this is just the beginning of the recovery for Larry, and his family, but it's important.

Consider checking his sites out, or contacting him if they have anything of interest to you.

September 14, 2005 in KATRINA: Cycling toward Recovery | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Katrina: Keep Larry Lagarde and his family in your thoughts

You may think that, not having family, or friends, in the path of Hurricane Katrina, it couldn't hit you close to home.

I'm here to tell you not to assume anything because something as simple as a couple of e-mail corrrespendences could do just that.

This story covers 4 websites, 3 blogs, and several e-mails, 1 of which I was suprised to see still in my inbox at this late date, but was the catelist for this story.

This is long, folks, but you owe it to yourself to read it.

It begins in early Summer with an e-mail from a guy in New Orleans...

Larry Lagarde had a website from which he was promoting a type of Folding Bike, and promoting some of the best places to go bike riding on a bike of any type.

Having discovered The Cycling Dude, and thinking this site was the greatest thing since sliced bread, he decided to tell me so, and tell me about HIS site.

I wrote a favorable review of his site, on Aug. 2nd: New Website Promotes Unusual Bike Alongside Places to Ride.

I then responded, that evening, with an e-mail to him responding to parts of his e-mail, and telling him of my piece:

From: L Lagarde
Kiril,

Of all the cycling blogs I've seen, yours is the best! What an incredible amount of info...*

KK: Thanks for the compliment!

Glad you liked the site. :-D

LL: *I am building a site about the world's great bike trails. If you'd like to suggest a trail or just communicate with another distance rider, feel free to reply. I'd love to hear from you. Perhaps you and I can even work together towards encouraging others to travel (and live) by bicycle.
If you have any thoughts on how we could work together to help others do more by bicycle, I'm all ears.

KK: I'm always willing to give my readers a heads up, in a post, about a site that's a good source of cycling info, or info on places to ride.

Even if the site IS selling a product as part of its reason to exist. :-D

When it comes to linking, in my sidebar, to sites whose sole reason to exist, or close to it anyway, is to sell bikes, I made a choice to promote only those Shops that were born before 1941. :-D

Hence The Elder Statesmen.

So while I did a write up of your site, after the story eventually sinks into my archive, only a google search for folding bikes will bring my story to anyones attention again.

As for other trails you could write about, and link to, you are more than welcome to search through my links to find routes that strike your fancy.

That's what they are there for, and searching other websites was one of the ways I have built my own collection of links.

Feel free to let others know of The Cycling Dude, and I wouldn't mind keeping in touch.

Kiril

Larry wrote a reply:

Thanks Kiril for the writeup. I meant every word about your blog.

I also agree that the best way to find great info online is to keep looking (that's how I found you). So when I asked for your suggestions about other great destinations to promote, it was because I wanted to see what your personal favorites were when it comes to cycling destinations.

At present, I'm looking to promote in the near future...
- Norway's Fiord Country near Bergen
- Kettle Valley Railway
- Inn or Danube Valley Trails (Austria)
- Maryland's C&O rail & canal trails
- Missouri's Katy Trail
- Pennsylvania's Allegheny Passage
- South Dakota's Mickelson Trail

I'm also looking into trails in Minnesota & Wisconsin as well as Spains rail trails (very interesting).

Peace.

Regards,
Larry

And that was that.

In the meantime Larry contacted Brian, of the fine new Blog Seeing Albuquerque by Bike, and that correspondence led Brian's great story, with pictures, about cycling in New Mexico, on August 24th.

Unknown to me Larry had begun thinking of starting his own blog shortly after discovering mine.

Great Bicycle Rides and City Trails Worldwide debuted, unknown to me until tonite, on August 3rd with a response to my review:

Kiril "The Cycling Dude" wrote a brief review of RideTHISbike.com on his cycling blog. Kiril and I share the belief that "bike riding is good for you and fun". If you want an idea what a blog about bicycling can be, visit his. The wealth of cycling links and info is amazing.

Kiril mentioned that folders are not his cup of tea but everyone's entitled to their opinion. Here's mine: for long distance rides on the bike trail next to my house, my first preference is to ride my long wheel base Rans Stratus. FOR EVERY OTHER RIDE including riding the bike trail next to my house in the rain or when the Rans is out of service, it's the Giatex folding bicycle. The Giatex takes up minimal space in my car so that's where I keep it. As a result, I literally can ride whenever I get the urge. Try hauling your roadbike on your roof rack or the back of your SUV every where you go. Chances are that your tires would rot, your chain and other steel components would rust and the bike would always be dirty (not to mention more prone to theft).

I've ridden the folder in all sorts of conditions and riding surfaces. It's been on the New York subway, in numerous airports, on buses, trains and even the Staten Island Ferry. My point is that, for me, the Giatex folding bike has meant FREEDOM like no other bike. That's saying a lot.

The correspondence with Brian had led to 2 great pieces, on his own blog, about Albuquerque, on the 12th, and 14th:

Here and here.

The last entry on the Blog is an interesting one that showed Larry was planning big things for the future of his 2 sites.

That was Aug. 25th.

Soon Hurricane Katrina was going to open up a massive, incomprehensible, can of whupass on New Orleans.

When I read Brian's piece, today,  I asked him if he'd heard from Larry, and this was his response:

I emailed Larry a few days after the hurricane and was
surprised to get a response a few days later.

Unfortunately, there was not a lot of good news. He
lost his house and everything he owns. His wife is
pregnant and having difficulty. He has some small
children who are not coping very well.

He didn't say where they were. I don't know if they
are in a shelter or are in a home somewhere.

I'll let you know if I hear anything else.

Brian

Even then it didn't dawn on me who Larry was.

I get a lot of e-mails related to my Blog, and cycling: comments, and trackbacks, some of it spam that you will never see posted; Requests for information, and tips, on places to ride; Tips about websites, and blogs, to check out, and consider writing about, and maybe linking to.

You have no idea how many e-mails I've yet to read. ;-D

Going thru my backlog, tonite, I stumbled on Larry's Thank You Note above and, finally putting 2 and 2 together, sat here stunned.

I had told Brian that if he heard from Larry to tell him at least 1 fellow cyclist, in Ca., was thinking about him.

Once I realized who he was I wrote him the following e-mail, but have no idea if he will ever see it:

Larry !!

I love ya, man!

Nice piece in response to my article!

Nice start to a Blog!

Are you and your family alive, and well?

Brian, of Seeing Albuquerque, made me aware of your situation.

Don't give up!

You have people pulling for you to survive this, and become better than before!

I'll be re-aquainting folks with my original article, your blog response, and your situation, asking my readers to keep you, and your family, in their thoughts.

KIRIL KUNDURAZIEFF

What you have just read ( and I thank you most heartfeltly for doing so! ) is the end result of that promise made just a couple of hours ago.

Yes, I know I'm ending on a downer of a cliffhanger...

That's life...

It ain't always a bowl of cherrys.

Join me in hoping that I can, eventually, bring news of a positive nature along the road to the recovery of New Orleans, and to the recovery of Larry, his family, and his work.

Visit Larry's Blog, it's now in my sidebar.

Hopefully he will return to it in the coming months, once he, and his family, survive their present circumstances.

In the meantime, if you haven't already, read my essay called Calling All Cyclists!

Let me know the news!

Let me know the stories!

Let me know YOUR stories!

Bicyclists were affected by Katrina.

Bicyclists are showing they care.

September 14, 2005 in KATRINA: Cycling toward Recovery | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 13, 2005

Escaping Katrina by foot, train, and bike

... all the way to Colorado!

A man and his dog journeyed by foot, freight train and bicycle, all the way from Mobile, Ala. to Lamar, according to Prowers County Sheriff Jim Faull. The man, Sherwood Hunter of Pierre Port, La., fled the Gulf Coast in search of work and a new life in the wake of Hurricane Katrina's destruction...

"We've been on the road a long time," Hunter said. "The Coast Guard took us by boat to Mobile and we've been traveling ever since. A Wal-Mart in Kansas gave us this bicycle and the Wal-Mart here gave me a pair of shoes. People have been giving us stuff along the way. A lady gave me this sleeping bag, and I found this other sleeping bag along the side of the road."

Hunter said he and his dog had lived on a boat in Louisiana. The boat was destroyed during the hurricane, necessitating their rescue by the Coast Guard...

Faull said Hunter told him he and his dog "rode the rails" part of the way to Colorado, and Hunter said someone gave them a lift for about 100 miles of the distance.

Hunter said he has averaged 50 miles a day on the donated bicycle that pulls two carts. The dog rests in a covered cart while Hunter pedals.

Lamar Daily News - 9/13: Man, Dog arrive from New Orleans by William Thompson.

Hat Tip to Richard, of Cyclicious!

September 13, 2005 in KATRINA: Cycling toward Recovery | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Katrina: Aid from Colorado Cyclists

Word has come to me from Richard, of the Blogs Cyclicious, and Longmont:

Hi Kiril, Locally, a couple of clubs have had Katrina fund-raising rides with proceeds going to various charities. Help for Gulf Coast bike workers is being provided locally, and nationally, by members of the National Bicycle Dealers Assocation.

You've probaby seen the news about Wallingford Bike Parts. Other NOLA bike shop owners and workers are reportedly safe. I've looked into other Gulf Coast bike shops in Slidell and Gulfport, but these are tiny operations.

The Ass. is based here in the OC, in Costa Mesa, just down the street from where I lived for the last 2 years.

September 13, 2005 in KATRINA: Cycling toward Recovery | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 12, 2005

Mississippi River Trail Director responds to Dude Letter

This morning I have received the following from the Executive Director of Mississipi River Trails:

Dear Mr. Kundurazieff:

My name is Terry Eastin and I am the Executive Director of MRT, Inc.  I am responding to congratulate you on your idea and your desire to help the cycling victims of Katrina. 

At this point, efforts that I am aware of, to marshall cyclists into a help group have not occurred.

Our organization is looking into planning a green infrastructure program to assist with the redevelopment of trails and trail systems from New Orleans to the coast. 

It is preliminary to discuss this effort, yet.

In fact, until the waters have receded it is difficult to know how to help our sister organizations and cyclists in general. 

My understanding is the city's entire transportation system is in terrible disarray meaning that a comprehensive program will need to be developed to bring everything back on line. 

This said, I will be happy to forward your message to others in our system and thanks for the information.

Terry Eastin

E.D., MRT, Inc.   

Check out the website, and let the MRT know that you support efforts to rebuild, after the hurricane, and wish them luck in any such efforts.

September 12, 2005 in KATRINA: Cycling toward Recovery | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 11, 2005

Pedicab Drivers to raise money for Hurricane Katrina Relief

Now this is what I'm talking about!

The Blogger of Biking USA ( aka Let's Ride year Round in Buffalo, NY ) will be going on a bike ride later this month:

As a member of a community that’s far away from the victims of the hurricane, there’s not much I can do. (Pray for them.) But as a business owner, I have the means of giving money to them.

On Friday, September 30, I’ll be riding my bike taxi all over Buffalo asking for donations to victims of the hurricane. Every dime I get from passengers will go to victims of the hurricane.

A group of other bike taxi (or “pedicab” as they are also called) owners and operators will be doing this all over the world.

Please donate as much as you can.

For more info and, soon, an online donation form, visit Pedicabs international.

*** UPDATE - 9/12 ***

I received the following note this morning:

Thanks, Cycling Dude, for the encouragement. There's also a discussion of this topic going on over at RICKSHAW FORUM.

-Thomas
The Buffalo Bike Taxi Co.

Take a look at the forums as this event evolves, and hopefully grows.

If you live in the cities of participating cabs go take a ride.

If you live in a city where there is a Pedicab Co. let them know of this post, and this event so they can join in if they wish.

*** END UPDATE ***

September 11, 2005 in KATRINA: Cycling toward Recovery | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Calling all Cyclists!

THE FOLLOWING LETTER IS BEING SENT, THIS WEEK, TO EVERYONE IN MY LINKS THAT I CAN REACH ( Feel free to pass it along to people, organizations, and shops that I do not list ):

Hello,

My name is Kiril, and I am THE CYCLING DUDE.

Some of you may know of me,  most may not, but I know of you.

You see, I link to you on my Weblog.

My blog is unique in its content, and focus in the US, I believe.

I am just an ordinary cyclist trying to spread the word about recreational cycling, and commuting.

My Blog is called THE CYCLING DUDE: http://www.cyclingdude.com

All you need to know about it can be learned here in the important part of this entry:

http://www.sneakeasysjoint.com/thecyclingdude/2005/03/spread_the_word.html

I am writing in response to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, wondering if there are efforts in the Cycling Community to help the stricken areas, to help stricken Clubs, to help stricken Cycling Advocacy Groups, to help stricken Bike Shops.

Are there Cyclists ( ordinary people, Club members, Advocates, or Shop Owners ) with stories to tell, or events,  links, and other info to share?

How are Cyclists in the stricken area holding up?

I am offering such assistance as a blogger with an audience can possibly provide ( 41,000 visitors as of today ).

I can help spread the word, in Blog entries, about anything, and everything, related to your efforts, and the efforts of people shops, clubs, and activist groups in the aftermath of Katrina.

I can even share feel good, and feel bad, stories, and news reports, about the same, and about all the popular trails in the region ( their destruction, and eventual recovery ).

See the standing offer to my readers for an example of how I am hoping to get others to share stories: http://www.sneakeasysjoint.com/thecyclingdude/2004/07/an_invitation_r.html

I am a working person so blog only a few times a day at most, but don't let that discourage you from passing along information as it will be posted in a timely manner.

Please keep me in mind, as an ally,  and also, after due exploration, please consider adding a link to my blog on your website ( Absolutely NOT required for me to make the above offer ).

MR. KIRIL KUNDURAZIEFF

Putting the ING in BICYCLING Since January 2003
The Cycling Dude: http://www.cyclingdude.com

September 11, 2005 in KATRINA: Cycling toward Recovery | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack