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January 31, 2006

Angry Coloradoan suggests Cyclists pay taxes

Oh, and be "restricted to the lesser-traveled side roads" in his city and, I presume, the state in general.

The city wants to keep 18 wheelers (whose road taxes contribute to state highway repair) out of town, yet want to make motorist share lanes on a busy highway with bikes (who pay no road tax).

I think that the bikes need to be restricted to the lesser-traveled side roads. If bikes are to share the road with motor vehicles, how about use taxes through bike plates, operator licenses (with written and biking tests), bike insurance and stricter legal enforcement.

The bicyclists in this town are presently out of control, running stop signs, stop lights, ignoring lane usage, improper turns and reckless operation of the bike. From what I am seeing, Fort Collins and the state of Colorado are the leaders in wasting gasoline due to the fact that bikes are presently allowed to impede traffic and with the new “Sharrows,” will be encouraged to further do so.

COLORADOAN.COM ( 1/8 ): Bicyclists should pay taxes by Curt Groen, of Ft. Collins.

So, Ft. Collins community of cyclists are ALL a bunch of reckless riders, eh?

I love it when Anti-Bike Motorists make sweeping generalizations.

Maybe tossing them in a room with their Anti-Car compatriots, each fitted with Boxing Gloves, for a Winner Take All match, on pay per view, can raise money for Education Initiatives for all who share the road.

Just a Thought. ;-D

***UPDATE - 3/11 ***

Curt Groen responds!

***END UPDATE***

January 31, 2006 in Cycling News Network | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 28, 2006

National Highway Safety Administration Bicycle Report

A new report has been released that gives a statistical look at just how dangerous it is for cyclists to be out on American roads:

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Bicycle 2004 Statistics for accidents in the USA.

In it the folks at the DailyPeloton.com  feel that cyclists "might find some guidance in how we can improve our own safety and safety for all cyclists around the world."

As they write:

Most fatalities occur in urban areas (66%) between the hours of 5 and 9 p.m. during the busiest traffic hours and onset of twilight (30%). If a case can be made for avoiding high traffic areas and improvement and addition of bike paths in the urban environment these statistics are all one needs.
The time of the fatalities also points up the usefulness of lights and white/reflective clothing as darkness approaches.
36% of all fatalities occurred not surprisingly during the peak months of riding in the summer months of June through August.
Obviously alcohol and cycling are as dangerous as drinking and driving with fatal accidents with riders under the influence of alcohol showed at over 20%. Drunk drivers are a hazard of their own, with the universal use of cell phones, taking a minute to call the police and promptly reporting a drunken driver you see could save a fellow cyclists life.
Although it looks that it is safer riding a bike than being a pedestrian, with 84% of total fatalities for pedestrians, the fact is that there are more pedestrians in most urban areas and one shouldn't take comfort in this statistic.
Stay safe out there.

Did you know that the first automobile crash in the United States occurred in New York City in 1896, when a motor vehicle collided with a pedalcycle rider?

Did you know that more than 49,000 pedalcyclists have died in traffic crashes in the United States since 1932?

Neither did I. ;-D

The statistics of cyclist deaths and crashes in 2004 are interesting, yet very sobering.

In 2004, there were 725 cyclists killed in traffic accidents, and more than 41,000 injured. In  2003 the totals for deaths was 629 ( by comparison there were 802 deaths in 1994 ).

The folks at the Daily Peloton have posted a lot of info from the report, and you can read it here.

January 28, 2006 in Cycling News Network | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 26, 2006

Winter Bike Riding

"Hey, it snowed last night, wanna go bike riding?"

Most people, when asked that question would respond with a hearty, and heartfelt, "Are you Nuts?" ;-D

Then again, the folks in the following story, out of Minneapolis, Mn., are definitely NOT most people. ;-D

On the most frigid winter nights, they are a startling sight.

Out of the darkness they appear: the flicker of a bicycle’s back reflector as the rider cruises over icy streets and past the bumper-to-bumper traffic.

From Minneapolis to Milwaukee, from Alaska and Illinois to Sweden and even Russia, winter bikers – and the clubs and Web sites devoted to them – are springing up all over the place. Some cyclists are in it for the workout, some because they want to live in a world with fewer automobiles and less consumption of fossil fuels...

On a Web site heralding winter cycling in Moscow, Grisha Strasnij says winters are perfect for ice biking and downhill racing because “the ice adds new challenges and requires new skills.”

AP Reporter Patrick Condon decided to give it a try, and gained a new perspective regarding folks he previously thought must be just a little insane.

He interviewed Winter Cyclists who own cars but also bike Commute on occasion, and 1 who doesn't own a car at all.

After getting a few tips he was ready for his excursion.

He was  dressed to the 9's. ;-D

It was 4 degrees above on the December morning I chose for the 4-mile ride to my downtown office.

I felt like a Navy SEAL suiting up for a mission.

Dri-fit long underwear (to help sweat evaporate off my body). One more layer on my legs and three more on top. Two calf-length pairs of wool socks. Black ski-mask covering my entire head. Goggles and helmet. Two pairs of gloves.

The goal was enough gear to ensure that not a centimeter of bare skin would be exposed. I knew I’d look ridiculous, but I also knew that subzero wind chills can be deadly in minutes.

How can you pedal in all that gear?

Seems it wasn't that hard... in the beginning. ;-D

The first few blocks on my seven-year-old mountain bike were a breeze. The tires gripped the slushy streets nicely, and – while the chilly air penetrated the layers – my pumping legs generated enough warmth to make it tolerable.

I even started to feel a little cocky. Coasting across a bridge, I saw multiple lanes of stop-and-go traffic. “Enjoy your gas guzzlers, suckers!” I thought to myself.

Over confidence is a Bitch, heh, heh. ;-D

A few blocks later my feet were cold. I noticed how my heavy panting inside the face mask was condensing into a chilly mush around my mouth. And how the sweat evaporating off my back made it feel like I was standing with my rear to an open refrigerator.

In another few blocks, my no-fog goggles started to fog. My feet felt as if I’d soaked them in ice water, and my fingers weren’t far behind.

No pain, no gain, the saying goes, and the further he went the more he gained confidence.

But with the pain came a feeling of hard-won confidence, and it propelled me as my destination grew closer. I started to think, “This really isn’t that bad.”

The last few blocks, I really hit my stride, and by the time I got to the office I wanted to keep riding. It’s a feeling, I discovered, that’s common to many winter bikers.

I'll stay here, in the OC, and ride my bike in the sun, and rain, thank you. ;-D

Cyclists who do this consider it a Lifestyle Choice, and are always gals to meet others of like mind.

As one cyclist said:

“When people wonder about it, or say that I’m crazy for doing it, I just tell them it’s really not that hard. The hardest part is the mental adjustment. Once you get past that, it’s pretty easy – you’ve gotta believe that you can, or you won’t ever do it.”

Not being sure how long the link to this story will stay active I'm sharing here Patricks list of Winter Bicycling Tips:

1. Any bike can be ridden in winter, but a mountain bike or bicycle with studded tires helps with traction. Some bikers add fenders to block flying winter sludge and snow buildup on tires.

2. It gets dark earlier and visibility can be bad even in daytime, so lights front and back are a must. Most states require them year-round after dark anyway.

3. Skip the heavy, padded clothing. Use lighter layers, but don’t overdo it; a little chill when you start out is just right. You’ll warm up.

4. Avoid moisture-absorbing fabrics like cotton, especially for the layer closest to the skin; try the so-called “wicking” fabrics that move sweat away from the skin.

5. The top layers should have Gore-Tex or other material that keeps out water and wind.

6. Hands and feet are most likely to get cold. Several pairs of gloves and socks are a good idea; so are shoes or boots that are warm without being clumsy.

7. In extreme cold, leave no skin exposed. That means a ski mask and goggles. A helmet is a must; wipeouts are even more likely on wintry streets.

Good advice, all of it.

Fort Wayne Journal Gazette ( 1/8/06 ): Ice Adds new Challenges to Bicycling.

January 26, 2006 in Voices From The Open Road | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 23, 2006

Windy

The winds began to pick up yesterday afternoon, and by evening they were really flyin'.

Overnight they REALLY picked up steam, and ain't quit yet.

I'm talking 50 to 70 MPH gusts from the Inland Empire to Santa Monica, and Lancaster to Laguna Beach in some areas.

It is expected to last all day, and even tomorrow.

I'm talking window rattling, tree knocking down, anything not tied down picking up, and moving to the next Zip Code, Santa Ana Winds.

In the Inland Empire, where I used to live and work these winds provided a show in such cities as Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, and Fontana.

I'm talking Dust Storms, and hours of Tumbleweed Stampeeds on major thoroughfares such as Euclid Ave. where I worked for a time.

Here in Orange County I won't be riding my bike to work, not in THIS wind. ;-D

January 23, 2006 in The Opinionated DUDE | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 22, 2006

Angry Motorist Rages at Dude

Robert, of Who Knows Where, sent a comment, responding to this July 2005 post, that I wish to share:

Yes, you self-rightous bicyclists should let the automobiles by you.

As a bicyclist,  you do not have to pay collision and liability insurance, license test fees, DMV fees.

I see these ninnys constantly run stop signs, red lights, no reflectors or lamps at night, no turn signals, to name but a few.

The bicyclists thrive on riding two-three astride, riding during the morning commute, when the rest of us have to go to work and be on time.

They appear to love infurating drivers by hogging the road and not pulling over, while driving under the speed limit.

California needs to require insurance, and associated fees, if cyclists want to use the roads without bike lanes and be the discourteous and unsafe idiots that they are.

Anyone care to respond to this?

Feel free to pile on, either in the comments, or in a story on your blog, with a link/Trackback back to this post so everyone can enjoy your rapier wit, and wisdom. ;-D

As for me...

1. First off, not all cyclists are self-rightous: Just some of the extremely radical, environmental-wacko, Cars are the Spawn of Satan types. ;-D

The majority of us, Liberal, and Conservative, are sane, sensible, and quite charming once ya get to know us. ;-D

We folllow the law, ask for the same from you 4-wheel Gas-Guzzler Types, and just want to share the road in harmony.

2. As for letting Cars by us: Oh, I agree, when appropriate, and safe, to do so.

If there's no shoulder on the road, a turn-off, or other space for me to move to the right, I ain't goin', so relax, enjoy the scenery, and I'll be out of your way as quick, and safely as I can.

Please don't be in a hurry, and do something stupid like going around me on the left, especially if by doing so you enter a lane for ONCOMING traffic.

You need to know, and accept that I am allowed to Take the Lane, and make Left Lane Changes, and Left Turns, just like Motorists, and will safely continue to do so when appropriate, and safe to do so.

3. As for License, DMV and test fees, and insurance:

Many cities in the USA require Bicyclists to get a license if they live in town, and I would not be suprised if some cities charge a small fee.

I would not be suprised if some cyclists, especially those using their bike in a job related capacity, have insurance of some sort ( What about it Bike Messengers, Big City Pizza Delivery Guys, and Bike Taxi Folks? )

As for tests: There are actually Bicycle Safety Courses that cyclists can take, and numerous opportunites to pay for courses in Bicycle Maintenance.

4. As for ignorant cyclists, and those who just don't care to follow the laws: There are the same types among the car driving set, but I don't make the blanket generalization of judging ALL by the actions of the minority.

I will say that unsafe Auto drivers, in anything from a Yugo, to an 18 Wheeler, are by far the bigger hazzard to their fellow drivers, to cyclists, and to pedestrians.

5. As for those cyclists who deliberately obstruct traffic, and refuse to play fair on the road, enjoying the thrill of making a "Statement", whether on a group ride, or as part of Critical Mass, again don't judge us all by the actions of a few.

As for my thoughts on Critical Mass...

6. The LAST thing CA. should do is charge state license fees, require testing, or require Cyclists to be insured.

Bike/Pedestrian Only Trails are great, and Bike Lanes are something I tolerate ( using when neccessary, and unavoidable ), but the simple fact of the matter is that Bicyclists, as vehicle drivers, have the right to share the street with their bigger, faster, transportation cousins.

Most car drivers accept that, and more and more cyclists are learning how to leave the Sidewalk, and Bike Lanes, and to safely navigate on the wider road.

The League of American Bicyclists is just one of the many organizations, both local, national, and international, as can be found in my collection of links, that are doing their part by working to bring better bicycling to Communities around the world.

I once wrote an Open Letter to Motorists after being attacked one night on my ride home from work, and this is as good a time as any to bring it to my readers attention one more time:

BICYCLIST TO CAR OWNERS: CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?

January 22, 2006 in The Opinionated DUDE | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 21, 2006

More bikes than cars sold in Australia

Must be something in the water down under. ;-D

AUSTRALIANS are turning in greater numbers than ever to pedal power, with bicycles outselling cars for the sixth consecutive year, according to the Cycling Promotion Fund.

The CPF's Rosemarie Speidel said sales of 1,120,337 bicycles in Australia last year were 13 per cent ahead of motor vehicle sales, which came in at 988,269.

Ms Speidel said feedback from the bicycle industry indicated that the strong sales covered everyday recreational bikes through to high-end road and competition cycles.

Apart from the cost difference and recent petrol price hikes, there were other lifestyle reasons for people choosing to buy a bike.

"We're seeing more and more people riding bikes for recreation and sport, as well as everyday transport," Ms Speidel said.

"There has also been huge growth in cycling events and bicycle tourism."

Aside from the fact that cars cost more than bikes, therefore the car dealers make more money, or somethig to that effect, this is good news. ;-D

Herald Sun ( 1/5/06 ): Australians getting on their Bikes.

January 21, 2006 in Cycling News Network | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 20, 2006

Promoting safe cycling on the Kent Trails in Michigan

This is an interesting story out of Grandville, Michigan:

Recent weather probably doesn't bring bicycling to mind, but the city's newest traffic signs are designed to do just that.

City employees recently mounted four signs, two matching sets, along Ivanrest Avenue SW, between Prairie and 28th streets. One sign in each set depicts a bicyclist, and the other asks motorists to "share the road."

The portion of Ivanrest chosen for the new signs is a leg of the Kent Trails system. Unlike most of the system, the stretch along Ivanrest doesn't include a bike or walking trail, forcing bicyclists to ride on the street until they return to the trail farther north on Ivanrest or southeast near Wentworth Avenue SW.

The signs were donated by The Rapid Wheelmen Bicycle Club of Grand Rapids.

It seems the same signs, costing  $45 a set, have been put up throughout Grand Rapids and other communities, and club members also have plans to approach officials in more cities to see whether their signs can be mounted there.

GRAND RAPIDS PRESS ( 1/3/06 ): Signs Promote Safety for Cyclists by Keith Essenburg.

January 20, 2006 in Pedaling Advocacy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 17, 2006

Steamy Photos explained

In the innaugural Tour de Bicycling Blogs one of the entries was about a collection of photos by Phillip Barron, of the Blog Nicomachus.

With all the attention these wonderful shots have been getting in the past month Phillip decided to see if he could get some explanations about the phenomenon he witnessed from a pair of Meteorologists.

January 17, 2006 in Blogging Cyclists | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Cycling in Beijing not what it used to be

As recently as a decade ago it was a staple of news coverage, and documentaries of life in China to show the masses of cyclists far outnumbering the people driving carson the streets of Beijing.

My, how the times have changed!

From the China Daily last month:

The modernization of a city does not mean bicycles should give way to cars, says an article in Beijing News. An excerpt follows:

In recent years it has become increasingly difficult to ride a bicycle on the roads of Beijing. Many bicycle lanes in the capital have become narrower and narrower, and some of them have even been replaced by passages for larger vehicles or car parks.

That has led to a disorderly scramble for space, with cyclists and car drivers competing on crowded roads. As a result, the number of traffic accidents has been steadily increasing.

Because cycling is no longer so comfortable, more and more bicycle riders have had no choice but to buy their own private cars.

The increase in the number of private cars has aggravated traffic congestion in the capital and thus further reduced the space for bicycle lanes.

Facing the explosive increase of the number of private cars, city administrators have stepped up schemes to upgrade the public transport network.

It is a fact that Beijing residents have been provided with an ever-improving public transportation service due to the accelerated input by related departments in the past year.

Undeniably, a healthy city traffic system needs a convenient and highly efficient public transportation network.

At the same time, the construction of a well-developed road network for pedestrians and cyclists is also necessary, especially in a densely populated city like Beijing.

In modern times, it is unrealistic to advocate building a city without vehicles. However, to reduce the use of motor vehicles to the minimum is undoubtedly a sensible choice for city planners.

The charm of a city rests not only in creating an ideal living environment, modern office buildings and high-grade entertainment facilities. It is also decided by whether the city has a comfortable transportation network for all, including drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.

Very interesting.

As China has modernized, and become more Economically powerful, the people in the cities are making enough money to buys cars, and take to the streets, thus making things complicated for cyclists.

It will be interesting to see how China handles these changes, and conflicts.

CHINA DAILY ( 12/29 ): Bikes also have place on roads.

January 17, 2006 in Cycling News Network | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Aussie Cycling Club knows how to have fun

Reading the 1st half of a December story in the Wagin Argus made me smile.


THE Wagin Cycling Mob took advantage of a strong westerly wind last Sunday and, with youthful exuberance not common to the group, participated in an impromptu rolling no-pedalling competition.

A spur of the moment suggestion by Jennie Cumming saw cyclists group at the top of the Beaufort Road hill and then roll into town , with a winner being the one who rolled the furtherest.

Ric Thompson reached a speed of 49 kilometres per hour downhill while Glenys Ball came in first at a distance of 2 kilometres with Raylene Eckersley a close second, both riders on the same brand of bike. Whether or not that has anything to do with the results is not known but it was fun to finish the morning's ride with something silly.

The full story is here:

WAGIN ARGUS ( 12/15 ): Cyclists on a roll.

January 17, 2006 in Club Scene | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack