December 12, 2008

From One End of Norway to the Other on a Highwheeler!

Highwheeler Jan Paulsen loves 19th century Bicycles (He's got several, not to mention old Motorcycles.).

This past summer he rode a Highwheeler from Northcape to Lindesnes, all of Norway lengthwise, in 31 days.

90 kilometres a day.

Some might call this enterprising Norwegian a madman.

He certainly looks, and dresses, the part of someone some folks might call eccentric. ;-D

I call him marvelous, fun, and brave. ;-D

I want to ride one of those contraptions someday! ;-D

I hear you say..."Why should I check out his website, and related pages, I can't read, or understand, bloody, freakin' Norwegian!

The pictures, dear reader, the pictures!

Oh, and this short, but glorious, video (It takes a minute, or so, to load on Windows Media Player.) ;-D

The looks on pedestrians faces are priceless. ;-D

Go, now, spend some time with the ancestor of your trusty modern steed, and  join Jan on his journey,  ;-D

Then explore the rest of what his site has to offer.

December 12, 2008 in Voices From The Open Road | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 07, 2008

The Pipeline Pirate Prepares for his Grand Adventure

Steve_kennedy Back in June I told you about my friend Steve Kennedy, and his plans for an around the world that is part hiking, and part bicycling.

In the month after that post Steve spent time updating his blog with stories, and photo spreads, about how he prepared with hikes and rides over the previous few weeks.

In early May he spent the day riding his bike, named Renee, along the coast, from Huntington Beach to Long Beach, and back, and shares some really cool pictures of the trip, and of Renee, as well as himself.

In early June he learned that there were some changes in his itenerary, due to the issues in Tibet, and the Earthquake in China, and worried about getting his bike to Prague when the time for it arrived, and wrote an amusing little post about who the real pickpockets are, that a traveller needs to be concerned about, when travelling overseas. ;-D

Meanwhile he was selling his belongs in preperation for the fact that he was not gonna see Terra-America for quite some time. ;-D

14 days from launch, near disaster strikes on a 30 miles bike ride around Newport Beach and Irvine ( Above photo is at the Back Bay, in Newport Beach).

To underscore that fact that he's a hearty adventurer, with years experience, he shares a collection beautiful photoes from a mountain climb some 34 years ago.

After selling his beloved Gas Guzzler, Ingrid, and the rest of his belongings, he's sleeping  on the floor with days to go before launch. ;-D

On July 17, 2008, the Grand Adventure finally began, bruised leg, and all, with a 15 hour flight to Hong Kong (See the pics!)! ;-D

I will be checking in with Steve's blog, from time to time, to enjoy his adventure, and I hope you will, too.

The Freeway Soul is out and about, and it will be an interesting journey.

August 7, 2008 in Voices From The Open Road | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 27, 2008

From England to Australia By Bicycle: A Video, and Photo Odyssey

All over the world people tour by bicycle, one state, one nation, one continent at a time.

Some go further.

Many of these adventurers share their tales online, sometimes years after the journey took place, when they finally find the time, and resources, to do so.

The latest to be brought to my attention is the following:

Bike2Oz is the unfolding story of a young school teacher who convinced her partner to cycle with her from Oxford to Sydney.Rather than damage the climate by flying, they choose to pedal the 12,000km hopping on cargo ships to get across the oceans. They partied for car free day in Italy, dodged arrest in Iran, get groped in Pakistan and fall ill in India.
Watch the series and find out if their relationship (and the planet) survived the epic trip?

Kevin and Lowanna filmed their entire 12,000km cycle adventure across the UK, Europe, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India,Singapore and finally Australia.

This journey was 8 years ago.

As they wrote:

As the effects of global warming grow, Government action decreases. We wanted to see the world while contributing as little as possible to its' destruction. We also wanted to search for solutions to the transport crisis and found the bicycle offered the best compromise. Both of us are very new to the virtues of the bicycle (having spent most of our lives on four wheels). We were excited to discover that cycling offers you the intimacy of a walk in the countryside combined with the ability to cover serious distances (at least fifty miles a day).

It is amazing how effortless cycling becomes when you swap the old '3 speed' for something designed for comfort

Not only did they record their adventure by video, but there is a blog, and photo collection, that shares the expedition in more detail.

The videos, and photos, are a stunning testiment to the beauty, and variety of the world they travelled, from the weather, roads, and cultures they encountered, to the health, and political dificulties they endured, and more.

What I truly enjoyed most were the wide variety of bicycles encountered in every country they passed through.

Agree, or disagree, about the issue of Global Warming, a visit with the story these travelers have to tell will be time well spent.

Bike2oz: Go Here first, then here for the 2500 photos, and more.

April 27, 2008 in Voices From The Open Road | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 07, 2008

Bent u een Fietser?


Do YOU Bicycle?


For over 5 years that question has been the one I've asked on this blog as I spread the word that The Cycling Dude is a place "Dedicated to the proposition that bike riding is good for you and fun", and has the stories, and links to resources, to prove it.

Yesterday I linked to a story, out of The Netherlands, and this morning I received an interesting e-mail from David Hembrow, of Hembro Cycling Holidays/Cycling Study Tours, that serves as an interesting follow-up:

Hi Kiril,

Thanks very much for posting about the Study Tour.

I really hope we can make a difference worldwide with this.

We visited here many times before we emigrated.

It's quite remarkable how this country can be so close to, and easy to visit from the UK, yet even from the UK there is hardly any understanding of what has been achieved in the Netherlands.

Given this, I think it's hardly surprising that it's also not well known in the US.

I sent out thousands of copies of the press release and I'm afraid I can't say for certain how I found your contact details.

I searched for blogs about cycling at one point, so I suspect that is where I found you.

The question on your website, "Do U Bicycle?", would translate into Dutch as "Bent u een fietser?".

However, it is effectively meaningless. Of course they cycle. Everyone cycles. They'd think you're asking if they race bicycles.

I've continued reading in Dutch (which I'm still learning) and English about what is going on here and of course I've kept riding around.

I'm still learning.

It's really remarkable how cycling has become so much a part of the Dutch culture. For instance, I read a few days ago that over three quarters of Dutch people take at least one cycling holiday each year.

Anyway, thank you for helping to get the message out.

As I'm sure you are aware, it's far from just the US which could learn from this.

I'd like to wake people up in the UK about how, despite the huge amounts of paperwork coming from the country where I was born, they're doing nothing useful at all, and in fact watching cycling continue to decline.

I really hope we manage to raise awareness a bit.

It's not just about cycling, but about society (people have to talk to each other when they cycle instead of drive and Dutch society is very peaceful as a result) and about freedom: there is no group in society here which doesn't have personal mobility and that includes children who are not reliant on having parents taxiing them around.



If you haven't already, I encourage you to check out the articles, and videos, David shares on his sites, and on YouTube.

The videos, especially, are an eye-opener. ;-D

April 7, 2008 in Voices From The Open Road | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 14, 2007

Saluting Thomas Stevens, Cycling Pioneer

123 years ago a brave man took a ride into history, a ride that changed the activity of Bicycling forever.

How many cyclists are even aware of his story.

I wasn't, until I finally joined the Adventure Cycling Ass. this morning.


From a report in the August 30, 1884 Harper's Weekly:

On this page we give the portrait of Mr. Thomas Stevens, who started from San Francisco, California, April 22, with the avowed intention of riding around the world (barring the Oceans) on his bicycle...

Emigrating to the far West in 1871, he had not been east of the Mississippi until he started out on his famous bicycle ride across the continent. Seven men have within the last three years attempted the same feat, but the great difficulties encountered in crossing the 1500 miles of rocky mountain, barren deserts, and bridgeless streams between California and the Missouri River have invariably turned them back.

More than one-third of the route followed by Mr. Stevens had to be walked. Eighty-three and a half days of actual travel and twenty days stoppage for wet weather, etc., made one hundred and three and a half days occupied in reaching Boston, the distance by wagon-road being about 3700 miles. He followed the old California trail most of the way across the plains and mountains, astonishing the Indians, and meeting with many strange adventures.

The page from which this excerpt was taken is here.

He continued his journey all the way around the world!

On a PENNY-FARTHING, a HIGH-WHEELER (A Columbia Standard) ??

Damn straight! ;-D

He was the First. ;-D

At Project Gutenberg you can read Volume 1: San Francisco to Teheran, and Volume 2: Teheran to Yokohama of his books (1000+ pages!) about his journey, free online. ;-D

Jim Langley has some thoughts about this event, and other stories about cycling journeys, here.

NPR has a 4 minute, Jan. 2007, interview with the man who wrote an intro to a re-issue of the Books (First Re-issued in 2001, in 1 volume, then re-re-issued in 2 volumes in 2006, with all versions available at Amazon.).

If you can read German the folks at the great Penny-Farthing Riders website have a page devoted to Stevens, from which I found the picture. ;-D

December 14, 2007 in Voices From The Open Road | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 15, 2007

Raising A Cyclist In 21st Century America: Part 2

Has it been a year since I first heard of the Glider Rider?

Last December I shared with you a series of correspondences between myself and Randy Eady, of MPS-Ready Solutions.

It was all about a childs bicycle called the Glider Rider, and 2 presentations planned for Velo-city 2007 Conference, in Munich Germany, on "The Challenge of Raising A Cyclist In 21st Century America", and "Human Powered Vehicles (HPV); the ANTI-Segway. (Exploring a Cultural Paradox; Back to the Future of Individual Traffic)."

He even shared a Letter to the Editor, of Bicycling, that he's not sure was ever published!

What was really interesting to me was something he was planning for the future.

You see he also shared with me an article he had just finished writing, and hoped to get published, about how innovative Bike Designs are good Start-up Business Ventures.

(Read my original piece from Xmas day 2006.)

Well, I recently received that long promised update e-mail. ;-D

He wrote:

Sorry for overlooking getting a copy of the presentation to you that we corresponded about last year.

1) Attached is the article that I presented in a paper at the Velo-City 2007 (The Challenge of Raising a Cyclist in 21st Century America)

We want to have our Glider Rider Adult Version (GRAV) on display in Brussels for 2009.

The beginning of this 5 minute video [promoting the Conference] really sets the stage for our new design.

I did a Google Search and found the article on Start-up Businesses! ;-D

So you, dear reader, are getting a two-fer. ;-D

As I wrote then "The article is an informative essay that discusses the balance principles, attributes, and benefits, of  four new bike concepts:  the Sideway bike (UK), the StreetSurfer (AUS), the StairCycle (US) and, the soon to be announced, Glider Rider-Adult Version (GE/US)."

On January 16, 2007 this article was published on, and republished on the Glider Website on March 13th.

More recently the article was given a thorough overhaul, with pictures, and a whole new section on something fascinating called the COOL'cle.

This version of the article will serve as support of a Technology Demonstration at The International Conference on Aging, Disability and Independence (ICADI), St. Petersburg, FL Feb 2008

Here is the PDF version of the 4 page published article:

Bicycle Design: A Top Transportation Start-up Business Venture.

The article sent me in the update is part of a presentation he made at the 2007 Conference in June.

This presentation served to visually and verbally introduce the Adult Version of the Glider Rider (G.R.A.V.) to the world:

It’s a touchy subject bike manufactures have recently struggled to get their arms around: find a solution to diminishing rider capability and interest without sacrificing style and good looks for function.

The latest industry design emphasis seems to tilt toward pedal assistance or electric bikes (pedalecs as they’re known in the biking world)...these work if your balance, fitness and fiscal health are up to it.

Another alternative is to create a trike that enables people to stay mobile longer and to participate in everyday activities. Yet no matter how good you make it look, a trike is, after all, still a trike.

The auto manufacturer Volkswagen picked up on this theme with their 2006 Golf Gti car commericial which just shows a handlebar tassled tricycle and says, “for some, the man was always in the child.”

The advertising goes on to suggest that adults should not give up their adult status and leap back to the security of a trike before they have to.

That’s actually very sound health advice. And, a thought that has been undercored most recently in studies focused on specific physical activites that the Glider Rider in both the adult and children’s format accentuate: muscle balance development and bilateral coordination. Importantly, this product hits the scene on the heels of the social acceptance of healthy aging.

Here is the PDF version of the 4 page published article:

0 2 B 4 Again: What's to Know before you hop back on that Trike... (Yes, Page 4 is the 1st thing you see, but just scroll down to get to the start and you should be fine from there. ;-D)

In March Randy wrote an essay that discusses the notion that Glider Riders are smarter.

It's all about Concentrating better and learning faster.

In Elementary schools across this European nation, researchers have found children in the two to five year old age range who learned how to balance, coordinate and operate a new kind of pedal-free, balance learning bike called the Glider Rider, show greater intellectual ability, can concentrate on tasks better and for longer periods of time.

Read: Glider Riders Are Smarter.

Watch a video of a joyful toddler tooling around on his ride. ;-D

The Father writes: "My kid loves this bike and the other kids always ask him to
borrow it. It has been a great purchase!"

For a few other, older, articles, as well as alternative access to articles mentioned here, if the Gather Links go bad, check out the News Section of the Glider Rider Website.

Even if you are not convinced to plop your toddler on one of these babies, or try the eventual adult version yourself, there is a lot of food for thought here that is worth considering.

November 15, 2007 in Voices From The Open Road | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 25, 2006

Raising A Cyclist In 21st Century America

Last month I received an e-mail from a man with a company that makes a very unusual bicycle.

He submitted an e-mail ( And several follow-ups. ) that served several purposes, and he hoped I would share it ( them ) with readers of this blog:

Promote a Conference he would be attending in 2007.

Promote presentations he would be making there.

Promote the unique product of his company.

Discuss the issues of how best to get pre-schoolers into the swing of bicycling.

Share some interesting thoughts, and statistics, related to cycling in America, and other countries around the world.

I read the e-mail, and checked out the company website, and we had some e-mail back, and forth.

Lets begin with the initial e-mail from Randy Eady,of MPS-Ready Solutions:

Hi, Dude!

I was trolling for data to prepare two presentations for a EuroBike Conference next year and came across this on a fella named Gary Green's bicycle and site and he linked me into your site...

U.S. Bikers Less Safe Than European Counterparts:

In the United States, cyclists are 12 times more likely than people in cars to die en route to their destinations. On a per-kilometer and per-trip basis, U.S. cyclists are twice as likely to die on the road as German cyclists, and more than three times as likely as Dutch cyclists. While cycling fatalities in all of these countries have fallen in the last 25 years, U.S. cycling deaths have declined largely because of a drop in cycling, while in the Netherlands and Germany investments in infrastructure that make cycling safer account for much of the decline...

Given your international interest in cycling you may want to know about the Velo-city 2007 Conference, in Munich Germany, and my particular presentations:


The Challenge of Raising A Cyclist In 21st Century America:

In Europe the laufrad has "revolutionized" the way 2-5 year olds learn how to ride a bike ( "Running Bike"  ( lauf = run, rad = bike wheel )  For your benefit:  Fahrrad is "bicycle" and Rad is "bike" in German. ) without the dependency created by stutzrader ( "support wheels".  Outside stabilizers as they are called in most English speaking places.  In the US, a brilliant marketing campaign came up with the clever misnomer:  Training Wheels, some 50 years ago.. It has helped thousands of children get on the path to an active lifestyle and garnered numerous toy design and educational awards. ).

Yet in North America there is a reluctance to embrace the laufrad, an inexplicable resistance to comprehending the benefits of the "laufrad phenomena" in Europe and denial of the increasing emergence of "training wheel dependency" in American society.

Even with an overall flat-to-declining US bike riding population, surging levels of childhood obesity and more children abandoning bike riding because they become dependent on outside stabilizers (known as "training wheels" in North America), the self-proclaimed world's leading bike magazine, Bicycling ( July 06 issue:"How to Raise a Cyclist". It was an extensive several page spread, but is not on the website.  ) stated: "the best way to teach 2-4 year olds how to ride is to put them on a training wheel equipped bike."

Many American's blithely say "we just take training wheels off, while Europeans add pedals." Actual rider-ship belies that statement. More European children are learning to ride untethered at an earlier age. More American children are carrying extra body surface area and are learning to balance a bike at a later age, if at all.

This presentation features North American's largest and most experienced direct distributor of laufrauder. The Glider Rider Division of MPS-Ready Solutions has been selling the "running bike" in the United States for over two years. We have used various educational approaches/demonstrations to prove the merits of the concept and have begun to open windows of perception in product use by suggesting its application in America as a therapeutic tool for special needs and developmentally challenged children. We will also discuss how the culture of obesity and the "anti-integrative" exercise philosophy in the US influences comprehension of the laufrad.

Why at Velo-city 2007?

To underscore the urgency of creating engaging and playful vehicle choices that promote physical wellness habits early in life and counter the ever-increasing influence of a sedentary lifestyle and a culture of obesity.


Title: Human Powered Vehicles (HPV); the ANTI-Segway. (Exploring a Cultural Paradox; Back to the Future of Individual Traffic)


Human behavior is hard to change. And behavior, with respect to human powered vehicle conveyance in the middle of Europe is very different from practices in "middle" America. We will examine cultural/behavioral differences manifest in the European and American approach to mobility, systemic wellness problems related to automobile-reliant urban transportation and the challenge of incorporating eco-sustainable lifestyle choices like "Call-a-Bike" programs in America. Suggested solutions may lie not with technology or sophisticated urban planning but a basic mentoring process.


Responding to the "oil crisis" of his day--as the literal price of horse power (oats) soared in the early 1800s--German inventor Karl Drais not only designed the first foot-propelled, human-powered, wheeled vehicle, he also ushered in the concept of individual traffic. This milestone set a prerequisite to ensure European pedestrian travel moved beyond a transportation issue and into the realm of infrastructure planning. In a sense, Drais reminded the populace that future personal trips would not only involve a walking component, but integrate with public thoroughfares. From the simple velocipede, profound implications can be drawn comparing contemporary Euro--American transportation and mobility behavior.

One paradoxical example: the manner in which Segway Human Transporters are permitted where most HPVs are prohibited. Lobbying campaigns touted technology, ignored health concerns and cleared the path for permissive regulation so US cities could put Segways on sidewalks. Not as a mobility-assist device; merely for convenience. This same anti-walking logic now applies in places like malls/amusement parks. By focusing on the legislated sidewalk acceptance of the Segway (in every major city EXCEPT San Francisco) and the exemplar success of Toronto's BikeShare program, this presentation will suggest only progressive municipalities understand that a city's walk and "bikeability" are some of the most important measures of the quality of its social health and vitality. Conclusions will revolve around the use of a civic planning tool called the Green Transportation Hierarchy. (A graphically depiction of the priority of consideration in governmental planning for various mo des of transportation, walking first as the most green form, followed by cycling, transit, delivery vehicles, taxis, and finally SOV (single-occupant automobile).

Why Velo-city 2007

Because we want to expand the discussion about the underlying cultural, behavioral and ethical differences that manifest in the European and North American approach to mobility and some of the systemic wellness problems related to automobile-reliant urban transportation.

My correspondence with Randy produced more interesting information.

He had written a Letter to the Editor, of Bicycling, that he's not sure was ever published:

(I opened the letter like this because they subtitle their magazine "The World's Leading Bike Magazine"):

Dear WORLD's Leading Bike Magazine,

As you are the globe's preeminent authority on all things two wheeled, I was caught by surprise when your How to Raise a Cyclist article recommended starting 2-4 year olds on "a training wheel equipped bike." Perhaps a broader glance around the world may have better grounded your essay writer's instruction.

European cycle enthusiasts have recently recognized so-called, yet mis-labeled "training wheels" were the construct of clever marketing nearly a half century ago. (They offer little benefit in the way of balance training and generally instill fear/doubt in a rider's natural balance capability.)

By using a new form of pedal-free bike for the past three years on the continent, the application of outside stabilizers has become the exception and the average age of newly self-supported bike riders is now about four and a half.

Though this may seem a minor point, when the underlying issue for "raising a cyclist in the U.S." is actually countering the influence of a sedentary lifestyle and a culture of obesity. Shockingly, health organizations like the National Institutes of Health (NIH), American Heart Association and American Medical Association report balance ability now peaks at about the age of 10, that 18% of adults (18-55 years of age) report being non-bike balance capable and that childhood obesity is expected to reach the 25% level in the U.S. population by 2010. It's no wonder the NIH predicts one out of three (one out of two hispanic) children born after 2000 will contract diabetes. It's also no wonder the bike industry will be facing lower and lower rider-ship levels if more and more children get stuck on training wheels and aren't weaned off before they're drawn to the virtual fascination of a screen-based substitute.

Randy Eady

Intergenerational Balance and Movement Instructor, Boca Raton, FL.

I asked him if his company was US, or German:

We're an American-German company ;-)

Here's why:  We see our product "cycling" between the US & Europe, i.e., children's version started in Germany and migrated to the USA.  The adult version will start in the USA and migrate to Europe in 2009-10.

He shared with me excerpts from the soon to be updated ( Early 2007 ) FAQ page from the Glider Rider Site that is very interesting, and informative, and worth checking back with the site next year.

He also shared with me an article he has just finished writing, and hopes to get published, about how innovative Bike Designs are good Start-up Business Ventures.

As he wrote to me:


The bicycle is the world's best selling form of transport with 100 million sold each year - twice the number of cars sold - so a lucrative niche market exists for the more creative among us.  Four illustrations from around the Globe that expose these opportunities are the Sideway bike (UK), the StreetSurfer (AUS), the StairCycle (US) and, the soon to be announced, Glider Rider-Adult Version (GE/US).

The article is an informative essay that discusses the balance principles, attributes, and benefits, of these four new bike concepts.

I'll add an update here when I get word of the publication of the article. (Follow-up: Nov. 2007)

Finally, here are some interesting statistics he dug up as he is preparing for the Conference:

Snapshot: Deutschland/USA Bike Riding Comparison...


Overall Population: 82,431,390.

66 Million bike riders in Germany.

City and Urban Bikes: 27% Trekking Bikes: 28%.

MTB/All-terrain Bikes: 15% Cruiser: 8% Other: 12%.

40% of Bikes in Germany are sourced from Asia (74% in US come from Asia).


Overall Population:300,000,000.

82 million bike riders (25 Mil MTB, 27 Mil Road Bikes, 18 Mil Hybrids).

(As of 10/06) Less than 25% of the US population rides bikes.

3000 people per day in the US lose bike riding ability due to non-injury related demographic factors such as aging, obesity and sedentary lifestyle.

Largest growth sector: Hybrids (55% growth rate in last five years)
28,128 hybrids were sold in May 2005, rising by 70 per cent in May 2006 to 47,870, worth $10.4m, about 17 per cent of the US bike market.

Sources: National Bicycle Dealers Association (NBDA), US Bicycle Product Suppliers' Association (BPSA), and USDOT/FHWA.

Dutch ride twice as often.

The German Government is moving forward with a national bicycle traffic plan to promote cycling throughout the country. The goal is to increase bicycle use to 30 per cent by 2012. Holland serves as a role model: Dutch citizens use their bikes for 27 per cent of all daily travel needs. In Germany, the current figure is around 12 per cent.

According to the National Bicycle Dealers Association (NBDA), almost $5.2 bil/yr is spent on bicycles, parts and accessories, with 10 mil bicycles sold each year. Of the 80 mil bicyclists in the US, 55% are adults and there are 25 mil mountain bikers. Some 1.7 mil bicyclists also participated in 4,900 cycling events in 1998, during which time 175 hours of sports TV coverage was dedicated to bicycling. Of all bicycle sales, discount stores, toy stores and department stores account for 62%. (Direct)

Unlike most countries, cycling in the US has long been regarded as primarily an activity of childhood, to be left behind once one became old enough to acquire a driver's license and access to an automobile. Back in 1975 over 2/3 of all bicycle traffic fatalities were juveniles while mature adults were just 1/8 of the total. Over the past several decades however, the number of children encouraged to take up cycling has fallen dramatically, while the number of mature adult cyclists has grown at a somewhat slower rate to partially offset what would otherwise be an enormous decline in bicycle fatalities. As of 1998, just 30% of all bicycle fatalities were still juveniles, while mature adults now make up 50% of the total. USDOT/FHWA.

Somewhat Dated Statistics:

60 million Americans bicycle at least once per year [ Bikes Belong ].

25% of the U.S. population bicycles [Omnibus Transportation Survey by Bureau of Transportation Statistics, July 2001].

While in Japan 15% of commuters bicycle to work, in the Netherlands 50% of commuters bicycle and in China 77% commute by bike; only 1.6% of U.S. commuters bicycle to work [Washington State Energy Office Extension Services].

Eye opening. ;-D

December 25, 2006 in Voices From The Open Road | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 04, 2006

Good News for Miss. River Trail

My friend, and sometime contributor of reports, and opinion, from the wilds of Louisiana, and its neighboring states, Larry Lagarde, brings news that should interest fans of the Mississippi River Trail:

The Pontchartrain Levee District, a governmental entity responsible for flood protection in 6 parishes (counties) between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, is funding a study to determine the feasibility of creating a paved, 122 mile bike path along the Mississippi River. If the path is created, it would tie into existing paved paths running atop the crown of the Mississippi River levee in metropolitan New Orleans and Baton Rouge, resulting in a paved bike path over 150 miles long.

This new trail would certainly be good news for the Southern Louisiana portion of the Mississippi River Trail. Here, long sections of the MRT are routed along highways with either marginal road surfaces, little to no shoulder or high traffic speeds. Currently, the MRT doesn't even go to Baton Rouge (Louisiana's state capitol, 2nd largest metro area and home to LSU).

Creating this paved trail and routing the MRT over it will provide hundreds of thousands of local residents with a safe and scenic place to walk, roller blade, jog or bike, improving the quality of life and increasing property values. The trail will also introduce revenue from bicycle tourists creating new jobs in small lodgings, restaurants, attractions and shops along the route.

If you have any doubts, just look at what the Danube River Trail has done for rural Austria or what the Coeur d'Alenes Trail is doing in Northern Idaho.

As stated on the Federal Highway Administrations website, "bicycle and pedestrian projects are broadly eligible for funding from almost all the major Federal-aid highway, transit, safety, and other programs."

With last year's enactment into law of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), more federal funding is available for bike trails than ever. Add to the equation the levee's importance to Homeland security and the potential the levee offers to be a safe route to schools in local communities along the route and it seems that funding for this project should be a slam dunk.

I encourage organizations such as Mississippi River Trail, Inc., the League of American Bicyclists, Adventure Cycling, Inc. and others to come together to help make this trail a reality.

Respectfully, Larry Lagarde

Check out Larry's website, and excellent Blog:

Ride THIS Bike

Great Bicycle Rides and City Trails Worldwide

October 4, 2006 in Voices From The Open Road | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 21, 2006

Is Helmet Use Promoted to Detriment of Safety Courses?

I have never claimed to be an expert on everything cycling.

Sadly I don't have the time to steep myself in becoming one, though I try to find time to explore websites I find.

Heck, lately I've not even been able to get out for long rides ( Right now the heat wave, here in the OC, has prevented me. )

By finding websites of use to cyclists, and by posting about various issues, it has been my hope to get visitors to check out the sites, and stories, and to get people more knowledgeable than I, and even with differing opinions, to chime in with comments, and essays, on various subjects.

I pride myself in the collection of resources I've gathered, and hope that more people discover their usefullness every day.

It has been 2 years since I added a link to my Special Invite in the sidebar.

I think, at least with the commenting part, and the event tips, I've been a little bit successful as I can always count on several regulars to add considerably to the discussion of the topics written about here, and I occasionally get word of various events.

It is no secret that, while I think education is important with regards to making better cyclists, and even motorists, I am also a strong supporter of Helmet use ( From personal experience, I know that wearing a helment can prevent serious injury, and even save your life. ), and respect the opinions of those who promote it ( See links in sidebar ).

I also respect the folks encouraging Safety Education.

Some of those folks take exception to studies, and organizations, that say that "The use of helmets is the single most effective way to reduce head injuries and fatalities resulting from bicycle crashes."

I would love to add to my collection of Cycling Safety Education sites ( 10 related sites are listed ), but in the meantime let me share an e-mail I got from regular commenter, and fellow BikeBlogger, Fritz, of Cyclelicious, and Longmont Bicycling Resource.

What he has to say gets to the heart of the debate over helmets, and to trying to find ways to educate people about other important ways to stay safe while cycling.

Fritz writes:

Okay, let's look at these numbers Kiril. You wrote "Children 15 and younger accounted for 21 percent of the 725 killed." That's 152 children who died on a bicycle in 2004. And then you wrote, "Universal bicycle helmet use by children ages 4-15 would prevent 135-155 deaths annually."

If 152 children died, how do you prevent up to 155 of those deaths????? And then people wonder why folks like me who actually read the studies call them out as total BS.

You quote Dr. Rick Blum, who says, "The use of helmets is the single most effective way to reduce head injuries and fatalities resulting from bicycle crashes." Helmets are indeed effective, but Blum is spouting pure hyperbole: the single most effective way to reduce head injuries and fatalities is NOT helmets, but it's good riding safety education for children AND the adults who drive around them. A big part of the problem is adults driving 40 mph through residential areas and school zones. If these morons would understand that kids are part of the residential environment and just slow down, a big part of the problem would go away.

Helmets are fine, but overemphasizing this minimally effective countermeasure over the real issues is like putting a bandaid on a amputated limb.

This isn't just some hypothetical splitting hairs issue, either -- real dollars are involved. Colorado was one of the first states to distribute federal Safe Routes to School dollars for bicycle safety. I reviewed $6.5 million in grant requests from various agencies; only $2.3 million was available to distribute. Somewhere around $1 million was requested for helmet education and promotion (which acts mostly to make children and parents afraid to ride their bikes), when what we really wanted was to promote cycling to school.

One of the recipients for 2006 is the city of Longmont for a very strong bicycle promotion and education program there in conjunction with the school system. Helmets are part of it and the kids are required to have helmets to participate, but the way it's done doesn't detract from the main purpose of that program.

There is a lot of debate, and discussion, all over the cycling community, on a host of issues such as this one.

If you have the time you owe it to yourself to check out any cycling message board, or e-mail list, that catches your attention when checking out various sites in my sideboard, and you will see just how involved, technical, and even very heated, the discussions can become.

Just beware: Your e-mail in-box could quickly be overloaded. ;-D

That's why I have not subscribed to any lists in years. ;-D

Thanks, Fritz, for the above contribution. ;-D

July 21, 2006 in Voices From The Open Road | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 12, 2006

About Phil Liggett by James Raia

Phil Liggett will be broadcasting his 34th Tour de France, beginning July 1 in Strasbourg, France.

There is a nifty book of poetry ( Dancing on the Pedals ), in my sidebar, and the review, by Bill Strickland, on Amazon, says it all:

Lighthearted, ironic arrangement into verse form of Phil Liggett's florid, enthusiastic narrations of cycling's greatest races. Anyone who has ever watched the Tour de France on TV knows Phil, and his flights of rhetorical brilliance are legion. Bicycling Magazine writes, "His voice defines the sport the way Howard Cosell's did for boxing and football." Astonishingly poetic and intelligent, Phil Liggett's narrations lend themselves perfectly to this found poetry approach.

Journalist, Author, and Radio Talk Show Host, James Raia has a very nice piece on this legendary man.

June 12, 2006 in Voices From The Open Road | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack