MOVE OVER OR SLOW DOWN, a good safety message

In my new hometown of Prescott, Arizona, I’ve gone exploring looking for good and bad places to ride my bicycle.

I found a really bad place: a narrow bike lane on a hilly multi-lane road, Willow Creek Road. The bike lane confines cyclists to their own little ghetto while traffic rushes by, inches from the left elbow. There are many intersections which invite right hook collisions and collisions from poor sight lines. A steep downhill run just ahead allows cyclists to coast upwards of 40 mph, at which speed one should not be occupying a narrow bike lane, next to motorists who are ignoring you. Continue reading

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The new mission (or vision) at LAB

Here, in its entirety, is what LAB posted on its website on January 17, 2014, regarding its emphasis for at least the near-term future.  Bill Hoffman’s comments follow.

LAB is no longer a membership organization; it’s a lobbying group that happens to have members.

Continue reading

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Momentum Magazine vs. John Allen on Cycling Infrastructure

Rather than retype everything, go here:
http://labikes.blogspot.com/2014/02/when-did-momentum-magazine-lose-its.html

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“I Am Traffic”

A new bicycling education and advocacy organization “I Am Traffic” held a colloquium in Feb. 23-24 Orlando. You can watch some of the presentations and read some really good educational material from the website.
The keynote speaker was Keri Caffrey who talked about How to Achieve the Vision for a culture that supports successful behavior.
normal_cyclist

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I Am Traffic Goes Live

I Am Traffic, a web resource put together by the Cycling Saavy folks, is up and running.  This is a product of the group that’s meeting in February in Orlando to create a new, national bicycle education organization. The CyclingSavvy folks are the main drivers. More details to come. check with Keri Caffrey and Mighk Wilson. Meanwhile, check out the link.

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Bicycling Safety: The Real Issues

Let’s start with what should be the obvious problems — riding on the wrong side of the road [note 1], no lights at night [note 2], flagrant traffic violations like running red lights and riding on sidewalks. These are best addressed with education, teaching people that bicycles are really vehicles that must be operated according to the standard Rules of the Road.

Unfortunately, most “bike safety education” is done so poorly that many people think it is safer to ride on sidewalks or wrong way and that flouting traffic laws makes little difference. Sometimes we even hear of police encouraging bad practices. Continue reading

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15th St. cycletrack, Washington, DC

On Nov. 16, 2012, I had occasion to try the cycletrack on 15th St. NW in Washington, DC. The track is in two parts. The southern part, about 3 blocks long, runs on the west side of 15th between Pennsylvania Ave./E St. and New York Ave., alongside the US Treasury Department. At New York a cyclist can turn west on the former part of Pennsylvania Ave. that passes directly in front of the White House, where the street has been converted to a non-motorized plaza for security reasons. Cyclists can ride there in order to reach streets to the west, including 17th and the continuation of Pennsylvania toward the northwest.

Does this cycletrack improve cyclist safety?
Clearly, no. By its very nature, it cannot.

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On Visual Attention, Inattentional Blindness and Assertive Safety Practices

VisualAtentionZoneA couple years ago, I was riding to the local “Homeless Depot” on a Sunday around noon. I had to pass a local mega church that had a police officer directing traffic out of a parking lot to my left. The officer was standing in the center turn lane. As I approached, I could see the end of the line of exiting cars, so I slowed in order to avoid stopping. I timed it well — as I drew up to the officer, he signaled me to proceed. Continue reading

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Beyond Spandex: Where is the traditional cyclist in this movement?

The League of American Bicyclists posted a recent entry titled “Beyond Spandex, Toward Social Justice: Women Redefining the Movement“. Men, who have made up the statistical vanguard of ridership in the past, are relegated to an acronym, MAMIL, i.e., Middle Aged Men In Lycra. We subsequently learn of the efforts to be more inclusive, making sure that womyn (League’s spelling in one instance, not mine) and minorities are included in cycling.

I think it is great to have more people on bicycles, as long as it is not a politically-driven desire for more butts on bikes. Cycling should not be a class or gender based activity. Nor should cycling be restricted to those wealthy enough to afford something picked from the Bicycling Magazine Annual Review of Outlandishly Expensive Bikes pages. If that had been the case decades ago, I would not have been riding. Likewise, infrastructure, whether in the gentrified or rough side of town, should be examined to ensure it is not unduly impeding people from using a bicycle as either transportation or avocation should they want to do so. Bicycling should be a choice available to anyone who really wants to ride, but should not be something we hit people over the heads with as a moral statement of a greater good. Certainly there are a lot of good things to say about bicycling, but when it is reduced to a recipe for saving the earth, saving the individual from cardiac care, or saving the world (all of which the simple bicycle can play a role in doing), it becomes hopelessly entangled in weird politics.

Certainly, women have their own needs, whether it be bicycles designed for the female anatomy or cycling activities that fit into very busy and complicated lives. Not that the men I know don’t have similar time constraints. We have a woman who works in my group who has been trying to find time to ride competitively between work demands and the demands of a single mom with two small children. Being a new rider, she wanted company on the road. That’s being worked on, including me occasionally changing my riding schedule so I can coach her. Surely, to be inclusive, we all need to look inside ourselves as cyclists, ask what we can do to encourage others who don’t look like the guy in the mirror and who have different situations, and reach out to them. That’s advocacy up close and personal.

What worries me about that post, as well as other stuff on the League web site, is whether there is more between the lines, i.e., a sea change in the League’s agenda. Has the League entirely stopped being an organization of avid bicyclists and instead thrown its heft behind current trends in urban planning, anti-car advocacy, and the purported advocacy needs of non-cyclists, i.e., those things we are told to do so someone who has not been riding changes their mind? As a card-carrying MAMIL, I can’t say I can speak for anyone else, so they need to speak for themselves, both within and outside of LAB. But who speaks for me? Do we need a League of American MAMILs? Jusk kidding….

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It’s a racket

If you build it, they will confine you to it.

Have you ever heard of General Smedley Butler? He was a major public figure in the 1930′s. He was disgusted by the corrupt profiteering he witnessed during WWI, and stumped around the US beginning in 1930, giving a speech entitled “War is a Racket”. Continue reading

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