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Monday, October 12, 2009
  Noddin Elementary School bike rodeo
By Yokota Fritz 


1. Eva picks the neighborhood at Noddin Elementary School specifically because she thought her daughter could easily bike to the school. It borders Blossom Hill Road, but the houses near the school are in a fairly reasonably quiet residential area with bike laned streets, though they have the usual rush hour craziness.

2. Eva's daughter begins first grade and starts riding to school with her mother. Noddin's principal has a meeting with Eva and tells her biking to school is not permitted!

3. Eva tries to get the principal and the school district to reverse their policy to no avail.

4. Eva talks to her friend Dave, who posts about the bike ban in this Flickr photo.

5. Momentum Magazine publisher Amy Walker hears about it and calls me to ask about this bike ban.

6. I talk to City of San Jose Bike / Ped program coordinator John Brazil. John forwards this to the city's School Safety Program director Tara Jones.

7. Tara meets with the school over the summer. The school agrees to lift the ban after a bike safety program and bike rack installation.

8. The bike safety education at Noddin occurred on Thursday and Friday, and culminated with the bike rodeo last Saturday. Bike rack installation is still pending, but the school principle came away with a very positive impression of the education provided by the volunteers at the bike rodeo and the resources available from local cycling advocates. The parents were also all very positive about their kids biking to school.


Friday, July 17, 2009
  Colorado county seeks bike ban from public roads
By Yokota Fritz 

Liberty hating communist commissioners of Jefferson County Colorado want to steal your freedom and your right to travel! In a hearing, the county commissioners talked about having their lobbyist talk to Colorado state legislators about a law that would permit counties to ban bicycles from Colorado county roads.

The commissioners claim they're doing this in the name of safety. There is no move, however, to restrict the real safety hazard on mountain roads -- automobiles.

Since the commissioners claim they are responding to the emailed complaints of Jefferson County Road users, it's time for cyclists to email the Jefferson County Commission and, more importantly, show up at Jeffco Commission Meetings. MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD, CYCLISTS! You can also call them at +1 (303) 271-8525; and send snail mail to 100 Jefferson County Parkway, Golden, CO, 80419.

Jefferson County Attorney Ellen Wakeman is drafting the legislation. Her office's phone number is +1 (303) 271-8900; her administrative assitant's email address is Keep them busy!


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Saturday, January 24, 2009
  Bike advocacy during times of declining budgets
By Yokota Fritz 
Mark Stosberg lists some good, inexpensive ideas that have worked for him in Richmond, Indiana.


Saturday, January 17, 2009
  Cyclists to ride in budget protest
By Alison Chaiken 
From the Mountain View Voice:

. . . local leaders are planning a community bike ride to protest any slashes that would affect children.

The ride will start at the El Camino YMCA on Grant Road on Sunday, May 3, and cover 27 miles through Mountain View, Sunnyvale and Los Altos — all in an effort to bring light to children's rights, including the need for health and educational initiatives.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009
  N.Y. Times on Earl Blumenauer
By Alison Chaiken 
A Bicycle Evangelist With the Wind Now at His Back

With an eye on the potential stimulus package, cycling advocates “have compiled a list of $2 billion of projects that can be under construction in 90 days,” Mr. Oberstar said, adding that prospects are “bright.”

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Sunday, December 28, 2008
  League of American Bicyclists finances look a bit shaky
By Alison Chaiken 
Charity Navigator is a well-known evaluator of non-profit and charitable organizations. Charity Navigator's evaluation of the League of American Bicyclists indicates that the organization's finances are a bit shaky. While the League gets 3 out of 4 stars for "Organizational Efficiency," its "Capacity Rating" is only 1 out of 4 because revenue is shrinking while expenses are essentially flat. The data on the Charity Navigator website are from 2006, so LAB's financial state may have improved since then. Unfortunately the latest Annual Report published on LAB's website is also from 2006, which in itself is a bit worrisome!

The League is currently holding elections for Board Members. Our California representative in Region 6 is Amanda Eichstaedt, whose candidate statement in the paper American Bicyclist speaks of efforts to "tighten up the procedures and day to day operating guidelines for the organization." Board Member Eichstaedt sounds like she's aware of management problems and is working to sort them out. Certainly the passage of the Bicycle Commuter Act made 2008 overall a successful year for the League.


Friday, October 03, 2008
  Bike commuter benefit now law!
By Yokota Fritz 
President Bush signed the Bicycle Commuter Benefits Act into law today.

Congressman Blumenauer of Oregon included a bike commuter benefit provision in HR1424, the $700 billion Wall Street bailout package that passed the house today and was signed by President Bush shortly afterward.

Park Blvd bike commuter
“We are delighted that the bicycle commuter benefits act has passed after a lengthy and persistent campaign spearheaded by Congressman Blumenauer (D-OR),” said League of American Bicyclists President Andy Clarke. “Bicycle commuters will now be extended similar benefits to people who take transit and drive to work – it’s an equitable and sensible incentive to encourage greater energy independence, improve air quality and health, and even help tackle climate change. Thanks to everyone who has helped reach this milestone, especially Walter Finch and Mele Williams, our government relations staff over the years who have worked tirelessly with Congressman Blumenauer, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and many others in Congress.”

The benefit -- up to $20 per month -- begins with the new year in 2009. Employers may reimburse employees, tax free, for "reasonable" expenses related to their bike commute, including equipment purchases, bike purchases, repairs, and storage if the bicycle is used as a "substantial part" of the commuter's trip to work for the month. If you already receive another commuter tax-free fringe benefit (like a Commuter Check or EcoPass), you don't qualify, so multimodal commuters are out of luck.


(a) In General- Paragraph (1) of section 132(f) is amended by adding at the end the following: ‘(D) Any qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement.’.

(b) Limitation on Exclusion- Paragraph (2) of section 132(f) is amended by striking ‘and’ at the end of subparagraph (A), by striking the period at the end of subparagraph (B) and inserting ‘, and’, and by adding at the end the following new subparagraph: ‘(C) the applicable annual limitation in the case of any qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement.’.

(c) Definitions- Paragraph (5) of section 132(f) is amended by adding at the end the following:


      ‘(i) QUALIFIED BICYCLE COMMUTING REIMBURSEMENT- The term ‘qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement’ means, with respect to any calendar year, any employer reimbursement during the 15-month period beginning with the first day of such calendar year for reasonable expenses incurred by the employee during such calendar year for the purchase of a bicycle and bicycle improvements, repair, and storage, if such bicycle is regularly used for travel between the employee’s residence and place of employment.
      ‘(ii) APPLICABLE ANNUAL LIMITATION- The term ‘applicable annual limitation’ means, with respect to any employee for any calendar year, the product of $20 multiplied by the number of qualified bicycle commuting months during such year.
      ‘(iii) QUALIFIED BICYCLE COMMUTING MONTH- The term ‘qualified bicycle commuting month’ means, with respect to any employee, any month during which such employee--
      ‘(I) regularly uses the bicycle for a substantial portion of the travel between the employee’s residence and place of employment, and
      ‘(II) does not receive any benefit described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C) of paragraph (1).’.

(d) Constructive Receipt of Benefit- Paragraph (4) of section 132(f) is amended by inserting ‘(other than a qualified bicycle commuting reimbursement)’ after ‘qualified transportation fringe’.

(e) Effective Date- The amendments made by this section shall apply to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2008.

Please remember to Digg this, post to Facebook, etc. if you're so inclined.

Elsewhere: RideThisBike, Bicycle.Net, Streetsblog, Biking Bis, Bike Portland, Bicycle Diaries, Trek, Rush Limbaugh. Philly Bike News does a cost analysis.

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Monday, March 03, 2008
  National Bike Summit 2008 in the news
By Yokota Fritz 
Summit fever is rising! The League of American Bicyclists reports that over 500 participants are now registered for the weekend, with company presidents, national press, strong local advocates—and an impressive array of speakers scheduled to appear.

In addition to the festivities of the National Bike Summit—from the opening dinner with National Park Service Director Mary Bomar and David Jones, Jr., Chairman of Humana’s Board of Directors to the famous politicians at the closing reception on Capitol Hill—there are many events for cyclists. The League of American Bicyclists is holding our annual meeting on Wednesday evening, with two authors—Bob Mionske and J. Harry Wray—speaking and signing books. Swing by for a free drink, good eats, and an update on how the League is doing in 2008—even non-Summit attendees are welcome.

US Capitol Building
There is also a League board meeting on Tuesday, March 4 from 2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. in room Meridian C at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center in downtown Washington, D.C. Open to all!

There are post-Summit evening events hosted by International Mountain Bicycling Association, Thunderhead Alliance, and Bikes Belong. For more information on the Summit, and events going on in conjunction with it, click here for the full agenda[PDF].

A group plans to ride from Reagan National Airport to the National Bike Summit location at Ronald Reagan Trade Center in something like a Critical Mass demonstration showing how bike transportation can be done. The ride will start at 12 p.m. on March 4. All bike riders are encouraged and welcome. If your plans already have you in Washington before noon on Tuesday, ride organizers invite you to ride out to the Airport: it is just 3.5 miles from the Reagan International Trade Center. You can also just ride Metrorail Blue Line from the airport to Federal Triangle Metro Station, from which you can just go upstairs into the plaza outside of the Reagan Trade Center.

Here are some mentions of the 2008 National Bike Summit in the mainstream media.
  • August, GA: Bike shop owner becomes first time lobbyist.
    Political action aside, community service has been a staple for Cohen. Annually, his shop participates in bike giveaways at Christmas, promotes bicycle safety classes, donates helmets at local elementary schools and helps scouts earn their bicycle merit badges.

    “I am happy to have helped,” says Cohen. “I like interacting with kids in the community, but I also feel it is my obligation to give back to the community that gives me and my family its livelihood.”

  • Louisville, KY: The Year of the Bicycle? Also at Daily
    Bicycling's best year since the start of the auto age? That's the argument likely to be made March 4-6 as hundreds of cyclists from across the nation gather in Washington for the National Bike Summit sponsored of the League of American Bicyclists.

  • USA Today: Stars ride bikes to assist wounded veterans.
    The Road 2 Recovery effort kicks off with an informal fun ride Tuesday at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. It will be held in conjunction with the League of American Bicyclists' National Bike Summit.
For more information, see the LAB Summit web page.
Photo: Me riding a rented bike in front of the U.S. Capitol Building

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Sunday, March 02, 2008
  Z sez: Yield to Life
By Yokota Fritz 
Professional racing cyclist Dave Zabriskie started Yield to Life to engage in a vigorous awareness campaign to promote positive attitudes toward cyclists and replace any hostility that exists between motorists and cyclists with understanding, respect, and appreciation for all life on the road. Safety for every cyclist is the top priority of Yield to Life. The "About" page is worth reading:
We all travel life’s roads. I stand before you to ask for your cooperation in providing safe space for cyclists. When you see a cyclist on the road, please, yield to life.

As a professional cyclist I have ridden my bike all over the world, but, sadly, each of the three times that I have been hit by a car has been in the United States; the worst of the accidents was in 2003.

I had just flown back to Salt Lake after my most successful season to date when, on May 23, I was in Millcreek Canyon in Salt Lake City. I was enjoying one of my favorite rides when I was hit by an SUV on the way down. The SUV made a left hand turn directly into me. I flew through the air and landed on the ground, unable to move the left side of my body. After spending a week in the hospital, I left with pins in my wrist and my leg, and some cadaver bone in my knee. The doctors did not think I would ride again.

It took a lot of hard work and determination to come back from my injuries. I often wonder what I could have accomplished had I not had such a devastating set back. I also wonder what went through the driver’s mind when she hit me. If she had only thought of me as life, a living, breathing person, rather than an obstacle in her way. Did she ever consider the prolonged agony she was creating by her reckless attitude and wrongful acts? If she had just waited a split second for my safe passage, I would have not been reduced to a wheelchair for months, and then in need of a walker and painful rehabilitation to even walk again, let alone ride a bike.

It is my mission to humanize and personalize cyclists to help motorists to always be aware that we are "life" and that we deserve a safe space on the road. I love to ride my bike as do my fellow cyclists, but we should not have to place out lives at risk everyday for that enjoyment.

Yield to Life is a non-profit organization devoted to creating a safer environment for cyclists and, by so doing, encouraging more people to ride for their own health, the good of the environment and the well being of society.

By making cycling safer and promoting the activity as a responsible means of transportation and a healthy means of recreation, Yield to Life can contribute to tackling some of today's major concerns—from such issues as pollution and global warming to obesity and diabetes. In this way, Yield to Life can play a role in increasing the quality of life not only for cyclists, but for everyone—for our generation and those to come.
I already like David Zabriskie, and this effort makes him even more of a hero in my book. Via Human Powered Transport. See also this rancorous exchange between motorists, pedestrians and cyclists in San Francisco.

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Friday, February 22, 2008
  Share the road?
By Yokota Fritz 
James in Greenville wants "Share the road" messages on local buses to help reinforce the idea that cyclists belong on the road. He especially likes the campaign in Atlanta, Georgia, where real people are pictured in the ads instead of just stylized, impersonal bike icons. The real faces humanize cyclists as real people instead of just obstructions in the road.

On the Thunderhead Alliance mailing list there's a discussion about the pros and cons of the "Share the Road" message. Patty Vinyard, executive director of the St. Louis Bike Federation, wants to make biking irresistible. She feels the basic messages of "Share the road" are negative. Consider her points:
  • Share the road signs are yellow diamonds, which are classified in the U.S. Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices as a warning sign. The underlying message is that a bicycle on the street creates a hazard. This sign inadvertently reinforces the idea that bicycling is dangerous and thereby discourages people who do not currently bike on the streets from ever doing so.

  • To many motorists it means: Cars have the right of way. Bikes have to move over and let me pass. Bikes are supposed to share the road. In fact, I have heard of several instances in which, after a car/bike crash, the motorist proclaimed: “He didn’t get out of my way! He wasn’t sharing the road!”

  • For us as advocates, the underlying meaning is perhaps the most destructive. If we decide to use the phrase “Share the Road” in advertising and promotion, we are beginning with the basic assumption that everyone is going to continue to use their present mode of transport. So it’s like we are saying: We know you motorists are never going to get out of your car and ride a bike. But would you please give us a little consideration? Please don’t run us over while you are driving!

Patty continues:
If we truly want more people to choose bicycling, we must put our advertising and promotion resources into developing material that makes bicycling look fun, practical, and exciting. When I searched online for examples of television commercials or public service announcements that do this, I found none. Okay, maybe one (but the guy looked lonely). But I found a lot of “Share the Road” material.
You can read the entire article here. Finally, Patty notices that most "bike promotion" advertising are safety lessons instead of anything that actually promotes cycling. She points out that car advertisers don't advertise the very real risks of driving, but show drivers having fun with their cars. Her organization created "Change Your View" videos to promote cycling as something that's fun to do. (Those reading this via the feed probably need to click through to view the video).

Finally, Kent Peterson has his own "Share the Road" story. Kent is the Commuting Program Director of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington and he talks about the irony that his program is funded in part by "Share the Road" license plates on motor vehicles, even when they're mounted on big Humvees and other large SUVs.

What do you think? Does "share the road" send the wrong message? Or am I over analyzing a simple message?

Please click those social networking buttons here if this article is worth sharing. Thanks!! StumbleUpon Add to Facebook digg Google bookmark


Friday, December 07, 2007
  San Francisco bike plan on hold two more years
By Yokota Fritz 
From Left in SF...

Last year, blogger Rob Anderson and his "Coalition for Adequate Review" put a stop to San Francisco's bike plan when he filed suit against the city, arguing that any transportation changes must undergo an Environmental Impact Review. Judge James Warren agreed and completely stopped all new bike projects in the city with an injunction prohibiting any new bicycle facilities of any kind in San Francisco.

Now we have the news that the city does not expect to complete the required environmental review until spring 2009, with re-adoption of the bike plan in the summer of 2009. The city cannot even install bike racks for parking or racks on buses until this environmental review is completed. The San Francisco Bike Coalition urges action and asks San Francisco cyclists to call the Mayor and Board of Supervisors to encourage them to make this a higher priority.

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Monday, November 26, 2007
  Bicycle haiku and other bicycle blog madness
By Yokota Fritz 
Frank has an nice winter CX baiku in Illinois. He also pointed me to a old set of baikus from last summer.

Carlton talks about "get off the road for your own safety" individuals in the Netherlands(!), India and Nazi Germany. Perhaps there's a connection with this "bicycle neglect". Alan makes the point that the American Automobile Association -- which is a motorist lobbying group -- has more than 300 times the membership of bicycling advocacy groups. He writes:
In fact, cyclists are so utterly overpowered that the motoring interests hardly even have to show up. In Olympia and Salem, according to leading cycling advocates, the trucking, development, and manufacturing industries lobby fairly heavily on transportation issues. But car manufacturers, car dealers, and auto clubs rarely flex their muscle. Says [Bicycle Alliance of Washington executive director Gordon] Black, “They don’t have to show up very often, because they know the government is doing their bidding. They don’t feel threatened. They don’t see us as a threat.”
CycleDog points us to an online driving test. I scored 95%.

Now let's ge to the boring news: Diesel shortages in South Dakota, North Dakota (in spite of record production at the state's lone refinery) and Iowa, where the presidential hopefuls are stumping for the January caucus. There's even a shortage of hops for beer manufacture. The state of Connecticut plans for fuel shortages. Some French equestrians are pushing horses for transportation. And in Zimbabwe, a brand new biodiesel factory isn't quite living up to the hype. One of the problems? Not enough feedstock to go around: the farmers have to choose between starvation or running their cars, trucks, generators and irrigation pumps.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007
  Trek: One World, Two Wheels
By Yokota Fritz 
Update: See Jame's thoughts on Trek's commitment and 1000 Limes.

Trek's Commitment: One World, Two Wheels.
Trek Dealers are working to get people to ride their bikes and make a more bike friendly world, one mile at a time.

We all know the world has some problems; gas is expensive and cars pollute, the roads are congested and humans are getting bigger. And not in a good way.

Luckily, there is a solution to these problems. A solution that burns calories, not gas. It doesn't waste fuel sitting in traffic. Something that could even bring communities closer together.

The solution is the bicycle.

With 40% of non-work related car trips being taken being two miles or less, what would happen if more people took the short trips on their bike? What if more communities had a "Safe Routes to Schools" plan so kids could ride to school safely? What would the world be like with more bicycle friendly communities?

Imagine arriving at work fresh instead of frazzled. Parking within feet of the building! Your kids getting exercise to and from school. Better still, commuting by bike IS exercising! And there are no carbon emissions from burning calories.

We all can ride and we have only one planet. Trek and Trek dealers challenge you to join us in making the world a more bike friendly place. You can start by riding your bike. It's the greenest thing you can do to help the earth.
Trek is committing cash for Bikes Belong (the industry-funded advocacy group) and The International Mountain Bicycling Association.

Specialized Bicycles took a big step for bicycling advocacy last year when they named Ariadne Scott as Director of Advocacy and Environment for Specialized. Her mission at Specialized is to develop and implement Specialized's global green action plan and integrate it into the company's culture, environment, products, marketing and communication. Specialized helped organize a bicycle fair at Yahoo! and provided Globe bicycles for giveaways. On Bike To Work Day 2007, Specialized provided California politicians with bicycles for the event. "We are working with the leaders in our retail channel, the environment and advocacy arena to demonstrate the benefit of bicycling as a great and valid means of transportation," said Mike Sinyard, founder and president of Specialized Bicycles. "Riding to work can directly impact global warming."

Bike parts company Planet Bike is famous for their support of bicycling advocacy. Planet Bike donates 25% of company profits to bicycle advocacy groups, primarily the Thunderhead Alliance. Since 1996 Planet Bike has donated over $500,000 to grassroots bicycle advocacy.


Saturday, August 18, 2007
  Transportation commission chair explanation and apology
By Yokota Fritz 
Recently, Saratoga, California chair Brigitte Ballingall was quoted in the Mercury News making statements that appeared anti-cycling.

She responded on this blog and in emails that her quote was taken out of context, and offered her explanation and an apology to cyclists who ride on Saratoga roads. As a member of the city's advisory committee for transportation issues, she has worked to promote cycling and walking as transportation. In particular, she founded the Saratoga School Transportation Task Force to address safety issues related to all of the driving around local schools. "The foundation to our plan was to do anything to encourage alternatives to driving kids to school, namely biking and walking," writes Ms Ballinger. "We wrote extensive marketing ideas promoting bikes as the 'better vehicle'," which I think rocks. She also worked with the city to secure Safe Routes to School funding for bike lanes and sidewalks around Saratoga schools.

Ms. Ballinger does express concern about Pierce Road in Saratoga, which is a curvy, hilly and narrow road with high traffic, poor sightlines, and steep banks off of the edge of the road. I've heard experienced cyclists tell other cyclists that they're "insane" for riding on this road, and Ms. Ballinger explains that her remark was made in that kind of informal context of talking to her cycling friends. She regrets making that kind statement in a public meeting and retracts her 'idiotic and insane' statement.


Friday, August 17, 2007
  City Traffic Commission: Cyclists are insane idiots
By Yokota Fritz 
Update: See Ms Ballingall's comment below for her apology and explanation.

The town of Saratoga, California is nestled in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains south of San Jose, CA. It's a popular area for Silicon Valley road cyclists to ride to and through. While the city of Saratoga considers cyclist safety an important issue, Saratoga Transportation Safety Commission chair Brigitte Ballingall has a different view of cycling. "I think it's an idiotic sport to do on the road - it's just insane," she was quoted as saying in this news about cycling safety in Saratoga.

Cyclists are asked to "be nice" in their emailed comments to her as they explain that cycling is a relatively safe activity that can be enjoyed by almost anybody. For more information about the Saratoga Transportation Safety Commission, see the city website.

Hat tip to Paul on the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition mailing list for this news.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007
  Transportation Secretary Mary Peters: Bike facilities a waste
By Yokota Fritz 
Headless  Panda on the Golden Gate BridgeMy children and I cross the Golden Gate Bridge bicycle path. When counts were last done in 2002, 1600 bicyclists daily rode across on weekdays. Anecdotally, bicycle use has climbed significantly since then. The Golden Gate Bridge and other similar bicycling facilities in the San Francisco Bay Area are a vital part of the transportation network for bicyclists.
Last night on PBS News Hour with Jim Leher, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters explained the Bush Administration's policy of no new taxes to fund repairs for the transportation infrastructure. Peters told News Hour that up to 20 percent of the federal gasoline tax is earmarked for non-transportation projects, specifically mentioning bicycling facilities as an example of inappropriate, non-transportation use of the federal gasoline tax.

The League of American Bicyclists responded with a letter to Peters correcting some of the impressions made by Ms. Peters:
  • That bicycle facilities are not transportation related. "Tens of millions of bicyclists and pedestrians in communities across the country use trails to get to work, school, shops, and to visit friends and family," writes LAB Executive Director Andy Clarke. "Every one of these trips prevents congestion, pollution, and energy consumption while improving the health of the rider or walker."
  • "You left the impression that an enormous percentage of Federal transportation funds are spent on projects such as these. The reality is that only one percent of these funds are spent on bicycling and walking projects despite the fact that these two modes account for ten percent of all trips in the country and 12 percent of traffic fatalities each year."
Clarke urges Peters to stand by a statement she made at the 2002 Washington, DC bike summit, where Peters said, “Many people in our country use bikes for more than recreation. For them, bikes are their vehicle for the commute to work and for the errands of daily life. We need every mode of transportation to keep America mobile. What modes did you use to get to your hotel? Very few of us depend on a single mode. I strongly agree with Secretary Mineta, bicyclists are an integral part of our nation’s transportation system and we all need to work together to develop a better more balanced transportation system that provides facilities and programs for bicyclists on a routine basis.”

The LAB also asks cyclists to send their comments to Ms. Peters to share their personal viewpoints.

In the News Hour interview, Peters also praised New York City's proposed congestion pricing. "I think it's a great idea," said Peters. "Commuters today are paying. They're paying with their time. They're paying with their productivity. They're sitting stuck in traffic in New York City and other cities in the United States today. So they're paying. If this congestion process gives them the ability to get out of being stuck in traffic, to make the air cleaner, to use less fuel, to create a better environment in their city, I think it's a great idea."



Tuesday, August 14, 2007
  SFPD bicycle training video
By Yokota Fritz 

San Francisco cops tell cyclists to "take the lane" for safety.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and the San Francisco Police Department worked to create this outstanding police training video on the rights and responsibilities of cyclists in San Francisco. Cyclists are instructed to ride "about four feet away from parked cars when you're riding your bicycle," to report instances of driver intimidation, and report injury accidents. This video is used at the San Francisco Police Academy and at district stations around the city.

The men and women in uniform tell cyclists and motorists in this video that cyclists should take the full lane, and motorists can be cited for dooring and driving dangerously around cyclists. This video has useful information for everyone on the road, not just police officers and San Francisco cyclists — take a look and share the link! More information at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition website. Via SF Cyclotouring. Direct link to video on YouTube. Please click the Digg and CycleCluster buttons below if you believe this story is worth sharing.

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Sunday, July 01, 2007
  Crime and perception
By Yokota Fritz 

Accident on Route 46
Originally uploaded by leonfu
I believe cyclists should generally follow the rules of the road. One of my hot button issues, though, is the idea that cyclists who break the law are such a public danger that they require special enforcement attention and cyclists should be held to a higher standard than motorists.

While I'm ranting, this idea that I'm personally responsible for the actions of some idiot in San Francisco or Berkeley or NYC or London is just plain weird. CycleDog left a comment somewhere (I think at Masi Guy but I can't find it) about the secret instant cyclist internet that's built into every bike. We're jacked into it the minute we connect seat to saddle -- perhaps through a bionic USB connection? I don't automatically think my motoring friends are somehow to blame when I read of or personally witness one of the 340 traffic fatalities that occur annually in the San Francisco Bay Area, not to mention the countless insane wrecks that occur daily.

But enough ranting. Let's move on to facts and reasoned argument. Treadly and Me reports on some interesting statistics from Australia on running red lights. It turns out more than half of surveyed motorists admit to running red lights. I see it every single day on my commute in Menlo Park where Willow Road meets Bayshore Expressway. I was well into the intersection on a solid green last week, looked right and watched a truck coming at me at 50 mph with no indication that the driver intended to slow. I waited at the median as he flew by before I continued. One driver behind me even honked as I stopped, and no doubt felt like a moron she saw the reason I stopped. I probably saved her life, but I've learned to watch for light-running traffic at this intersection.

Back to Treadly, who writes:
And here is something that sticks in my craw: motorists who complain about the behavior of cyclists are expecting a higher standard of conduct from cyclists as a group than they are prepared to apply to their own group. Too often we hear the all inclusive complaint that bloody cyclists jump red lights, but when it comes to the in excess of one hundred thousand drivers who run red lights, well that’s just a few ratbag individuals. The vast majority of drivers are pure as the driven snow when it comes to red light running.

This all reminds me of an excellent article from Paul Dorn last week, who wrote in Vehicular Crime and Perceptions:
[Motorists] console themselves with the thought that...bicyclists are outlaws, and can't be permitted into civilized society. I set out to document the ridiculous nature of this claim on May 4th, during the height of the Critical Mass hatemongering by the Chronicle. On a single 30-minute walk home I photographed so many traffic violations by motorists that I ran out of storage on my camera.

For decades government policy has privileged driving and encouraged anti-social behavior by motorists. Drivers routinely roll through stop signs, drive at excessive speed, run red lights, fail to yield to pedestrians, block fire hydrants, double park in bike lanes, drive under the influence, and use horns excessively. Only a fraction of this vehicular crime is punished. Each and every year motorists kill more than 42,000 people, hospitalize hundreds of thousands more, and cause billions of dollars of property damage. Motorist endangerment is so ubiquitous that even the Vatican has issued 10 commandments for drivers. And yet the perception in the U.S. is that bicyclists are the greater miscreants?

My best advice to any bicyclist encountering such bias is to vigorously push back. Bicyclist behavior is entirely consistent with traffic behavior in general. Which transportation mode poses the greatest danger? Which mode offers the greatest social benefit?
So I arm myself with the fact and what I hope are persuasive arguments and vigorously push back. It seems like CycleDog wrote something about that also recently, but I can't find it. Help me out, Ed...

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Monday, June 25, 2007
  Guerrilla bicycle facilities
By Yokota Fritz 
Not that I'm admitting to or condoning any illegal activity, but there's a possibility that I might have done something like this in the past.
The first time the group struck was on May 30. The gang spray-painted an illegal bike lane in the Annex, between Spadina Ave. and Bathurst St., along Bloor. To make the paths appear legitimate, painters stencilled the city's bike lane logo – a bicycle and large diamond – along the road as well.

The lines may have been sloppy, but that didn't stop cyclists from using the lane for two weeks until the city cleaned it up last Monday.

"The shop owners on Bloor said they thought it was the city staff painting," said Rick Helary, manager of road operations in Toronto.
Via BikeDenver. Discussion also at Streetsblog.

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Sunday, June 10, 2007
  Amoral bicycle commuter
By Yokota Fritz 
A few weeks ago, Paul Dorn reported the results of an informal survey asking his readers why they commute by bike. Not surprisingly, most respondents selected selfish reasons: they commute by bike for their personal fitness and because it's fun. Only about one in five reported they bike to save the environment.

This matches my experience -- I ride a bike partly because I'm a natural cheapskate, but mostly I'm hooked to bicycling like a coke fiend is addicted to his drug. I don't bike for hippy dippy reasons like global warming or resource inequity.

Media attention and higher prices are raising awareness among Americans of these "hippy dippy" issues, however. While some of my cycling compatriots express glee at the economic pain of their gas-burning neighbors, the decline in oil production will soon result in pain and suffering for large portions of the world population, including people right here in the United States as CycleDog points out: "Fuel prices ripple through the economy, and cyclists are not immune. It costs more money to deliver groceries to the local store. It costs more for bus service or any other service that relies on a fleet of vehicles," he reminds us. "If oil prices increase drastically, expect other forms of fuel to increase as well. Pressure from upwardly spiraling oil costs will cause similar increases in natural gas."

In spite of my non-ethical reasons for bicycling, I'm becoming increasingly convinced that the driving I do is immoral. When auto fuel reaches $10 a gallon, you can bet that a significant portion of worldwide food production will be diverted to fuel American and European cars, and too bad for the starving brown and black babies who will die.

I have full confidence in the ability of my fellow Americans to shrug off the moral quandary of convenience over sacrifice, but perhaps more of us will switch to a lower-footprint lifestyle for the selfish reasons. Phil @ Spinopsys reports on a quiet revolution of bicycling. "Having someone see money flying out of their pockets on a daily basis is a far more successful agent for change than appeals to think of the poor residents of Dhaka who may soon be under water and burning cow dung to heat the daily meal," Phil writes. "So yes, a quiet revolution is taking place, though sometimes it may be more sullen resignation than joy."

I've encountered many many new bicycle commuters over the past few years both in person and over the Internet through blogs, forums, and email discussion lists. While many of the newbies have been motivated by finances or white guilt, I hope you've come to find cycling as a wonderful, beneficial, fun and positive way to get around.


Friday, May 04, 2007
  Greenville SC Bike To Work Day
By Yokota Fritz 
James the Bicycle Design Guy is the advocacy chairman for his local cycling club in Greenville, South Carolina. James started Bike Greenville to keep local cyclists up to date on cycling goings on in Greenville.

Currently, he's busy putting together Bike To Work Day activities in Greenville by organizing breakfast stations, publishing posters and other publicity, and otherwise encouraging people to ride their bikes to work on Friday, May 18 2007.

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Friday, April 27, 2007
  Political savvy and bicycling
By Yokota Fritz 
The political influence of San Francisco's pro-bike movement has risen steadily over the past decade to the point where the chief advocate for cyclists sits on a powerful city commission and elected officials rarely tell them no.

It's a long way from the early days, when bike enthusiasts could barely get city officials to return their calls.
This Chronicle article highlights how cyclists were able to move from an ignored fringe to a powerful lobby in the city of San Francisco in a little over a decade. It's worth reading for anybody interested in cycling advocacy in their own city.


Thursday, April 19, 2007
  Bicycling advocacy how to
By Yokota Fritz 
Bicycle advocacy how to

In the April 2 Spokesman Podcast, Tim Grahl asks the question "How do I start with bicycle advocacy in my city?"

Jonathan Maus answers: "Be there." He makes the point that every city has public meetings. Being aware of these meetings and showing up is key to getting the changes you want. Many public works engineers are unaware or unconcerned with the needs and desires of the cycling public. If you show up and express your concerns, at least you'll hear there voice.

Jonathan tells us that in Portland, cycling advocacy started in the 70s with an anti-freeway movement that transitioned to support for public transportation and improved cycling facilities.

My own experience with cycling advocacy in Colorado bears this out. When you show up to the meetings, you have influence with the planners.
Public meeting notices at the federal, state, and local level are now available online.

Many changes don't have to take 30 years these days. In the U.S., we're approaching a tipping point of acceptance in the public and among planning professionals that cycling is a positive solution to problems with traffic, public health, and air quality.

Tim Jackson joked about Jonathan running for Mayor of Portland. Because of my involvement and participation on a city committee, a few people tried to get me to run for City Council. Ellen Fletcher is a former mayor of Palo Alto, CA who ran on the platform of increasing bicycle use in that city. She was voted into office and was responsbile for creating an extensive network of cycling facilities throughout Palo Alto. Ms. Fletcher was also instrumental in Caltrain being the first commuter rail line in the U.S. to allow bikes on the train.

It takes time, effort, and passion, if you want to see changes in your community, get involved. Find out where and when public meetings are at. Start small with transportation or zoning committee meetings. Get the agenda and find out what they're talking about. A great opportunity for involvement is through the Safe Routes to School program, in which effective bicycle advocacy can actually bring CASH to a local transportation budget, which every administrator loves. I'll write more about this in a later post


Monday, April 16, 2007
  Maniac road raging motorist assaults female cyclist
By Yokota Fritz 
You won't see this mentioned on Michelle Malkin's blog, but the news in Arlington, Virginia reported on this road rage attack in which a cyclist stopped at a red light was assaulted by a motorist who stopped behind the female cyclist, exited his vehicle, and pushed the woman over onto the ground while screaming at her. Arlington police witnessed the attack and arrested the motorist.

Motorist advocacy groups expressed their shame over the violent behavior of one of their own, while pedestrians, cyclists, and bloggers all over the United States expressed their outrage over the arrogance of motorists who would attack a defenseless woman on a bike and called on motorists to better police themselves.

Well, no, not really, but for some reason when some idiot on a bike smashes in a car window it's somehow my fault.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007
  Austin bicycle safety task force kicks off
By Yokota Fritz 
The City of Austin will launch its bicycle safety task force this week, some seven months after the League of Bicycling Voters (LOBV) proposed the step as a means of addressing safer cycling. LOBV led the campaign against last year’s failed proposal for a mandatory bicycle helmet law for Austin adults.

“We’re a bit perplexed as to why it has taken so long for the city to get moving with the task force, but at the same time, we appreciate the fact that city leaders are taking the issue seriously and putting a lot of effort into making it a high-profile group,” said Rob D’Amico, LOBV president.

The task force is named “Street Smarts” and was formed by the COA Public Works Department with an invitation to potential task force members from Mayor Will Wynn and seven-time Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong. The group—which is charged with coming up with a report for the City Council over the following six months—will kick off on Thursday, March 29, at 11 a.m. in the City Hall Boards and Commissions Room.

LOBV will be represented on the task force, as will other bicycling organizations, public safety officials and medical/health professionals. In all, some 39 individuals were invited to be members, although it’s uncertain how many will participate.

“In the wake of another area bicyclist being killed by an automobile Friday, it’s obvious that this task force is charged with an important duty—coming up with innovative ways to make bicycling safer while also promoting the idea that bicycling can be a safe and economical way to stay fit and get around Austin,” D’Amico said.

“It’s interesting that out of the hundreds of words used on the invitation and introduction letter from the mayor, not one was ‘safety,’ so LOBV is going to make sure that safety is at the forefront of everything this task force does, and we have a detailed list of recommendations for the task force to consider.”

Additionally, D’Amico said the LOBV will stress that the task force get immediate access to data from a current Seton Hospital study looking at bicycle injuries and correlating them with helmet use. That study began in October of 2006, but the bicycling community did not get an opportunity to review the study’s methodology or the questions that would be asked in each case. The study’s goal is to put a price tag head injuries resulting from bicycle accidents to reinforce the idea that the City Council should enact a mandatory helmet law for Austin adults. LOBV was instrumental in defeating the proposal last summer for an adult helmet law and believes such an ordinance is an ineffective and divisive way to address safety. (A current ordinance already mandates helmets for those 17 and under.)

“Aside from being shut out of the development of the hospital study, we also felt it was unfair to publicize figures for bicycle-related injuries without putting them in context by providing the figures for auto-related injuries,” D’Amico said. “The first step we’ll ask for on this task force is getting access to data and also finding out if the study is asking the right questions.”

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  John Burke: More money for cycling advocacy
By Yokota Fritz 
Trek President John Burke addressed a group of bicycle industry leaders at the Taipei Cycle Show and challenged them to contribute money and time toward bicycle advocacy. “The bicycle industry is sitting at a place in history where we are at a crossroads,” said Burke after pointing out a convergence of global issues positions the industry as a solution to obesity, traffic congestion, urbanization and air pollution, calling the bicycle the "perfect product at the perfect time."

Carlton Reid of BikeBiz took video of the talk and posted 23 minutes of the talk to YouTube.

John Burke initially gave this presentation at the U.S. National Bike Summit two weeks ago, but he was able to address a much larger audience of bicycle industry leaders in Taipei this week.

Posted here in case you missed the news here, here, here, here, here, or here.


Thursday, March 22, 2007
  Federal transportation funding and bicycling
By Yokota Fritz 
Several bicycle blogs have reported on this issue so I'll point you to them, but the gist of it: Federal funding shortfalls means states will cut funding for several programs. Funding to programs beneficial to cyclists are in danger of cuts beyond their relative proportion to the rest of a state's transportation budget. Thunderhead Alliance urges cyclists to pressue state transportation departments to make their cuts on a proportational basis at worst. Because we have a war to pay for and all, y'know.

More commentary from: Biking Bis, Wash Cycle.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007
  Boilerplate news article on cycling
By Yokota Fritz 
Warren hit the nail on the head with his generic, all-purpose news article on cycling.

Some day I plan to post an article about "How to talk to the media." Journalists report about how horrible cycling is because that's all they hear from bicycling 'advocates.' When they listen to us gripe about how hazardous, dangerous and unpleasant cycling is, it's no wonder nobody rides a bike anywhere.


Sunday, March 18, 2007
  Underground Railroad Bicycle Route
By Michael 

Traditionally, bicycle routes do not offer much in regards to historical lessons. Most routes are either shoulders along highways or are converted railroad beds, neither of which share a big part of history. However, with the planning and efforts of the Adventure Cycling Association, a 2100-mile route from Alabama to Canada bridges the gap between cycling and history by retracing the Underground Railroad from Mobile to Owen Sound, Ontario.

Adventure Cycling put forth a great amount of planning, partnering with the University of Pittsburgh Center for Minority Health, to develop the route. They even went as far as contacting libraries along the route letting them know that cyclists may stop in for relief or to get in contact with friends and family members.

It's great to see a group creating more than the traditional bicycle route, with history being a major part of this route. More information regarding the route can be found at this site.

Map Graphic via AdventureCycling

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Monday, March 12, 2007
  National Bike Summit '07
By Yokota Fritz 
The U.S. National Bike Summit begins tomorrow in Washington, D.C. The National Bike Summit brings together stakeholders from user groups, industry, government, and elected officials from around the country to share their ideas and best practices. Industry superstars, innovative thinkers, and effective national, state and local advocates will help craft a persuasive case statement for bicycling. Delegates will discover the value and impact of bicycling in the critical fields of transportation, health, recreation, tourism, energy and the environment.

California typically has the largest delegation attending the National Bike Summit, with Colorado sending the second most. These are volunteers who are positive and passionate about cycling -- it's no accident that some of the most innovative and effective cycling advocacy are pioneered in these states. If you want to see cycling advocacy in your state, you need to be involved and show up for these things.

Bloggers who will attend the National Bike Summit include: I'm sure there are others I've missed -- please feel free to comment if you know of htem. I know several of the folks going in Colorado, and the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition (of which I'm a member) is also sending people. I'm looking forward to some good reports from the 2007 National Bike Summit.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007
  St. Louis County: "Bikes not an option for commute"
By Yokota Fritz 
While I bellyache about weeds in the road, cyclists in St. Louis, Missouri have real issues to contend with.

Interstate 64 / Highway 40 through St. Louis will be rebuilt over the next three years. In the meantime, the commuters who currently use the Interstate to travel 140,000 times a day will be diverted to surface streets in St. Louis -- right onto boulevards that are currently popular with transportational cyclists who also commute to work.

Instead of using any kind of Transportation Demand Management to try to mitigate the congestion that will result, the St. Louis County Department of Highways and Traffic plans to restripe the main bike boulevards, completely eliminating the wide outside lanes that currently exist. According to county highway director Garry Earls, "the 10-speed simply isn't an option for traveling to work or getting children to school."

According to Jack Painter of St. Louis, "A pedestrian bridge in my neighborhood will be torn down and not replaced. Will we have to drive 1.8 miles to go to stores and restaurants that are less than 150 meters away? The New I-64 is a sad but accurate indication of perverse and misguided design plans that will insure more traffic, pollution and accidents for decades. The federal government's financial subsidization of these plans, without proper oversight, guarantees a lower quality of life for everyone and not just cyclists."

Read more at the Missouri Bicycle Federation.

Discussion at the St. Louis Bicycle Federation
includes email exchanges from county planners.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007
  Dan's guide to cycling advocacy
By Yokota Fritz 
Dan Grunig on the road Dan Grunig, Executive Director of Bicycle Colorado, bicycles through the streets of Denver, Colorado.
Dan Grunig has a passion for promoting bicycling for transportation, recreation and fitness. He is the Executive Director of Bicycle Colorado, he's a League Certified Instructor (LCI), and he's on the board of directors for the Thunderhead Alliance for which he also chairs the Complete Streets Committee.

Under Dan's direction, Bicycle Colorado has grown to have a four-person staff with a $300,000 budget. Dan has a graduate degee from the non-profit business program at the University of Wisconsin. To successfully allow a bicycle advocacy organization to thrive, Dan tells me that it's necessary to understand fundraising, finance, management, marketing, and boards.

Beyond that, however, Dan is motivated by the mission of Bicycle Colorado. To that end, Bicycle Colorado works with local groups in Colorado to get a group connected and rolling. Many groups have started this way in Douglas County, Fort Collins, Grand Junction, Winter Park, Jefferson County and elsewhere.

I asked Dan what people can do in their cities to promote cycling. He answered,
One of the most often overlooked (and underrated) is being an ambassador for bicycling every time you ride. Knowing and following the rules of the road and trail project a positive image of bicycling to the public and our opponents.

People promoting rights for vehicles other than bicycles love to point to examples of discourteous or dangerous behavior by bicyclists. We have total control to nullify this argument by simply following the rules. By following the rules you are far less likely to be in a crash and in the rare chance that you are, you will have better protection in the legal system.

The other is way to make a difference is definitely cliché, but our governmental decision making process is dominated by people who show up. It is much easier for a transportation official to overlook the rights of bicyclists when there is no bicyclist in the room.

Transportation decisions are happening every day in every community in Colorado. Many of the decisions made today won’t be implemented for five to thirty years so the sooner we “show up,” the sooner things start getting better.

I know coming out of college, politics was a turn off for me and I felt like I couldn’t have any influence on the system. What I have learned since is exactly opposite! I want bicyclists to know we most definitely can have tremendous influence and the system can work in our favor. But it won’t happen on its own. We each need to add just a little time, energy, and money and the gains will be substantial.

So my advice is to get connected with your local advocacy group and send a check to each of your local, state, and national bicycle advocacy groups. For less than the cost of a tank of gas, you can add horsepower to the bicycle movement.

What if a city has an active and effective advocacy group? Should others try to be involved?
I would challenge an uninvolved bicyclist to ask themselves some important questions: Are you pleased with how bicyclists are treated in your community? Are there bike lanes and paths along your favorite routes? Are motorists respectful and courteous? Do you feel safe on your bike? Is your business or school accommodating to bicyclists? Do local businesses welcome customers who ride bikes? Is your community reducing pollution? Are residents healthy and active?

A community with a fairly active bicycle advocacy community is probably making some nice progress, but transportation change is slow by nature. The more people we have working for improvements, the sooner they will happen. Sitting on the sidelines and letting other people do the work and pay the bills won’t produce substantial change in the near future.

We need to be impatient. We need to understand the time to make time is now.

I believe the way to get involved is through your local bicycle advocacy group. By coordinating efforts and working on specific campaigns, we can accomplish tremendous things.

What about the area where there is no cycling advocacy? How can the cyclist begin to make changes?
I think this probably the most exciting scenario a bicyclist can be in. Since nothing is happening right now, this is a situation where they have potential to make tremendous gains.

The first thing to understand is that you are not alone. Hundreds of bicycle advocacy groups across the nation have started in the exact same situation. Thunderhead Alliance is the collection of those experiences. Getting plugged into their knowledge base and training system is a “fast forward” to success.

My message is that it takes a group to really affect change. Building an organization builds power and credibility. It also provides more people help share the load.

Bicycle Colorado’s mission keeps our efforts focused on statewide decisions and programs. Our intention is to improve the actions of the state’s transportation department so that communities who look to the state for leadership will also adopt bicycle friendly policies.

The real power at the local level comes from the community’s citizens. A group made up of outsiders doesn’t carry as much weight as one made up of people who live there. Bicyclists in individual communities have to take the first step. They have to stand up and begin asking why bicyclists’ rights are being pushed aside. When they begin to take action, everything changes.

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Sunday, February 04, 2007
  SAFE bicycle advocacy in Florida... NOT
By Yokota Fritz 
The SAFE bicycle car advocacy group in Florida is advocating for laws mandating bike lane riding and prohibiting cyclists from riding side-by-side in those lanes.

Does anybody know who this "Jim Smith" in Florida is? Read CycleDog's commentary on this issue.

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