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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep them busy!
. . . 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.
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.”
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.
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.
“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.
SEC. 211. TRANSPORTATION FRINGE BENEFIT TO BICYCLE COMMUTERS.
(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:
‘(F) DEFINITIONS RELATED TO BICYCLE COMMUTING REIMBURSEMENT-
‘(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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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
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.
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!
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?
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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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
City Traffic Commission: Cyclists are insane idiots
By Yokota FritzUpdate: 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.
Transportation Secretary Mary Peters: Bike facilities a waste
By Yokota Fritz
My 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.”
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."
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.
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.
[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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.”
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
Noddin Elementary School bike rodeo
=v= This like this are why the word "W00T" was invented.
I'm so glad to hear this close-to-happy-ending. I know as a parent I would have gone crazy.
Colorado county seeks bike ban from public roads
Just ban crashes. If you make it illegal to crash, nobody will do it. Simple as that.
Funny that you consider regulations on a public roadway communistic. Public roads are communistic! It is odd to me how terms like communism and terrorism represent things we don't like, and have lost their true meaning.
This is ridiculo.us
Lobbyists + Preaching Fear + Tyranny = Disaster
"We're saying to our lobbyist to look at the possibility of having some discretion on what roads can have bike traffic and which cannot."
County Attorney Wakeman said state law gives cities and incorporated towns authority to regulate cycling on roads, but the law is unclear when it comes to counties.
"we have stacks and stacks of e-mails from citizens that live there (opposing cyclists)." Jack
Bike advocacy during times of declining budgets
Cyclists to ride in budget protest
We need more of this kind of events! Just put yourself in the world of a child these days, put yourself in the head of a individual who doesn't have the chance to explore his or her own world. Someone who's bound to the car of the parents. Your mother brings you to kindergarten, later to school and then as a result of not knowing any better, as soon as you get the chance, you'll get the drivers license so you can continue the lifestyle you're used to. We need to provide alternatives, to provide opportunities!
Who wouldn't want to protect children from unnecessary slashing?
N.Y. Times on Earl Blumenauer
League of American Bicyclists finances look a bit shaky
In addition to financial problems, the League has alienated many of its long-time and most loyal volunteers by excluding them from League governance.
Five (out of 12) directors are appointed, not elected and thus not answerable or responsible to members.
The current election has three seats open but like Soviet Union elections there is no contest in any of them -- only one candidate per seat.
Sneak Bylaws changes of 2003 made it extremely difficult for members to get on the ballot unless the board approves. This is why the League has a Soviet style election now.
You can read more about these and other problems at www.labreform.org
LAB's Form 990 return for 2007 was received by the IRS on 9/22/08 and is posted on the Guidestar website [http://www.guidestar.org] at [http://tinyurl.com/9syh36] . Free registration with the GuideStar website is needed to view such information.
Bike commuter benefit now law!
It's a start, and maybe it can help shift perceptions, especially if large corporations use it to help encourage cycling.
I don't think it does much for me, being self-employed from home, since it specifies employer reimbursement for travel to and from work. I fail on both counts.
However, I do travel about town for work, usually by bicycle. What I need is to be able to write off my milage as an expense, mile by mile, just as I would in my car. As it stands, I would actually realize such a substantial tax break for driving, it would almost be worth it financially to use the car.
Not only should there be a milage write off, it should be equal that of a car. I realize the expenses are far from equal, but it would be recognition that taking one car off the road has tremendous social benefits. After all, corporations can earn carbon credits for cleaning up--I'd be happy to take credit for the carbon I keep out of the atmosphere in the form of a tax credit. Happy Trails, Ron Georg Moab
Nice door zone shot!
20 bucks a month. I'll try not to spend it all in once place. 8-)
Awesome! It's about time.
It's a baby step in the right direction. Too bad it had to get passed this way. I have to concur that $20 per month is a trifle and is highly unlikely to cause anyone to give up their car.
California's Complete Streets Act was signed by Governor Schwarzenegger on 9/30. Over time it's much more likely to encourage cycling than the Commuter Act (for Californians anyway).
Alan @ EcoVelo
Too bad it's all about miniscule tax incentives. The only way to change a culture is to quit subsidizing self destructive behavior and to properly expense services.
First steps: 1. All highways must in effect be toll roads, 2. Raise gas taxes in order to more fully fund road maintenance budgets, 3. Enforce emission standards, 4. Federal level of Complete Street legislation, and 5. Vehicle size rules on public roads or tax vehicles by weight not just book values.
The idea that Sarah Sixpack gets federal subsidies for driving a fuelish SUV to pick up her kids from school, allowed to pollute the surrounding air, destroy the roads, and lower safety standards unnecessarily is irresponsible. Jack
What we need is someone to explain exactly how we bike commuters can take advantage of this...it's only $20 a month, but hey -- a step in the right direction.
Any way to create a tutorial on how to actually DO this?
Ghost - I have a followup planned that more or less describes the existing transit benefits and how the bike commuter benefit fits into that.
This is the first time I've ever been ashamed to be a cyclist - due to crass feeding at the political trough. Subsidies for cars is no excuse for subsidies for bikes. Instead of adding the second evil, cut the car subsidies!
I'll be taking this info to my employer tomorrow morning, but I need to know, so I can prove my case on this, how are they getting reimbursed? Is the government going to reimburse them?
Second, what is a reasonable amount of commuting per month? I generally ride to work 3-5 days per week, as long as the weather plays nice, is that enough?
Mike, the specific benefit is IRS Section 132(f). If they already provide benefits under this section of the IRS code (e.g. reimbursement for parking or mass transit) you'll have an easier time, I suspect.
Twenty bucks, and that's it. The inflation clause (6) explicitly mentions only the existing two amounts, so this one won't be increasing.
This is great. I have been getting $15/MONTH for 3 years. Now its ta free. This is like a __% (fill in your taxable rate) increase. And it cost me was $34K per person in my household to bail out the suits on wall street.
Thanks for spreading the word on this. However, it would have been even nicer if the woman in the photo was wearing a helmet. It might mash her nice hair, but that would be better than having to shave it for stitches or worse.
While all this is nice, its upon the company's discretion whether it wants to comply with fringe benefitting for bike commuters. Your company's HR may say 'oh, we elected not to comply with section 123 (f)'.
I mean 132 (f)
Yep, it's all elective. Section 132 is common for large corporations, but probably not so much for smaller businesses.
I think it is ironic that the sponsor of this bill ultimately stuck to his guns and voted against the bailout...so this "sweetener" didn't even succeed in buying his vote.
I do think this is a great idea, but there is confusion over what this does. It will allow an employee to designate $20/month of their salary to go to a Transportation Reimbursement Account--as is currently possible for parking and transit at much higher levels. The employer is not going to be giving you an extra benefit; the benefit is that you can avoid paying taxes on $20/month of your salary. The government is not paying you $20, it is just not taxing $20 of your salary.
How you take advantage of this benefit, starting in 2009, is to hope that your employer already has a section 132 plan in place and that this option can be added to it. The cost to the employer is purely administrative, but you do have to get past that initial hurdle if your employer does not currently do anything like this.
I do not see where this law limits cyclists to a choice between bike, park, or transit. My understanding was that you can currently designate both transit and parking, so why not also bike?
I agree with Steve A. Subsidizing cars does not create a justification for doing the same for bikes. This issue is a flea on a cow's butt compared to other issues that need to be addressed in this country. To celebrate this subsidy is really quite sad.
Dave, slight correction -- many employers provide Section 132 benefits on top regular salary, instead of taking it out of the salary pre-tax like cafeteria plans. IRC 132 allows it to be done either way. My last three employers provided my transit benefit on top my salary, while the previous to that took the benefit from my paycheck first pretax.
As part of the defintion of "Qualified Bicycle Commuting Month," the code says "and does not receive any benefit described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C) of paragraph (1)’" (i.e. the other benefits).
So all the feds have done is subsidize commuting... or to put it another way, subsidize employment & tract housing separation.
If they were serious about reducing commuting costs (in both economic and environmental terms) then they would give substantial housing write offs to those that live close to where they work.
As it stands now, non-commuters are penalized for having the smallest commuting carbon footprint!
Anyone have any idea how to go about getting the $20 credit? My employer (federal government) provides transit checks at no cost already, so I assume it should be pretty easy. What do I need to do? What does my personnel person need to do? And is the credit only useful as reimbursement for actual expenses? For example, do I get a $13 check if I spend $13 to fix a flat and submit a receipt, or do I just get a $20 check each month?
Anon 8:40: First you need to find out if your agency will even offer that benefit for you. It's not required, even for Federal government agencies. Good luck!
That's my question as well: do I need to provide receipts/documentation for all of my biking expenes or do I simply receive an extra $20 a month? With that in mind, does my employer need to have receipts/proof on hand for all of their biking commuters? Any help would be much appreciated as my company is seriously considering implementing a program such as this for the year 2009.
Anon1:40 - receipts are unlikely. Section 132 has almost no paperwork requirements. Frankly, this section of the IRS code is wide open to fraud and abuse -- the transit checks are frequently available on Craigslist, for example.
Hey, I also commute to work via my bike. I would like to develop a mini proposal for my fortune 100 company that I work for... I am thinking this could be kind of a grass roots level of effort to promote this healthy lifestyle.
Has anyone created a little powerpoint summary of the commuter law, examples of companies that have implemented, clarifications in a FAQ section like how many days do you need to commute a month, ideas on how to implement it, etc. This would be so helpful in preparing a proposal. Tom
Tom, when you create this presentation let me know and I'll be glad to help you get the word out about it. I think you're breaking new ground here.
National Bike Summit 2008 in the news
...fritz...are you getting back east for any of this cycling summit conference ???...
Z sez: Yield to Life
...while i'm guilty of making fun of dave z's new moustache, i've always respected him as a cyclist...
...now, w/ his intelligently named "yield to life" i can't tell you how much admiration i have for the guy...no need for me to mirror the worthy objectives here, but needless to say, a well conceived program...
...fritz, you mentioned the exchange amongst various types in sf...i thought it interesting that someone who was objecting to cyclist's riding on certain "dangerous" streets specifically mentioned 'fell st' which has a decent width bike lane on it's south side over a good portion of its length...when it hits the panhandle, blocks before gg park, the lane channels you into paths through the 'handle... ...i've both ridden & driven it recently & find it decent for either of it's purposes...
...i only mention it to shed light on the naysayers who would object even when reasonable accomodations are made...some folks just never like to give ground...
thanks for the HPT plug; to add to that rant, just learned that Squid & Co. have canceled Monstertrack! - in part due to the fatality in Chicago and increasing concern about the ability to manage the race.
Got in Fritz and read DaveZ's comments, upsetting but inspirational. His dedication to cycling and his goal to improve the cycling environment will benefit everyone...good for him. Jack
Share the road?
My belief that the signs DO help to educate the public is based mostly on my firsthand experience commuting to work when I lived in Atlanta several years ago. Part of my commute was on a fairly busy road (Dekalb Ave) and it was fairly common for me to be honked at or yelled at, especially during the morning rush hour. The rest of my commute was fine. I didn’t have any problems in downtown traffic, but on Dekalb many motorists thought I just should not be on the road. Once the signs went up, the number off motorists who reacted negatively to my presence greatly decreased. The change was dramatic enough to make me a believer that the signs did the job that they were intended to do.
I am not naïve enough to believe that road signs can actually change anyone’s attitude. If someone hates to see bicycles on the road and considers cyclists to be a public nuisance, nothing is going to change their mind. The signs are, however, effective for the drivers who simply do not know that cyclists have a right to be on the road. Maybe these drivers think that bicycles belong on the sidewalk or should stay on greenways and bike paths; I don’t know. Regardless of what these drivers do think, the signs exist to educate them to the fact that bikes DO belong on the road along with cars.
And yes, I do start with the basic assumption that most people are going to continue to use their present mode of transportation (for the foreseeable future at least). Until gas prices increase dramatically from their current level, that is just reality. I wish everyone rode and that I didn’t have to share the road with cars, but it is just not going to happen.
No, I don't think you're overanalyzing it at all. I'm sure everyone has thought of this in the back of their minds at least once or twice: "Hey, I'm trying to convince everyone that bikes are fun while griping about what a pain in the rear it is--what's up with that?"
I wouldn't say "share the road" is the wrong message, but maybe only half of the right message? I'm with James--most people do drive their own cars, and that's not going to change. Maybe we should up the ante on the hazards of automobiles? I'm not the hazard, the careless inattentive driver is the hazard! And yet driving with a phone in one hand and a sandwich in the other is seen as a perfectly normal, generally safe thing to do.
"what message does this send?" is more complicated - or maybe more simple - than we usually make it. I'm not sure signage have the clout to send messages that aren't strongly reinforced by other attitudes & behaviors. Here's the argumetns I can think of for the other side. This is a recurring theme - we *want* bicycling to be considered a mainstream activity, not a 'special hazard.' However, for many communities, that's a goal that's going to take serious time and concerted effort because it's a cultural change. We have to be careful and try to make the changes we influence keep moving thigns at their various speeds in the right direction. Lots of things get those diamond signs - railroads, schools... drivers are expected to pay more attention. Are schools dangerous? Do RR crossing signs discourage using railroads? I don't see why "share the road" means "with the car you'll continue to use forever." It doesn't say "please," any more than the school signs say "please give the students a little consideration." The message the signs send are imbued with the culture behind them - that's what we have to change. Definitely, absolutely, we tend to say "safety" and "bicycling" together too often - and to compound the harm, then we stop at "always wear your helmet and obey traffic laws!" Do we treat driving the same way? No... we act as if, with a modicum of caution, practice and training, a person can safely and efficiently use that thing to get places. People don't say "you go on the *interstate*? You are so brave! Those trucks!"
Hmm, on that note, this is going to blow people's minds. A human-powered vehicle that's called and looks like a car!
Welp, there aren't ads on the telly for bicycles. However - I dare say there is *much* more presence of cyclists *having fun* than there used to be. The weather channel and AP are reporting on year-round cyclists.
One great idea for cities with huge traffic problems during rush hours, etc.
Develop "Bus Only" lanes but allow bicycles in the lane.
What a contrast! Peterson and the Bicycle Alliance have many very positive programs in place and the resources provided to cyclists are great. STP ideas are superior to STR but STR is a step in the right direction.
STR signs are the best StL advocates can accomplish. They're not perfect but they do remind everyone about cyclists' rights...which really is NEEDED in a city that places a high priority on motorized travel. If signs aren't important than the whole ad industry must be wasting clients' money.
Much more important than STR signs is advocacy that strongly supports cycling rights, law enforcement and Complete Streets. None of these strategies are supported in St Louis. Local funds are used to build poorly placed bike paths in far out rural areas or in areas where they're not needed.
In the last year in St Louis, major cycling routes have been made much more dangerous and pedestrian routes over highways have been permanently eliminated. Cyclists are told "to get off the road and use sidewalks" by law enforcement and local leaders suggest that cyclist "find their own paths", away from needed main routes. A few more STR signs are the only positive gain.
Making cycling "irresistible" starts by supporting bike friendly environments as advocated by the League of American Bicyclists. The video shows a cyclist riding in the middle of the road and on sidewalks...positive messages? Biking is good but this video is not.
Bicycling is especially dangerous when drivers fail to STR and are not held accountable. Positive videos on STR and keeping cycling safe are available. "Making bicycling look fun" is ridiculous at best when infrastructure and law enforcement are anti-cycling. Jack
will--DC has the bus/bike only lanes, but cars drive in them all the time and the rules are NEVER enforced. They'll only work if the local PD makes a commitment to enforce them, and I doubt there are many jurisdictions where that's likely to happen.
Similar idea to bus/bike only lanes is this bus/bike/HOV only during certain times in Denver.
I think I can unequivocally say that there ARE people out there who do work very hard to make driving seem as dangerous as it can be.
My father for instance, is the producer of Red Asphalt, and has spent his life trying to teach people to wear seat belts, not drink and drive, and follow traffic laws for their safety and the safety of others.
Comparing car advertisements to bicycle safety messages is apples and oranges. The purpose of each is different.
I agree that cycling must be encouraged in a way that things like wind energy are, but that costs money. If Specialized could buy GM, why aren't they advertising on television to change public views of cycling?
They're not because they don't see the general public as their target market. And if the bike manufacturers don't see cycling as a product ready for mass media consumption, how can anyone else?
San Francisco bike plan on hold two more years
...that's rather harsh...a plan that would serve & benefit thousands of sf cyclists' is put aside indefinitely because one cantankerous curmudgeon, who takes issue w/ anything cycling related, happens to know the procedure for stymieing progress...
...selfish move, anderson...
Bicycle haiku and other bicycle blog madness
A meme in need of promotion is that it is your patriotic duty to save oil for our boys and girls in uniform.
They need your oil to fight for freedom.
It's one thing to drive a light truck if the tray is full of tools - on the other hand, commuting alone with your laptop in an SUV is an unamerican activity.
Yep, Anon, that's kinda how I feel about it. When you drive alone, you drive with Hitler or Osama or Ahmadinejad or al Qaida or whomever the bad guy is.
To change the subject slightly, I'd be interested to hear how cyclists in general scored on the GMAC driving test... because I scored a 95% as well.
Trek: One World, Two Wheels
jzyofwonderful concept, I love your one world, two wheels campaign...I'm there
Transportation commission chair explanation and apology
That's nice, but any chance she could get her retraction posted in the newspaper rather than just on this blog?
City Traffic Commission: Cyclists are insane idiots
As Chairperson for the Saratoga Traffic Safety Commission I want to apolgize for allowing any words I have uttered to be so misunderstood and misquoted. This quote is so outrageous as to not even be believable, but I guess we all tend to believe what we read. My quote should have read "that" road which refered to a discussion about one road in Saratoga in particular whose conditions are dangerous for all vehicles in many places. This road has a long history of accidents, community concern and media attention. At this same meeting we later discussed bike lane safety for which the other quotes in the article refer to. I have worked for many years WITH cycling through the commission to add biking lanes, sign appropriately, Safe Routes to School and promoting biking and walking as an althernative to driving. I have always worked diligently to have families bike to school and have been involved in most of the design work in our cities attempt to renovate schools and inmprove traffic in around them to promote safety. I, of course, do not think this awesome sport is insane nor idiotic, and where else would anyone bike if not on the streets? Parking lots! The misquote came from a differnt discussion in the same meeting where we addressed one address on one street. I do reserve the right to have an opinion about one very dangerous road in my city,knowing full well that it is within the rights of all bikers to ride where they want when they want. Thank you, Brigitte Ballingall
Thank your Mr Ballinger for leaving your comment here. I appreciate that. I hope my followup is reasonably accurate!
Your follow-up was greatly appreciated and an accurate summary of my post. I wrote a letter and sent it in response to a few emails I recieved yesterday. I will format it as a "Letter to the Editor" that will not "retract" a statement I never made but explain the statement I did make and what it refered to. The quote is not only inaccurate and out of context; it is absurd. I am concerned about the negative publicity this will have for a city that has been committed to cycling promotion and safety. But, I am most concerned of about cylist safety and how this distorted statement might potentially negatively influence that. Brigitte Ballingall
Safe Routes to School and promoting biking and walking as an althernative to driving. I have always worked diligently to have families bike to school and have been involved in most of the design work in our cities attempt to renovate schools and inmprove traffic in around them to promote safety. I, of course, do not think this awesome sport is laptop batteries insane nor idiotic, and where else would anyone bike if not on the streets? Parking lots! The misquote came from a differnt discussion in the same meeting where we addressed one address on one street.
Transportation Secretary Mary Peters: Bike facilities a waste
This administration has proven time and time again its lack of vision. The "MBA Presidency" is looking more and more like it -- this nation is being run like Enron.
We could create new jobs and fix our infrastructure at the same time with some sort of "War on Sinkholes," but I don't think that has the sexy ring that the "Global Struggle Against Religious Extremism" has.
SFPD bicycle training video
Yes a step in the right direction. However, rules and enforcement are two different things... let us know when the latter is used to defend and support cyclists' rights. Thanks, Jack
We need an initiative like that here in Melbourne. There is quite a bit of agro between motorists and cyclists at the moment.
A few criticisms:
1. San Francisco Police Officers - not that good at acting.
2. "I'll catch up to the motorist, you catch up to the guy on the bicycle." simply means "I'm going to stop up here, you go ALL THE WAY down the street to get that guy". He was greedy by taking the easy catch.
3. When the police officer catches up to the guy down the street, if you look further down the street, there is a car parked facing the wrong direction. I know in many cities that is an offense that can be ticketed.
4. "Bet you coffee" is illegal gambling. The police are not setting a good example.
5. At 6:16 remaining, there is obviously a car with it's hazards on in the bike lane.
6. At 4:56 remaining, you can clearly see the same car parked illegally in the street.
7. The cyclist who was intimidated should have kept what was thrown at him. A littering fine would add insult to injury.
8. The girl hit that hit the car is wearing a microphone on her sweatshirt. Seems sketchy, maybe she's working undercover for the SFPD in some type of insurance fraud scheme.
9. When the group exclaims "Bikes Belong In Traffic, Share The Road", they are obviously taking up the entire road. This can create an unsafe environment for all and is probably illegal.
In all seriousness, it's a great training video for SFPD.
A good initiative. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed it very much. Let's hope that drivers get a taste of it as well.
Thanks for the post; cool video. It would be nice if they'd include something along those lines in driver's education courses. I've had 3 kids go through driver's ed and none of them have every gotten any information on how to drive around cyclists. I'll try to remember this link for the next 2 kid sessions.
Three CONSTRUCTIVE criticisms:
1) Dooring is NOT the most common bike/car crash. The left-turning car clipping the opposite-direction bike is the MOST common.
2) NOBODY, cops included, is using rear-view mirror.
3) If bikes are allowed the FULL use of traffic lanes, wat up with da bike lanes? Suppose SF just lose 'em!
Crime and perception
I'll look through the files, Fritz. I know I did an informal count of motor vehicles stopping/not stopping in front of the library one afternoon. But I won't have it until this evening, at least.
"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?"
Hmmm... which direction to "push back?" Global ferocious enforcement for all the violators, or global ferocious focus on the benefits?
+1. Plus the effects of my errant biking are far less...
No Kidding. I bike to work every day, and it amazes me how many motorists seem to think I shouldn't be on the road, and push by with little to no room left for myself, occasionally causing me to run off the road. Our city by-law says to ride in the middle of the lane if you feel you don't have enough room. Maybe I should try that...
We've still got these folks that, I believe, in-your-face confrontation isn't going to help: this guy ... I'm not sure what will get this guy out of "roads are made for cars." I mean, otherwise sensible people honestly believed for years that "women just can't... (fill in the blank)" or believed in spontaneous generation, for that matter.
Guerrilla bicycle facilities
That sounds like a great idea. They should actually dress up like city blue collars and they wouldn't be bothered. It was up for 2 weeks? Hummm, that's an idea I will bring up to the next critical mass here. Great blog by the way.
That's an idea I've often had. Interesting that they *didn't* want to be confused for the real thing - seems they still actually hope to hold the Real Thing accountable for their delays and inefficiencies.
Amoral bicycle commuter
welp, it's no longer "cool" to be a hippy dippy except in certain enclaves in Urbana. People are reluctant to admit they are Trying To Be Good, since it's obviously a Lost Cause and simply not comprehended by The Masses.
(or perhaps people are reserving the moral stuff for the Religious Right?)
Too true... driving in a two-ton energy consuming beast so as to save a bead or two of sweat is serving the devil of civilization. Too bad DOTs in every state have already sold our future to these demons.
The only way civilization will wake up from this stupor is through skyrocketing prices and much unnecessary suffering. Jack
I started riding to work about 15 years ago simply because I love cycling and the commute is free riding time. Back then, I didn't really even think much about the environmental benefit of replacing the car trips. Now, I still primarily ride because I enjoy it, but I also feel good about getting around under my own power. I am lot more of an evangelist for bike commuting these days, and luckily there is a growing receptive audience.
When I'm thinking about, or actually riding, the environment, gas prices, fitness never cross my mind. But if anyone asks me I say, "for the environment, gas prices, fitness".
I wrote on a forum days ago that in an era of dwindling resources motorized recreation is nothing short of immoral.
My reasons for practical bicycling are partly selfish, partly idealistic. Why not have both? I never gave up on what was truly good about the hippy dippy stuff, regardless of how the trendoids might sneer. How many of them drive to spinning class? Meanwhile, we who really ride are out there on the road reminding the motoring public that there's another way to do things and some of us are doing it.
Thanks for the comments, all.
I wonder: Because hippy-dippy is uncool, do we tell others cycling is fun "but I also appreciate the side benefits" doing so for the same reasons many of my Christian friends tell me they fast (or pray or whatever) for practical, non-spiritual reasons? Is it to avoid social ostracisization that all humans naturally avoid?
We are like soup or soup ingredients. We rub off on each other, even if we are unique. I try to be curry instead of tofu in the mix :-) Whether it's The MEdia or Your Momma, it isn't in current fashion to do things because it's right. I believe there's an undercurrent of fear that we really can't afford to do that; that there really isn't enough to go around, so if we share, we'll end up with Nothing 'cause we're the sucker. (Okay, I recently read The Road in preparation for GITAP's Velosophie, which is a pretty insipid, too-long book but that's one theme... and in the soup it has rubbed off a little on me.) Unlike soup I can resist it, though - but that soup is also an arteryin the bloodstream of life, and it's best to resist in ways that don't activate the antibodies of fear that make others surround you with white blood cells and nullify you... FDR was right. We have nothign to fear but fear itself. That fear really can take us down. Fear not to simplify.
I bike because I can't afford a car.
Greenville SC Bike To Work Day
Thanks for the link Fritz. Actually though, Greenville's urban designer, also a cyclist, is doing all the hard work (like actually planning and coordinating the event). I am just helping out where I can.
It is going to be a great event here in Greenville. I'll let you know how it goes. Thanks again for the mention.
Political savvy and bicycling
Bicycling advocacy how to
Good post Fritz. I don’t mention advocacy issues nearly enough on my blog, but that might change (with maybe a new blog). I just recently took over the advocacy chair position on the board of our local cycling club. I can say from past experience that it takes some time, but the reward on time spent on local advocacy efforts is great. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, so I encourage all cyclist to get involved with efforts to make their local communities as bike friendly as possible. good points here; I’ll look forward to reading your next post on the subject.
James, that's a good point about the squeaky wheel.
Something to avoid, of course, is being the gripe gut that everybody wants to avoid. There are some people who show up at the meetings and complain about everything. For effective change, we need to provide constructive and realistic plans. It's important to have a positive attitude so the planners will look forward to seeing you.
Another important point is to squeek in the presence of the right people. I can't say how things work down your way but here in Canada talking to the city planners will only get you so far.
You see, my finace is this berg's traffic planner tasked with "alternative" means. She knows all the benefits that a larger percentage of the commuter population getting on bikes would bring. She knows all the ways that you can encourage such a change. Squeeking at her will only get you resigned argreement and the phone number of your city councilor.
You see, she doesn't control the budget. The city council sets what will get funding so the only way to effect profound change is to convince them to spend the money. Always talk to those who hold the purse strings.
Thanks for clarifying that Fritz. You are right, you definitely don't want to be perceived as a pest, but a little genuine enthusiasm goes a long way... and a positive attitude is imperitive
Positive attitude only goes as far as others want it to, then what do you do?
The weakest link in the chain defines the outcome. Until "Complete Streets" are the norm or required by law, I'm afraid that being outspokin' (bike/pedestrian advocate) is too often seen as an additional cost with little benefit.
Check it out: http://www.completestreets.org/media.html
Every time Santa rolls in Tulsa, Oklahoma, EVERYBODY, the ignorant motorist who calls 911, the clueless cop, and the local radio shock jock, all get a quickie jolt of bike advocacy.
Maniac road raging motorist assaults female cyclist
There are automobile advocacy groups? You mean like AAA?
It's funny because I see the day when the tables are turned (w/in city limits at least) and the automobile people will be forming small advocacy groups to pressure for wider streets and an increase in the number of city-allowed gas stations (just ban gas stations and speeds over 25mph in city limits and watch the bikes flourish.)
Well, Fritz, it's YOUR fault. I bet the cyclist chick is a regular reader of C-licious. Why, the NERVE of biking the public streets!
Perhaps those genius LCI's should update their Effective Cycling classes. Actually, Santa encounters NUMEROUS road rage incidents, which mainly go UNREPORTED, because they are diffused before the cops arrive on the scene.
Certainly, Santa would be more than happy to share his secrets on u-tube, if only someone would hold the camera and edit "How to survive road rage cagers, WITHOUT really trying."
I'm relieved you've claimed this one, Fritz, 'cause it's usually MY fault!
Austin bicycle safety task force kicks off
John Burke: More money for cycling advocacy
Federal transportation funding and bicycling
Yep. I read the press release from TA, and for now, all I can think about is the utter self-centered attitude and near blindness of it. Iraq and Afghanistan are costing us, what, a billion dollars per day? We need more troops. The troops need more up-armored vehicles, and they CLEARLY need better medical care. Yet TA whines about the loss of bicycle facilities funding. There's a fundamental disconnect in their thinking, a lapse of ethics and ordinary human empathy that reveals a grasping, money-grubbing attitude that I find revolting.
Boilerplate news article on cycling
Underground Railroad Bicycle Route
National Bike Summit '07
I *wish* I were going, but have a work-related conference that conflicts.
Ditto, Sue. I wish I could be there too.
Wow! What an event. The energy, enthusiasm and advocacy was inspirational. I'll have more comments on The FredCast and The Spokesmen this week.
St. Louis County: "Bikes not an option for commute"
Hey, you legal eagles out there, throw us a bone on how to stop this kind of crap in the courts. Obviously, they have NO intentions of listening to us.
I think Mr. Earls might be misinformed. Sure ten speeds are a little dated, but they still work just fine. Personally, I alternate commuting on an 18 speed and a 1 speed, but I don't see why I couldn't get around on a bike with exactly 10 gears.
Wait, am I missing the point again :)
"Hello, This is Emily Litella. I'm not home right now, but I will call you back as soon as possible. Just leave your name, number and what time you called after you hear the sound of the Jeep."
paul tay - don't give up yet! They may listen. In Atlanta we've been fighting road construction that would take out a bike lane. After tons of letters to the mayor and demonstration bike rides they stopped construction today:
Try it, it might work. Write tons of letters. Get the local residents involved. Ride the streets involved: show them what it'll be like to share these roads with lots of bikes during rush hour.
The link doesn't indicate stopping construction... are they behind on updates?
Time for the monkeywrench gang?
bradley, can you arrange for some of your more outspokin' cyclists to visit StL for awhile? We need more critical mass as our letters get the typical canned response and perhaps a few thousand riders would help. Don't worry, we don't have any roads here named Peachtree!
Dan's guide to cycling advocacy
SAFE bicycle advocacy in Florida... NOT
50 clams Jim Smith is a pseudonym for a reporter from the Sun-Sentinel, the newspaper behind the scam.
Florida has a very strong, close-knit bicycle advocacy community. NOBODY knows the dude or SAFE. Definately a red herring. But, very clever SCAM with the SAFE title. Kinda like the neo-con group American Enterprise Institute or the ultra- left wing People For the American Way. What a bunch of CROCK.