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Wednesday, March 25, 2009
  Cycling points of view
By Alison Chaiken 
In Carbusters issue 37, Jonas Christian notes
while the need to protect non-smokers is well established, the necessity of protectin non-drivers has yet to arrive in the mainstream.
Christian raises a fascinating question as to whether the protection of non-smokers is a curiosity or a precedent.

In a completely cycling-free lecture, Marjane Satrapi comments that cartoonists aren't taken seriously in part because most people learn to draw as children and then give it up as adults.

Via The Bike Show from Resonance FM, I learned of yet another cycling podcast, Bike Love from Sydney, Australia.

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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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Friday, February 08, 2008
  Video: Snowplow within inches of cyclist
By Yokota Fritz 
Jeff routinely runs video while riding his bike through Milwaukee. He recorded this dramatic brush with a city snow plow that passed within inches of him.

The story doesn't end there, though. He reported the incident to the police and showed them the video evidence. The police reaction: They wanted to know why he had a video camera on his bike.

Jeff also took it to the public works people and even to the city attorney. The reaction all around was lectures on why Jeff shouldn't ride a bike in Milwaukee.

Cycling lawyer Bob Mionske discusses Jeff's case in much greater detail in his Legally Speaking column. See also Jeff's Bike Blog. Go Jeff!


Sunday, December 30, 2007
  New bicycle laws for 2008
By Yokota Fritz 
Happy New Year, all! Here's an overview of new laws that take effect this effect that may impact bicyclists.

A new DUI law mandates 10 days of jail time and drivers license suspension for a first time offender.

California: The legal requirement for night cyclists to use a headlight, rear reflector and side reflectors has been clarified to include cyclists on on sidewalks and paths. California law has also been updated to allow the use of reflective ankle straps or reflective shoes instead of reflective pedals.

A new three-foot passing law takes effect January 1. Motorists will be required to give at least three feet of room when passing a cyclist.

New Mexico:
Mandatory helmet law comes into effect for children and teens 17 years of age and younger.

Oregon: The Vulnerable Roadway Users law enhances the penalties against motorists who injure or kill pedestrians and cyclists.


Saturday, October 27, 2007
  Blogging bicycle lawyer
By Yokota Fritz 
A recent comment from CycleDog directed me to the blog of bicycle lawyer Erik Ryberg in Tuscon, Arizona. According to his Blogger profile, "Erik Ryberg is a lawyer whose caseload includes many bicycle accidents, injuries, and assaults on bicyclists in Tucson and elsewhere in Arizona. I also represent Arizona bicyclists in criminal cases and traffic infractions, usually at a very reduced rate or, if your case particularly interests me and involves bicycle advocacy, even free. If you are a cyclist and are the victim of assault or if you have been injured in an accident or arrested or cited for a violation involving a bicycle, please do not hesitate to call us. Consultations are always free!"

Check out the bicycle lawyer's blog at Tuscon Bike Lawyer. I've added him to my blogroll.


Thursday, July 26, 2007
  MSP cyclist taser case verdict
By Yokota Fritz 
You all know the story: Minneapolis Airport Barney got upset about a local who biked home from the airport in Minneapolis. Rather than obey an unlawful order, Stephan Orsak continued biking (legally) on the airport access road. The police restrained, tased, and arrested Orsak.

Orsak's jury trial concluded last week where he was found guilty of only one of the six counts against him. Orsak plans to appeal that finding in which he is guilty of "Failure to Comply with a Lawful Order."


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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Friday, June 15, 2007
  Text of the New Jersey QR Bill
By Yokota Fritz 
I decided to do a little fact checking after reading this surprising report that "the bill was recently amended to include bikes with 20-inch or larger wheels." Here's the actual text of the bill as passed by the New Jersey Assembly.
"It shall be an unlawful practice for any person to sell a bicycle [intended for use by children] with a front wheel diameter of 20 inches or less, which is equipped with a quick release wheel 2, exclusive of specialty adult bicycles."
Folks who repeated the faulty BRaIN information include Joe Lindsey in his Boulder Report and our good friend Masiguy among others.

I'm glad Trek and others are on the ball with this and I'm hopeful this won't make it out of the state Senate commerce committee, where this bill currently sits. Jersey residents should still contact your state Senators and let them know what you think of this bill. Just please be factual.

UPDATE: Read John's comment.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007
  Bicycles and defective traffic signals
By Yokota Fritz 
It's a common problem for cyclists: You pull up to a controlled intersection with a traditional loop detector, but the loop will not detect your bicycle to trigger the traffic signal. What do you do to get through the intersection?

The canonical answer among cyclists is to wait an appropriate amount of time (or not), wait for cross traffic to clear, and run the light. Supposedly, the light is considered defective; hence, running this light is considered by bicyclists to be perfectly legal.

Is running "defective lights legal, though? In the United States, is anybody aware of any provision in state vehicles codes or the Uniform Vehicle Code stating what is commonly considered fact among bicyclists?

Warren in Kansas went to the trouble of asking the local police what is legal. The police officer responded: "Bike riders are required to obey all traffic laws. I see your problem but I must tell you what the ordinances state."

I realize, of course, that police officers are not lawyers, but fighting a traffic ticket in a local court based on what many local judges consider a legal technicality is often a losing proposition.

What do the vehicle codes state about this situation? Do the ordinances address "defective" traffic lights that do not detect bicycles or motorcycles?


Friday, March 16, 2007
  Book: Bicycling and the Law
By Yokota Fritz 
Bob Mionske -- the lawyer who writes the "Legally Speaking" column that appears in VeloNews and other cycling publications -- has written a book: Bicycling and the Law. Order by March 17 on VeloGear and get a 20% discount by using the coupon code "ESBELAW." More about this book in his latest "Legally Speaking" column.

I don't get a dime from promoting this book, but I really like Mionske's writing and what he does to inform cyclists of our rights on the road.

Bicycling And The Law

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