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Monday, September 15, 2008
  Road to Roubaix
By Yokota Fritz 

Watch it this Friday in Austin at the Bicycle Film Festival at Mellow Johnny's bike shop. Or buy the
DVD online.

There's also an exhibit of bicycle art at Mellow Johnny's that runs through September 30.


Friday, May 09, 2008
  Mellow Johnny's opens on Saturday
By Yokota Fritz 
Mellow Johnny's (maillot jaune, get it?), Lance Armstrong's new bicycle store in Austin, Texas, opens this weekend.

Armstrong anticipates that the majority of the sales will be high end road racing gear at his Trek dealership, but he says that the bike will be an important way for people to get around. Besides offering fitness training, Mellow Johnny's also has secure bike parking and showers specifically for commuters who cycle into downtown Austin.

Read more about Lance Armstrong's hopes for his new shop in this Momentum Magazine interview with Lance Armstrong.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008
  El Paso to allow bikes on sidewalk
By Yokota Fritz 
Where are the cyclists in El Paso on this issue? The city council in El Paso, Texas support the idea of repealing a law in which bikes are currently banned from city sidewalks. A neighborhood association representative spoke against the repeal, noting that sidewalks are for walking on.

What's especially ridiculous is this editorial from the El Paso Times Staff, in which they publish, "We know one thing for sure: Bicycles on streets are known to cause road rage." Grrr....


Monday, September 24, 2007
  Bicycling and wealth
By Yokota Fritz 
When American troops landed on south Pacific islands and New Guinea during World War II, they brought many of the comforts of home with them: Hershey bars, radios, powdered milk, and SPAM. The island natives saw the this cargo arriving as if sent from heaven when Sea Bees bulldozed airstrips through the jungles and men with radios and signal lights directed cargo planes to land on these strips.

Commuters Panda When the American G.I.s left after the end of WWII, the manna from heaven stopped flowing. In attempts to get cargo fall from the sky again, islanders imitated the same practices they had seen the soldiers, sailors and airmen use. They carved headphones from wood and wore them while sitting in fabricated control towers. They waved the landing signals while standing on the runways. They lit signal fires and torches to light up runways and lighthouses.

Last week, the city of El Paso, Texas debated the merits of a bicycle parking requirement for new development. While councilors Steve Ortega and Beto O'Rourke supported the proposed ordinance, councilman José Alexandro Lozano apparently is a throwback to the cargo cults of old, equating automobile ownership with personal wealth when he noted that a Mexican town where many people rode bicycles was regarded as backward. Clearly the path to prosperity and progress is to appear wealthy, if Lozano is to be believed.

Meanwhile, truly progressive and wealthy regions such as Silicon Valley and Boston increase their push for bicycling as transportation. A study in London shows that rich people bicycle more than poor people.

Quit worrying about keeping up appearances and hop on a bike!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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