Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Eh, brah, got bike?

BFC Fall2014 HonoluluandCounty  1  
In the mid 1990's the Hawaii Bicycling League (HBL) revamped and revitalized its advocacy and government affairs capabilities. In the late '90's, when they were hired by the City and County to develop a bike plan, the Bicycle Federation of America folks from Washington, DC, led by Bill Wilkinson,arrived to advise the city. HBL operatives almost literally kidnapped them the weekend they arrived, beating the city administrators to them, tossing them on borrowed bikes, and leading them on a tour through the major transportation routes through downtown Honolulu to give them the lay of the land from the viewpoint of the saddle. My good friend Tom Fee, then a partner (and now president of) the urban planning firm Helber, Hastert, and Fee, worked with Bike Fed, HBL, and the City to research and write the first Honolulu Bike Plan, published in 1999. A second, drastically revised version, was recently completed. The new bike planning program integrates cycling with Honolulu's new train system and as Tom Fee just emailed me "puts a lot more on the books" as far as formalizing how cycling fits into the city's transportation infrastructure. This stuff takes time.
I moved here from Honolulu in 2001 as the first phase of all this was unfolding. My job was as president of the Hawaii Bicycling League, trying to keep all this stuff pointed in the right direction from the standpoint of advocacy. Far more competent folks filled my shoes working with Tom, the city, and others, and that bronze is a tribute to their efforts and persistence, to LAB for recognizing good work, and to the City and County for taking this dead seriously. A tip of my hat in particular goes to Chris Sayers, who has been the hard working point man as Honolulu's bike coordinator since my early years there, Chad Tanaguchi, who has led HBL, and Tom Fee, who has dogged this as a professional planner from the get go. I'm sure others need recognition as well. Chris, Chad, and Tom, the next beers are for you. A celestial thank you goes to the since departed Eve DeCoursey, the E.D. of HBL back when we were bootstrapping all this stuff on a wing and a prayer. Eve, take a look down here and smile. You deserve it.
The late Eve DeCoursey, former Hawaii state cycling champion (USCF), first exec director of HBL, and all around good person

A tip of the brain bucket and that shaka below is for all who made that happen, and what we can do when we put our minds and hearts to it. As some of you can imagine, I've not been this tickled since the Bills won the AFL championship in 1965. Woo-hoo.
From one hotspot volcano to another, cycling rules....


Monday, November 17, 2014

It's Ice Season Again In the Bike Lanes (and road shoulders)


Photo of ice in Central Ave Bike lane
near the Catholic Church.  Photo taken 
a couple years ago during
a particularly wet winter.
While bicycling to work this morning, I needed to stop at the Post Office. Therefore, I made a left turn from Diamond onto Canyon. Riding up the hill towards Oppenheimer, I saw several large patches of ice in the bike lane where the lane is in shadow.

In addition to bike lanes and roadway shoulders that are on the south side of our roads being in shadow much of the time due to the low angle of the sun, its not surprising there will be water collecting and freezing in them due to the camber of the road draining water to the edges of the pavement.

So be prepared for ice spots on our roads now that we are seeing really cold weather. Some suggestions:

1. Look far enough out front of you to spot bad ice. If you need to, scan behind you for overtaking traffic, signal and merge left into the traffic lane when it is safe to do so. Remember: AFRAP means "as far right as is practical" and a cyclist is not obligated to use a bike lane if it is dangerous or impassible.

2. Avoiding ice and other roadway hazards is a good reason to have a powerful headlight. I won't suggest an absolute value of lumens or anything, but your light should illuminate the road far enough ahead of your bicycle so you can react to hazards. That amount of light depends on your typical bicycling speed and other conditions (i.e., fast downhill routes). You decide.

3. If you do a lot of winter cycling and its a wet year, strongly consider winter tires incorporating studs. They are available in a range of sizes in both 700c and 26" rim sizes. Peter White has a good discussion of these here. Sure, they are heavy, but it is winter and the distances are short enough.

4. If you merge left out of a bike lane, please be predictable and stick to a line until you are past the icy parts of the bike lane. Weaving in and out of closely spaced ice patches can be unpredictable and lead to a sideswipe crash or needless aggravation of overtaking motorists.

5. If you find yourself on ice and don't have studded tires, don't accelerate or brake or make sudden directional changes. Soft pedal or coast through the ice.

6. If you are a motorist, keep an eye on the condition of bike lanes and expect cyclists to be merging out of them when necessary.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Turkey Day Town Tour

Given the number of turkeys in this town, this should be well attended....


Jim Rickman has announced that he will do the 2nd Annual Turkey Day Town Tour on Thanksgiving day this year. Here is the info, courtesy of Little Jimmy's Wheelhouse, and I hope we can make this a great, annual event.

With acknowledgements to Sandra Boynton
The first Turkey Day Town Tour actually occurred in 2012 and it was highly successful. About 30 people went out and rode and every single person enjoyed a slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream afterward, despite most saying at the beginning of the ride that they weren’t going to eat any. Turns out the ride was really fun and by the end, spirits and appetites were high! That was the point.

The weather was horrible in 2013, so the ride was canceled. We’re thinking the weather will hold this year and we’ll be able to do it again. See the image below for details on where and when to meet on Thursday, Nov. 27.

The holidays are a wonderful time. But they can be a stressful time, too. The Turkey Day Town Tour started as a way for my wife and I to get out of the house and ride our bikes instead of spending the day indoors worrying about whether the turkey would dry out in the oven. Over the years, we’ve learned that a hands-off approach and the proper cooking utensils yield a fine, juicy turkey. The bike ride allows us the opportunity to silently reflect on all the things for which we are thankful, and this year we have enough things to reflect on to cover a ride twice as long.

The inaugural Turkey Day Town Tour brought together a bunch of people who already knew each other and a bunch of people who didn’t. The sky was clear and bright and every twist and turn in the trail was greeted with a smile. We hope to have as much, if not more, fun this year, too.

We hope you’ll join us!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Lafayette and Boulder


Lookout Road, looking West towards the Front Range
Also, this road passes through a large prairie dog colony

Today found me in Lafayette, slightly east of Boulder, the cycling mecca of Colorado (or at least one of them).  The main roads up this way are a bit nerve wracking, but there are some nice side roads that get off the beaten path. Arapahoe Road is one of the main E-W routes between Lafayette and Boulder. 50 mph with, when you are lucky, about 18 inches of shoulder and one narrow lane in each direction. But no one buzzed me and all was well.I've experimented with embedding a Google Map of Arapahoe below. If I lived here, I'd either find a better route or talk to the DOT about putting decent shoulders on that road. Sheesh. Given the rampant development in this area, the road really needs improvement for both motorists and cyclists. Note added later. My new friends Joe and Dale showed me around while flogging my sorry ass from Lafayette to Eldorado Springs and back yesterday. S. Baseline Road is a much better route, but due to rapid infill by arterial and cul-de-sac development due to the economic boom up here, all the E-W roads are a bit, shall we say, busy. But thank you, Joe and Dale, for reminding me of what a bike ride really should feel like!

Allez, rented from University Bikes, sitting postride
in front of our friend's house in Lafayette
Nice Allez, pictured here, courtesy of the rentals at University Bicycles in Boulder. Somewhat silly of me, but I never put a race bike on the roof rack of my wife's car. The rack fits my long wheelbase commuter bikes fine, but the rear wheel was sitting on the clamp instead of in the gutter pan where it should. Not a good idea for a 400 mile, high speed road trip. In order to get the short wheelbase Cannondales on it, I would have to move the Subaru crossbars and reattach everything. With the roof box already loaded and the dogs in the car, that was not gonna happen, so the seat cluster and pedals got tossed in the car and I grumpily looked for a rental. The Allez was University's less expensive road bike rental, but it rode just fine and I actually found myself very happy with the frame geometry. The folks at the shop were nice, too. So now I can say I rode in Boulder County.Thanks and a tip of the brain bucket to Joe, Dale, and University Bicycles!


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Who Is An Invisible Bicyclist?

"For the hard-pedaling day laborers of Los Angeles, bicycling isn't exercise, a hobby, or a statement. It's a way to get to work-if there's work to be found" --Dan Koeppel, Invisible Riders

"...One guy's significant other was riding side-saddle on the top tube, in a hotel maid's uniform, while he pedaled along Paradise, a cigarette drooping from his lips. You won't see them in a Trek ad anytime soon, but they probably spend more time on two wheels than most of Bicycling's readers..." --Patrick O'Grady, "Stuff You Wouldn't Ride: An Interbiker Among the Outerbikers

Is anyone in Albuquerque or Santa Fe (or any of our other cities or places in the middle of nowhere) looking at this idea of analyzing the concept of the invisible cyclist (a term coined by Dan Koeppel in a 2006 Bicycling article) and developing ideas for those people who use bicycles but are not in the traditional camp of "bicyclists" (I think Jennifer Buntz and the Duke City Wheelmen do some)?  I found the LAB webinar on the topic a little too diffuse to concentrate on (or maybe it seemed scattered because I was multitasking while listening to it).

It is not clear to me whether, by self identifying as a bicyclist, one is therefore part of the problem rather than part of the solution because in the eyes of some of the thinkers, self identifying as a bicyclist borders on elitism (dare I say narcissism?) rather than inclusiveness. Indeed, the more traditional LAB member probably does somewhat relish iconoclasm and elitism rather than political inclusiveness, at least when it comes to bicycling. Some on the LAB panel objected to the term invisible bicyclist as demeaning and politically incorrect. Well, when Dan Koeppel and Patrick O'Grady delve into it, it has a human face, something occasionally lacking when a human topic falls into the realm of policy wonks (and I fall into that wonk pit at times). Then again, are all bicyclists invisible because motorists, politicians, and some DOTs don't see us? Can one be well off and be invisible? Does advocacy confer visibility?  Can one wear loud lycra and be invisible?

Interesting ideas on Zavestoski's Invisiblecyclist site. By concentrating on infrastructure, one falls into the power trap, i.e., money follows power and that means it follows the already empowered. Note the fight between hipsters and Hasidic Jews in NYC regarding cycletracks. Are there nice green cycletracks going up in Skid Row? Then again, where does one begin? Social outreach is one option, it would seem. Or as someone in the LAB webinar mentioned, if you need to, bring an interpreter. As Dan Koeppel found out, you may be a little uncomfortable on that 5k titanium steed.

Seems to me the problem is not that the cyclist is invisible, but that the rest of society has its eyes and mind closed as long as the invisible cyclists hunker down in the shadows. We only notice them when they get mowed down, i.e.,  Neil Smith, or when they don't give up their seat on that great transportation bus to a motorist, i.e., Cherokee Schill.

As a card-carrying MAMIL, or maybe now an out of the closet S-O-B in the making (Santa Fe Seniors on Bikes) I've not paid much attention to this movement, but its an important thing to think about in many parts-as both Dan and Patrick make clear. Lost Almost probably not a leader among them, but one can be invisible in LA. Ask the cyclist, a colleague of mine, who was right hooked and seriously injured by an oblivious motorist in front of Metzger's gas station while riding in the bike lane. He was then ticketed for jaywalking by an investigating officer oblivious to bike law! My colleague only became visible when he put up a fight in court. And he prevailed.

But this is a poor, backward state, and I've seen some pretty lonely looking people riding beater bikes up that hellish thing called Cerrillos Road. Does anyone speak for them? I'm sure there is plenty of invisibility in New Mexico, once you open your eyes to it.

If you want to see an Invisible Cyclist, here was one: the late Neil Allen Smith. Longtime readers of this blog may remember this picture. Full story here.


Have at it:

http://invisiblecyclist.com/
http://bikeleague.org/sites/default/files/the_new_movement_report_web.pdf
http://bikeleague.org/content/rethinking-term-invisible-cyclist

Original Dan Koeppel article "Invisible Riders" and Patrick O'Grady's "Outerbikers at Interbike"
http://www.utne.com/community/invisibleriders.aspx
http://www.maddogmedia.com/outerbiking.html

Monday, November 3, 2014

So Long, Tom....


Tom Magliozzi (here on the right) of Car Talk fame, gone at 77. Story here at NPR.org