Sunday, May 31, 2009

Noontime LANL bike safety course, Part II

I am giving a two-session bike safety course based on the League's Traffic Skills 101 curriculum on 10 June and 17 June over the lunch break (2 hrs total). This is NOT equivalent to Neale and Amy's Traffic Skills 101 course and does NOT come with League certification.

If you are a LANL employee and interested in cycling safety but cannot make the full 8 hour League class this week, check out the Wellness Center's schedule. I don't remember the course number but can add that info on Monday.

It is possible that for those who take the 2 hour class version and who wish to obtain the full TS 101 certification, we can schedule the road and parking lot drill sections at a later date and fill in the course details, but the Wellness Center isn't keen on scheduling an 8 hour show all in one gulp. Let's see who shows up.

The on-road and bike handling skill sessions are pretty important. You don't learn this stuff in a classroom, but on the road.

Note: if you left on time on the 10th, you didn't get a copy of Street Smarts by John Allen (no charge, courtesy of Industrial Hygene and Safety Division). So if for some reason you cannot make it to Part II, please contact me at work and I will send your copy by intramural mail. I put a reminder slide into my Power Point to help me remember this time!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Please don't ride behind the Diamond construction barriers

I got an email from County Public Works Director Kyle Zimmerman today indicating that cyclists are riding behind the construction barrels:


This morning some of the bicyclists on Diamond Drive were riding on the construction zone side (west side) of the barrels. There is a lot of construction equipment and workers moving around doing the project work. They are not looking for bicyclists riding on the wrong side of the barrels. Please pass the word that bicyclist need to use Arkansas/North Road as an alternate route or take the lane as a vehicle like you did this morning.

Aside from this conduct undoubtedly being illegal and quite dangerous once heavy equipment and workers are in full swing (milling off the pavement will start shortly), taking the lane southbound is relatively easy as it is downslope and I was able to ride with heavy traffic effortlessly as it was moving slowly. Northbound (upslope) cycling in the construction zone traffic is more problematic, but cyclists can use the dedicated left turn bay to turn onto North Road and avoid the whole mess. I plan on turning left on North tonight to go home. I'll post here if I have any trouble.

As an alternative to those who don't want to ride north in "the narrows" or turn left and climb North Road, there is a sidewalk on the South side of Diamond. I would recommend cyclists use North/Arkansas, but suggest to any cyclists who use that sidewalk to please take it slow and respect that pedestrians and other cyclists may be using it for two-way traffic.

There is no real way to eliminate the short term pain of this project. Consider the long term gain, though.

Post comments here if you have them. I will direct Kyle to this page as well. Let's just muddle through this as best and as cheerfully as we can. Everyone is suffering a little bit.


Khal Spencer
County Transportation Board Chair and League Cycling Instructor

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Bomb Town to finally have a Co-Op

According to Greg Kendall over at Los Alamos County Views, we are finally going to get a cooperative market. It will be located in the Entrada development.

Well, the good news is we will have a Co-op. The bad news is that it will not be downtown. Greg tells us "...there will be turn lanes and acceleration lanes on State Road 502 at Entrada..." Sure. These will serve motorists, but we need to find out how the cyclist will be served. Its probably written down somewhere, and forgive me for not knowing where.

Entrada and Airport Site Details here, including links to blueprints including intersection changes.

The NM DoT link for NM 502 improvements is here. It stops at Tewa.

Its a little ironic that we continue to talk about Complete Streets and a compact, sustainable city, but continue to build outwards with the assumption that everyone will continue to jump into their cars. I guess we have to build where we get the land, i.e., DOE land transfers, since we can't seem to figure out how to fill in some of our vast acres of parking lots Downtown.

Presumably, once Entrada is up and running, an Atomic City bus route will be out there serving the eastern community and this new center for economic development.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

All's Quiet on the Fire Front

Those who were here in May, 2000 and saw the fire sweep through town on the 10th can feel a bit of compassion for Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition President Ralph Fertig and the Santa Barbara folks. Ralph posted this email to his cycling friends.
To my friends,

This morning I woke at my evacuation motel to a fog, cool temperatures, and a breeze off the ocean. It was a radical change from the 90 degree heat, low moisture, and strong winds that drove the Jesusita Fire in Santa Barbara for 4 days.

Statistics released tonight said that 50,000 people had been evacuated, 8700 acres burned, 80 homes destroyed or damaged, and 4300 fire fighters\ were on the ground. They say the fire is now 40% contained, and believe that another day like this will bring it totally under control. I also heard that a local bike shop lost 400 bikes stored in a barn in the fire

I was allowed to return home this afternoon about 3:30. I picked up cat Luke at the cat animal shelter where cat carriers were stacked to the ceiling. They said that 250 evacuated cats were there, the volunteers were working nearly 24 hours a day. Nearby in other animal shelters, I could hear LOTS of dogs barking, a rooster crowing, and heaven knows what other creatures were quietly slithering around.

The entire day was cool, about 70 degrees and mostly cloudy. Exactly what we all were hoping for. I spent most of it returning to my barricaded roadway every 2 hours, but couldn't get past the police. (They were very nice, but firm.) I finally got home, brought Luke inside, unpacked my bike, computer, clothing and documents. Took a nap, had a beer, started a load of laundry, washed the ash off my car, put a carrot-turkey meatloaf in the oven, and now am facing a 4-day backlog of catching up.

People are asking whether our Western drought is fueled by climate change. This was the third Santa Barbara fire in a year, totally unprecented. Each one has burned a separate section of chaparrel in the National Forest and the adjacent foothill areas, but they DID occur. If we're destroying our world, I hope that we can halt the process before we all drown, burn, get blown away -- and take down most other species with us.

I see that a beautiful full moon has risen above the hills east of me. Perhaps you are looking at the same one. It brings an illusion of stability to our changing planet.

~~ Ralph Fertig

Monday, May 4, 2009

League Bike Class coming up

League of American Bicyclists
Traffic Skills 101
Dates: June 5th & June 6th

Location: 1990 Diamond Dr (Family Strengths Network, Pueblo Complex), Los Alamos, NM

League of American Bicyclists Cycling Instructors Neale & Amy Pickett and Khal Spencer are teaching the League's Traffic Skills 101 course June 5th from 4:30pm - 7:30pm, and June 6th from 9am - 4pm (with one hour lunch break). $10 for the 9-hour course.

Learn how to:
* make basic repairs,
* the most common types of crashes and how to avoid them,
* bicycling in traffic, emergency maneuvers, and more.

To register for this course, contact:

Amy Pickett
Phone: 505-310-9804
Contact Email:

* Equipment required: Working Bicycle and CPSC-approved Helmet

Friday, May 1, 2009

"As Far Right as is Practicable": Dwight Tovey's Day in court

Dwight Tovey is a League Cycling Instructor in Idaho. He was pulled over for not riding far enough right, and cited when he contested the officers advice to ride farther right then Dwight thought appropriate. In light of recent discussion in the Monitor, here is what happened when he had his day in court.

It was an interesting trial. There were 5 people (including me) on the calendar. They called my case last, so I got to watch everyone else. There were some interesting things there, but it mostly gave me a chance to watch the process.

When the called my case I went up and the officer came in. The prosecutor called him as the first witness and he basically went over what happened when he pulled me over. The only thing that I really disagreed with was when he said that I told him I could ride where ever I wanted. What I really said was that where I was riding was not against the law, but I didn't need to dwell on that.

During the previous trials, one of the things I noticed was that the prosecutor asked each officer how long he had been an officer and about his experience. In my case, Officer Lim stated that he had been an officer for 12 years and a patrol officer for 5. During my cross I asked him what experience he had as a bicyclist (mountain bike only) and what training he had as a road cyclist (only "common sense" training - not sure what that was supposed to mean, but I let it go). He had also stated that he noticed me because traffic was backing up trying to get around me. I asked him if he patrolled that are often at that time of day (5:00PM) and he said that he did. I asked if traffic didn't normally back up on that road at that time of day. He acknowledged that it did. Since this was a three-lane road (two traffic lanes and a center left turn lane), the judge asked him if there were many cars entering the center lane to make a left turn (thus preventing through motorists from moving over to pass me). Officer Lim stated that there was not.

Then it was my turn to testify. I pointed out that the law does not require bicyclists to use the shoulder, and I presented two Idaho Supreme Court cases (thanks to Philip Cook - a fellow LCI from Moscow) that explicitly stated that bicyclists are not obligated to stay in the shoulder. The judge took a few minutes to review these cases and agreed that the law was in my favour there. I testified that I am a League Cycling Instructor and that I teach bike safety and the bicycling related laws. I explained that in a narrow lane it actually isn't safe for a bicyclist to be all the way over on the edge of the lane because it encourages motorists to try to squeeze by when it isn't safe. I presented photos of the area to show how narrow the road is, and a diagram from the Florida Bicycle Association (thanks to Fred Ungewitter in Florida) showing 'How to Get more Passing Clearance' by riding further left in the lane. I pointed out in the Idaho Street Smarts manual (written by John Allen) the section that deals with narrow lanes. The Prosecutor had some concerns about where the manual came from.

The Prosecutor did ask me some questions during his cross, but I really don't remember what his questions were. I don't think they were very relevant.

After my testimony I called Mark McNeese (Idaho Transportation Dept. Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinator) to the stand. I asked Mark about the Street Smarts manual and he explained that ITD and the Ada County Highway District had collaborated to have the book published. Mark stated that there was nothing in the book that contradicted Idaho law. Since the area where I was ticketed is a State highway, I asked Mark about the standard lane width (12 feet). I also asked what the recommended width would be for a "shareable lane". Mark presented the Idaho Design Manual which states that a lane should be 14 feet wide to be considered shareable. Mark also stated that a bicyclist needs to be visible and predictable. Part of being visible and predictable includes riding where motorists will be more likely to see the bicyclist rather than at the edge of the road.

In all my trial took over an hour, while the previous cases where all less than 1/2 hour each. Both the judge and the prosecutor commented that it had been a learning experience for them, and while the judge acknowledged that Officer Lim was just trying to do his job, given that the law is less than clear about what is "as far right as practicable", the final verdict was Not Guilty.

After my trial there was a Sheriff's department bike officer there who was talking to Craig Quintana from ACHD. The officer was interested in setting up some seminars for the Sheriff's department so that we could explain what the League is trying to teach bicyclists and why. He took Craig's card and will contact him to see about setting something up.

In all it was an interesting (if long) day.


Dwight Tovey
LCI #750
dwight at dtovey dot net